This article is part of our DraftKings Fantasy Soccer series.
- 10:00 am: Burnley vs. AFC Bournemouth
- 10:00 am: Crystal Palace vs. Newcastle United
- 10:00 am: Sheffield United vs. Brighton & Hove Albion
- 10:00 am: Southampton vs. Aston Villa
- 12:30 pm: Leicester City vs. Manchester City
For detailed stats and odds, as well as expected lineups, check out the
Riyad Mahrez, MCI at LEI ($8,800): We have a tricky situation with Manchester City this week in that they played this past Wednesday against West Ham, they're now traveling to face Leicester on Saturday and then have to travel for next Wednesday's Champions League match against Real Madrid. Additionally, the matchup against Leicester isn't all that easy, and so our regular considerations about how much Manchester City you need when they're on a slate doesn't really apply. Making things worse, they're playing in the late game, so potential rotation will certainly confuse things. Mahrez was fully rested Wednesday, so it seems likely that he'll start, but again, there are no guarantees. His viability increases if midfielder Kevin De Bruyne ($10,800) doesn't start because he could get a few more set pieces, but we won't know that until all the other games have locked. Any of the Manchester City forwards can go off, but the best play in this game might be the opposite striker, Jamie Vardy ($7,000), who is struggling of late with just one goal in his last eight Premier League starts, though he has plenty of goals against elite clubs, including Manchester City, who he scored against at the Etihad seven starts ago. Ultimately, it seems like a match to avoid in cash games, especially with a number of midfielders worth targeting.
Dwight McNeil, BUR v. BOU ($7,200): A more viable cash-game forward might be McNeil, who scored at least 10.2 fantasy points in two of his last three games, all without a goal or assist. Burnley are actually favored, and while he doesn't have a monopoly of set pieces, he does get enough opportunities, while also taking shots and winning tackles, that his floor could be solid. His price is unfortunately efficient, so you're not getting any kind of deal, but he seems safer than the Brighton options of Pascal Gross ($7,800) or Leandro Trossard ($6,800), who split set pieces with each other (and a few others, too), making them riskier, especially with how awful Brighton's away form has been. If you're really interested in Manchester City, Bernardo Silva ($7,400) is in the price range, but there's also no guarantee he starts and you'll have to use your forward spot on either Vardy or Ayoze Perez ($6,500) if he's not in, which defeats the purpose of getting a piece of the Manchester City attack.
Christian Benteke, CRY v. NEW ($5,900): Now it gets ugly. There really aren't many high-floor forwards on the slate, and given the salary difference between Benteke and someone like Gross, McNeil or Trossard, it might be worth spending down at forward and using the money at the other positions. Unless you're adamant about Danny Ings ($9,100) scoring against Aston Villa, and outdoing any of the Manchester City guys in his price range, we have the weird predicament that there's no one worth paying up for and no one good on the cheap end. Focusing on the positives, Benteke comes in with one goal on 12 shots (seven on target) and six chances created in his last four games, and he now faces a Newcastle side that's conceded the second-most shots, most shots on goal, second-most shots assisted and most crosses among teams on the slate. Benteke isn't a crosser himself, but he's a giant target for others to cross too. Given that you have to pay $8,000 for Wilfried Zaha, Benteke looks cheap, and he has better anytime goal scorer odds than teammate Jordan Ayew ($6,400). It's not much to go on, but there's not much to go on all across the slate. Sticking with favored sides, you could pay the same amount for Burnley's Jay Rodriguez, who has one goal on eight shots (five on target) in his last three games, or maybe Newcastle's Miguel Almiron ($5,400), who sometimes has a floor from fouls drawn and chances created, though he's an underdog.
Jack Grealish, AVL at SOU ($10,200): On a slate where De Bruyne is only $600 more, it does seem a bit silly to consider Grealish. Then again, we'll know for sure if he's starting, and his matchup is seemingly better even though Southampton are the biggest favorite. No team on the slate has committed more fouls than Southampton, which works out well for Grealish, the league-leader in fouls drawn by averaging 4.96 per 90 minutes (for reference, Zaha is second in the league at 3.36). Fouls drawn have zero upside in terms of scoring a goal or assisting one, but Grealish also averages 2.26 shots and 2.88 chances created per 90 minutes, the latter of which is the third-most on the slate among players with at least 500 minutes. Despite all the positives, Grealish isn't a slam dunk because there are a few other midfielders worth considering, and rostering Grealish means you're likely paying down at both forward spots or really sacrificing elsewhere. Another guy who might get some attention is Leicester City's James Maddison ($8,700), who is one of the highest-scoring midfielders in the league this season, but he's a bit of a tough play against Manchester City. If anything, he seems more viable than De Bruyne (and maybe Grealish) because he's so much cheaper, though I don't see his ownership being super high despite one of his lowest prices of the season.
James Ward-Prowse, SOU v. AVL ($7,200): The main set-pieces taker for the biggest favorite, Ward-Prowse may be the most under-priced player on the board. Aston Villa have been atrocious defensively this season and come in having allowed the most shots, second-most shots on goal, most chances created, third-most crosses and most goals among teams on the slate. It's the ideal situation for Ward-Prowse, and while he doesn't do quite as much as Grealish in open play (few do), a $3,000 salary difference is a bit absurd. Also in this price range is Bournemouth's Ryan Fraser ($7,300), who continues to take a majority of their set pieces. Admittedly, Bournemouth are away underdogs, though a matchup against Burnley shouldn't be one that's avoided, as they've allowed the fourth-most chances and fifth-most crosses among teams on the slate. A midfield pairing of Ward-Prowse and Fraser could be very popular in cash games because of their roles, though players like John Fleck ($6,600) and Allan Saint-Maximin ($6,300) could be interesting pivots in GPPs. Going a bit further, Newcastle's Valentino Lazaro ($5,500) could be intriguing if he starts over defender Matt Ritchie ($5,100) because he'll most likely be taking set pieces.
Oliver Norwood, SHU v. BHA ($5,000): The midfielders available under $5,000 are a bunch of guys who are all fairly close in terms of floor, in that they're mostly low, and their upsides aren't that great either. Norwood gets consideration because he shares set pieces for Sheffield United and is much cheaper than Fleck, though that's because his upside isn't nearly as high. Then again, he scored at least 7.2 fantasy points in four of his last five starts, with the lone down game coming against Manchester City. It's tough to get overly excited about Norwood, or guys below him like Stuart Armstrong ($4,900), James McArthur ($4,600) or Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg ($4,200), which is why it seems more likely that people will allocate their salary to the more expensive midfielders and try to save elsewhere.
Matt Ritchie, NEW at CRY ($5,100): Ritchie's spot in the starting XI isn't guaranteed, but he's likely to take all of Newcastle's set pieces if he's in ahead of Lazaro. Even though Newcastle are away underdogs, Crystal Palace aren't a team that we should fear, especially for Ritchie's crosses. In the event he doesn't start, guys like Matt Targett ($5,100), Enda Stevens ($4,900) and Diego Rico ($4,600) would certainly be viable, and you may even see plenty of lineups with two guys from that group.
Frederic Guilbert, AVL at SOU ($4,200): Interestingly, Guilbert makes for a fine pivot away from Targett if you need the salary savings, while Danny Rose ($4,200) could be that for Newcastle if Ritchie doesn't start (Lazaro being midfield eligible isn't helping since he's playing right-back). Both players have shown the ability to get up the field, and their respective matchups are fine even though they are underdogs. If there's another positive with these two it's that they make it silly to play Phil Bardsley ($4,100), who is just a recipe for disappointment despite the decent matchup.
Yan Valery, SOU v. AVL ($2,700): Valery figures to be the highest owned defender if he gets the start at right-back in place of the injured Kyle Walker-Peters (calf). Valery is a true right-back that for some reason is now priced as a backup center-back. He's admittedly not that great of a player in terms of actual fantasy production, but getting an outside defender for less than $3,000 is really rare, and it's not like you can be overly disappointed with three points since his salary allows you to spend up elsewhere.
Kasper Schmeichel, LEI v. MCI ($4,100): Schmeichel is the cheapest home goalkeeper on the slate, and he'll line up against a Manchester City team that's playing it's second game in four days and has a Champions League match four days later. He showed in his last game against Manchester City what is possible for a goalkeeper against the highest-scoring team in the league, as he finished with 12.0 fantasy points despite allowing three goals because he made nine saves. He hasn't made as many of late, but Man City will certainly put enough pressure on him, which could result in a massive score.