Launched ahead of last weekend’s Premier League slate, RotoWire recently joined forces with online fantasy soccer website DraftGoal.com to provide strategic recommendations that could result in cash prizes for contestants.
DraftGoal hosts daily fantasy games that allow users to manage a virtual team and compete against other users through any one of their many contests. It’s as easy as selecting a league, building a team under a virtual salary cap of $100,000 and then selecting a contest.
From there, users can edit their teams until rosters lock five minutes prior to kickoff, allowing for late swaps depending on the starting lineups named by Premier League managers. Additionally, the site offers global edits, which allows users to make substitutions to numerous lineups with only a few quick clicks (fantasy owners who had Daniel Sturridge in their lineups last weekend know the importance of this feature).
After a team in locked in place, contestants can monitor their performance through DraftGoal’s real-time data, which updates team scores live as statistics are accumulated during matches.
However, this is where DraftGoal’s uniqueness shines. Not only are the usual fantasy soccer stats – goals, assists, clean sheets and saves – counted, but more advanced contributions, like shots on target, interceptions, duels won and game-winning goals are tallied to provide a more sophisticated scoring system for contestants to strategize around.
For example, Manchester United defender Phil Jones has not supplied a goal nor an assist all season, but with the help of eight balls recovered, five passes intercepted and one winning tackle, Jones was able to rack up 12 DraftGoal points last week thanks to his defensive contributions.
As a result, DraftGoal’s scoring system makes contestants carefully consider the formation they use. Sure, a 4-3-3 might maximize attacking potential, but a more traditional 4-4-2 or 4-5-1 may best capitalize on the steady defensive contributions that aren’t measured in other fantasy formats.
This weekend, six Premier League teams will not be in action – Arsenal, Liverpool, Aston Villa, Sunderland, Hull City, and Queens Park Rangers – but with DraftGoal’s innovative scoring and salary evaluations in mind, here are some candidates from the remaining teams that could help users earn money in Saturday and Sunday contests:
Arguably the best value at his position, Southampton’s Kelvin Davis ($4,700) wasn’t on fantasy radars until teammate Fraser Forster’s fine campaign was ended a few weeks ago by a knee injury. With Forster out, the penny-priced Davis now starts in goal for a Saints team that has conceded the fewest goals this season. The 38-year-old accumulated 17 DraftGoal points last weekend thanks to a three-save, clean sheet win and now plays a Stoke side that’s winless in their past four matches.
Conversely, if you’re willing to cough up the cash for a keeper, Crystal Palace’s Julian Speroni ($12,800) might be your man. Manager Alan Pardew has resurrected the Eagles since taking over and they’ve rattled off five wins from their past six games, allowing just one goal in each of those outings. However, with a home date this weekend versus West Brom, the league’s worst road scoring team, Speroni could find the elusive clean sheet to go with another win.
Between the basement bargain Davis and the store window Speroni, Everton’s Tim Howard ($8,800) seems like a decent investment this weekend. The American, along with Everton’s defense, has endured a turbulent campaign, but Howard has kept a clean sheet in two straight matches at Goodison Park. That’s where the Toffees will host Burnley, who painstakingly have gone scoreless in five of their past six matches.
With Everton, Southampton and Crystal Palace boasting some of the brighter defensive outlooks this weekend, starting defenders on those clubs would be worthwhile to consider. However, it’s probably no coincidence that Everton’s Leighton Baines ($18,500) and Seamus Coleman ($13,900), as well as Crystal Palace’s Joel Ward ($13,900) and Scott Dann ($13,400) constitute four of DraftGoal’s five most expensive defenders.
So while they certainly seem to have favorable home matchups, a player like Southampton’s Toby Alderweireld ($8,500) could prove more cost effective. The Belgian recently returned from a sideline spell, but still claims nine clean sheets from 20 starts. That includes last weekend’s win, when Alderweireld played right back and registered an astounding 25 points on DraftGoal courtesy of one shot on target, two successful crosses, six recovered balls, one pass interception and three winning tackles. This time around, Alderweireld will play a Stoke side that he notched 12 defensive points against earlier this season.
Outside of the aforementioned teams, Swansea City’s Kyle Bartley ($5,300) makes for an intriguing sleeper selection this week at Leciester City. That’s because in wake of defenders Neil Taylor being suspended and Kyle Naughton (ankle) injured, manager Garry Monk is short on options at full back. Angel Rangel ($13,200) figures to start on one side, but Bartley could patrol the other. His main competition is probably Jordi Amat ($5,300), so confirmation of Swansea’s lineup will be needed, but whoever starts is cheaply priced on DraftGoal and gifted with a matchup against the Premiership’s worst team.
The value of defensive midfielders in DraftGoal’s scoring system makes numerous players at the position worth trumpeting this week. First off, Crystal Palace’s Mile Jedinak ($15,700) ranks third in points per game (18.00) for midfielders on DraftGoal and could be in store for another stellar display against West Brom’s disjointed attack. Similarly, Everton’s James McCarthy ($10,700) is averaging 12.00 points per game and could take advantage of Burnley sitting second-last in possession (42.3 percent) this season by adding to his 131 recovered balls on the campaign.
In the Sunday contest, Tottenham’s Ryan Mason ($3,700) remains an excellent value. Spurs' central midfielder totaled six recovered ball and six pass interceptions last week, which went with three fouls won to contribute toward 15.00 points versus Aston Villa. This Sunday, Mason plays Newcastle, who he provided an assist against back in October.
When it comes to more attack-minded midfielders, Chelsea’s Eden Hazard ($16,400) leads the charge versus Manchester United, but his counterpart Ashley Young ($5,700) might be the better option. Young’s price is rather inexpensive and his form has been tremendous lately. To that point, Young recorded an eye-popping 36 points on DraftGoal last weekend against Manchester City, which brought his average to 14.00 points on the season.
Speaking of form, Crystal Palace’s Yannick Bolasie ($8,900) is coming off a hat trick and 45 DraftGoal points at Sunderland last weekend and now looks forward to a home matchup versus a West Brom team that hasn’t won a road Premiership game since Nov. 1.
Up front, it’s hard to believe that Tottenham’s Harry Kane ($6,900) will go three games without scoring, as he hasn’t done that since December. So while Kane hasn’t scored in his past two matches, Sunday’s game at Newcastle could be a different story, especially considering the Magpies have allowed the second-most goals this season. Additionally, getting Kane’s production (16.00 points per game) and big-game potential at just $6,900 seems like robbery.
Back in the Saturday contest, Crystal Palace’s Glenn Murray ($6,100) totes an even better average (17.00 points) at an even cheaper price. Moreover, Murray supplied a goal and two assists last weekend to bring his season totals to six goals and four assists – all of which have come over his last six Premier League appearances. Now he gets to push his luck against 19th-place Burnley.
Yet even less expensive is Chelsea’s Didier Drogba ($4,600), who may be handed a rare start in light of teammate Diego Costa (hamstring) being out injured and Loic Remy ($12,700) dealing with a calf issue. If a last-minute lineup check indeed sees Drogba start, the Stamford Bridge legend should take confidence from scoring last time he faced Manchester United.
Such bargains could allow room for a premium-priced player like Manchester City’s Sergio Aguero ($25,000). Despite his team being dismantled last Sunday at Old Trafford, Aguero still scored twice and tallied 22 points on DraftGoal. Now, the top scorer on the Premier League’s highest scoring team returns home to await Sunday’s match versus West Ham. The Hammers have won once on the road since January across all competitions and have leaked 17 goals over their past six meetings with Manchester City.