This article is part of our DraftKings Fantasy Soccer series.
10:00 a.m: Leicester City v. Burnley
10:00 a.m: Stoke City v. Swansea City
10:00 a.m: Everton v. Huddersfield
10:00 a.m: Brighton v. Liverpool
10:00 a.m: West Brom v. Crystal Palace
10:00 a.m: Watford v. Tottenham
12:30 p.m: Arsenal v. Manchester United
Saturday's slate is a tricky one, as we have no overwhelming favorites despite Arsenal, Liverpool, Manchester United and Spurs all included. Complicating it a bit further, Arsenal will play Manchester United in the late game, so if you think you have a hidden value play and he's not in the starting XI, you'll have to start psyching yourself up for a big game from a center-back. Oh, and Manchester United will face CSKA Moscow in the Champions League next Tuesday, while Liverpool and Spurs play Spartak Moscow and APOEL Nicosia, respectively, on Wednesday. AND all of these teams played either Tuesday or Wednesday of this week; needless to say, there could be some lineup rotation.
Liverpool are the biggest favorites with the highest implied goal total as the travel to face Brighton, who were held scoreless in their past two matches, though the only score they allowed was an own goal (people who rostered Ashley Young that day still can't believe he wasn't credited with the goal). The mention of Liverpool immediately turns us to Mohamed Salah ($11,300), who has scored eight goals in his last six appearances in all competitions, including seven in his last four during Premier League play. Salah's high fantasy scores are understandable given that he can't stop scoring goals, but a deeper look shows us that he has a decent floor, especially since he crosses most of the corners he takes (13 of 16). Looking at his combined shots, shots on goal, crosses and fouls drawn, Salah has been just as consistent as many other top-priced forwards we always consider in cash. The bigger question is whether paying $11,300 is optimal.
Philippe Coutinho ($10,800) is the player most turn to for cash games when they need a piece of the Liverpool attack. Coutinho is generally on a majority of corners when he plays, though Salah, James Milner ($7,600, midfielder), Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain ($6,200), Trent Alexander-Arnold ($5,900, defender) and Alberto Moreno ($5,800) have each poached a few at some point. Coutinho has been used is various positions this season, none of which have led to huge crossing games, particularly in open play. In fact, his nine open-play crosses this year are 14 fewer than Jamie Vardy ($6,800). The combination of Coutinho's 4.39 shots and 5.17 crosses per 90 minutes is what makes him a consideration in cash games, but it's worth noting that he's had at least four shots and five crosses in the same game just four times this season, and his season high for each is six and seven, respectively (and weren't accomplished in the same game). This isn't to say that Coutinho is a bad cash play, but I think the difference between Salah and Coutinho, even with the price difference, is smaller than many perceive it to be.
Harry Kane ($11,500) is another player who generally only gets cash consideration on slates when Spurs are overwhelming favorites because people sometimes think they have to block with him, but Kane's plethora of shots at least gives him a reasonable floor. His 78 shots this season lead the Premier League by a margin of 27 over Salah and Romelu Lukaku ($8,600), while Salah is the only player with more shots on goal (30-28). Tottenham have been struggling a bit lately, though Kane has still found the back of the net in three straight while taking 17 shots over that span. Given the matchup at Watford, who have allowed the most goals to visiting teams this season, I can understand the consideration for Kane, though at that price you need a really big game and hope that Salah and/or Coutinho flop. If you're convinced Spurs can get it going against Watford, you could also look to Son Heung-Min ($8,100) in GPPs, as he took four shots and drew three fouls in each of his last two starts. Erik Lamela ($7,400) is another option if he starts, and it's possible he could even take corners if Christian Eriksen ($9,100, midfielder) gets a much-needed rest. Unfortunately, Lamela will be hard pressed to pay off that salary if he doesn't have them.
The Arsenal v. Manchester United match is a tough one since we obviously have plenty of big fantasy names like Lukaku, Alexis Sanchez ($8,900), Marcus Rashford ($7,800), Anthony Martial ($7,000) and Zlatan Ibrahimovic ($8,100). None of them are overly expensive, but I see this game as being pretty tight without a plethora of fantasy points. Rashford is the most cash-friendly United option because he's been taking corners, while Alexis is probably the same for Arsenal with a lower floor and higher ceiling. Those who expect this game to be higher scoring (I'm not one of them) should definitely target these guys in GPPs because I think they'll be much lower owned than usual.
Looking at the other games, Riyad Mahrez ($6,800) jumps out at home against Burnley, who have allowed the most shots, third-most crosses and most corners this season among teams on the slate. Leicester don't usually like to have a ton of possession, but Burnley will likely let them have it while they claw for a point on the road. Mahrez hasn't been a reliable cash option in a while, but this game could be the one where he gets it back. Demarai Gray ($5,700) is an interesting possibility if he starts, though he'll likely split corners with Mahrez and he's had more games with no shots this season than at least one.
Wayne Rooney ($8,400) bagged a hat trick against West Ham on Wednesday, and his home matchup against Huddersfield pushed his price up $1,300. Expecting Rooney to score again seems pretty naive, though I keep expecting the big game to come from Gylfi Sigurdsson ($8,200) and it just hasn't happened yet. Sigurdsson is a solid play because Huddersfield have been so bad away from home, but unfortunately his poor play hasn't really equaled a decrease in price. Sure, he was $11,000 at points last season, but it's possible that Sigurdsson will never be seen again.
Andros Townsend ($7,100) and Pascal Gross ($6,600) are two set-piece takers on underdogs, though both split with other players. Townsend has a nice opportunity at West Brom, who have allowed the most crosses in the Premier League this season, but unfortunately he's not doing a whole lot more than that. Then again, Gross isn't either. The West Brom v. Crystal Palace match includes Salomon Rondon ($5,700) and Christian Benteke ($5,500), two of the most goal dependent players in the Premier League. Sure, each could score, but both are really just GPP fliers like Tammy Abraham ($5,200), Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting ($6,500) and Vardy.
And we can't finish the forward conversation without talking about Richarlison, even if his $7,900 salary seems like a lot when he's up against Tottenham. Richarlison has scored at least eight fantasy points in eight of his last nine games, including eight against Arsenal, 20 (with an assist) at Chelsea and eight against Manchester United. He has taken at least three shots in seven of his last eight while drawing multiple fouls in six. The salary is a bit pricey, but it's pretty rare to see Richarlison kill a fantasy lineup.
Christian Eriksen ($9,100) is the most expensive midfielder on the slate despite failing to reach 10 fantasy points in five of his last six Premier League games, including five games with fewer than six points. He took zero corners two games ago when both Kieran Trippier ($6,600, defender) and Ben Davies ($6,300, defender) started, and those two are certainly possibilities after resting earlier this week. Eriksen has still managed to take multiple shots in every game sine Oct. 22, racking up 19 over those seven games, but only four were on goal and just one found the back of the net. Without a monopoly of set pieces, I don't see how you can pay that much for Eriksen in cash, though along those lines of thinking, he's a great GPP option along with Dele Alli ($8,300), who has three assists in his last two games.
Xherdan Shaqiri ($8,800) is the next highest-priced midfielder as Stoke welcome a Swansea side that's allowed only six goals in seven away matches this season. Shaqiri has a decent floor because of his crosses and shots, and he comes in with two goals and three assists in his last five games. If there's a slight worry with Shaqiri it's that Darren Fletcher ($3,600) has been stealing some corners lately, enough that he's actually outcrossed Shaqiri 14-13 over the past three games. Shaqiri does much more in open play, but he also costs $5,200 more. Fletcher's ceiling is quite low, but that salary is pretty tempting if he continues to get the corners while still winning a few tackles, drawing fouls and intercepting passes.
As mentioned earlier, James Milner ($7,600) is always a threat to take set pieces when he's on the pitch, though at this price it's tough to play him without knowing he has them all (i.e., Coutinho, Salah, Moreno, Alexander-Arnold and Oxlade-Chamberlain don't start). Liverpool haven't been great defensively away from Anfield this season, so it's not crazy to at least consider Anthony Knockaert ($5,200) if you were thinking about Pascal Gross ($6,600).
Another busy set-piece situation arises with West Brom, who used Matt Phillips ($6,300) on corners earlier this week until he suffered a minor hamstring strain. If he's unable to play, Sam Field ($3,400) could get more after he took one Tuesday against Newcastle when he scored his first goal. The 19-year-old was very active, finishing with three crosses, three tackles won and three interceptions on his way to 18 fantasy points. If new manager Alan Pardew elects for more experience at the corner flag, we could see the role go to Gareth Barry ($3,100), who is old enough to be Field's dad. Kieran Gibbs ($4,100, defender) is also a possibility if he can shake his thigh injury.
On the other side of that match is Yohan Cabaye ($6,900), who suffered a knock Tuesday against Brighton and could miss out. That would make Townsend a much more attractive option, as Cabaye has scored at least eight fantasy points in five straight games in part to his role on set pieces.
Robby Brady ($7,700) showed us once again this week that he has to be a part of any cash discussion, finishing with 11 crosses, three tackles, four interceptions, three tackles won and scoring a goal on one of his four shots at Bournemouth. We love to use the phrase "set piece monopoly" and Brady is the poster boy for the term, as he's taken 62 of Burnley's 65 corners this season, crossing 59 of them. Paying nearly $8,000 with Burnley road underdogs seems like a lot, but at least you know what you're getting.
Arsenal and Manchester United have some big-name midfielders, but I just don't see myself paying up for them in cash. I see this game being pretty close with not a lot of goals, making it tough for guys like Mesut Ozil ($7,900) and Paul Pogba ($7,800) to make value. Pogba has played 180 minutes in the past two games after manager Jose Mourinho said he wasn't match fit enough to play 70, so maybe this is the time he rests. Then again, it's Mourinho, so who knows?
Paying $6,600 for Kieran Trippier seems a bit nutty, but if he continues to get a decent share of set pieces while crossing in open play, it may not be that unreasonable. Ben Davies ($6,200) doesn't come much cheaper, but it seems like Spurs prefer to move forward with Trippier, so I like his floor a bit more. Liverpool's fullbacks are rightfully expensive too, though it may be tough to pass on Andrew Robertson ($6,000) if he gets the start in place of Alberto Moreno ($5,800), who has started every Premier League and Champions League game since Sept. 23.
Manchester United could rotate their fullbacks as well, though playing at Arsenal isn't the ideal situation for either side. Instead, I think Everton's Jonjoe Kenny ($4,600) is in another favorable spot at home against Huddersfield. Kenny had 15 fantasy points, including an assist, in Wednesday's win over West Ham, and with Leighton Baines ($5,600) ruled out again, he'll be the fullback to own for the Toffees. And despite being big underdogs, I wouldn't rule out the Huddersfield fullbacks either, as Everton have allowed the fifth-most crosses in the league.
As mentioned earlier, Kieran Gibbs ($4,100) could be on corners for West Brom if he's fit enough to start. Allan Nyom ($4,200), who is likely to be on the other side, provides more defensive statistics, but he could be used more as a crosser if Phillips doesn't in front of him.
The Stoke defense could get some attention at home against Swansea, arguably the worst attacking side in the Premier League. Left wing-back Erik Pieters ($4,300) has been pretty good, scoring six, seven, seven, eight and six fantasy points in his last five starts, none of which included a clean sheet. I am not going to pay $4,000 for Kurt Zouma, but if you're playing center-back goal roulette, he has five shots on goal in his last four games, which is one more than all Swansea players combined. Speaking of Swansea players, both Kyle Naughton ($3,800) and Martin Olsson ($3,900) are in play against a Stoke side that's allowed the most goals and assists among teams on the slate, not to mention the sixth-most crosses and second-most accurate crosses.
Phil Bardsley ($3,500) is still pretty cheap after scoring six points for $3,500 at Bournemouth. He may be able to push ahead a little more against Leicester, though I wouldn't expect too much more.
Given the lack of overwhelming favorites, it doesn't seem optimal to pay up for goalkeeper on this slate. Simon Mignolet ($5,800) is the most expensive option and he's allowed 16 goals in 10 away matches this season, though his last start was a 3-0 win at Stoke. Everyone else seems like a toss-up, and given I think it'll be a close match, I may turn to David de Gea ($4,600) again. He returned a paltry three points in Tuesday's 4-2 win over Watford, but I expect Arsenal to be a little more helpful in the saves department while not being clinical enough to hurt de Gea too much.
If anyone out there has a more reasoned approach to goalkeepers, I'm all ears.