This article is part of our Starting Eleven series.
7:30 a.m: Everton v. Liverpool
10:00 a.m: Bournemouth v. Crystal Palace
10:00 a.m: Brighton v. Huddersfield
10:00 a.m: Leicester City v. Newcastle
10:00 a.m: Stoke City v. Tottenham
10:00 a.m: Watford v. Burnley
10:00 a.m: West Brom v. Swansea City
12:30 p.m: Manchester City v. Manchester United
The potential absence of Mohamed Salah (groin) coupled with a Manchester derby that could be incredibly tight will likely have fantasy owners sprinting to roster Harry Kane. Spurs come in with the highest win odds and implied goal total, while Kane took 54 shots, including 28 on goal, in his 10 starts prior to suffering his ankle injury back on March 11 at Bournemouth. If you're looking for a differential forward, it's probably best not to have that guy replace Kane but join him in your attack.
Whenever Jose Mourinho is involved in a match against another top team, I tend to stay away. No one can make soccer less fun than Mourinho, and I just don't think we'll get big performances out of Gabriel Jesus, Sergio Aguero, Raheem Sterling, Romelu Lukaku or Alexis Sanchez. Taking all of those elite attackers out of the equation certainly paves the way for everyone to have Kane, right?
As mentioned, Salah is likely to miss out due to injury, and it's unclear if manager Jurgen Klopp will also sit Roberto Firmino to rest him ahead of next week's Champions League match at Man City. There's talk that Danny Ings could get a run out, which is fun for him but unlikely to get me to roster him at Goodison Park. Despite the two sides being very different in terms of ability, these games are usually close and I don't really want to plant a flag with Ings.
There are a few other forwards worth considering, including Leicester City's Jamie Vardy, who has scored in eight of his last 12 Premier League matches, including six of his last eight. Not known as a high volume shooter, Vardy has taken at least two shots in six of those eight games, putting nine on goal in total. Matched up against a Newcastle side that hasn't posted an away clean sheet sine Jan. 1 at Stoke, there's little hesitation with putting Vardy in a lineup.
Speaking of shots, Salomon Rondon continues to fire them off, putting all three attempts on target last weekend against Burnley while scoring his second goal in his last three games. The West Brom attacker has taken at least three shots in eight of his last 11 games (36 in total, including 13 on goal), helping him eclipse 15.00 fantasy points in five of his past six. Up next is a home match against Swansea City, who have allowed multiple goals in two of their last three away matches.
Sticking with the same theme above, we're likely to see plenty of Tottenham midfielders this week, led by Christian Eriksen, who has scored at least 16.70 fantasy points in eight of his past 10 Premier League games, with his two lower performances coming against Liverpool and Arsenal. For the record, Stoke are not Liverpool nor Arsenal. And Eriksen is far from the only Spurs midfielder worth considering, as Dele Alli had three goals and an assist in his past two games (including a brace last weekend at Chelsea) while Heung-Min Son has five goals on 19 shots (11 on target) in his last four in all competitions.
Sadio Mane figures to be the main Liverpool option for the Merseyside derby, but one has to wonder how effective he'll be without Salah and possibly Firmino. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain was pretty strong against Man City, but he feels like a pretty dramatic dropoff from the Spurs midfielders.
The Manchester derby once again gives me pause, though Nemanja Matic has been such an automatic pick this season, while Paul Pogba has scored at least 21.00 in three straight. But again, Mourinho is likely to make this a rock fight, and so I'll probably stay away from them, as well as Kevin De Bruyne, David Silva and Fernandinho. Given how much I think Spurs players are likely to be highly owned, fading them for players from the Manchester derby certainly adds significant leverage in winner-take-all contests.
Any talk of using Vardy in a forward spot should obviously open the discussion about midfielder Riyad Mahrez, who has scored at least 16.10 fantasy points in each of his past four games, including three with more than 22.00. He's been a great attacking option of late, taking 14 shots (eight on goal), drawing 12 fouls and winning 30 duels in his last four games. Outside of the Tottenham guys, Mahrez easily locked in a spot in my lineup.
DEFENDERS AND GOALKEEPERS
Unsurprisingly, Tottenham's defenders and goalkeeper Hugo Lloris will be very popular despite playing away to Stoke because they have by far the best clean sheet odds. However, they aren't the only team with more than a 40 percent chance of a shutout, according to bet365.com, as Brighton actually join them up there as they host Huddersfield, who have been held scoreless in four consecutive matches. Whenever I see a team that has really struggled I immediately see who they played, as Huddersfield getting shutout by Manchester United, Manchester City, Liverpool and Chelsea isn't something to get completely discouraged about. However, these four scoreless matches have come away to Tottenham, home against Swansea City, home against Crystal Palace and away to Newcastle. Brighton haven't been a lock-tight defensive unit, allowing at least one goal in every league match since Dec. 30, but there's at least some optimism for Saturday.
I wouldn't shy away from the Merseyside derby, as even though their previous two matches this season have been close, they haven't been high scoring. Virgil van Dijk would be the first player I look for, having won 43 duels in his past five games, and I might even try to get some attacking upside from someone like Alberto Moreno if the expected rotation comes to fruition. Even without Salah, I'm probably not going so far as to roster Everton defenders.
Newcastle have been better of late, but I am still keeping my eye on Harry Maguire, who has taken nine shots in his last three games, albeit seven came against Bournemouth. He's a solid defensive accumulator who can win some aerial duels, and a clean sheet wouldn't be the craziest result from Leicester. I'd probably still pick Lloris or Loris Karius ahead of Kasper Schmeichel, who is ahead of Mathew Ryan in my book.