Sweeping the Floor: How Much Do Set Pieces Matter?
Sweeping the Floor: How Much Do Set Pieces Matter?

This article is part of our Sweeping the Floor series.

Daily fantasy soccer players on DraftKings are always concerned about set pieces. The RotoWire subscriber Discord soccer channel is filled with questions like "who takes sets for Spurs with Kieran Trippier and Christian Eriksen out?" or "will Jean Michael Seri still take corners with Ryan Sessegnon and Tom Cairney starting?" or my personal recent favorite "who takes set pieces for Saudi Arabia?" (Thanks to our World Cup stats you'd know that Salman Al Faraj took them in Russia, though I don't think he played during their friendly against South Korea last week.)

But despite the huge value put on set-piece knowledge, free kicks aren't everything. Or, put differently, there is more to cash-game lineup construction than who is on set pieces. I've been a proponent of focusing on players who don't take set pieces when building cash-game lineups, with this year's clearest example being Huddersfield's Philip Billing, who has scored the 11th-most floor points (total fantasy points minus goals, assists, cards and clean sheets) despite taking just five total free kicks (three shots, one corner and one free-kick cross). It's not that I don't value the predictability of getting crosses and the occasional shots from players who take free kicks, but I think there is too much of an emphasis on that role, especially since players can be replaced on those dead balls at any time, and it's tough to even predict how many set pieces a team will get each match.

Of course, players who have set-piece responsibilities

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Andrew M. Laird
Andrew M. Laird, the 2017 and 2018 FSWA Soccer Writer of the Year, is RotoWire's Head of DFS Content and Senior Soccer Editor. He is a seven-time FSWA award finalist, including twice for the Football Writer of the Year Award.
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