DraftKings Fantasy Soccer: Saturday EPL Picks
DraftKings Fantasy Soccer: Saturday EPL Picks

This article is part of our DraftKings Fantasy Soccer series.

MATCHES (EDT)

For detailed stats and odds, check out the DraftKings Fantasy Soccer: Saturday EPL Cheat Sheet.

FORWARDS

Riyad Mahrez, MCI v. WAT ($10,700): A small slate with one gigantic favorite who happens to be the highest-scoring team in the league, this will be a classic "how much Manchester City can we get?" lineup build for cash games and probably GPPs. Fading Manchester City is obviously an option in tournaments because of the big advantage you'll have if they struggle after traveling to Ukraine for a midweek Champions League match, which they won 3-0, but it'll be a scary fade the entire time. Mahrez, who is the third-most expensive forward on the slate after teammates Sergio Aguero ($11,900) and Raheem Sterling ($11,100), had one goal on three shots and one assist on three chances created against Shakhtar Donetsk on Wednesday, including a shared role on corners with midfielder Kevin De Bruyne ($11,400). There's certainly no guarantee that Mahrez starts, but his role on set pieces gives him a solid floor that Aguero and Sterling don't have. He's been excellent in his three starts this season, scoring one goal on eight shots (four on target) and assisting three others on 12 chances created, and thankfully Manchester City don't play in the late game so we'll know the lineups ahead of time. Cash lineups will likely have multiple Man City pieces, and it wouldn't be surprising if Bernardo Silva ($9,100) was popular if he starts because he's the cheapest of the group. The new scoring rules have benefited players like Bernardo because he creates chances at a more regular rate than he crosses, and with City such big favorites, his opportunity for a goal only increases. Unsurprisingly, Aguero has the highest anytime goal scorer odds on the slate, but you'll obviously have to pay up for them, and the same applies to Sterling, which could make them a bit lower owned because there are cheaper (though not by much) options.

Dwight McNeil, BUR v. NOR ($7,700): McNeil comes in with a share of set pieces for a Burnley side that's actually favored to win, even against a Norwich City team that is coming off a shocking 3-2 victory over Manchester City. McNeil's price is a bit high, though it looks pretty affordable next to the Man City options. Meanwhile, Norwich have allowed more crosses than any other team on the slate, though that includes the 46 (!) Manchester City sent in last week while trying to level the score, and 31 to Liverpool in their opener. Nevertheless, Burnley's mode of attack usually revolves around crosses, and McNeil plays a part in that. It's possible that Johann Berg Gudmundsson ($8,000) also starts, though McNeil didn't have a monopoly of corners even when JBG was out, as midfielder Ashley Westwood ($5,200) just took those on. McNeil is more a cash play, but for those looking at GPP upside, teammate Ashley Barnes ($7,900) has four goals in five games while averaging a solid 3.47 shots and 3.04 fouls drawn per 90 minutes. And while Barnes has been the one actually finding the back of the net, it's only a matter of time before Chris Wood ($5,500) gets on the scoresheet. Additionally, any game with Norwich City means you have to consider striker Teemu Pukki, who had a goal and an assist against Manchester City and now has six goals on 17 shots (12 on target) and two assists on five chances created this season. Both teams in this game have conceded a bunch of peripheral stats, so while the club names don't make you scream for action, we could have a fantasy-point-fest on our hands.

Gylfi Sigurdsson, EVE v. SHU ($9,400): Sigurdsson has been one of the worst cash-game forwards this season, which is pretty incredible because of his share of Everton's set pieces. We can give him credit for his 11 chances created, but he's managed to take just a single shot in three of five games while sending in more than three crosses once. His crossing numbers are so low that Richarlison ($8,900), who is not known as a crosser at all, has sent in four fewer than Sigurdsson while taking five more shots, drawing eight more fouls, winning 10 more tackles and scoring two goals to Sigurdsson's zero. There's an obvious cash-game play from Everton each week, and he's not from Iceland. For GPPs, Richarlison makes lots of sense, and if they can actually start the right attackers, Moise Kean ($7,000) and Alex Iwobi ($7,500) don't figure to be highly owned, though the other side isn't void of options, with David McGoldrick ($5,200) coming off a solid game against Southampton when he put three of six shots on goal. Or, you could focus on the game with the lowest total, Newcastle v. Brighton, since Joelinton ($5,700) is fairly cheap, though paying up for Pascal Gross ($7,300) seems detrimental in cash.

MIDFIELDERS

Kevin De Bruyne, MCI v. WAT ($11,400): Given the team, the matchup and his role, De Bruyne is the best midfielder on the slate, which is also why he's the most expensive player at the position. He doesn't have a monopoly of set pieces, but he creates a bunch of chances (4.74 per 90 minutes) and is shooting more than he has in any of his previous Premier League seasons for Man City, averaging 2.99 per 90. Lots of fantasy players will be interested in using De Bruyne as part of a Man City stack, but the problem is that the forward pool is dominated by his teammates in terms of upside and price, and there are cheaper midfielders who are more reliable than the somewhat cheaper forwards. You can't go wrong with De Bruyne, but paying up so much, and presumably with a forward teammate, can really handicap the rest of the lineup, particularly in the second forward slot.

Emiliano Buendia, NOR at BUR ($6,900): Buendia is the only Norwich City player to take a free kick this season, a role that has helped him to four assists on 13 chances created (more than any player on the slate other than De Bruyne) while averaging 5.28 crosses per 90. Norwich City are away underdogs in this match, but Burnley have shown to be content with allowing peripheral points, so Buendia should continue to be active, especially with Norwich willing to attack any and all opponents. If there's one negative it's that Buendia doesn't take many shots, but the set pieces at his price are enough for serious consideration. If you don't want to believe in Norwich, you can overpay for Jonjo Shelvey ($6,600), who may be taking set pieces for Newcastle, though Christian Atsu ($5,200) may be the more attractive option because he does a decent amount in open play.

John Fleck, SHU at EVE ($4,600): Oliver Norwood ($6,000) has been an excellent cash-game midfielder this season, scoring at least 8.9 fantasy points in every start while never being priced above $6,600. His role on set pieces keeps him active and able to create chances, and he comes in leading the team in crosses and shots assisted. However, Fleck showed last week that he's capable of putting up similar numbers with his partial role on set pieces, as he scored 15.5 fantasy points without a goal or an assist thanks to five shots, including one on target, three shots assisted, nine crosses, one tackle won and a yellow card. It was only his second start of the season, and his first one garnered only four points, but he makes for an attractive target on this slate given the reduced price and solid role. Everton have been good defensively at home, but Sheffield United are scrappy enough to get their peripheral points, even if they don't find the back of the net. Finding lower-priced midfielders will be a priority for those looking to pay up for the Man City attackers, and there are a few decent options like Isaac Hayden ($4,200), Todd Cantwell ($4,600), Robbie Brady ($4,400), Roberto Pereyra ($4,000) and John Lundstram ($3,400), who don't have to do a whole lot to make value on their prices if they start.

DEFENDERS

Lucas Digne, EVE v. SHU ($7,400): Paying this much for a defender will make many uncomfortable, but you can make a very strong case that Digne is the best floor play on the slate, if not the best in the Premier League. He splits set pieces with Sigurdsson but their stats simply don't match up:

PlayerMinSSOGCCCRTKLWINTFDFPts
DIgne43381123765459.4
Sigurdsson39193111520439.5

So, explain to me why we have to pay $2,000 more for Sigurdsson, who isn't eligible for clean sheet points? If you want to argue that he has higher upside because he's on penalties, that's fine, but his anytime goal scorer odds aren't even that good for Saturday's match. Either way, if Digne were a midfielder he's still be worth his salary, and paying up for him in cash games makes sense because there are serviceable cheaper midfielders who can provide floor points, but there aren't any defenders who can match what Digne does.

Jetro Willems, NEW v. BHA ($4,300): Willems' crossing upside is higher than fellow Newcastle fullback Emil Krafth's ($3,400), though the significant difference is salary justifies paying down for those needing the cap space. The matchup against Brighton is hardly a difficult one, and while it does have the lowest total on the slate, that could just mean plenty of clean sheet points! Brighton's Dan Burn ($3,700) has been a decent play recently based on his prices, even if his Saturday salary is higher than it's been all season. There are plenty of justifiable punts in the lower range, with Norwich's Sam Byram ($3,800) not crazy because of how much they like to attack, though their fullbacks haven't been overly productive this season. It just doesn't seem like a slate where paying up at both defender spots makes sense, so plenty of fantasy players will be looking toward the bottom of the barrel for any kind of production.

GOALKEEPER

Dean Henderson, SHU at EVE ($3,900): The Everton attack has struggled for the most part this season, scoring one or zero goals in four of their five Premier League games. Meanwhile, Henderson, who is the cheapest goalkeeper not facing Manchester City, has made at least three saves in three of his last four starts. Paying up for Ederson ($5,900) is an option for those who think his potential 10.0 points is safer than relying on a goal from any of their attackers, but it's a dangerous game to play when Manchester City have one fit centerback (in fairness, they did shut out Shakhtar Donetsk this week).

The author(s) of this article may play in daily fantasy contests including – but not limited to – games that they have provided recommendations or advice on in this article. In the course of playing in these games using their personal accounts, it's possible that they will use players in their lineups or other strategies that differ from the recommendations they have provided above. The recommendations in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of RotoWire. Andrew M. Laird plays in daily fantasy contests using the following accounts: FanDuel: kingmorland, DraftKings: andrewmlaird, Yahoo: Lairdinho.
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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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