This article is part of our FanDuel Fantasy Soccer series.
- 10:00 am: Crystal Palace vs. Southampton
- 12:30 pm: Liverpool vs. Leeds United
- 3:00 pm: West Ham United vs. Newcastle United
Mohamed Salah, LIV v. LEE ($23): It's not the greatest opening slate, but Liverpool are in action and they face a back line that rarely sees this kind of attack (Leeds last played in Premier League in 2014). The Reds are the biggest favorite and have an implied goal total almost one more than the five other teams in action. Salah and Sadio Mane ($21) have the best odds to score and will be in most of my squads, especially in cash games. Salah closed last season with four goals and four assists in his final eight starts, hitting double-digit fantasy points and a shot on target in all of those contests. Mane had three goals in his last six starts, but he also assisted just once following the New Year. Salah is my choice between the two because in addition to penalties, he does a little more for his teammates. For tournaments, you could fade both and go with Roberto Firmino ($18), who is overpriced given his recent lack of goal scoring. In that scenario, you'd roster everyone else who starts for Liverpool and hope it's a repeat of their last win against Chelsea when Salah and Mane both failed to score despite the team bagging five.
Michail Antonio, WHU v. NEW ($20): Antonio scored eight goals in the final seven matches last season and opens the campaign in a great spot against Newcastle, who he scored against on July 5. In his final eight starts, he averaged two shots on goal and 1.5 chances created. It's been a short off-season, so it's possible he holds onto that form and hits the back of the net against a team that struggled in the pre-season and gave up five goals to Middlesbrough. Jarrod Bowen ($14) is the perfect stacking piece because he's on sets for West Ham and is the other reason their attack took off the final couple months of the season. Bowen may not score as much as he was in the Championship, but he averaged 2.3 shots and 1.7 chances created in his last seven starts (not including the meaningless finale against Aston Villa). Antonio and Bowen have the highest upside for West Ham, while Tomas Soucek ($15), Mark Noble ($15) and Declan Rice ($14) are fine cash plays because they'll get 10 fantasy points no matter the situation and then possibly make an appearance on the score-sheet if things get out of hand.
Danny Ings, SOU at CRY ($19): Ings versus Antonio is probably one of the bigger decisions on the slate, assuming you're also backing Liverpool. Of course, if you're fading Liverpool, Ings and Antonio is the logical route. Ings has better odds to score than Antonio, but the Southampton-Crystal Palace match has the lowest implied goal total. In his lone start against Palace last season, Ings scored once from six shots. He also closed last season similar to Antonio with seven goals in nine starts. The downside for Ings is that he doesn't supply much else as a goal poacher, who managed just two assists in 38 appearances last campaign. You get Ings for goals and nothing else, which is more relevant for GPP purposes. Similar to Bowen with Antonio, James Ward-Prowse ($16) is the stacking piece with Ings as Southampton's main set-piece taker. Not to mention, Ward-Prowse had a floor of at least 19.9 points in both meetings last season.
Jonjo Shelvey, NEW at WHU ($12): Newcastle just made a bunch of new signings, but that doesn't change Shelvey from being one of their more consistent players last season when healthy. He managed six goals and two assists in 25 starts, averaging 1.91 shots and 1.91 chances created. I like him because in addition to providing a few defensive stats in a central role, he also isn't afraid to unleash shots from distance. Allan Saint-Maximin ($14) has more upside, but he doesn't have much of a floor, while Callum Wilson ($16) hasn't played in a match with his new teammates and I'm not backing Andy Carroll ($12) or Joelinton ($10) if they start. I also think this is a great match to stack both sides because neither back line has shown much in preseason (or last season). In addition to taking the over 2.5 goals, as I think both teams could be set for a couple, and if Liverpool struggle in their opener, that could mean a Newcastle-West Ham stack would win big money.
Tyrick Mitchell, CRY v. SOU ($6): Given that it's the first week of the season, there will be a slew of cheap defenders, which will allow you to grab any forwards you want. Mitchell may be the only defender at $6, so I have to write about him. He had 18.1 total points in his two starts last season and has been the guy at left-back in Crystal Palace's friendlies. He doesn't provide much of a floor, but he created three chances in those two starts, and anything close to 10 points will do in order to get three high-end forwards in your squad. I'd also consider newcomers Mohammed Salisu ($7) and Robin Koch ($7) if they start, or any of the cheaper Newcastle defenders, which won't be known until they release their starting XI.
Luke Ayling, LEE at LIV ($8): Leeds have questions at center-back and I'd consider whoever starts there against Liverpool. As for Ayling, I know he's going to start, and while he may not supply attacking stats in this matchup, he should still reach double-digit floor points from defensive stats. I'm fine with stacking Leeds defenders because Liverpool forced the most clearances, third-most blocks and sixth-most interceptions last season. If you want to spend, Trent Alexander-Arnold ($16) and Andrew Robertson ($14) will draw plenty of attention, but I'd rather spend my money on players who are more likely to score.
Alex McCarthy, SOU at CRY ($9): You could spend a few more bucks and get Alisson Becker ($14) with the hopes of a win and clean sheet or you could bet against a team that scored 31 goals in 38 matches last season. That would be Crystal Palace, who managed just 376 shots, the second-fewest in the league. While Southampton's back line may not be elite, McCarthy allowed just one goal to Palace in two matches last season. That's worth a bet in order to save money instead of going Alisson or the oddly higher-priced Lukasz Fabianski ($12) and Vicente Guaita ($11).