10:00 a.m: Liverpool v. Southampton
10:00 a.m: Crystal Palace v. Everton
10:00 a.m: Leicester City v. Manchester City
10:00 a.m: West Brom v. Chelsea
10:00 a.m: Bournemouth v. Huddersfield
10:00 a.m: Burnley v. Swansea City
12:30 p.m: Manchester United v. Newcastle
Manchester United, Manchester City and Liverpool are the big favorites on the slate, with Chelsea somewhat close behind in fourth. As a result, we have 10 forward-eligible players priced at least $9,000, including four over $10,000. Despite being the third-largest favorite as they host Southampton at Anfield, the Liverpool duo of Philippe Coutinho ($11,100) and Mohamed Salah ($11,000) are the two most expensive players. Coutinho has made only five Premier League starts this season due to a number of injuries, but he's been his classic self when on the pitch, averaging 4.54 shots (1.08 on goal), 4.54 crosses and 3.46 chances created per 90 minutes. In fact, the only player on the slate averaging more shots+shots on goal+crosses per 90 minutes this season is Southampton's James Ward-Prowse ($4,200, midfielder), who is averaging a league-best 9.81 crosses per 90 but has started just one of their last seven games (for reference, Ward-Prowse has played fewer minutes than Man City defender Benjamin Mendy, who has been out since suffering a torn ACL on Sept. 23). Meanwhile, Salah has scored six goals on 21 shots (16 on goal!) while assisting two others in his last five appearances in all competitions. He has scored at least 19 fantasy points four times over that span, with his lone failure coming because he missed a penalty. Good luck arguing that there's been a better fantasy player over that span. You could also give a look to Roberto Firmino ($8,500) because he will start up front with Salah and Coutinho, but his floor isn't nearly as high and neither is his ceiling, hence the reduced price.
Manchester City present their usual headache, as any of them can go off for big games, or any two, or any three, or any four... Kevin De Bruyne ($10,100) always feels like the safest because he takes more set pieces than anyone else while still firing off multiple shots most matches. Among the more goal-dependent players, Sergio Aguero ($10,800) looks unlikely to start after fainting at halftime while playing for Argentina earlier this week, which should allow Gabriel Jesus ($9,800) to lead the line. Jesus has actually come off the bench in three of the last four matches, though he still scored as a sub against Arsenal before the international break. If there's a nit to pick with Jesus it's that he doesn't take that many shots (3.28 shots per 90), whereas Aguero (4.31) lets them fly as often as he can. Leroy Sane ($9,600) and Raheem Sterling ($8,900) are always under consideration, though they're both pretty goal dependent and don't make great cash plays this week because of the other options available.
Speaking of goal-dependent forwards, Romelu Lukaku ($9,700) has the third-highest anytime goal-scoring odds (trailing Aguero and Jesus), though he hasn't found the back of the net in his last six games. Nevertheless, Manchester United come in as the largest favorites on the slate, so getting some exposure seems like a good idea. With Lukaku much more of a GPP option, those looking for more stable fantasy points should turn to Marcus Rashford ($8,300), who has taken 11 of United's last 13 corners in the Premier League. "Stable" is a relative term, of course, because Manchester United now have four players who have taken at least 13 corners this season, and Rashford could lose them just as quickly as he picked them up. It's a risk, for sure, but probably one worth taking given United's expected control of their match against Newcastle.
Chelsea's Alvaro Morata ($9,900) seems to be in a solid spot playing away to West Brom, though his floor is really low and West Brom have big centerbacks who don't get beaten in the air much. Eden Hazard ($9,000) will always have to be looked at, though without set pieces it's tough to rely on him in cash games.
There are a few potential set piece takers in the lower price ranges, with Everton's Gylfi Sigurdsson ($7,300) the most expensive. Sigurdsson has been a shell of his former self, and it appears he no longer has a monopoly of set pieces. And while Everton have been atrocious this season, they are playing away to a side that comes in 20th in the table. The price is really attractive if Sigurdsson can get back to the levels that made him a $10K player last season, but it's a pretty big gap to make up if he continues to struggle. On the other side of that game is Andros Townsend ($7,000), who looks a lot more attractive if Christian Benteke ($5,900) finally returns from his knee injury. Benteke is the very definition of a goal-dependent forward, but his presence on the pitch gives Townsend someone to actually cross to in open play.
Demarai Gray ($4,600) has been very solid since moving into the starting XI for Leicester City, and he has been sharing corners with Riyad Mahrez ($6,100). Unfortunately, playing home to Manchester City doesn't fill me with confidence. If you're a revenge game seeker, Kelechi Iheanacho ($4,000) will get a chance to show Man City they made a mistake in letting him go (for what it's worth, I don't think they did).
The Bournemouth situation is a bit cloudy because Junior Stanislas ($7,400) is doubtful to play due to injury, which could allow Jordon Ibe ($4,800) to get a start and take on some set pieces. Home against Huddersfield isn't the worst matchup, but how much can we expect Ibe to cross in open play if Jermain Defoe ($5,200) leads the line?
With Man United heavily favored, Saturday seems like a great time for Henrikh Mkhitaryan ($7,700) to throw up a total dud. After picking up five assists in the first three Premier League matches, Mkhitaryan has zero in his last 12, including four Champions League appearances. He hasn't created more than two chances in any match over that span and has taken more than one shot thrice, with the last time coming Sept. 27 against CSKA Moscow. Additionally, he's fallen down the set piece ladder and isn't likely to take them this weekend. It's possible Paul Pogba ($7,900) returns from injury, but with no set pieces and minimal crossing (if any), it's tough to make a case for him in cash. Juan Mata ($5,800) is always around for a few set pieces too, but he's just too unreliable to trust.
Man City's David Silva ($7,600) isn't that much better than Mata in terms of consistent fantasy production, though his floor and ceiling (and price) are higher. Silva's set-piece responsibilities will always be behind De Bruyne's, which caps his upside, and he's not a big open-play crosser or a volume shooter, which usually makes me pass on him.
If you're looking for a set-piece monopoly, you can't overlook Robby Brady ($7,000), who has taken 43 of Burnley's 46 corners this season, crossing 41 of them. Brady definitely has double-digit cross upside, but it takes just the right game script of Swansea scoring an early goal. That possibility is certainly there, but if Burnley are the ones who go up early, you'll be lucky to get three crosses and a shot out of Brady. On the other side is a mishmash of corner possibilities, with Sam Clucas ($4,100), Ki Sung-yueng ($3,100), Renato Sanches ($3,500) and Tom Carroll ($5,400) all taking corners for Swansea over the past four games. Sanches has missed the past two due to injury but shared corners with Carroll before he got hurt. Meanwhile, Carroll hasn't taken any in the past two games despite starting both. Sanches does more across the stat sheet, and with a low price it's not the end of the world if he doesn't take set pieces.
Crystal Palace's Yohan Cabaye ($5,800) has been the ideal corner taker, as he's crossed everyone one of his 36 opportunities this season, including 19 in his past two games. In addition, he took five shots, created six chances, won nine tackles and intercepted six passes over that span. He'll now take aim at an Everton side that's allowed the most goals, most shots on goal and most assists among the teams on Saturday's slate. Don't get me wrong, Palace are still last in the table, but they offer many more fantasy options, especially against a team that hasn't had a clean sheet since the opening match of the season and has allowed multiple goals in six of their past 10 games.
Aaron Mooy ($6,600) usually takes set pieces for Huddersfield, but he may not get a start after traveling back from Australia and arriving back late Thursday. He came on at halftime in his last match following an international break, so it wouldn't be surprising to see him on the bench for the start of Saturday's game. If that's the case, Rajiv van La Parra ($4,300) and Tom Ince ($4,600) seem destined to split the three or four opportunities until Mooy comes on.
Chelsea playing at West Brom means we should consider Cesc Fabregas ($6,500), who has taken 46 of Chelsea's 58 corners this season. Fabregas has been creating a decent number of chances, though it's only resulted in one assist, which came back on Oct. 14. Fabregas doesn't shoot much, and his season-high in crosses is seven, a mark he's reached four times. That's not bad production, but it's not really enough for his salary. Another player who may struggle to make value is James Milner ($7,800), mostly because it seems unlikely that he would continue taking most corners and other set pieces with Coutinho back in. Is it possible? Sure. Is it worth risking $7,800 on? Probably not.
Facing Milner (if he starts at all), will be the wonderful collection of Southampton midfielders who constantly infuriate fantasy players who think they have any semblance of understanding about who will take set pieces. Steven Davis ($4,100), James Ward-Prowse ($4,200), Nathan Redmond ($5,000, forward eligible) and Ryan Bertrand ($4,200) have all taken corners within the last three matches, while Sofiane Boufal ($3,800) and Dusan Tadic ($5,500) have also chipped in at times. And, of course, defender Cedric Soares ($4,300) leads the team in crosses despite taking zero corners this season. All of them are priced down because they're playing at Liverpool, and the matchup is one I'll probably avoid despite the salary savings.
With a number of viable cheaper midfielders, paying up for a defender might be the right path, especially with a few good options. The big favorites provide some opportunities, such as Manchester United's Ashley Young ($5,600) and Liverpool's Alberto Moreno ($5,900), who continue to do their damage in open play. Everton's Leighton Baines ($5,200) has a good looking game log, sending in 12 crosses against Leicester on Oct. 29 before a goal and an assist against Watford before the international break. However, there's no guarantee he'll be on any set pieces, and the goal was a penalty that he may not get the next time around.
Bournemouth's matchup against Huddersfield could give us four playable fullbacks, with Simon Francis ($4,100) probably the most reliable for his price. Florent Hadergjonaj ($4,400) scored 13 fantasy points in his last match thanks, in part, to three crosses, two fouls drawn, three tackles won and three interceptions, while Scott Malone ($4,200) had 16 points that included an assist. Both are fine options but I'd prefer the home defender.
I probably wouldn't shy away from the fullbacks in the Burnley-Swansea match either, especially if Kyle Naughton ($3,900) and Martin Olsson ($4,100) line up as wing-backs. The Burnley guys probably won't be crossing a ton, but they are cheap (screaming endorsement, I know).
Crystal Palace defenders always seems to get people excited because they are cheap but my days of considering Jeffrey Schlupp ($3,900) are long gone. If you're really confident in the Palace clean sheet, I'd prefer Joel Ward ($4,000) because he does more than cross, but I'd still like the Swansea guys more.
As mentioned before, Cedric Soares ($4,300) leads Southampton in crosses this season, and he comes into Saturday's match 10th in the Premier League. It's not often you can get Cedric at this price, but it's tough to ignore that Liverpool have allowed the second-fewest crosses this season, including the second-fewest in open play. I'll probably also stay away from the Newcastle (at Manchester United), West Brom (home against Chelsea) and Leicester City (home against Man City) fullbacks, as I just don't see them having the ball enough to fire in a bunch of crosses.
For those playing center-back luck-box-goal roulette, focus on the favorites.
With a few cheap options at the other positions, I think it's viable to pay up for David de Gea ($6,000), which sounds insane for everyone who is firmly in the "don't pay up for goalkeeper" camp. I totally understand not going in this direction, but de Gea has scored at least 10 fantasy points in 10 of his last 11 games. Would you pay $6,000 for a midfielder with that kind of floor? Of course you would. De Gea's upside is obviously not as high as an outfield player because he can't score a goal, but he did reach 20 fantasy points against Benfica in the Champions League, a level some midfielders can't get to even with a goal. One goal obviously ruins the clean sheet, but we should get the five-point win points and Newcastle have forced the third-most saves among teams on the slate.
If you're locked into spending down on a keeper, you could go on the other side of that match and start Newcastle keeper Robert Elliot ($3,600), who has allowed multiple goals just twice this season and made four saves in each of his past two games. However, Manchester United have only forced 33 saves this season, nine fewer than Newcastle. If Pogba returns for United then Elliot has more save upside.