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DraftKings Fantasy Soccer: Saturday EPL Picks

Andrew M. Laird

Andrew M. Laird, the 2017 FSWA Soccer Writer of the Year, is RotoWire's Senior Soccer Editor and a fantasy football contributor. He is also a two-time finalist for the FSWA's Football Writer of the Year Award.

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MATCHES (EDT)

11:00 a.m: Bournemouth v. West Brom
11:00 a.m: Huddersfield v. Crystal Palace
11:00 a.m: Stoke City v. Everton
1:30 p.m: Liverpool v. Watford

FORWARDS

Mohamed Salah, LIV v. WAT ($12,200): Salah is the most expensive player on the slate, but with only four games and no other elite teams, the lofty price is probably worth paying up for in cash games. Liverpool are the only dominant favorites and they have the highest implied goal total by a sizable margin, putting Salah in a class by himself. His set-piece upside is affected by who else starts, but he still comes in averaging more shots and shots on goal (not to mention scoring the most goals) among players on the slate. Due to their overwhelming odds and the underwhelming games on the slate, it wouldn't be surprising to see people play Salah and teammate Roberto Firmino ($9,400) together in cash lineups, with Sadio Mane ($9,000) also a possibility. The GPP play would be to fade Salah because his ownership is likely to be ridiculously high even with the salary over $12K, though no one has his upside.

Andros Townsend, CRY at HUD ($6,600): Townsend's cash-game value won't be as high if Yohan Cabaye ($6,400, midfielder) starts after returning from a month-long injury absence, as the latter will probably resume his role on most, if not all, set pieces. Townsend's open-play value is higher, especially if he still has Christian Benteke ($6,000) and Alexander Sorloth ($5,800) to cross to, though it probably takes a hit if Wilfried Zaha ($6,800) is in the first XI. There are a lot of question marks here for cash games, but there are pretty much question marks everywhere after the Liverpool guys. Jordon Ibe ($7,800) could be on set pieces for Bournemouth, though he is likely to share with Junior Stanislas ($8,200), and there's no guarantee that Wayne Rooney ($5,900) will be taking over corners in place of the injured Gylfi Sigurdsson ($7,900). Yannick Bolasie ($5,200) may be the safest Everton forward for cash games only because he's so much cheaper than Theo Walcott ($8,100).

Salomon Rondon, WBA at BOU ($4,900): Is it possible that we've somehow gotten to a point where Rondon is actually a better cash play than a GPP one? I've never been the biggest Alan Pardew fan, but there's no question that Rondon has been a more consistent shooter under the former Reading-West Ham-Charlton-Southampton-Newcastle-Crystal Palace boss. Thanks to his shots and fouls drawn, Rondon has scored at least 6.75 fantasy points in six of his past eight games (not including goals or assists), with his two low outings coming against Manchester City (zero points) and Huddersfield (four points). Averaging 3.43 shots, including 1.02 shots on goal, and 2.29 fouls drawn per 90 minutes over that span, Rondon's average floor points in the past eight games is bested by only five players on the slate on a per-game basis: Walcott, Stanislas, Cabaye (who only started three games) Rajiv van La Parra ($6,000) and Xherdan Shaqiri ($8,700). The reason I don't love him in GPPs is that despite all of these shots he's only scored two goals in that run (five on the season) and he comes in with lower anytime goal scorer odds than players like Peter Crouch ($4,800), Cenk Tosun ($6,200) and Steve Mounie ($5,500), while West Brom have the second-lowest implied goal total (and win odds) on the slate. Rondon a better cash play than GPP? That pretty much sums up this slate perfectly.

MIDFIELDERS

James Milner, LIV v. WAT ($6,900): Milner continues to split corners with Salah, though he takes most indirect free kicks, which has helped him send in 23 crosses in his last two games. Playing in the late game makes it a bit tough because there's no guarantee he'll start, so it's safer to roster Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain for $200 more just to make sure you're not left with a worse pivot, but whoever it is will be taking some set pieces for the biggest favorite on the slate.

Chris Brunt, WBA at BOU ($6,400): Part of Rondon's increased activity is due to Brunt's crossing, as no midfielder on the slate averages more crosses per 90 minutes (7.96) than Brunt. A lot of those come from corners, and while there isn't an expectation that West Brom will dominate possession and create lots of chances from corners, Brunt's activity still can't be overlooked for this price. Teammate Matt Phillips ($5,400) is another option, though he's not as consistent as Brunt, who chips in a bit more with other peripheral stats.

Jonathan Hogg, HUD v. CRY ($3,200): We spoke about the crowded Huddersfield midfield during Thursday's DFS EPL podcast, specifically about how you could make a case to roster any one of Aaron Mooy ($6,300), Rajiv van La Parra ($6,000), Tom Ince ($5,600) or Alex Pritchard ($5,900) in cash and it would be understandable. It's worth noting that you should all but ignore their game logs from last weekend because they were a man up on Swansea City for 79 minutes (and still couldn't score one goal), and while I side with van La Parra among that group, Hogg may be the key player for those looking to stack Liverpool. Hogg is a defensive midfielder who gets his fantasy value from winning tackles, intercepting passes and drawing a few fouls. He took three shots last weekend, which was one fewer than he had in 20 starts combined before that (again, remember the red card), but he has still managed to draw multiple fouls five times in his last seven games, a span which saw him win 16 tackles as well. The upside is minimal, of course, but if we can get five or six points (a level he surpassed in three of his last four games) at this price then what more can we ask for?

DEFENDERS

Leighton Baines, EVE at STK ($4,700): Paying up for a Liverpool fullback is always an option, though on this slate I think it makes more sense to spend up for the Liverpool attackers, which likely forces you to pay down at defender. Baines is likely the most expensive I'll go, as he could be in line to share, if not take all, corners in place of Sigurdsson (Rooney could poach some if he starts). The Stoke attack isn't strong enough where Baines is going to be sitting back all game, and his open-play value shouldn't be ignored either. Teammate Seamus Coleman ($4,400) is also likely to be involved in the attack, though his lack of set pieces puts him firmly behind Baines for me.

Kostas Stafylidis, STK v. EVE ($4,200): On the other side of that game is Stafylidis, who has been a bit disappointing of late but could get a big jump if Stoke decide to start Crouch up top, giving Stafylidis and Moritz Bauer ($4,600) a big target in the box. The Everton attack is missing a big piece, though I'm still not inclined to think Stoke are heading for a clean sheet. Nevertheless, the Potters are desperate for three points, which could lead to plenty of attacking time for their fullbacks.

Adrian Mariappa, WAT at LIV ($2,600): If you're looking for cheap, they don't come any cheaper than Mariappa, who has the unenviable task of trying to slow down the Liverpool attack. Thankfully, we don't have to worry about how many goals they allow, we're only concerned with whether Mariappa can draw enough fouls, win enough tackles and intercept enough passes to reach five-ish fantasy points and allow us to pay up elsewhere. You can play centerback roulette with pretty much anyone, but with all of them highly unlikely to score a goal, why not just pay all the way down?

GOALKEEPER

Jordan Pickford, EVE at STK ($4,600): Watford's Orestis Karnezis is $1,000 cheaper, but he's also facing a Liverpool team that is a dominant favorite and expected to score multiple goals (we actually care about those goals now). West Brom's Ben Foster ($4,100) is next, but he comes in having allowed 16 goals in his last six games, including seven in his last three away matches, and he faces a Bournemouth side that hasn't been shut out since Dec. 23 at Manchester City. That brings us to Pickford as we go up the salary list, facing a Stoke side that's scored multiple goals once in their last 11 Premier League matches, a span that includes scoring zero goals six times. Relying on the Everton defense hasn't been extremely fruitful this season, but Pickford has the second-most saves on the slate while still coming in at a slight discount to the other options.

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, TheSix: Lairdinho.