This article is part of our DraftKings Fantasy Soccer series.
- 10:00 am: Chelsea vs. Sheffield United
- 10:00 am: Crystal Palace vs. Aston Villa
- 10:00 am: Leicester City vs. AFC Bournemouth
- 10:00 am: Manchester City vs. Brighton & Hove Albion
- 10:00 am: Newcastle United vs. Watford
- 10:00 am: West Ham United vs. Norwich City
For detailed stats and odds, check out the DraftKings Fantasy Soccer: Saturday EPL Cheat Sheet.
DraftKings is experimenting this week, as they decided to eliminate the late game so that we'll have all of the confirmed starting XIs for every match in place before lineup lock. While this helps those who don't want to have to deal with the late game, it was apparent very quickly after reviewing this week's salaries that having Liverpool players against Burnley would have been helpful. We have one giant favorite on the slate, and unfortunately we aren't given much salary benefit by fading them. There are a few available punts, but they take up roster spots that we would prefer to spend up on. If you quickly built a cash lineup this week and love it, I fear you may be missing something big.
Sergio Aguero, MCI v. BHA ($9,800): It's not often that Aguero is the pay-down option for the Manchester City attack, but that's what we have this week even though he's a shade under five figures. Teammate Raheem Sterling ($10,800) is the most expensive player on the slate after scoring five goals in the first three games of the season, while Riyad Mahrez is close behind at $10,300. The $1,000 salary difference will be needed, and while Sterling has been the better goal scorer, Aguero is the one with the highest anytime goal scorer odds. Their floors are fairly similar, and while Mahrez's is higher than both, he's been used off the bench in the last two games in favor of Bernardo Silva ($7,700), who might be popular if only because he's cheap and playing for the biggest favorite on the slate with the highest implied goal total. The addition of shots assisted was a huge benefit for Bernardo, so while I think he makes for a viable piece of the Manchester City attack, it's tough to justify him as the only piece.
Teemu Pukki, NOR at WHU ($8,500): We can't not talk about Pukki, who is on pace for about 63 goals this season. He's already put nine of 12 shots on target and created four chances, though it's really the goals that pay the bills. The reason to roster Pukki is more because you're fading Manchester City and you need goals to make up for it. However, that's exposing cash-game players to his floor, which has been fine because of his shots but not fine enough for this salary level. And that's ultimately going to be the problem for cash-game players: there really aren't any high-floor forwards on the slate, and fading Manchester City's attack doesn't leave you with a plethora of salary. Pukki, Tammy Abraham ($8,600), Christian Pulisic ($8,300), Jamie Vardy ($8,100) and Sebastien Haller ($7,900) are all extremely goal dependent for these salaries, and they aren't significantly far away from Aguero. Going further down the list gets you some floors from guys like Wilfried Zaha ($7,100) and Gerard Deulofeu ($7,000), but even their salaries make it tough to pay up at midfield, and there are definitely floor guys we want to pay up for in the midfield. Ultimately, this is a solid GPP range for those who want to fade Manchester City, but you have to understand that it doesn't allow you to massively pay up in other spots that can help you catch up if City drop a nickel on Brighton.
Joelinton, NEW v. WAT ($5,500): Joelinton was held out of Wednesday's Carabao Cup match because of a tight groin, but there are indications that he should be fit for Saturday's match against Watford, who have allowed seven goals in three matches this season. Paying down for Joelinton doesn't seem that advantageous, but it's what we're left with if we want to pay up for at least one forward and two midfielders, a build that certainly makes sense in cash games. Bournemouth's Joshua King is the same price as Joelinton, though his away match against Leicester isn't as appealing. Speaking of Bournemouth, Callum Wilson ($6,200) has been pretty poor to start the season, enough so that King's lower salary surely makes him more attractive, though it only helps the former to lower ownership in GPPs. If Joelinton is unable to go, Yoshinori Muto ($4,400) could be a huge salary saver, but you have to go in knowing his floor is basically zero (he's actually averaging minus-0.2 points per game through two appearances) and his goal upside isn't overly great. But, he's $4,400 on a slate where we could be punting a forward spot to allow us to pay up at midfield and defense. I am also going with the assumption that it's not worth trying to roster Brighton attackers away to Manchester City, but I wouldn't necessarily stay away from Sheffield United players against Chelsea, who have allowed seven goals in three games. It's an unlikely situation for scoring, but you have to figure they won't be owned.
Kevin De Bruyne, MCI v. BHA ($9,900): De Bruyne is the most expensive midfield-only player on the slate, but he's done everything to deserve it. The league leader in assists and chances created (shots assisted), the only negative to De Bruyne is that he doesn't have nearly as much goal upside as guys like Sterling and Aguero. Then again, only Pukki and Sterling, who each have five goals, come into the week with more fantasy points scored than De Bruyne, and no one has more floor points. There's little doubt that De Bruyne could match a goal's worth of points from his peripheral stats in a matchup against Brighton at the Etihad, but there are sacrifices that have to be made to roster him in addition to an attacking teammate or the second-best floor player on the slate, James Maddison ($9,700). An ideal situation would be for cash lineups to easily roster De Bruyne and Maddison and just soak up the floor points, but they account for nearly 40 percent of our available salary, and we have forwards we might have to pay up for, or at least one. There are likely to be plenty of lineups that have both players in them, but there are definite punts that will be needed to make it work.
Mason Mount, CHE v. SHU ($8,500): One of the difficulties in not having Liverpool on the slate is that we don't get additional price breaks for players like Maddison and Mount because they'd be pushed down thanks to Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane being ahead of them. Mount has taken a vast majority of Chelsea's set pieces, and he comes in with more floor points than anyone not named De Bruyne (yes, he's ahead of Maddison). Sheffield United have been impressive defensively this season, but Mount has shown he can produce thanks to a variety of peripheral stats in addition to his two goals. The possible addition of Willian, who is ridiculously priced at $10,100, to the starting XI could potentially take a few set pieces away from Mount, though it's worth recognizing that Willian had a chance to start last week in place of the injured Pedro but manager Frank Lampard went with Ross Barkley ($6,500) instead.
Tom Cleverley, WAT at NEW ($3,500): I admittedly scoffed at my podcast co-host Jordan Cooper last Friday when he brought up the possibility of playing Cleverley in cash games, but there I was Saturday morning plugging him into my lineup because he was only $3,600 and I needed the salary. Well, here we are again, and while the matchup is tougher than last week's home match against West Ham when he scored 10.6 fantasy points, his cheap salary is even more important this time around. And let's be honest, Newcastle aren't exactly a team we need to be avoiding, and certainly not at this price. That's not to say there aren't players worth looking at between Cleverley and the trio of De Bruyne, Maddison and Mount, as there are a few very solid floor players available like Emiliano Buendia ($7,400), Jack Grealish ($7,600), Felipe Anderson ($7,200), Ryan Fraser ($7,000), Matt Ritchie ($6,900) if he is fit, John McGinn ($6,800), Manuel Lanzini ($6,200), Luka Milivojevic ($6,100), Harry Wilson ($5,800), Jonjo Shelvey ($5,800) if Ritchie isn't fit, Trezeguet ($5,400) Luke Freeman ($4,500) and Todd Cantwell ($4,400), but none of them hold a candle to the elite group and their salary savings aren't enough to get you to significantly better players elsewhere. Cleverley isn't the only pay down option worth considering, as Philip Billing ($3,900), Rodri ($3,900) and possibly Roberto Pereyra ($3,700) should be in the mix, but you have to appreciate the floor is pretty low and the benefit is the salary savings.
Emerson Palmieri, CHE v. SHU ($6,100): If someone asked which defender had scored the most floor points on DraftKings this season, you'd probably think about whether it was Liverpool's Trent Alexander-Arnold or Everton's Lucas Digne. Both would be excellent responses but both would be wrong because Emerson is the answer, if only by a hair. The Chelsea left-back, who has basically no role on set pieces, has been extremely consistent, scoring at least 11.1 fantasy points in all three starts this season. He is producing thanks to a number of attacking and defensive stats, including six shots (four on goal), six chances created, 12 crosses, nine tackles won and six fouls drawn. You could compare him to the list of non-elite midfielders in the section above and make a reasonable case that he's better than all of them, especially since he is also eligible for clean sheet points (Chelsea have the second-best clean sheet odds on the slate, but, as noted above, they've been pretty bad). On any other slate it would be easy to roster Emerson as a top defender, but if you're trying to get exposure to Manchester City, paying more than $6,000 for a defender is tough, making it just as difficult to target Ricardo Pereira ($5,600) or Jose Holebas ($5,400).
Arthur Masuaku, WHU v. NOR ($3,800): Masuaku has scored at least 5.9 fantasy points in both of his last two starts, which would be a decent return for his salary this week. West Ham's clean sheet odds are not good, but a sub-$4K full-back usually gets some attention. Newcastle's Emil Krafth ($3,500) was another potential option, but he subbed off injured during Wednesday's Carabao Cup match, and the quick turnaround does him no favors. It's possible Newcastle goes with Paul Dummett ($3,600), who plays as a full-back but produces like a center-back, and Javier Manquillo, whose $4,400 price makes him a non-consideration for me when Ahmed Elmohamady is only $100 cheaper. However, he may not even start thanks to Frederic Guilbert, who would definitely be a consideration at only $3,500. You could also convince yourself that the Norwich fullbacks could be in play, especially with Max Aarons only $3,200, though you get what you pay for in that salary range.
It looks like another week where people could be considering Sheffield United's Dean Henderson ($3,700) because he is cheap and not facing a potential Manchester City onslaught. That lucky assignment falls to Mathew Ryan ($3,600), who doesn't save that much salary for a player more likely to get blown up. Paying up for Ederson ($5,900) doesn't seem beneficial because of the expectation that he won't get many save opportunities, and while Kepa Arrizabalaga ($5,800) could get more, he's also conceded more goals than saves made through three games. Otherwise, the middle ground offers some options, with Tom Heaton ($4,400) looking attractive against a Crystal Palace attack that can be really hot-and-cold and is coming off a huge win over Manchester United at Old Trafford.