Welcome to the ninth week of the EPL season and another edition of my EPL Player Pool.
If I was to term this weekend it’s all work and no play. In particular, DraftKings is really putting us to work on the defensive options, and we will be forced into taking a stand, one way or another.
The international break was an interesting one, with numerous teams being dealt serious injury blows. The most significant being Liverpool where they lost Sadio Mane and Naby Keita for the foreseeable future, with Salah, Milner, and Van Dijk all carrying knocks. Other teams were less bitten by the injury bug, but there’s still a ton to pay attention to come Saturday morning.
If you haven’t caught it yet, make sure to check out my 8EST DFS show on YouTube. EPL slates get covered on Friday’s, so make sure to like, subscribe, and get on the slack!
Without any further delay, here’s my player pool for this weekend’s EPL slate on October 20th, 2018.
Keeper, Wolverhampton Wanderers
League’s 2nd best defense for the price of the 5th.
This one is pretty straight forward, and you can generally assume I'm probably starting off every article with Wolves’ Rui Patricio in any slate which features him.
Until further notice, play Rui Patricio. His defense is one of the best in the league, but thanks to the fact they will rarely, if never be the heaviest favourite of the slate, we can grab these guys at moderate (at the most) pricing. Rui Patricio will always makes saves with an S, he will never be too expensive, and he will never be blown out. This comprises the reasons why we need to play Rui Patricio in basically every slate. When it's not a Manchester or a Big London? play him in cash. When it's a Manchester or Big London and he's not uber-value? play him in GPP. If he's value? well, you get the picture.
This week we happen to get him against a Small London in Watford. By all definition, Watford is experiencing the beginning of a massive downslide. Historically, up until the late October international break Watford is flames, and then they die out. Why? It's not that they are a bad team. But, it only takes a quick look to see why they are probably going to lose the next few games. Injuries and suspensions add up, especially with their style of play, so it's no surprise they are in this situation.
Fire up RP in either format, but make sure to use his salary in cash to your advantage. As usual, the opposition will do just enough to make RP one of, if not the best keeper play of the slate, but not enough to ruin him. My top keeper play this weekend is Wolves' Rui Patricio. Again.
Quick Mafs, man’s not hot.
The second keeper I will be using in cash is Bournemouth's Asmir Begovic, but, it's not really a pick as it's more just the default play in this weekend's slate.
City are lined up to concede (again). Liverpool won't see enough shots to pad the salary, and that's even before we consider how injured they are and their potential to concede. Spurs may not even win, let alone keep the ball out. Fulham should concede more than most of this weekend's teams combined. Like, do I need to go on here? At the end of the day, sure, Begovic should concede like the rest. But, at the same time Bournemouth have been ridiculously good this season, especially at home, and they have so much more going for them than most of the other winners.
I don't see a great ceiling, but even against Southampton what are we really asking for? Obviously they aren't Huddersfield, but if anything they should do enough to give Begovic love while at the same time not posses the same risk as other, more prolific attacks will contain. I want to restate, Southampton should score once, so a ceiling isn't something I'm chasing; just the win with some saves from a not crazy salary.
I wouldn't venture this pick into the GPP world, but in terms of cash when you just need to safely walk away with you win and saves, Bournemouth's Asmir Begovic is set up to succeed where other more expensive salaries should fail.
Going back to the well.
I'm not incredibly excited about this selection, but Watford's Ben Foster still has a few things going for him, and those things are so solid we are forced into considering him for GPP.
Yes, Watford are hurt and suspended. No, that doesn't change they way they cross the ball 20 bazillion times. Depending on who starts, Foster could become partner to some of the best value options of the slate. So, by default pairing Foster with the super cheap wing back could be viable. At the same time, Wolves games are notoriously low scoring, so we can already hedge on the fact it’s super unlikely to see a blowout. Foster’s salary is very playable, and while he may not have a lot of instant upside, his ownership should be low enough to offset any kind of raw points we’re looking for. He is at home, he’s going to see action, and he’s not a #bad keeper.
Like I said, this isn’t the first place I’m turning, but depending on the starters Watford’s Ben Foster could be one of the sneakier GPP options of the slate.
Best GPP keeper of the slate, and it’s not even close.
These GPP picks make me so uncomfortable, but if that's any indication they shouild all be ultra viable this weekend. My first, and favourite GPP keeper for this slate is Brighton's Mat Ryan, and hopefully nobody thinks he is playing.
Brighton's Mat Ryan should be the sneakiest keeper of the slate. Newcastle are in a complete free fall, and while they are always good for a couple opportunities, they are on the verge of collapse following last slate’s 2-0 tarnished lead against ManUtd. These two teams have historically combined for super low goal numbers, and that was before we considered how well Brighton has been performing this season. It can't even be called over performing, their defensive core is capable, if not too defensive, and they are combined with international experience, youth, and the master veteran presence of Glenn Murray.
There's literally nothing to suggest things should change for Newcastle (if not get worse), and there's everything to suggest Brighton are on the up. There's even more to suggest Ryan being one of the weekend's better options. While Newcastle isn’t scoring, it isn't for a lack of trying, especially against Brighton. So we can expect shots without goals, which is a recipe for keeper success. Ownership should be the biggest factor, with even a questionable designation, Ryan shouldn't draw any attention. Somehow, Newcastle are favored this weekend, which is mind blowing to me. If I was a betting man, taking every action on Brighton should end up being one of the sharper plays of the slate. I know nobody likes heading up north, but Newcastle has been losing (huge difference to “not winning”) at such a rate, there's little to fear and little risk. Obviously, some Brighton games have gotten a bit heavy, but if anything Ryan's relative salary to the rest of the slate makes up for any risk; it's too cheap.
While he may not have many stacking options, Brighton's Mat Ryan is potentially looking at six to eight saves from no ownership, and against a team that has been helpless towards defeat.
Keeper, Cardiff City
Tons of upside, tons of risk.
Another keeper I'm really interested in for this weekend is Cardiff's Neil Etheridge, and it feels like a lifetime since I've been waiting to get him into a viable weekend.
Five ways I love Etheridge this weekend, by Rob;
I love your low ownership (1), and how nobody will care,
When you win (2), at home(3), underpriced(4), with a shut out(4), how unfair.
For bookies have wronged you, there's no way you're second best!
I'm sure if this weekend was an exam, without question you'd pass the test.
I can't pretend I'm not nervous, your penalty saves were pretty great(5),
but I'm afraid I'll end up realizing, the fact they were happening is a fact I grasped too late.
Either way, dear Etheridge, please lead us to your promise land,
and when you get there if you reach out, I promise to take your hand.
Another keeper I want to touch quickly on is Southampton’s Alex McCarthy.
Bournemouth are easily the most unpredictable team of the slate, and while we can probably assume a Bournemouth win is in the books, everything Southampton does (not even well, but just does) is the Kryptonite of Bournemouth. Bournemouth have a history of allowing chances from crosses, and if there’s one thing Southampton doesn’t do, it’s…well, not cross. His wing backs are too cheap, and make for an incredible clean sheet chase.
He will be super low owned, cheap, and still stands to accomplish something. If you are in desperate need to be different, try Southampton’s Alex McCarthy on for size.
KIERAN TRIPPIER or BENJAMIN MENDY
Defender, Spurs or Manchester City
Pick and choose, but you can’t have them both.
Nothing really needs to be said that hasn’t been known for quite some time, but ManCity’s Benjamin Mendy and Spurs’ Keiran Trippier still stand as the obvious cash options, but the question is which one.
Frankly, it isn’t so much about who is better than the other, but more towards who you can afford. Trippier has a far better floor than Mendy, but at the same time Mendy’s spot on this slate is far superior than Trippier vs. West Ham. There could be arguments that West Ham take too many fouls and that without Eriksen, Trippier will take over set pieces again (Eriksen is back). But, at the same time there’s nothing to suggest Spurs will dominate, and there’s nothing to suggest City won’t concede. If you’re taking Kane, there’s no point in not taking Trippier, the silver platter is there for the having. But, if you are instead on Sterling, you may want to go Mendy. I guess you could get both sides to be diverse, but the stacking option is still super viable in cash.
Just see how it feels this weekend, but chances are you’ll be wanting to get either City’s Mendy or Spurs’ Trippier into your cash cards, and I don’t blame you.
Surprise value starter for Cash.
This one is more touch and go, but if he happens to start, Fulham’s Cyrus Christie stands to be one of the more viable value wing backs of the slate.
He very easily may not start, but one thing is for sure Joe Bryan isn’t playing. Now, Fulham usually play with two wing backs as wingers, so while Bryan was a slate to slate viable option, Christie is far superior in both skill and DFS relevance. His cross count is usually quite high, and while as a whole there may be better options on Fulham, Christie offers some massive salary relief in a position once again void of optimal value. Christie has a solid floor, reasonable upside, isn’t too expensive, and should be low owned enough to make a difference when it usually doesn’t matter.
Like I said, I think there are better options on Fulham, and maybe even on Cardiff too (outside of defenders that is). But, in terms of relative floor and salary, not many players will match up to the potential upside that Fulham’s Cyrus Chrisite could bring to the table.
Walking clean sheet bonuses.
These next couple of entries may come off as lazy, or even me letting you guys off easy. But, the fact remains Liverpool defenders stand to be the best clean sheet options from every slate, and we don’t even have to consider who they are playing, it is a constant threat.
This slate, they happen to be going up against one of the league’s worst attacks in Huddersfield Town. While there is some mild confusion as to attacking starters, we should have no issues around who to play for the clean sheet chase.
Across the board, take your pick, you can’t miss. Van Dijk and Joe Gomez were both excellent for their respective nations, with the latter making his first serious starts, but is way too expensive on DK. TAA and Robertson make excellent Spurs/ManCity pivots, especially if you are bought into the idea of Liverpool being the only of the three to not concede (I am). They are by no means cheap, but at the same time are viable in either format as a bigger stacks or one off’s.
When you are building this weekend and aren’t feeling the Trippier/Mendy side of things (I’m not), make sure to include some Liverpool defenders. Whether spending up or down, they all offer an upside that few other high salaries and players in general will posses.
Poor man’s Liverpool.
Again, sorry if this comes off as too easy, but if you aren’t playing Wolves’ defenders in your exposures this weekend, your taking a serious shot at straight losing. Don’t lose, play Wolves.
If you’re new and still haven’t got the message, Wolves are keeping the score low, and probably won’t allow anything at all. This isn’t as blindly pick as the Liverpool options, but at the same time we are getting massive savings for the exact same upside. Will the floor be there? Outside of Doherty and Jonny absolutely not, and even then those two are getting pretty expensive.
In any case, fire up some Wolves defenders in your exposure this weekend. With the always optional clean sheet bonus, literally anything special on top of these two and you will be takedown made, as I can attest to.
WATFORD WING BACKS
Massive value, somewhere.
Very quickly, Watford shouldn’t get blown out, so already stand a good shot at a clean sheet. The big thing is without Holebas and Janmaat, spots will need filling. Fade Navarro, he’s too defensive, but Masina may be borderline cash viable if you’re not using RP. In any case, the injuries won’t stop Watford from still possessing super active wing backs, and depending on the starters, we could get some serious value on some decent cross floors.
SOUTHAMPTON WING BACKS
If you were to ask me “say Rob, why do you like Alex McCarthy?”, my answer is simple; “I don’t, I like his wing backs.”
Those Southampton wing backs are set up to smash this slate to bits, and they are far too cheap, even before we consider that notion.
Ideally, we need Southampton to really show up. But, from the salaries of Bertrand and Soares, we aren’t asking the world from a wing back set that can do a great impression of a meteor shower. Bournemouth allow some of the league’s highest cross counts to chances, and there aren’t many teams that cross the ball like Southampton. Honestly, this isn’t a clean sheet chase for me. I’d try to get either of the pair in as one offs, and hope they can pad on an apple or an orange.
In any case, if you are using McCarthy in GPP, you need to include one of these cheapies. Also, if you are in need of some salary relief, the Southampton wing backs are borderline cash viable, simply because they are way too cheap.
Best floor play of the slate.
To start off the midfield position we have one of the league’s best crossers as a massive favourite but without the pricetag. Liverpool’s James Milner is one of my favourite cash plays of the slate, it’s just damn hard to figure out what Liverpool are gonna do.
His price tag on both sites is pretty mild considering Mane and Keita will be missing out. Mind you, where I was concerned about Milner’s minutes, it’s hard to say he won’t play the 90min. Salah shouldn’t be able to, and with either Sturridge or Shaqiri starting, one of them are probably taking off Salah. Hederson could take off Milner, but he’s more likely to play 90min along side than take the other off.
The one serious and very real concern I have is pivots. Say Milner doesn’t start, which isn’t that crazy of a notion. You are left with basically nothing to pivot unless you already didn’t have TAA. The big thing is to make sure you have multiple players on Liverpool to pivot with. Therefore when starters come out, rather than having one guy to replace, you will have two (or even three) salaries for work around.
I still love Liverpool’s James Milner this weekend, and if he ends up starting he’s my favourite cash option of the slate.
Best floor crosser in the league.
Look, if you haven’t got the theme yet, Wolves and Liverpool in cash.
Sneaky cross machine.
This is something I have been flirting with, but Southampton’s Moham Elyounoussi could be one of the sneakiest floor plays of the slate while still packing an upside punch.
Ely sits in this really weird salary range of similar crossing players in massive down spots, or, we can spend up or down to get someone better off. I’m not sure how I would best deploy Ely; probably GPP. If this was Southampton at home we could shoot for double digits, in any case I still like an eight cross count upside from his moderate salary.
If we look at the names on DK, they are all very similar. JBG, Felipe Anderson, or Moutinho (just to name a few) are all within reach of Ely, but all have a reason for less of an outing. JBG is all Burnley has (que: Robbie Brady), Felipe Anderson has a super tough match, and Wolves don’t score enough for Moutinho to “break the slate”. There’s absolutely nothing to suggest Begovic will keep a clean sheet, and I like the odds of Ely being the main catalyst for Southampton scoring success.
It hasn’t happened in bunches nor enough, but the Southampton winger Mohamed Elyounoussi makes for an excellent GPP ownership pivot when you still want a solid floor that won’t ruin your weekend, and go completely unowned.
VICTOR CAMARASA or JUNIOR HOILETT
Midfielders, Cardiff City
Too cheap to pass up.
When you are looking for access to this weekend’s heaviest salaries, look no further than the Cardiff pairing of Victor Camarasa and Junior Hoilett.
Collectively Fulham and Cardiff make up the two worst defenses in the league. Therefore, while we could theoretically think towards a game stack, taking one side or the other seems more optimal. In particular, I like Cardiff for cash. Getting either Camarasa or Hoilett into your cards will be paramount in afford all of the bigger names and salaries. It’s not even that they are bone-crushingly smash plays, they are decent enough but in a perfect salary range.
You could take these two in a game stack, and while I think Hoilett’s M/F could be better served on DK, there’s no denying their salary upside is more than necessary. On FD I would stick to only Hoilett, as Cammy gets a bit expensive.
They should cross the ball a ton, have the home field advantage, and be in a price range that opens up all the doors. I love the Cardiff duo of Victor Camarasa and Junior Hoilett, though I would stick to one or the other in cash, and stack them in GPP.
Midfielder, Manchester City
Different beast at home.
It’s hard to put a finger on it, but I love Raheem Sterling this slate, especially in comparison to the other big names.
For me this all circles around ownership. Simply put, he should be lowered owned that Salah and be in a way better spot, be lower owned and massively cheaper than Kane and be in just as good of a spot. He should see more minutes than Mahrez and Sane, unfortunately “should” being the important word. Maybe I’ll stick onto Kane and his 90min, but there’s something about this matchup at home I love. Honestly, this has even more to do with a Liverpool attacking pivot than Kane. I think getting Kane and Sterling into the same card would be massive, and while that’s far more attainable on FD, it’s no less powerful on DK.
I am massively concerned about his minutes, but if anything he should either go the distance or not feature at all. I’m on the former notion, and while people will flock to Salah against Huddersfield, I will flock to ManCity’s Raheem Sterling instead.
Fulhams’ Ryan Sessegnon is one of my favourite midfield GPP options, and it isn’t even close.
He’s only played four games against Cardiff, but he’s scored in each of them. He has seen a massive uptick in usage from set pieces, so while we could get a half decent ceiling from a goal, his floor from chance creation could be takedown worthy. I don’t see him being highly owned, and in the case of a game stack he fits in perfectly with the likes of Brighton, or even with Cardiff as well.
He could score, but Fulham’s Ryan Sessegnon has already been doing enough to warrant consideration. From his salary he should do more than enough to be one of the better plays of the slate, and be one of my higher owned players.
Midfielder, West Ham
He’s going to do what he does, if you pick him or not.
That’s the thing with West Ham’s Felipe Anderson, he’s playing Spurs, but it doesn’t matter, he’s going to do what he does because it’s all he does.
I think West Ham are crazy sneaky. Spurs hasn’t shown the ability to consistently shut anyone out, and over the international break they weren’t dealt any favors. West Ham isn’t great, but if anything they should be able to reply at home.
This does come with obvious risk. I don’t necessarily like his floor compared to his salary. Also, West Ham is still West Ham, and Spurs is still Spurs, so what are we really expecting? Ownership, that’s about it. Both sites have his salary pretty high, so it’s not like they are expecting a bad week.
I’ll look to stack West Ham’s Felipe Anderson at least once this weekend, but isn’t my favorite, not like it matters to him anyway.
Favorite play of the slate. Period.
I love Brighton’s Anthony Knockaert, and if more people knew who he was I would have used just him in the cover photo. This dude is lit.
He helps lead the league in peripheral stats, so while I’m looking at his upside, it should be built on an excellent floor. I have a few reservations around believing Newcastle may be good against opposition wingers, but at the same time, Newcastle are so bad it doesn’t matter. Knockaert makes an excellent one off, he can be stacked, and his salary isn’t at a place where you need double digits or else. I also don’t see his ownership reaching the levels they deserve. Brighton has one of if not the cheapest multi-goal upside of the slate, and while that may not be something to chase in cash, the fact Knockaert is cash viable makes his upside far more appealing. While I think Huddersfield’s Philip Billing also fits this narrative, he’s in a far inferior situation.
When you are building this slate and are looking for a solid floor, Brighton’s Anthony Knockaert offers everything you need with tons of upside.
Don’t burn me again. Part that foolish money back to me.
I don’t get it, but I think I’ve gotten it. Use Bournemouth’s Callum Wilson at home, and check the expiration date you dummies!
A few slates ago I was in this exact situation….
”There’s no way Callum Wilson against Burnley can let me down from 6.9k”
But he did. Oh, how he ruined me.
I very strongly believe going back to the 6.9k well is the correct decision, especially since then he has continued his hot streak without me, basically breaking the slate with King previous to the break, and being 2nd in the league in points while still helping to lead the shot counts. He has floor, ceiling, low ownership, low salary, but I’ll be damned if he works out. He is the basic too good to be true, and if I’m being honest while I see ever positive as I did last time, I’m still seeing the red flags as well. Burnley are basically a worse version than Southampton, so really….
I’m using him in cash. I’m using him in GPP. Not because he burned me. Not because I want to redeem myself. Because Bournemouth’s Callum Wilson is the right play from his salary, on either site.
When you need to be different.
As mentioned a couple times already, Bournemouth have a weakness, Southampton usually do that weakness on repeat. I’m not sold on his minutes, but Southampton’s Danny Ings has as much single goal upside as anyone on this slate.
Southampton cross, Bournemouth give up a ton of dangerous crosses. Southampton are far too cheap for the amount of cross chances they will see, Bournemouth defenders are far too expensive given their lack of clean sheet ability. I’m not here saying Southampton will outright win, but chances are they will score, and considering Ings has scored 50% of Southampton’s goals this season, it’s a pretty solid bet his should once more.
Break the slate? Nah. But Southampton’s Danny Ings’ is too cheap, you don’t have to ask for too much other than a goal. That’s a pretty solid bet if you ask me. If you’ve read this far, you basically asked.
When you need to be different…er.
I’m not crazy about this, but if there’s anyone who is going to score on City, it’s Burnley’s Sam Vokes.
He has goals in back to back games and costs almost half as much as Mendy. I don’t know, you do the math. If he scores, you win. Never use him in cash, but in a GPP when you want to be different, look at Burnley’s Sammy Vokes, he’s been excellent as of late.
Forward, West Ham
Risky, but he’s there.
If I’m looking for a West Ham goal, the first place it’s coming from is from Aurny. I have no issue with this in GPP, but West Ham’s Marko Arnautovic is far from a cash option this slate.
There are a few concerns to touch on first. He’s not healthy, and he’s also not cheap. However, I expect his ownership to be super low, and if West Ham are up to anything, chances are it’s him. He stacks well with Felipe Anderson, and that’s probably exclusively how I will deploy him.
Otherwise, a fade may be in order for West Ham’s Marko Arnautovic, but I feel it’s a disservice to not mention his goal upside, as limited as his health may be.
DANIEL STURRIDGE or XHERDAN SHAQIRI
Depends who starts.
One of them should start, hopefully both. We may have to wait for the midweek on Sturridge, but in the case that Shaqiri gets the nod, prepare for that in your potential pivots.
Almost cash viable.
I wanted to finish up my article with my favourite GPP forward play of the slate, Brighton’s Glen Murray.
The guy is as legit of a professional as they come. He’s playing like he’s 25 years old again, and he’s the clear end point for the Brighton attack. Newcastle has been hurting at the back, and I feel Murray could be in a massive double goal upside spot. His minutes have started to pan out nicely, and his salary is so so obscenely cheap, it’s borderline the biggest starter mis-price of the slate. I don’t expect his ownership to be low, but neither do I expect it to reach deserving levels. He absolutely smashes his relative salary range as nobody should come close to him (outside of Cardiff).
90min against Newcastle could be super vital to this weekend’s takedown success, and while I like one of them to come from the spot, Brighton’s Glen Murray stands to be easily the cheapest double goal upside of the slate. Let’s see it happen.