Welcome to the 26th MatchDay of EPL action and a quick look at the news and notes leading into this weekend’s slate!
Much like the previous slate, we are looking at another ugly, low-scoring weekend. The home teams are far from reliable, the expensive salaries haven’t been living up, and there are far more sub-90min options playing important roles than full 90min role players. Arsenal and Liverpool, the obvious favorites, are far from healthy, and more than half the weekend’s teams will be lucky to score a single goal. In other words, an expensive, high ownership, low ceiling slate awaits us, and Salah will probably still get it down with .5x value.
Hope everyone finds this useful, despite the distaste!
Have fun everyone, enjoy, and see you at the top!
WEST HAM UNITED
Most Recent Result: Respectable 1-1 draw with Liverpool.
Targets this Weekend: Fabianski, maybe a defensive clean sheet chase.
For the first away side of the slate we have West Ham, who are at the moment one of the league’s worst all around teams, making a quick trip to Palace.
The Hammers are coming into this winless in three straight, but more concerning and relevant to this conversation, they’ve lose three straight away games without scoring a goal. Mind you, last slate’s result vs. Liverpool may be more indicative of one side (dare I say slipping?) faltering and the home side simply existing. West Ham has won only once in their previous six, but things aren’t completely shot for the visitors. This season they’ve done surprisingly well in London derbys, outside an early season 3-1 loss to Arsenal, and a more recent 2-0 loss to Watford, the Hammers have either found a result or kept low scores. That should be the case again this slate, as Sellhurst Park has been the league’s lowest scoring field, and West Ham totals have been under 3 goals in six of their previous nine games. Also, West Ham hasn’t lost to Palace since 2015, over a run of seven games. So, while they are far from being either a lost cause nor a sure thing, West Ham tips more towards the GPP scale than any kind of reliable source for a result, especially away to Palace.
There is only one logical place to target in this one, defensive stacks. The reason for this is quite simple; we are expecting a low scoring game, so that means no ceilings for attacking players, and a higher chance for successful scripts on the defensive players. Can you stack Arny and Felipe Anderson? Sure, but over the entire season there’s consistent stats to show there won’t be any goal scoring ceilings. Maybe if this was a four game slate we could consider it relevant, but on six games, and at Palace? Not the best option of the slate. Fabz salary helps him work for either format, but he’s best suited for GPP where you can stack more ruthlessly, and West Ham has been too cold/Palace is too appealing to make him overly cash relevant. Outside of Fabz be extremely careful because you may have to do all your work under the guise of 2 goals. That won’t cut it this slate for either format, for either site.
West Ham has been extremely poor as of late, and while Palace isn’t the best team in the league, their home games have been predictably low scoring. While that script won’t draw a lot of ownership, especially towards the West Ham GPP side, it’s still prevalent and holds very serious relevance.
Most Recent Result: A 2-0 home, Zaha-less victory over Fulham.
Targets this Weekend: Vicente Guaita, defensive clean sheet chase/either wing back, Wilfred Zaha, Andros Townsend, Luka “Milly” Milivojevic. Fade the forwards.
For the first home team of the slate we have Crystal Palace playing host to London rivals West Ham.
As per usual, Palace has been one of the league’s weirdest teams. While it would’ve been hard to reach last years levels of bad, they seemed destined for relegation, only to pull themselves back in the new year, and we only have to wait patiently for them to slowly fall back into a relegation battle once more. They’ve won four of their previous nine, and in their past six home games they’ve won three, keeping four clean sheets over those six. In fact, Palace home games have been resoundingly low scoring all season. Sellhurst is the last field in the EPL to have seen a total of less than 20 goals. This season, over the 12 Palace home games, 10 have finished below 3 total goals. Palace is interestingly notoriously slow starters at home, they have yet to score in the opening 15min of a game, nor in the 30min that precede halftime. If Palace happen to concede early after either kickoff, be wary of a different script, however, until they start to show signs of weakening their defensive strengths, or takes on massive ownership, we can use them in either format.
Thankfully, unlike their opposition, Palace has players who posses serious floor along with enough upside to usually warrant their salaries. Palace has one of the more attractive clean sheet chases of the slate, and even without the bonus they should have enough floor that a triple KEP-LB-RB defensive stack wouldn’t ruin your GPP day with a goal conceded. Zaha will be back and is borderline a must play on either site, but strictly GPP. Milly is a little too expensive, but this is also the time of the year he gets too expensive, still finds a way to pay off, and does it all from repeated low ownership. The big key will be not only the Palace mids and defense have enough floor that with an average outing they will allow you to win, but as a result of the low scoring games the forwards minutes and ceilings will be capped. We can survive with a Townsend 14fpts from one assist. We can still get by if PvA and Wan-Bissaka got 7-9fpts. However, without the goal off of 40-odd-minutes from Batshuayi, and you’re completely ruined. And considering he’s not that great of a player and nobody has been scoring goals @ Palace, it’s safer to look at the midfield options, especially with the low ownership.
Palace home games have been super low scoring. However, considering their mids and defensive options all carry serious, cash viable floors, you can use them in either format on either site. Palace isn’t the best option, but they are far FAR from the worst.
Most Recent Result: Sunday loss, 3-1 to ManCity
Targets this Weekend: Aubameyang (GPP), Lacazette “Cazz”, Monreal (GPP if LW).
In the second game of the slate we have Arsenal travelling to Huddersfield Town. This is a win waiting to happen.
Either we ignore Arsenal hasn’t been great recently, or the fact Huddersfield Town is a disaster. While Arsenal has won five of their previous 10, they’ve also lost four of those 10. Away from home they’ve conceded at an alarming rate, so while Huddersfield is borderline a waste of space, the Terriers should still break the clean sheet. Not only that, but it should come quickly as well, so if you decide to chase an Arsenal clean sheet your GPP day may be over before it really started. That being said, Arsenal does have two huge factors; they’ve been scoring a ton vs. inferior opponents (at least 2 goals in six of their previous eight vs. non-big 6 sides), and to top it all off not only have they won every EPL game in their history vs. Huddersfield, but they’ve also yet to concedeand EPL goal vs. Town. There isn’t a whole lot to say here, Arsenal has been literally, absolutely perfect vs. Huddersfield, and at this point of the season Town has been as bad as any EPL team has ever been.
Aubameyang has been sick all week, and while he’s obviously a must play most slates, that does make me nervous. Lacazette on the other hand is seeing more consistent minutes, and in the case Aubs is still below the weather, Cazz may see another 90min game, it’s worth monitoring. If Mkhitaryan does find the bench we need to be extra careful as Arsenal minutes are set to crumble. Iwobi would be pushed to see 90min in the first place (especially if Cazz does), and another CM would be set to come off at 70min for Mkhitaryan. It’s hard to say exactly who or when, but it’s extremely important to remember when we are looking for 90min options, this isn’t the team to find them. If Monreal starts on the left, fire him up in GPP, but if he’s a CB that’s an easy fade on DK. As a whole, Arsenal has ceiling, but tons of ownership, and when we break it down, lots of risk. Huddersfield doesn’t give up many corners, so with little floor and less upside, Arsenal represent more risk than the top GPP options, but, considering it’s against Huddersfield they still resound as great picks.
While Arsenal is full of excellent options there’s still lots of relevance to go under the field’s ownership. They are expensive, will be highly owned, lacking 90min players, and on the road has conceded at a consistent rate. Don’t fade Arsenal, but they also shouldn’t be your top format options neither.
Most Recent Result: Business as usual, 5-0 loss vs. Chelsea.
Targets this Weekend: Aaron Mooy, Jason Puncheon (GPP), Jonas Lossl.
For the second home team of the slate we have not only the league’s worst team, but historically one of the worst after 26 games, Huddersfield Town.
The Terriers have been winless in 12 straight, losing 11 of the 12. They’ve conceded at least 2 goals in four of their previous six home games, and have been completely irrelevant on the other end, scoring only 5 home goals this season. Zanka is the league’s lowest team leading scorer, and he’s a CB. Not only that, but Huddersfield has yet to actually score an EPL goal vs. Arsenal. So, there’s reaching for a GPP script, then there’s giving away your money, and then there’s 20 levels of bad decisions, THEN there’s taking Huddersfield. Not much more needs to be said until they show even the slightest sign of life.
Aaron Mooy is the only name who registers with me. He’s in a great role, will have little to no ownership, his salary isn’t gut-busting, and on the road Arsenal has been dramatically bad with clean sheets. Maybe Puncheon, but that’s only because he can take set pieces (doesn’t mean he will) and he’s likely to see 90min. Outside of those two there’s little and less to look for. However, I wouldn’t talk you out of Lossl as your value keeper, and DK having him not-below 4k should speak volumes about Arsenal’s lack of blow-out capability this weekend. Chase a Mooy upside from his decent floor, and maybe catch a penalty shot goal, because Arsenal should concede, even against Huddersfield.
Huddersfield Town is the resounding first choice for relegation, and until they show some signs of changing their fortunes, keep their exposure to one player at the absolute most, and even then barely that.
Most Recent Result: Embarrassing 2-0 loss to Cardiff.
Targets this Weekend: Josh King (GPP).
For the third game of the slate we move from the worst team in the league in Huddersfield to the league’s worst away side in Bournemouth, who is travelling to the league’s top home side, Liverpool.
As mentioned, Bournemouth has been atrocious away from home. Not only that, but they have been more than respectable at home, making for one of the heaviest home/away splits in the league. At home, Bournemouth has won four of their previous six, losing only once, but away from home they’ve lost seven straight, conceding a massive 20 goals over those seven games. Even more concerning has been Bournemouth’s previous 15 game stretch, losing 10, and coming away with only four wins. They’ve won only three of their 12 away wins as well, so even before we consider how bad they’ve been in the new year, they are away from home, and of all teams, playing Liverpool.
That’s the big point here, Liverpool at home is a completely different beat. Liverpool at home vs. one of the league’s worst away sides? That doesn’t exactly make anything not-devastatingly worse. Outside the obvious issues, Bournemouth has only one viable option, Josh King, and he’s going up against a near-perfect Liverpool home defensive record. There’s no viable clean sheet chase, and Clyne, the resounding best option, can’t play due to being on loan from Liverpool. Expect to see a more pedestrian Chelsea-esk outing from Fraser, and everyone else has no minutes or viable roles. As mentioned, King has both, but against Liverpool at Anfield isn’t a viable option, period, especially in this scenario. I guess this is still DFS afterall, and Liverpool has conceded in three straight, but I’d rather apply that to other games which at the very least present the potential for a goal.
Bournemouth has been one of the league’s worst away sides, and Liverpool is one of the league’s best, especially at home. Nothing to see here, move along, unless you want to be but-naked crazy for Bournemouth and hope for the wildest soccer slate of the season.
Most Recent Result: 1-1 draw with West Ham.
Targets this Weekend: Sadio Mane (GPP), Andrew Robertson (Cash), and Salah (because everyone else will be, though I still say he’s too expensive).
For the third game of the slate we have Liverpool hosting Bournemouth. If you are still out of the loop on Liverpool, save your money and don’t play, watch some Youtube videos, because you are too late to the party.
This season Liverpool has yet to lose at home. They’ve scored 17 goals over their previous five home games, and they’ve scored at least 3 goals in four of their previous five vs. Bournemouth, and in 10 of their 12 home games this season. Now, mind you, things have been slipping as of late. Liverpool hasn’t been anywhere close to the same standard away from home, and as such they’ve won only twice in their previous five games. They’ve conceded in six of their previous 10 games, including three straight home games as well. The issue for Liverpool has been squad depth, especially at the backline, when TAA isn’t playing the Reds are compromising, and that’s one thing they are incapable of doing. If Salah isn’t full throttle, he’s a complete bust. Simply put, they are missing too many bodies and their salaries/ownership demand perfection.
This is lining up to be another frustrating slate. Arsenal has limited 90min options. Liverpool is impossible to peg (Salah may finish with 15fpts and STILL be worthwhile because the rest of the slate did nothing as well, but that’s what he requires). Palace, Southampton, Watford, and Brighton are the other home options? Well then…. Shaqiri’s minutes are completely shot, Milner costs too much (even on set pieces), Mane has absolutely zero floor, and Salah hasn’t met value in 2019. If TAA isn’t back to perfect health, again, second most expensive salary on DK demands production, if he’s not perfect you’re ruined. If Salah doesn’t score, you’re ruined, and even then you still need the rest of the slate to not show up. And even considering all this, there’s still serious minutes concern, as the bench has enough to take off literally anybody, Salah included. Liverpool host Bayern on Tuesday, so don’t think everybody is safe for minutes. We all know picking Liverpool is important to any slate, but good luck finding one that’s viable. However, in my experience with this, when I’m frustrated about a team it’s because I’m wrong, incoming Salah hatty because I say he’s not worth his salary. Mane in GPP, so you should probably fade him too, and Robertson’s cash floor isn’t the worst either.
Liverpool, like Arsenal, are massive favorites but incredibly unfavorable/non-viable to peg. Their salaries and ownership won’t be worthwhile, and despite that you still have to play them because it’s Liverpool at home against the league’s worst away side. Robertson cash, Mane GPP, and block with Salah.
Most Recent Result: 2-0 home win vs. Bournemouth.
Targets this Weekend: Joe Benett (cash), Callum Paterson (if he’s on the wing), Joe Ralls (with no Camarasa-cash).
For the fourth game of the slate we have bottom dwellers Cardiff City travelling to Southampton.
There’s no two ways about this, these teams are poor, and one will end up out-bading the other. Cardiff is unquestionably the worse off, winning only once of their 12 away games this season, losing nine of the 12. They’ve also won only twice in their previous 10, losing six of the 10. They’ve only won a pair of games in their previous five, outside of last weekend they had scored only one goal in their previous four games. That being said, they’ve scored in four of their six previous away games, and they’ve won back to back games vs. Southampton 1-0. Cardiff is going through a phase where they are either getting the clean sheet or letting in multiple, so by all definition these guys aren’t cash plays, and barely even GPP options at that.
One of the bigger issues, among many, is the complete lack of Cardiff ceilings. Etheridge can hit double digits, but that’s only viable if he’s the cheapest keeper, or literally every other keeper gets destroyed. Cunningham, the most viable defensive option, hasn’t played in ages, with Joe Bennet doing the same (useless) thing but worse. If Camarasa is out, Ralls is cash viable, but barely. If Paterson is playing on the wing, he’s multi-format viable, but barely. The more forward we look, the more non-90min options we are forced into. Reid, Niasse, Hoilett, take your pick, if you want to lose money this weekend just force in guys you know won’t play 90min. Not to mention, Southampton has been very respectable as of late, and away from home Cardiff has been everything but.
There aren’t enough 90min options, and no matter where we look whether on Huddersfield or across the field, there’s better options than Cardiff for either format, on either site.
Most Recent Result: 1-1 draw vs. Burnley.
Targets This Weekend: Alex McCarthy (GPP), Matt Targett, James Ward-Prowse, PE Hojbjerg (cash), Nathan Redmond (GPP).
The fourth home team of the slate is south-siders Southampton playing host to Welsh side Cardiff City.
Maybe it’s years of being scarred, but looking at Southampton as a top home favorite of any slate isn’t ideal. That being said, since bringing in Hasenhüttl, Southampton has completely revamped into a half decent real-life team, while still retaining a lot of their DFS relevance. The Saints have made a modern-day career in the EPL by drawing everyone, literally, everyone, and up until 10 games ago (Hasenhüttl beginning) it was safe to say they had traded their wins and the majority of their draws for losses, it’s slowly changing back to the norm. In their 12 home games, Southampton has won only twice, but has also lost only four. They’ve found the back of the net in eight of their previous 10 games, but also conceded in nine of those 10 as well. Over these 10 games Southampton has lost only three times, in fact they haven’t lost in five straight, winning two of the five. So, what does all this mean? Basically, we can now move from Southampton being a team we can’t trust to win to a team we can trust to probably not lose, or at least not as much anymore. In other words, there should never be a serious winning tag placed on Southampton, but until people start owning them like they won’t lose, we will find some edges.
Across the Southampton board we can find excellent floors. Both keepers stand to make saves from affordable salaries, no matter who starts. Targett is as viable of an option (if not more) as any DK defensive option, even with Bertrand edging closer to a return. JWP and Hojbjerg are both double digit floor plays, and Redmond has been consistently close enough to 90min that we can look to him as a decent multi-designation play in GPP. Fading the keeper in GPP (unless it’s Gunn) will be ideal as they may not lose, but just as likely to not win. The question is how many will Southampton score? Ideally we’d want 3 for GPP stacks, and while Southampton isn’t incapable, they present a viable defensive stack…that isn’t overly viable. I’ll admit that Cardiff isn’t very good, but at home Southampton doesn’t allow as many saves through, and we’re just as likely to see a Palace/West Ham-esk score than slate breaking performance. McCarthy isn’t the worst clean sheet chase of the slate, but the risk of drawing is paramount, so only GPP.
Southampton is a mediorce team playing reasonably well. Outside of keeper they aren’t too expensive, and given the slate makeup if we can find three goals from their ownership we are looking at serious takedown potential. Lots of edges to be had in Southampton, it depends if we get the 1-1 Southampton or the 3-0 side. I hope for the latter.
Most Recent Result: 2-0 midweek loss to ManCity.
Targets this Weekend: Lucas Digne (Cash), Gylfi Sigurdsson, Richarlison (GPP).
In the fifth game of the slate we have Everton travelling into London to play Watford. Call me crazy, but this is exactly the kind of game Everton needs.
Now, if we were to stack up all the teams and compare their DFS relevance to their real life results, Everton is one frustrating side, as their production is ManCity results worthy. They come into this ice cold, winning only three of their previous 13 games. This season they’re also holding true to their historical poor home/away split, with only three wins from their 12 away games, losing three of their previous five away as well. They’ve also found defeat in six of their previous 10, and while they haven’t had the easiest schedule in the league, the complete lack of results must be concerning for this DFS laden side. That’s the thing, they have the English national keeper, arguably two of the better/the best DFS wing back in Digne and Baines, Siggy, Richarlison, what more do they really need to succeed? Consistency is once thing, and away results is another.
Pickford isn’t keeping enough clean sheets to be GPP viable, and Everton has been so poor we can barely find a win anymore. Digne is continually the best DFS option in the league, and Coleman’s price keeps dropping (hopefully not his minutes too). Watford love to cross, so I wouldn’t hate chasing some Everton CBs on FD. Siggy is still an equally elite option as Digne, though I would keep it to those two floor plays. While Watford will cross the ball a ton, the don’t allow a ton of shots in reply, so looking for the crosses may work more than the shots, or Siggy over Richy in either format. It’ll also be important to fade the Everton forwards, as their minutes are too unreliable to risk for either site.
I really like Everton this weekend. Watford hasn’t been great, and Everton’s quality should see them through. I’m not expecting a slate breaker, but 2-1 Everton seems a very reasonable call. Don’t chase the clean sheet, so unless you think Digne can break the slate, keep him to cash, use Siggy in either format.
Most Recent Result: 0-0 draw with Brighton.
Targets this Weekend: Ben Foster (GPP), Daryl Janmaat.
For the last home team of the normal timed games we have Watford hosting Everton.
Watford has won only three of their previous 10 at home, losing five of those 10 home games. In fact, they’ve won and lost five of their 12 EPL home games, drawing only twice. However, Watford has started a more recent trend of drawing games, with no victor in five of their previous 10 games, losing two of their previous six, drawing four of the six. The only two losses they encountered were to top 4 teams, but unlike Everton having production with no results, Watford has found tons of results with no production. As per my usual Watford gripe, those who have something to do, don’t, and those who have little to offer rarely do, and don’t when they should.
This season, Foster has been an excellent addition, and again this weekend makes for an interesting GPP clean sheet chase. My concern is his stacking options have fallen off, with Holebas not producing and Janmaat costing more. Cleverley is someone that should start coming in as a viable slate-by-slate floor play. Deulofeu’s minutes are trash, and Deeney is so obscenely boom or bust that people still flock to him in GPP, just for that penalty upside (I prefer Palace’s). Everton has been bad enough away that there’s something to hunt, but finding the viable option isn’t easy. Foster and Janmaat if you’re looking for a clean sheet, but outside of that finding a viable 90min option could prove impossible. It’s just as likely Watford score with nobodies than anybody.
It’s tough, Everton hasn’t found wins with a world class DFS line, and Watford is finding results with little to no DFS relevance. Everton makes more sense for DFS, so I’m more likely to side with the team that has Siggy and Digne, the two best DFS options in the league, than with the sub-90min games of Watford.
These two sides have met 10 times, in seven of those 10 the game finished with >3 total goals.
Most Recent Result: 1-1 draw with Southampton.
Targets this Weekend: Tom Heaton, JBG, Ashley Barnes (GPP).
For the late hammer of the slate we have Burnley making the massive trip down south to play Brighton.
Where other teams have benefited from coaching changes, Burnley has benefited from the return of their keeper and captain, Tom Heaton. Burnley hasn’t lost since, going six straight undefeated, winning three of the six. Actually, Burnley hasn’t won in three straight, and is now riding three straight ties. They haven’t lost to Brighton since 2013, and that wasn’t even in the EPL. In fact, since Brighton is so new, the Seagulls haven’t even scored on Burnley yet, however, Burnley has only scored against Brighton only once, so, it’s not exactly a blood bath of goals.
I do have a couple concerns around Burnley. Firstly, they’ve been hanging on by a thread, and I’m not sure how much more stress they can take before it snaps. Without Barnes’ last minute PK last weekend, this would be a discussion about how Burnley is coming back down to reality. Be that as it may, Heaton is still far too cheap and must be played. I like that Taylor and Bardsley’s salary went down, but they shouldn’t ever find a ceiling. Johann Berg Gudmundsson is another near must play, though I’m waiting for his minutes to return before using him in GPP. Chris Wood’s minutes look to be falling, so if I’m looking at the forwards, this weekend Ashley Barnes is one of my go to’s, especially for GPP. Burnley has been one of the hottest teams in the league, and Brighton has been one of the coldest (even at home). The one guy I am actively avoiding is Dwight McNeil, he was a lock at 5k-ish DK salary and low ownership, now that it’s all skyrocketed and his production has not. There’s more merit to fading than playing him, especially at that DK salary.
Burnley continue to offer excellent value, though I’m concerned over the distance of their trip. JBG should be back for the full 90min, with him and Heaton (as usual) as two of my core plays for the weekend.
BRIGHTON & HOVE ALBION
Most Recent Result: 3-1 FA Cup Midweek win vs. West Brom.
Targets this Weekend: Pascal Groß, Solly March.
For the late hammer home team we have Brighton hosting Burnley. Not a lot of skill, but still a relevant late hammer game.
Brighton is winless in five straight. They’ve won only once in their previous 10 outings, losing six of the 10. While they’ve done a great job at not losing at home (losing only three of their 12 home games this season), they’ve also failed to find home victories either, winning only once in their previous five home games. While this is only Brighton’s second season, they’ve yet to score an EPL goal vs. Burnley, let alone win. While they’ve been much better at home than away, these two teams are very similar in terms of DFS, but Burnley is by far the better option. They both have super low floor defenders. They both have one high floor M/F, and both have forwards with the same GPP slate breaking potential. The difference is Burnley has a keeper where Brighton has someone more likely to get -EV than double digits.
I do have a few olive branches to extend. Firstly, Burnley has been hanging on by a thread, and while I don’t think it will be Brighton to cut the string, they do own a few pair of scissors. Secondly, Pascal Groß has been playing tremendously, and where he has been succeeding, JBG (his direct comparison) hasn’t been. Thirdly, Glen Murray will still be under-owned (and a risk for sub-90min games), and Solly March is STILL borderline cash viable. So, they aren’t void of options, just void of serious upside. Ideally, Brighton should concede, meaning if they are going to win at home, they will need multiple. However, it’s Brighton, and they’ve been tepid at best. They rarely allow a lot of saves, so they are just as likely to draw and have no result than help you win a GPP.
I don’t like Brighton to score, but it’s cross country for Burnley, so they could just as easily fall on a scoreless draw. Brighton only needs one, and if Groß or March can catch it from their floor, that could be worth it, but limited exposure at most.
THESE SIDES HAVE PLAYED SIX TIMES. tHEY’VE DRAWN IN FIVE.
West Ham will be lucky to score once, and Palace will be lucky to score twice. Arsenal should concede while easily handle Huddersfield, but their minutes, ceilings, and health continue to be a concern. Bournemouth has been so bad away and Liverpool has been so good at home, Bournemouth and their 90-min targets are GPP by default, though they deserve none of it. Cardiff is far inferior away from home, and Southampton is on the up and up, though don’t let your plan surpass Southampton simply not losing. Look for Everton to finally bounce back, though concede a couple times in the process. Finally, Burnley may be due for a loss, and while Brighton may find the win, they won’t deserve it.