Boxing Day was a big success yesterday, with my main two lines hitting in all formats with plays based on my article. There was also a lot of success in the FanCave Slack chat with our premium members. (If you’re unfamiliar with what we do in Slack, it costs $5/month for access to group chats with all the FanCave specialists for all different DFS sports. The group chats are active daily, and provide a great medium for communication and learning. If that’s something you’re interested in, let me know or contact us on our website or Twitter.) This EPL slate is a unique one. There is one game Wednesday (Manchester City @ Newcastle) and one game Thursday (Arsenal @ Crystal Palace). Those are the only two games on the slate, but with City and Arsenal there will be no shortage of stars. Let’s get to my breakdown of this slate.
Alexis Sanchez (Arsenal @ Crystal Palace, $11,000) – Alexis Sanchez is in the middle of a great run of consistency with 25+ fantasy points in 7 of his last 8 EPL games. Sanchez has 4 goals and 1 assist in that run which is solid. However, it’s been his ability to score points by creating chances and putting shots on goal behind his recent success. Sanchez has one of the highest floors among forwards this season, especially lately. On Thursday Sanchez faces Crystal Palace, a team that has given up an average of 1.53 goals per game. Crystal Palace started the season playing atrocious defense, but they’ve improved as of late. They’ve only given up 5 goals in their last 7 EPL games, and could pose a challenge for an Arsenal team playing on the road. Regardless, Sanchez is still talented enough and gets enough usage for him to put up another 25-30 fantasy point game. If he can get a goal, I can see him posting something in the mid-40s or higher. Sanchez is more of a 50/50 or multiplier play. Teammate Alexandre Lacazette ($9,000) makes a decent play this week in a solid matchup just because of the non-existence of good cheap options at forward on this slate.
Sergio Aguero (Manchester City @ Newcastle, $12,000) – FanDuel does not list Aguero as an expected starter, which I do not agree with. My number one source for (unofficial) MCI news, @City_Watch on Twitter, is expecting Aguero to get the start on Wednesday. They’ve been really accurate at predicting starters this season, but everything’s just a guess until the team releases official lineups. Any time Aguero starts, he will be a dangerous goal-scorer with world-class playmakers behind him. Newcastle’s defense has been respectable this season at home, only allowing 1.33 goals per game. However, Manchester City has proven to be essentially 100% matchup-proof. Aguero is not a necessary play in this slate, but the potential for a big game is always there which makes him viable.
Christian Benteke (Arsenal @ Crystal Palace, $7,500) – Woof. Value at the forward position is rough. Christian Benteke is the best option under 8k. Benteke was once a bright young striker for Aston Villa, but he’s been on a slide since 2015. Benteke has struggled for CP this season, but he finally broke though last game with a goal and an assist (42 fantasy points) against Leicester. Benteke is not easy to trust, but the other cheap forwards are even harder to trust. Arsenal’s defense has not been that good on the road this season. They’ve given up 13 in 9 road games. Let’s hope that streaky Benteke stays hot, and can find the net.
Kevin De Bruyne (Manchester City @ Newcastle, $12,000) – KDB is tied as the most expensive player on the slate, but he’s still worth that price tag. Halfway though the season, KDB has looked like the best midfielder in the league. He’s also been very consistent for fantasy purposes. He’s been over 33 fantasy points in 4 of his last 6 EPL starts. He also leads the midfield for the highest goal-scoring team in the league. Much like Aguero, KDB is a justifiable play in nearly every game he plays. Raheem Sterling ($10,000) is a recommended play as well with David Silva ruled out.
Mesut Ozil (Arsenal @ Crystal Palace, $9,500) – Ozil has a similar matchup as I wrote about previously for Alexis Sanchez, but just a little bit better. Arsenal should be able to hold the majority of the ball in this game, which bodes well for Ozil. He’ll have a lot of opportunities to feed his teammates and create chances against Crystal Palace. Ozil is the number one pivot off Manchester City’s expensive midfielders.
Ilkay Gundogan ($7,500) and Bernardo Silva ($7,000) (Manchester City @ Newcastle) – Gundogan and Silva are the top midfielders under 8k on this slate. Both are very talented, and have emerged as important bench midfielders for MCI this season. Silva has been the more consistent of the two, and he has an assist in each of his last 3 EPL games. Silva also plays as a more attacking midfielder, which is a plus for him over Gundogan.
Alex Iwobi (Arsenal @ Crystal Palace, $6,500) – Iwobi looks like he’s in line to draw another EPL start on Thursday. He’s posted some big fantasy games for a guy priced at 6.5k including 39.75 against BHA, 28.25 against MU, and 24.25 against Newcastle. Iwobi is not a regular starter, so his average fantasy points per game on FD is skewed. If you’re looking to stack Arsenal or looking for a cheap option in the midfield, Iwobi is the place to go.
Also like: Andros Townsend ($6,500)
Deep Punt Midfielders
Mohamed Diame ($4,500) and Henri Saivet ($4,000) (Manchester City @ Newcastle) – Both Diame and Siavet are super interesting plays on this slate. Both are defensive central midfielders for Newcastle, and are extremely cheap. Diame has started 5 EPL games (13 total appearances), and he’s averaging 13.8 fantasy points when he starts. That’s decent for that cheap of a player, especially in a matchup where he should eclipse that. Saivet, however, has started the one game that he’s appeared in. He scored a goal and put up 44.75 fantasy points on Saturday against WHU. It would be unwise to expect a goal from Saivet against MCI, but he still would’ve scored 24.75 fantasy points without the goal. Rostering one of these two allows you to get another top priced FWD/MID.
Nicolas Otamendi (Manchester City @ Newcastle, $7,500) – Otamendi is very expensive this week, but for good reason. He should feast on Newcastle’s poor offense, collecting many defensive stats. He’s even proven to be a solid attacker with 4 goals on the season (2nd most among all defenders). Getting Diame/Saivet for cheap could allow you to get Otamendi as well.
Jamaal Lascelles (Manchester City @ Newcastle, $6,500) – Lascelles is Newcastle’s best traditional defender, and he’ll be under siege this week against MCI. The ball will be down on his end of the field for the majority of the game, meaning he should be able to rack up some defensive stats often. The other solid defender on Newcastle, Florian Lejeuene ($6,000), had a nice game against Arsenal last game. He will have similar matchup against MCI on Wednesday, and will be a good play.
Laurent Koscielny (Arsenal @ Crystal Palace, $6,500) – Koscielny is one of Arsenal’s attacking-minded defenders. CP struggles to maintain the ball for extended periods of time, which will allow Koscielny to get up the field and join his teammates in the attack. With a MCI stack most likely chalky, an Arsenal stack with Koscielny could be dangerous in a tournament if MCI have a bad game.
Also like: Scott Dann ($6,000), James Tompkins ($6,000)
Shkodran Mustafi (Arsenal @ Crystal Palace, $5,500) – If you look at Mustafi’s game log, you’ll see 2 disappointing games in a row. Don’t worry though, because he did not start either of those games. Scroll a little farther down and you’ll see a string of 4 straight 23+ point games for Mustafi. Mustafi should start on Thursday, and I expect to see him back above 20 fantasy points in a good matchup against CP. Teammate Hector Bellerin ($5,500) is also a nice option as a decent-priced defender.
Javier Manquillo (Manchester City @ Newcastle, $5,000) – Manquillo has been the most consistent Newcastle defender on the field, but he’s been less consistent than Lascelles and Lejeune for fantasy purposes. Manquillo has 3 good games in a row for a 5k defender, and with a plus matchup against MCI, he is in line for a 4th straight good game. Newcastle’s final defender, DeAndre Yedlin ($5,000), is another solid option at defender. Yedlin has the speed and the attacking talent to pose a matchup problem for MCI if they throw too many players forward. Yedlin should be busy defending for Newcastle, but I can see him getting forward and collecting a few additional offensive stats too.
Petr Cech (Arsenal @ Crystal Palace, $5,500) – Cech is my favorite GK to see some shots and also get the clean sheet. Arsenal’s defense isn’t great, especially on the road. CP’s offense isn’t great either, but they’ve been formidable recently. Arsenal should control ball possession, leaving CP without many opportunities at goal. However, if they catch Arsenal out of position, they could leave Cech vulnerable. Cech is the most expensive keeper on the slate, and that’s for a reason.
Ederson (Manchester City @ Newcastle, $5,000) – Ederson is my favorite for the clean sheet bonus. Newcastle average 1.0 goals scored per game on the season as a whole and in home games. Chances Newcastle get many opportunities at goal against MCI are slim, leading to a likely clean sheet for Ederson. Don’t expect many saves from him, though.
Julian Speroni (Arsenal @ Crystal Palace, $5,000) – Earlier I mentioned that CP’s defense has been pretty solid lately; they only allowed 5 goals in their last 7 games. However, they haven’t faced a team as good as Arsenal since November 5th when they played Tottenham. The combination of CP’s defense at home and Arsenal’s weak attack on the road (9 goals in 9 games) make Speroni an interesting play. He’ll likely be fairly low-owned, especially with Ederson at the same price, but could definitely score as well as Cech and Ederson.