It’s been two weeks since the EPL was last in action, but the break paved way for some fun UCL and FA Cup matches. Manchester City was upset by Wigan in the FA Cup for the 3rd time in 5 years, while 5 of the remaining 7 top flight clubs secured their spot in the next round. The 5 EPL teams still in the Champions League all survived the first leg with at least a chance at advancing to the quarterfinals. The second legs of each matchup are set to start on March 6th. In the meantime, there will be EPL this weekend and next, with a few FA Cup replays sprinkled in as well. Saturday’s slate features six games on the main slate with only 1 of the top 6 teams in action.
Roberto Firmino (West Ham United @ Liverpool, $12,500) – Firmino is the top forward option on this slate, and it is not close. Firmino has scored 3 goals in his last 5 EPL appearances, and he is taking on a WHU team that have given up the second most goals away from home this season (2.07 per road game). Firmino, and Liverpool in general, should feast in this game.
Wayne Rooney (Everton @ Watford, $8,500) – This game has the 2nd highest over/under for goals scored on this slate behind the Liverpool game. Both defenders have been somewhat susceptible this season, and both teams also score a decent number of games. Watford had home this season is allowing an average of 2.0 goals per game, so Rooney has a good matchup for a goal despite his slump. I expect Rooney to have high ownership on the main slate due to the other forwards on this slate. He’s also a name people recognize, and that will drive his ownership up higher. He’s still a solid play nonetheless.
Jay Rodriguez (Huddersfield Town @ West Bromwich Albion, $8,500) – Jay Rodriguez is in a nice spot against Huddersfield this weekend. They give up 2.08 goals per game on the road. Rodriguez is a very goal-dependent forward, so he is strictly a GPP play and only if you’re trying to avoid Rooney’s ownership.
Gerard Deulofeu (Everton @ Watford, $7,500) – Deulofeu has averaged 20.9 FDP per game in his 3 games since joining Watford from Barcelona. He is in a good spot to eclipse that average in this game against Everton. As mentioned before, this game has a good chance to be high scoring. Everton give up 2.15 goals per game on the road this season, so Deulofeu has a big plus matchup with a nice price tag to boot.
Mohamed Salah (West Ham United @ Liverpool, $13,000) – Much like fellow Red, Roberto Firmino, Salah is my favorite midfielder on this slate. He’s been absolutely incredible this season. He has 7 goals in his last 6 EPL games, and he has a prime matchup against WHU on Saturday. He is a lock in cash games, and should pay off even in GPPs. Sadio Mane ($10,500) is $2,500 cheaper than Salah, and provides some important salary relief. Mane has a plus matchup in this one as well, and he’s coming off a hattrick against Porto in his last game. I have not yet looked at specific lineup construction, so I am unsure if you can get all 3 Liverpool attackers, but stacking one of these two midfielders with Firmino seems like a good move on this slate.
Abdoulaye Doucoure (Everton @ Watford, $9,500) – In an open and potentially high-scoring game, Doucoure should excel doing what he does best in collecting peripheral stats. He’s also shown the ability to produce more important stats like goals (7) and assists (2) on occasion this season. He’s a good cash play with GPP upside. He’s a top pivot off Liverpool.
Gylfi Sigurdsson (Everton @ Watford, $9,000) – Another top pivot off Liverpool is Sigurdsson. The nature of this game should yield a good fantasy output for him. After getting hot for a while this fall, Sigurdsson’s production has dropped lately with only 1 goal since Christmas. It’s been a full 14 days since Everton’s last game, so some rest and proper training hopefully did Sigurdsson well. He’s in a nice position to come out of his funk on Saturday.
Junior Stanislas (Newcastle @ Bournemouth, $8,000) – Stanislas recently scored his 2nd and 3rd goals of the season. The Bournemouth midfielder has been looking to attack more often recently that he was earlier in the season. His matchup versus Newcastle is solid, but he will only be a GPP play on this slate.
Kenedy (Newcastle @ Bournemouth, $7,000) – On this slate you’ll need some serious salary relief to get the top studs. Kenedy can provide that. Since joining Newcastle he’s averaging 18.6 FDP per game in 3 games. In all 3 of those games, the matchup has not been great for him. However, this week against Bournemouth, Kenedy could be a little freer.
Jonjo Shelvey (Newcastle @ Bournemouth, $5,500) – Shelvey was stellar against Manchester United in his last game. He scored 27.25 FDP, and was crucial in their 1-0 win over United. Shelvey will provide some much-needed salary relief, and he has a solid matchup as well.
Virgil van Dijk (West Ham United @ Liverpool, $7,500) – On this slate, it is going to be very tough to roster top forward/midfield player while paying up at defender. Like usual, I am a fan of saving money at this position, but if you want to pay up at defender, van Dijk would be my top option.
Also like: Cuco Martina ($7,000), Daryl Janmaat ($6,500)
Aaron Creswell (West Ham United @ Liverpool, $5,500) – In my opinion, Creswell is a good cash defender on this slate. He’s not very expensive so he should fit in well with top-priced studs. He also has a solid matchup against Liverpool. Liverpool should control this game from a possession stand point, giving Creswell a lot of opportunities at peripheral defensive stats.
Adam Smith (Newcastle @ Bournemouth, $5,000) – Over a 4-game stretch last month, Smith averaged 25.13 FDP per game which is far more than you can expect from a defender under 6k. His last 2 games (1 of which he only played 20 minutes as a substitute) have been more modest. Smith has shown the potential for big fantasy performances this season, and that’s what you should be looking for from a GPP defender at his price.
Also like: Jonjoe Kenny ($5,000)
Nick Pope (Southampton @ Burnley, $5,000) – Pope is the first player I am mentioned from this game, and even then, I am not terribly high on him. With Burnley’s defense this season and Southampton lack of goals scored on the road, Pope is a solid bet for a clean sheet bonus. He likely won’t make that many saves, making him a better cash play than GPP.
Loris Karius (West Ham United @ Liverpool, $5,000) – Karius is in a similar position as Pope; a good bet for a clean sheet at home but probably will not be asked to make many saves. He is a good cash play, but won’t make a great GPP play since his ownership will likely be high.
Adrian (West Ham United @ Liverpool, $5,000) – I’m not a big fan of Adrian on this slate, but since I gave 2 cash options, I thought I would give a GPP option. Adrian will most likely be about as far away from a clean sheet bonus as you can be, but Liverpool could pound him with shots, allowing him to get points by making saves. The upside here is big.