After the international break, it feels good to welcome back the Premier League with a big 7-game main slate on Saturday. On Matchday 32 (of 38), Manchester City have all but locked up the title, but there are still many teams fighting to avoid relegation or to secure a spot in European football next season. Here are my thoughts on the main Saturday EPL slate on FanDuel this weekend.
Gabriel Jesus (Manchester City @ Everton, $10,500) – With Sergio Aguero likely still on the shelf, Jesus will step into the role as main striker for the Citizens. Jesus’s last EPL start on March 12th without Aguero was not ideal as he only posted 10.5 FDP. However, in a UCL game without Aguero a few days prior, he netted a goal. Jesus also scored this past week for Brazil in a 1-0 defeat of Germany. If/when we get the news that Aguero is not fit, that will confirm my ranking of Jesus as the top forward on this slate. His price is reasonable, and he has shown serious ability as a dangerous goal scorer this season. Everton is a moderate matchup for City this weekend, but their attackers have been essentially matchup-proof all season.
Jamie Vardy (Leicester City @ Brighton, $10,000) – Stacking Manchester City is going to be the most popular strategy on this slate (especially in cash games), making it nearly impossible to roster any other top players like Vardy. Vardy is in a good spot, and he has been playing better than earlier in this season. His fantasy value is still fairly goal-dependent, and Brighton defense likely won’t be able to provide much resistance against Leicester. He is a top GPP pivot off Jesus.
Marko Arnautovic (Southampton @ West Ham United, $9,500) – Both West Ham and Southampton are dead in the relegation battle, sitting 17th and 18th respectively. The scenes at London Stadium during and after West Ham’s last home game were absolutely wild. Fans were displeased (to say the least) with the showing by West Ham in a 3-0 loss to Burnley. Needless to say, West Ham players will not want to experience that again this weekend and should have extra motivation as they take on Southampton. This season, Southampton has been giving up 1.64 goals per game away while West Ham score nearly every game at home. Arnautovic has been WHU’s best player this season, and he should continue to be just that in this game. He hasn’t score in his last 3 EPL starts, but I like him to get on the score sheet this weekend.
Charlie Austin (Southampton @ West Ham United, $6,500) – Choosing a forward under $9,500 on this slate is going to be a crapshoot. It might be very necessary to get 2 top forwards due to the lack of value at the position. Charlie Austin is rumored to be very close to making his return to the squad after missing over 3 months with a leg injury. Prior to the injury, Austin was having a very productive November and December. Missing 3 months is tough, and Austin’s fitness will be a concern especially if he’s thrown right into the battlefield in this game specifically. I would only play Austin for absolutely necessary salary relief, but you MUST make sure he’s starting.
Marcus Rashford (Swansea City @ Manchester United, $8,000) – It is unclear whether Rashford will make the starting lineup this weekend, but if he does, he would be the best sub-9.5k forward option hands down. With Anthony Martial out with a foot injury, there is definitely a scenario where Rashford gets into the lineup. I am leaning heavily towards rostering 2 top-priced forwards on this slate, but if you want to go a different direction, Rashford is worth the price if he starts.
Kevin de Bruyne (Manchester City @ Everton, $11,000) – “Despite the high price tag, KDB is worth it.” I think that’s how I start off every writeup on Kevin de Bruyne. FanDuel is well justified charging players $11,000 for KDB, who has been the best midfielder in the EPL this season. David Silva ($10,500) has been hot in his last 3 EPL games averaging 38.75 FDP. However, it makes more sense to save $1,000 and get Raheem Sterling ($9,500) instead. Just like many past slates, a Manchester City stack will be a super popular strategy. Leroy Sane ($9,000) and Ilkay Gundogan ($7,000) could both also provide some salary relief while still getting Manchester City exposure.
Riyad Mahrez (Leicester City @ Brighton, $11,000) – Mahrez shares the top-priced midfielder honor with KDB this week after 3 really good showings where he averaged 37.1 FDP. I view Mahrez basically the same as Vardy this week. They’re both elite pivots off Manchester City, and should be reserved for GPPs. A lineup including both Vardy and Mahrez could be interesting if the Manchester City chalk doesn’t work out. Marc Albrighton ($8,000) is much too expensive for me this weekend.
Matt Ritchie (Huddersfield Town @ Newcastle, $9,500) – Another GPP-only midfielder this week is Matt Ritchie. Over his last 4 EPL starts, Ritchie is averaging 24.9 FDP, well above his season average. A matchup at home against Huddersfield is a good one for Newcastle. Huddersfield give up an average of 2.0 goals per game in away games. Newcastle has not been great on the attack this season, but a matchup like this could make them look good. Kenedy ($9,000) is also in consideration, but both are strictly high-risk high-reward GPP plays.
Jonjo Shelvey (Huddersfield Town @ Newcastle, $7,000) – Shelvey’s recent emergence for Newcastle has helped them climb the table to 13th, 4 points above the relegation zone. In his last 3 EPL games, 2 of them have been 27+ FDP performances. With a plus matchup against Huddersfield, Shelvey has a shot at build on his recent success.
James Ward-Prowse (Southampton @ West Ham United, $7,000) – Like I mentioned above, this game will be a fierce battle in the fight to remain in the Premier League next season. Earlier this week Ward-Prowse spoke on the importance of this game saying, “This is a game that we need to win, for sure. We can’t afford to lose games or draw games because ultimately that’s going to cost us. It may not necessarily be a game of good football or who can play the best football, it is about who can win the game.” The 23-year-old began playing in Southampton’s youth academy when he was only 8, and it looks like the midfielder will be bringing his A game to London Stadium.
Ahmed Hegazi (Burnley @ West Bromwich Albion, $6,500) – Per usual, Hegazi is my favorite of the higher-priced defenders. His floor is higher than most defenders you’ll find for 6.5k, and he’s shown a decent ceiling as well. A matchup against Burnley is a good one for Hegazi, so I expect him to have a successful outing.
Nicolas Otamendi (Manchester City @ Everton, $6,500) – Another defender with a solid floor is Otamendi. Although his floor is slightly lower than Hegazi’s, Otamendi boasts a higher ceiling fantasy-wise. Otamendi has several 30+ FDP games, and Hegazi has none. Otamendi is one of those high-motor players who stays active collecting peripheral stats at a nice rate. An away game against Everton should do Otamendi well.
Jose Holebas (Bournemouth @ Watford, $6,000) – Jose Holebas is another one of my top defender this week. He’s shown some recent success, averaging just under 20 FDP in his last 5 EPL games. His price is a little high, but that’s most likely to due a good matchup. Holebas is a wingback who has the ability to join the attack for Watford. The oddsmakers have the over/under of goals for this game at 2.5 (on the higher side), so Holebas could be in for some extra action.
Also like: Alfie Mawson ($6,000)
Eric Bailly (Swansea City @ Manchester United, $5,000) – Bailly looked good in his first real game against Liverpool on March 10th. He’s posted some pretty nice fantasy games in his limited starts this season, and he’s been an effective defender for United recently. For only $5,000, Bailly is one of the better value defenders on this slate where getting value right is crucial.
Chris Lowe (Huddersfield @ Newcastle, $4,500) – Lowe will no doubt be a common play on this slate, given that he is one of the two lowest priced starters available. Lowe has not been very relevant for fantasy purposes this season, but he’s had some decent games here and there. Lowe can definitely reach 3x value while providing salary relief.
Kasper Schmeichel (Leicester City @ Brighton, $4,500) – Schmeichel is my favorite GK on this slate, especially with his price. Brighton’s goal-scoring ability this season has not been good, and Schmeichel is a very talented keeper. I think he should get the clean sheet bonus while making a handful of saves.
David de Gea (Swansea City @ Manchester United, $5,000) – David de Gea is my favorite goalkeeper to get the clean sheet bonus on this slate. Swansea is only averaging 0.67 goals per game on the road, and Manchester United only gives up an average of 0.47 goals per game at home. On paper, this is the best combination for a clean sheet possible.
Thanks for reading. As usual, I am always available on Twitter (@vdray5) as we get closer to lock.