Hopefully everyone has been enjoying some mid-week EPL this week. I know I am with all the MLB cancellations. With only one game per day Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, we are presented with a two-game slate on Thursday. Southampton head to Leicester for a game they desperately need points from to remain in the Premier League next season, while Burnley host Chelsea in a matchup of top-7 teams. In this post I have included notes on all four teams playing.
Southampton attackers have been hard to trust this season due to the team’s average of 1.0 goals scored per game this season (5th worst in the league). One player Southampton is pleased to have back on the field is Charlie Austin ($7,000). Austin suffered a bad injury right before Christmas and finally made is return at the end of March. Since returning to health, Southampton has eased him in giving him 1 start and 2 appearances as a substitute. Austin should be back to nearly 100% now, and is expected to start against Leicester. Leicester do not give up many goals at home (1.2 per game), but Austin is a sneaky punt at forward on a small slate. James Ward-Prowse ($7,500) is worth mentioning as a mid-priced midfielder. He’s been a nice cash player all season, and is a good option (especially on DraftKings since they give points for crosses). Pierre Emile-Hojberg ($6,500) has put up 2 really nice fantasy performances in a row against top teams. He should be in for another good one against Leicester at a very affordable price. There are not any Southampton defenders that I am very high on on this slate although Wesley Hoedt ($5,500) would be my favorite. Goalkeeper Alex McCarthy ($4,500) has given up 3 goals in his last 4 games putting him off my radar.
By default, Jamie Vardy ($11,000) is a top forward option on this slate. He draws a plus matchup against Southampton. He remains a goal-dependent fantasy player, but I think he does score in this one. I like Riyad Mahrez ($10,000) more, however. He is $1,000 cheaper, and is a much less goal-dependent player. Mahrez has also had more explosive fantasy performances this season with 7 35+ FDP games. Vardy has 0 such games this year. Wilfred Ndidi ($8,000) is a great cash play if you can afford him, while Marc Albrighton ($6,500) and Adrien Silva ($6,500) will provide value in Leicester’s midfield. After being one of the league’s better defenders in the first half of the season, Harry McGuire ($6,000) has fallen off a lot. His price has dropped, but it’s still too high for the way he’s been playing. Ben Chilwell ($5,500) is the better play for $500 less. Neither Wes Morgan ($5,000) nor Danny Simpson ($5,000) speak to me this week. Both of them have limited upsides and floors too low for cash games. Goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel ($5,000) only has 2 double digits outings in his last 8 starts, with 5 of those 8 games at 5 or less FDP. If you can get past the tough stretch for Schmeichel, he’s in a decent matchup given the way Southampton have struggled to score this year. In away games, Southampton do not even average 1.0 goal per game. A horrid-looking game log could deter people from using Schmeichel on Thursday making his ownership lower. He is a GPP-only play in my mind. Note: Schmeichel is a gametime decision with an ankle injury. If he does not play, the backup keeper is Ben Hamer ($4,500). Hamer played the last 4 minutes + injury time when Schmeichel got hurt last week. That was his first appearance of the season, and he accumulated 0 stats. In a solid matchup, Hamer is an intriguing play.
The Alvaro Morata ($10,000) experiment at Chelsea has not gone well, and it could be ending soon. It appears as though Olivier Giroud ($10,500) will be starting for Chelsea against Burnley. If you’re paying up for a top forward, I prefer Vardy. Playing on the road against Burnley this season has not been a fruitful matchup for opposing forwards. Better exposure to Chelsea is going to come in the midfield with Eden Hazard ($11,500) and Willian ($10,000). Chelsea are playing for their 2019 Champions League lives right now as they sit 8 points behind Tottenham for the last qualifying spot. The price difference between Hazard and Willian of $1,500 is not justified in my opinion. I would much rather save the money and play Willian even in a tough matchup. Cesar Azpilicueta ($7,000) has been a bright spot for Chelsea this season. He’s been a cash game monster for fantasy purposes, usually with low-ish ownership as well. If you have the money to pay up at defender, Azpilicueta is my top option on the slate. There is a lot of good value at defense here as well. Andreas Christiensen ($5,000), Gary Cahill ($4,500), Davide Zappacosta ($4,500), and Emerson ($4,500) are all on my radar. Christiensen and Cahill both have plus matchups. Emerson is making his first Chelsea start with Marcos Alonso suspended. This is not an ideal matchup for an attacking defender, but for $4,500 he is a good play. Davide Zappacosta ($4,500) is Chelsea’s final defensive starter. He is an attacking defender like Emerson, making this a difficult matchup for him, but that price for an attacking defender won’t be found anywhere else.
Chris Wood ($9,000) and Ashley Barnes ($8,000) have come out of nowhere in the last month and a half. Wood has 5 goals in his last 5 games, while Barnes has 4 goals in his last 6. Against a leaky Chelsea defense, Wood is a nice mid-tier forward. The only Burnley midfielder I have much interest in is Ashley Westwood ($5,500) but only for his price and use as salary relief. Kevin Long ($6,000) has been inserted into center back for Burnley since Ben Mee’s injury. Long has 2 consecutive 30+ FDP games, and a matchup with Chelsea could give him a 3rd. Matthew Lowton ($5,500) is a relative safe play in this game as well. Nick Pope ($5,500) is my favorite GK on the slate. Chelsea should be able to force Pope to make saves, and their attacking struggles could give Pope a clean sheet. He’s a safe play with upside as well.