And so it begins….THE EPL IS BACK BABY! After a fun and successful 2017 EPL season fantasy-wise, I am returning to FanCave DFS as the main soccer contributor for the 2018 season. If you’re unfamiliar with my articles, I have a few different formats I use depending on the slate. For larger slates, I like to give advice position-by-position with top players and value, for smaller slates I focus on team-by-team breakdowns, and for single-game slates I break down the players into three tiers (captain, supporting cast, and value). I also tend to favor FanDuel’s prices and scoring system, but I will toss in comments on DraftKings or Yahoo as well. Since the last EPL slate, FanDuel has undergone some scoring changes, so if you haven’t played in a while, do check that out. One last thing, if you haven’t become a member of FanCave DFS yet, YOU SHOULD. We have writers and analysts providing content for all fantasy sports for only $10/month. Our Discord chat groups are all available for as little as $5/month as well. With all that taken care of, let’s get to my break down of Friday’s single-game slate that features Leicester City traveling to Old Trafford to take on Manchester United in the first game of the 2018 EPL season.
Alexis Sanchez (Leicester City @ Manchester United, $17) – With Paul Pogba out and likely Romelu Lukaku as well (rest since they both played in the World Cup), Sanchez is the default top stud on this slate. Sanchez was not that impressive last year with Manchester United after he joined them from Arsenal in January, but a full summer with the team should help him. Alexis had 2 goals and 1 assist in his 5 preseason appearances, so there is reason to believe he can return to the level of attacker he was for Arsenal in the past. With other main attackers out, Alexis Sanchez will have to do a lot of heavy lifting for Manchester United up front. While Leicester’s defense is formidable, Sanchez is one of the most likely goal scorers in this game and his ability to collect peripheral stats makes him an enticing captain option.
Marcus Rashford (Leicester City @ Manchester United, $10) – Alexis Sanchez will be an uber popular captain play on this slate, so if you want to be different, Marcus Rashford is a solid place to look. Rashford has only played in one preseason game with his club since the World Cup, however he could get on the scoresheet Friday in their home opener. His lack of peripheral stats is slightly concerning, but if he scores in your captain spot in a GPP, you should be sitting nice. He’s a much riskier captain option than Sanchez but could pay off if he can perform well.
Juan Mata (Leicester City @ Manchester United, $9) – Last season was not a good one for Mata, but a some off and a full preseason with United, makes him look like a good secondary option on this slate. Mata has 1 goal and 1 assist to his name in this preseason, along with several shots on goal and chances created. He has a nice price tag on Friday, and I will be targeting him in all formats.
Kelechi Iheanacho (Leicester City @ Manchester United, $9) – Iheanacho will step into Leicester City’s starting XI with Jamie Vardy’s absence (rest). He only made seven starts for the club last season but did contribute three goals and three assists. Iheanacho will have an important role for Leicester’s attack this season after Mahrez’s move to Manchester City. Playing away at Manchester United was a very difficult matchup last season, and I don’t expect that to change much. However, Iheanacho will be the main man up top for a Leicester side that has looked bright in their preseason games, so I like the idea of tossing a dart at him in GPPs.
Fred (Leicester City @ Manchester United, $6) – My value play of the day is Fred, the new guy at Manchester United following his move from Shakhtar Donetsk this summer. Fred is one of the better players you’ll find for this price on any single-game slate all season. He should be able to get enough peripheral stats to get 3x value comfortably, and he does have the ability to add goals and assists on occasion. Fred is definitely someone worth considering in all formats as a good salary-saver.
Chris Smalling (Leicester City @ Manchester United, $7) – With stud defenders like Ashley Young, Antonio Valencia, and Harry McGuire not expected to play, Chris Smalling takes my top spot at defender in this slate. Smalling was one of the more consistent defenders last season from a fantasy perspective, and that should continue this year. Smalling gets a lot of defensive peripheral stats, but with FanDuel’s new scoring, he should be in line for a clean sheet bonus in this game. Last year, Manchester United only gave up an average of 0.47 goals per game at home. Leicester also struggled playing on the road. Smalling will likely be a popular pick on this slate as a top defender, especially since he is affordable given expected starters for this game.
Eric Bailly (Leicester City @ Manchester United, $6) – Bailly is an intriguing pivot off Smalling. He should be lower owned, but he’s in just as good of a matchup as Smalling. My one concern is his ankle injury suffered earlier this month. Luke Shaw ($5) was impressive late last season for United, and if Bailly cannot play, he would get a bump up from me. He’ll also likely fly under the radar making him a good GPP option.
That’s all for now. I’ll be available on Twitter and FanCave’s Discord chat all day up until lock ready to answer questions and provide last minute advice based on starting lineups.