The EPL season is well under way and so is the DFS action on DraftKings. This gameweek 2 review article will break down some lineups from the main slate to see if we can learn anything from Saturday’s action. Without further ado, let’s get started!
$15k Corner Kick
The $15k corner kick ($5 entry) was won by ‘Lastblows’, who took down $1,500 thanks to a 32.75 DraftKings point performance from Chicharito. Lastblows used Chicharito in two of his twelve lineups, which meant that he was in a good position to capitalise on a big game from the low owned striker. Southampton are tough to score against so managing two goals is no mean feat, especially considering West Ham were playing with ten men at the time. What’s more surprising is the fact that Chicharito generated five crosses in this match; I’m not sure how repeatable this is but if he is going to be crossing the ball a couple of times each game it will give him at least a bit of safety to go along with his upside. I mentioned in the preview article that we might see lots of goals at both ends of the pitch in West Ham games and this certainly proved to be the case against Southampton.
On the whole, I really like this team. Fraser, Mahrez, Mane and Tadic were all core building blocks on this slate and Lastblows was able to get away with a poor performance from Fraser thanks to a strong showing by the other three. Kasper Schmeichel had a nice home fixture against Brighton and he was able to pick up a very comfortable win and clean sheet. Joe Gomez was a popular salary relief play in cash games; I wasn’t sure about his upside for tournaments but it’s hard to argue with using a $3,200 fullback in a great matchup. These were six of the seven highest owned players in cash games, so whilst using them all together in GPPs guaranteed high ownership it did give the lineup a lot of safety to pair with the riskier Chicharito. I am not really a fan of using Sadio Mane at 47% ownership but he was certainly one of the best plays on the slate if you were happy to differentiate elsewhere.
Harry Maguire was the final piece of the puzzle; I mentioned that he is one of the exceptions to the ‘no CB‘ rule on DraftKings and he was a nice cheap option to pair with Schmeichel to take advantage of a clean sheet. Maguire also correlates nicely with Mahrez and we saw this come to fruition at the weekend when he scored Leicester’s second goal from a corner. If you are going to target goals from centre-backs in GPPs it makes sense to pair them with a set piece taker to benefit from the extra assist points as well. Leicester looked great overall and, if Mahrez stays, this three man stack will be a nice option in future weeks.
xG map for Leicester – Brighton. So that's impressive! pic.twitter.com/WhpOPCZMJB
— Caley Graphics (@Caley_graphics) August 19, 2017
Going into the Stoke v Arsenal game, second placed ‘cass8877’ must have fancied his chances overtake Lastblows. He needed just 6 points from Lacazette to win the tournament:
Unfortunately we all know what happened; Arsenal had their chances but couldn’t convert. Lacazette can be expected to score at least 6 points about 80% of the time according to my numbers, so whilst cass8877 was able to take down the $1,000 second place prize he can feel a bit unlucky that it wasn’t more. Stoke fans certainly weren’t complaining, though!
apologies for the delay in replying. We've been busy looking for a missing person, surname Ozil. Have you seen him? #Banter
— Stoke Police (@policingstoke) August 20, 2017
The main pieces in cass8877’s lineup are similar to that of Lastblows, with Cedric, Richarlison and Lacazette in place of Maguire, Tadic and Mane. Cedric was one of the top plays at defender on Saturday; it’s not ideal to use him against Chicharito but he can still be a very valuable fantasy asset without a clean sheet. 9.5 points isn’t a fantastic return for $5,700, but it was enough to make Cedric the 6th best defender on the slate. Richarlison had a great fantasy performance at just 4.4% ownership and a bargain $3,900 price tag. The Watford attack has been very impressive so far, generating around 1.8 to 2 xG in both of the first two fixtures. From a DFS perspective, it’s good to see Richarlison and Stoke’s Jese get off the mark straight away. I wanted to target the Bournemouth and Arsenal defenses a bit on Saturday but I still didn’t feel good about any of the Watford or Stoke attackers, so if these two can keep up the good performances they will both offer some GPP appeal in future weeks.
I mostly played cash games last weekend and it unfortunately didn’t go to plan, with a goal from 63.4% owned Sadio Mane destroying my chances of cashing. My team changed a lot after team news was announced, with only Fraser, Gross and Mahrez remaining from the lineup I had originally planned to use. We have already talked about Fraser and Mahrez and they were both very popular here. At $3,100, set piece taker Gross was far too cheap, especially considering the fact that he was playing as a second striker. Brighton were extremely disappointing, though, and Gross was subbed off after about 60 minutes after managing just 2.75 points. In retrospect I am still fine with this play in cash games but I did use Gross in GPPs also, which is possibly a mistake once you factor in the matchup and the potential substitution. He doesn’t need to do much to pay off a $3,100 price tag though, even in GPPs. The more popular salary relief play at midfield was Granit Xhaka, who was fine for $3,700 (7.75 points) without being that great either. I personally preferred the $600 discount on Gross but both were viable in cash last weekend and I could certainly be convinced that Xhaka + Schmeichel was a better combination than Gross + Mignolet.
James Ward-Prowse was a player that I was strongly considering initially, so once the team news came out my attention switched to Dusan Tadic. I was worried that Ryan Bertrand and Steven Davis would take set pieces instead of Tadic, although I still liked him quite a bit regardless in this matchup so thought it was worth the risk. In the end Tadic didn’t actually take any corners, but he was able to score a penalty to help the 49% of teams that used him.
The most surprising starting XI of the day came from Jurgen Klopp, who decided to rest a handful of players with one eye on a midweek Champions League qualifier against Hoffenheim. Salah was in my original build and it would have been easy to take the popular route of swapping to Mane, but instead I decided to go with Sturridge and change up my defense. Minutes will always be a concern for Sturridge, but Mane hadn’t been training leading up to the game and I thought that he might also be given an early rest in preparation for Wednesday’s game. I was therefore happy to take the $1,600 discount on Sturridge (4.34 Sh90, 0.61 xG+xA90) instead of Mane (2.25 Sh90, 0.56 xG+xA90), since neither player really offers much in terms of safety and the discount allowed me to get more exposure to Liverpool with Milner. I didn’t have Mane in any lineups this weekend and it unfortunately ended up being my downfall, but I am fine with my decision to avoid him. For what it’s worth, I think Firminho was a better option than Mane if spending up for a Liverpool forward.
Using James Milner required me to pay an eye-watering $7,400, but given that he was playing in midfield and taking set pieces I thought that he made sense in cash games. 10 points was a disappointing return for the money, but it certainly wasn’t bad either and I think that trying to fit him into a cash lineup was worth it on a slate with plenty of salary relief elsewhere. I wasn’t confident in Gomez (no crosses in FA cup games against Wolves and Plymouth last season) but at $3,200 it was hard to say no. Mignolet was in theory the safest GK according to the bookies and he correlated nicely with Gomez and Milner. He wasn’t somebody that I was originally planning to use, but in the end I had the salary and he made sense in this lineup.
Robbie Brady was the chalky player (43.4% owned) that I didn’t really give much serious consideration to. My thoughts in the preview article were ‘Brady’s floor is decent (5.71 Crs90) but at $6,800 on DraftKings it is hard to see enough upside to think about making him a core play’. I would have been fine with using him in cash if he worked nicely with the rest of my lineup, but his salary was a bit too high and ultimately there were several midfielders I liked more than him anyway. I personally think that spending the extra $300 on Ryan Fraser was a better choice.
I didn’t use any Arsenal players in any of my lineups this weekend, which unfortunately was about the only thing I got right. Xhaka aside, they were all a bit too expensive and goal-dependent for my liking. I am generally going to be a bit more wary of Arsenal this season than most people and they looked like a good fade on this slate against a Stoke team that were happy to play defensively.
Quick Thoughts on Pick’Em
DraftKings introduced a new format this weekend called ‘Pick’Em’; for an explanation of the rules, see the help page here. As a concept I don’t mind Pick’Em; other sites already offer similar formats and it could help to attract new players to daily fantasy football. However, the playerpool will need to be a lot more thought out to make this format viable. On Saturday over half the players were not predicted to start, which lead to a lot of overlap between teams. It will be very difficult to beat Pick’Em consistently until this changes and I will likely stay away. It is unfortunate that the classic mode will have smaller guarantees and potentially fewer players now as a result. There isn’t much point in reviewing Pick’Em lineups here in my opinion so I will stick to discussing the classic mode going forward.
Slate Super Squad
For a bit of fun, I decided to take the GK and ten outfielders that scored the most points on the main slate and try to make an actual team out of them. Because the scoring system is biased towards attack-minded players creating a reasonable team can be difficult, so these formations might end up looking a bit like a Garth Crooks special. I decided to convert Okazaki to a DM in the hope that his work-rate is enough to make this work… I was lucky to get two CB and both Maguire and Matip would have to be very aggressive at coming forward to help with the aerial battle in the centre of the pitch. Matt Phillips doesn’t feel great at RB but I had to put him somewhere! If you think you can do better, let me know on Twitter @FantasyFutopia or @tom_whelan!
I didn’t do this last week, so here is my attempt at a GW1 main slate team. I personally don’t think the ‘Rooney in midfield’ experiment works but it seemed like the best option in this case… It would be great to swap a striker out for another defender or DM, but otherwise this team isn’t horrible.
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