7 FanDuel Premier League Studs to Target for Week 1
FanDuel UK has added the English Premier League to its buffet of sports, and the season kicks off this weekend with nine games over Saturday and Sunday plus a Monday Night Football fixture between Chelsea and West Ham.
It’s important to be familiar with the scoring and settings. Formations are flexible as you start one keeper with three to five defenders, three to five midfielders, and one to three attackers.
Let’s take a look at the entire schedule for Matchweek 1.
|Matchweek 1 Schedule|
|Saturday, August 13th|
|Leicester City at Hull City|
|West Brom at Crystal Palace|
|Tottenham at Everton|
|Swansea City at Burnley|
|Stoke City at Middlesbrough|
|Watford at Southampton|
|Sunderland at Manchester City|
|Sunday, August 14th|
|Manchester United at Bournemouth|
|Liverpool at Arsenal|
|Monday, August 15th|
|West Ham at Chelsea|
With a full 10-game slate on tap, there are no shortage of options for daily fantasy.
The opening week in any sport can be among the most volatile of the year. That’s especially true in soccer. In the midst of the summer transfer window, teams are still changing -- for example, Manchester United’s monster move for Paul Pogba -- which means roles are far from solidified.
It’s always critical to verify starting lineups, but it’s particularly crucial this week.
As is the case when playing any sport on FanDuel, it’s imperative to hit on high-priced studs, the players in which you’ve made the biggest investment. With all the variables at work this weekend, let’s look at seven players -- two forwards, two defenders, two midfielders and one goalie -- who we know are in line for big roles and could anchor a winning roster.
Sergio Aguero, Manchester City
Price: £14 million
Aguero is the highest-priced attacker by £1.5 million. He’s probably going to be the most expensive forward quite often this season -- and for good reason. Aguero is a proven goal-scorer -- 50 combined goals over the past two years, including 0.91 goals per-90 minutes last season -- playing for Manchester City, one of the top teams in England. With goals accounting for 15 points, they are usually the difference between winning and losing in soccer DFS.
City led the league in goals last year with 71 (1.86 per match), and 24 of them came from the Argentine. New City skipper Pep Guardiola brings with him a pressing style that produced a whopping 2.35 goals per match in each of his final two campaigns with Bayern Munich -- although the Premier League is likely to be a stiffer top-to-bottom test than what Guardiola’s Bayern teams faced in Germany.
Primed to get service from star midfielders Kevin De Bruyne and David Silva, who teamed up for 20 assists a year ago, Aguero is in a great position to take advantage of a juicy season-opening home matchup with Sunderland. The Black Cats allowed 62 goals last year, the fifth-most in the Premier League, and 42 of those goals came away from home. Aguero -- who led the league with 2.8 shots per game from the penalty area -- was a beast at the Etihad in 2015-16. He netted 15 of his 24 goals on home soil and drew 1.5 fouls per match at home, compared to 0.9 in his travels.
In a match with the highest over/under (3) where City figures to dominate possession -- Sunderland’s 43.3% possession rate last year was next to last -- as the biggest favorite of the week, it’s not hard to envision Aguero getting a few cracks at the goal. His likely high ownership may make him an attractive pivot in tournaments, but it’s hard to pass on him in cash games.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Manchester United
Price: £11.8 million
With a road clash at Bournemouth, Ibrahimovic doesn’t have as favorable of a matchup as Aguero, but he’s still in a pretty good spot as the striker for one of the league’s top teams.
It’ll be his first game with Manchester United, but there aren’t really a lot of unknowns here. Ibrahimovic is a world-class striker who scored 38 goals with 13 assists a year ago for Paris Saint-Germain, although France’s Ligue 1 is extremely top-heavy. New United manager Jose Mourinho is fully expected to put the big Swede up top and let him do his thing.
Bournemouth surrendered 67 goals last year, which tied for the second-most in the Premier League. Manchester United is just a slight favorite, which dents Ibrahimovic’s value a tad, but he’s always a threat to put one past the keeper.
Riyad Mahrez, Leicester City
Price: £13 million
With the match readiness of fellow midfield wizards Mesut Ozil and Dimitri Payet in doubt, Mahrez becomes an even more attractive play. The Leicester City star man was outstanding last year as the Foxes shocked the soccer universe, netting 17 goals and dishing out 11 assists.
Things could look a little different at Leicester this season. At first blush, the loss of N’Golo Kante, a player with just one goal and four assists a year ago, doesn’t appear as if it would have much of an impact on Mahrez, but Kante was a relentless ball winner who often started Leicester’s quick-strike counters with a tackle or an outlet pass.
It remains to be seen how Foxes skipper Claudio Ranieri will reshuffle his deck of cards, but Mahrez will be a key cog whether he’s out on the wing or playing more of a central role as a number 10 in the middle of the pitch.
There’s always a little risk in rostering an offensive-minded Leicester player as the Foxes boasted just a 44.8% possession rate last season, the third-lowest in the league. Some of that concern is eased this week, though, thanks to an opening matchup with newly-promoted Hull City, who had the fewest points last year of any of the three newcomers to the Premier League.
To boot, Hull is expected to be without two of its first-choice central defenders -- Alex Bruce and Michael Dawson -- and first-string goalie Allan McGregor.
Leicester figures to see more of the ball than usual, and although the over/under (2) ties for the lowest of the slate, Mahrez should be heavily involved anytime the Foxes are going forward.
Cesc Fabregas, Chelsea
Price: £11.1 million
Fabregas comes at a little bit of a discount when compared to the other elite midfield options, but the upside is high with this one for his home match against West Ham United.
West Ham is coming off a nice campaign, but the Hammers made for a great DFS target all the way around last year. West Ham scored an impressive 65 goals, but they allowed 51 for an average of 3.05 goals per match.
Fabregas is an attack-minded midfielder who can come forward and get a goal, scoring seven last year to go with five assists. He’s also a hub of activity, leading the Blues in passes per game last year with 76.5, which was nearly 30 more passes than the next highest player.
He was especially good at Stamford Bridge in 2015-16, tallying four goals and four assists in his home matches. In a clash where Chelsea is a favorite with an appealing over/under (2.5), Fabregas is in a great spot to do some damage.
Christian Fuchs, Leicester City
Price: £10 million
One of the anchors on Leicester City’s back line, Fuchs is just about the perfect defender for fantasy. Not only is he really good and part of a superb defense that soaks up plenty of pressure, but Fuchs also goes forward and gets involved in the attack, recording 4 assists and 1.1 crosses per match a year ago.
As we touched on earlier, Hull City is in rough shape this weekend with injuries to their defense, which adds to the chances Fuchs can make an offensive impact.
Even if he doesn’t do anything offensively, Fuchs can put up big numbers thanks to his defensive prowess. A year ago, Fuchs averaged 3.1 tackles, 3.8 clearances, and 3.1 interceptions per game. The tackles and interceptions both ranked in the top 12 in the league.
Toby Alderweireld, Tottenham
Price: £8.1 million
Alderweireld and his Tottenham mates travel to Goodison Park to battle Everton. Spurs were, statistically, the best team in the league last season, scoring the second-most goals (69) and leading the way in goal differential (plus-34). Tottenham brings back basically the same side and should be poised for another big year.
Alderweireld was in excellent form last season. He averaged 7.5 clearances, good enough for 10th in the league, while adding 1.7 interceptions, 1.2 tackles and 0.9 blocks per match.
As a center back, he doesn’t do a ton coming forward, but Alderweireld did have 2 assists with 4 goals, helping Tottenham lead the league with 17 goals off set pieces. He also averaged 54.6 passes per game -- the second-most on the team -- for Spurs, who like to build up play through the back.
In a matchup with an Everton team that was pretty offensive minded a year ago with 59 goals and the third-most shots per game -- although Ronald Koeman may not play as aggressively as Roberto Martinez did -- Alderweireld and the rest of Tottenham’s back line should be busy. The departure of Toffees’ centerback John Stones gives a boost to the value of all of the Spurs, although it really only impacts Alderweireld on set pieces.
Heurelho Gomes, Watford
Price: £8.5 million
Goalies get 10 points for a clean sheet, but they also score 3 points per save while only losing 1 point for each goal conceded. So a goalie performing well while seeing a lot of action, even if he gets beaten a time or two, can sometimes be better than a goalie who gets a clean sheet but isn’t required to do much.
Gomes is typically the best of both worlds. Watford’s keeper sees plenty of work as the Hornets ranked 17th in possession rate (46.3%) last year and allowed the 11th-most shots per game (13.2). That resulted in Gomes leading the league with 122 saves on 169 shots on goal.
Watford surrendered 15.3 shots per game on the road, which means Gomes could be in for a very busy day at Southampton. The Saints finished sixth last year, but they’ve lost Graziano Pelle and Sadio Mane, their two leading scorers, to transfers this offseason.
Gomes should still be fairly busy, but Southampton’s lessened, new-look attack shouldn’t be as potent as the one that scored the seventh-most goals in the league a year ago.