3 FanDuel Premier League Under-the-Radar Plays for Matchweek 26
If you have played daily fantasy sports for a while, you know the importance of being contrarian in large-field tournaments. Recognizing which players are going to be owned by the masses and finding others who you think have a similar point projection but will come at much lower ownership can really separate yourself from your opponents.
The same goes for DFS Premier League. Even though the large-field tournaments aren't quite as large as they are for other sports, there is still value in identifying quality under-the-radar plays.
This article will discuss FanDuel's main Saturday slate, which starts at 10:00 a.m. EST and features six matches.
|Saturday, February 25th|
|Swansea City at Chelsea|
|Burnley at Hull City|
|Middlesbrough at Crystal Palace|
|Sunderland at Everton|
|Bournemouth at West Bromwich Albion|
|West Ham United at Watford|
Welcome back! The Premier League makes its return after a 12-day break with a six-game slate full of home favorites. Every single home team is favored this week, but the spreads have a wide range. At the top, highlighting the slate, are Chelsea and Everton, both favored by a goal and a half. In the middle are West Bromwich Albion, Hull City, and Crystal Palace, all favored by half a goal; and at the bottom is Watford, who are a slight favorite in a pick 'em match against West Ham.
Of these home favorites, Chelsea and Everton are tied for the largest over/under on the slate at three. Even in a week with multiple home favorites, we can fully expect the majority of ownership to be centered on these two teams. That ownership will gravitate towards forwards Diego Costa and Romelu Lukaku, who have a wide margin over all other players in odds to score this week.
In the midfield, Ross Barkley and Eden Hazard should be popular. Value will be required to fit in these studs, and because of this, we can also expect Sofiane Feghouli, who should be in line to start after Andy Carroll was ruled out with a groin injury, to carry heavy ownership.
In a week with only home favorites, you can be contrarian while still selecting players in excellent positions. Also, given the price of Lukaku and Costa, we can safely assume that the majority of players will be paying up at the forward position and paying down elsewhere. We can look to capitalize on this in large field tournaments by selecting players at different price points who are also in favorable positions.
Goal-dependent forwards can certainly fail to meet value on FanDuel, as both Lukaku and Costa’s game logs will tell you. Costa’s FanDuel points scored for his last four matches are 7.5, 10.25, 4.5, and 36.5. Across that same span, Lukaku’s FanDuel points scored are 5.5, 89.75, 4, and 7.75.
So while they are certainly capable of having a huge, tournament-winning performance, when they both command heavy ownership, it can be advantageous to look somewhere else to differentiate your lineup.
Consider these three players if looking for under-the-radar options.
Oumar Niasse, Hull City
FanDuel Salary: $6,400
At this point in the season, the mantra is well known: you play Burnley players at Turf Moor and you play whoever is playing Burnley when they are away. Usually, the forward on a team that’s hosting Burnley as a half-goal favorite would be a popular selection. However, due to the two high profile forwards described above, Oumar Niasse should go overlooked despite this enviable spot.
With Abel Hernandez sidelined with a hamstring injury, Oumar should see his first real spell of increased playing time since his loan move from Everton was completed in January. Since he joined Hull City, he has started twice, away to Manchester United and away to Arsenal.
Neither of those games produced inspiring numbers, but the Arsenal game saw Niasse play 90 minutes and produce two shots on goal. Burnley at home is a sharp contrast to Manchester United and Arsenal away, and Niasse should find himself in a much better position to succeed this weekend.
Niasse’s incredibly low salary of $6,400 also provides us with ample budget to spend up at other positions, and his goal-scoring odds are better than Jermain Defoe's and Wilfried Zaha's. With Burnley winless all year on the road and allowing an average of 1.8 goals per match over their last six, Niasse’s situation and opportunity are certainly worth his measly $6,400 salary.
Lazar Markovic, Hull City
FanDuel Salary: $5,400
It’s the week to load up on Hull City players. What could possibly go wrong? Markovic benefits from all of the same factors Niasse does. At the start of the season, he went out on loan from Liverpool to Sporting Lisbon before having his loan deal switched to Hull City for the remainder of the season.
Since then, he has started and played a full 90 minutes against Manchester United and Arsenal. In his match against Arsenal, he produced 22.75 FanDuel points as a force in the midfield. He created one chance, had one shot on target, and drew four fouls. He has no issue taking defenders on, and the quality of the defenders he’ll face this weekend are a far cry from the ones he’s already seen this month.
In addition to being in a great spot, Markovic is also a full $1,000 less than his teammate, Niasse. He represents an incredible value, and even though he doesn’t feature on any free kicks, he should be heavily involved in the Hull City attack. Since Marco Silva became manager in early January, Hull City have run into a buzzsaw of fixtures in the Premier League with matches against Chelsea, Manchester United, Liverpool, and Arsenal.
They managed to gain four points from those fixtures and now benefit from a much easier outlook going forward. The one match Silva managed against a non-elite side was an inspired 3-1 win over Bournemouth.
Hull City have been a much better side since Silva took over, but due to their run of tough fixtures, that hasn’t been fully on display. That should change going forward, starting with this weekend.
At home, Silva’s Hull City have been at their best, with a combined 5-1 score line across his two matches in charge, including a 2-0 defeat of Liverpool. They are averaging 1.8 goals per match at home across their last six matches, which is tied with Manchester City and Arsenal and is ahead of Manchester United.
Leighton Baines, Everton
FanDuel Salary: $6,500
With the salary saved by opting for one or both of the options above, we can afford to pay up at defender when those who went with Lukaku and/or Costa will be forced to pay down. When we pay up at defender we are looking for one thing: scoring chances.
Defender on FanDuel can be difficult to predict, with clearances and blocks allowing many defenders to have access to a 15- to 20-point ceiling on any given week. For this reason, in cash games, defender is a great place to save salary, as the difference in salary is less indicative of performance than at midfield or forward.
However, in large field tournaments you need a defender with a ceiling of 25-plus points, and scoring chances are the best way to reach that ceiling.
Enter Leighton Baines. With Everton favored by a goal and a half, Baines' defensive duties may be few and far between, but that should free him up to terrorize Sunderland in the attacking end. Baines is no stranger to huge FanDuel performances, as he has a pair of 40-plus-point matches this season and four additional matches over 20 points. Both of those 40-point performances and both of Baines' two goals this season have come at home.
While a goal would be ideal, an assist would also do the trick. As mentioned before, Lukaku is in an excellent spot this week and will generate a large share of ownership. Baines can allow you access to Lukaku's advantageous matchup via assists. You can also pair Lukaku with Baines, which, despite Lukaku's high ownership, should provide you with a more unique lineup than the majority, who will pair him with Barkley. This is a similar situation to using Antonio Valencia and Zlatan together when Manchester United are heavy favorite.
As referenced numerous times above, the matchup against Sunderland is a great one. Sunderland have only taken 7 points on the road this season, fourth-worst in the league, and have allowed 22 goals in their 12 away fixtures. Before there 4-0 drubbing of Crystal Palace at the start of February, they had lost their last six away fixtures by a combined score of 2-16.
Conversely, Everton have been excellent at home this season. They are sixth on the home table with the fifth-most goals scored -- 25 in 12 matches -- an average of more than two goals per home match. All signs point to this being a game Everton can dominate, allowing Baines to show why he is still one of the best attacking defenders in the world.
As always, make sure to check lineups as they come out on Saturday morning and adjust accordingly.