3 FanDuel Premier League Under-the-Radar Plays for Matchweek 1
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 five matches.
|Saturday, August 10th
|Brighton at Watford|
|Everton at Crystal Palace|
|Sheffield United at Bournemouth|
|Southampton at Burnley|
|Aston Villa at Tottenham|
At long last, the Premier League is back! After a long summer of transfer rumors and preseason tours, it is finally time to kick off the new campaign.
Matchweek 1 features a single elite side, Tottenham, who are the largest favorites on the slate. At home against promoted Aston Villa, Spurs have an implied win probability of 77.8%, and they are head and shoulders above the other nine sides on the slate in terms of their outlook this weekend. Roster construction starts with deciding how to handle the projected sky-high ownership on Spurs stars Harry Kane ($24) and Christian Eriksen ($18).
In the Championship last season, Aston Villa finished particularly strong on the road, with five wins in their last six matches and only four goals allowed, but the squad that will take the pitch on Saturday won't look anything like the one that secured promotion. Aston Villa spent over $160 million on 12 new signings this summer, many of whom have experience in the Premier League. It will be interesting to see how the new Villans handle their first test, but with Dean Smith's preference for attacking soccer, it is unlikely that they sit back and try to simply survive on Saturday. Regardless of the outcome, an open game bodes well for Kane's and Eriksen's fantasy prospects, making them risky fades.
That said, early on in the season, there are far more unknowns than knowns. Players who seem contrarian now could be household names in a month or two (think Gylfi Sigurdsson in 2015 and James Maddison last season). When there are far more questions than answers, consider taking a more contrarian approach to take advantage of the lack of certainty.
With that in mind, here are three players to consider this weekend -- especially for tournament formats -- who may fly under the radar.
Billy Sharp, Sheffield United
FanDuel Salary: $16
With over 220 league goals since 2000, Billy Sharp has been effective in the final third for a long time now. The English striker was at the heart of Aston Villa's push for promotion last season, producing 23 goals and four assists in 34 appearances. That was enough for him to be named to the EFL Championship team of the season, and now, after spending more than a decade in England's lower divisions, he will have a chance to make just his third appearance in the Premier League.
His opponent, Bournemouth, are entering their fifth straight Premier League season after finishing 11 points above the relegation zone last season. Bournemouth's run in the Premier League can be largely attributed to their attacking capabilities, which saw them net 56 goals last season, the most of any non-big six side. Their ability to score has allowed them to survive their horrible defensive tendencies, which were on full display last year as they conceded 70 goals, the third-most in the Premier League and the most of any non-relegated side. While Bournemouth is far from a promotion side, their defense isn't.
Sharp's goal-scoring prowess combined with Bournemouth's defensive woes creates a positive outlook for the Englishman this weekend. While he is one of the more well-known names from the promoted sides, his price should keep his ownership down. At $16, Sharp is listed right alongside Premier League stars such as Wilfried Zaha ($20), Gylfi Sigurdsson ($16), and his counterpart on Saturday, Callum Wilson ($16). While his name seems out of place among those stars, he could be just as effective this weekend and represents an intriguing pivot off of Harry Kane.
Jose Holebas, Watford
FanDuel Salary: $14
At a time when most teams are dealing with change, familiarity can provide an advantage. Following a season in which they finished 11th, the best Premier League result in club history, Watford's starting lineup on Saturday is unlikely to feature any new faces. Their biggest accomplishment this offseason was holding on to the key components of their record-setting squad, and now they can pick up right where they left off.
Brighton, Watford's opposition, wasn't very active in the transfer window this summer, which doesn't bode well for a side that finished 17th last season, surviving relegation by a measly two points. However, they did bring in a new manager, Graham Potter, who doesn't have much success to date but has been recognized for his progressive coaching methods. Potter favors a possession-based style of play, which may slightly limit Watford's opportunities this weekend if Brighton's players can pull it off. A manager can only do so much if he doesn't have the talent, and while Potter's players adapt to a new system, Watford should be able to punish them as the Hornets operate exactly as they did last season to great success.
All of this bodes well for Holebas, who was one of the most consistent defensive options in DFS last season. In 2018-19, he contributed 7.5 crosses per match, providing six assists and scoring three goals. At $14, he is the seventh-most expensive defender on the slate, which may make him difficult to roster alongside Tottenham's studs. He is an excellent option for lineups that fade Kane and Eriksen and can be paired with Watford forward Troy Deeney ($14) to further capitalize on Watford's situation. In a time of change, new players can generate excitement and interest, which can cause consistent, high-performing options like Holebas to go under-owned.
Dwight McNeil, Burnley
FanDuel Salary: $12
A constant topic of discussion this time of year is the difficulty that comes with adjusting to the Premier League's style of play. Many exciting summer signings take some time to get going as they adapt to the more physical English game. While the new names in the league create buzz, sometimes, it's those who already have the experience who are more likely to make an impact early in the season. That may be the case with Dwight McNeil, a former Manchester United youth prospect who has been with Burnley since he joined their academy in 2014. He signed his first professional contract with the club in 2018, and made 26 appearances for the Clarets last season, scoring three goals.
With more than half a season's worth of fixtures under his belt, McNeil is already well adjusted to the Premier League, and additional playing time this season may lead to a breakthrough. He showed flashes of fantasy brilliance last season, producing an average of 14.15 FanDuel points per match, with two performances of more than 30 FanDuel points. If he builds on that average this season, he could easily become a very valuable fantasy asset.
He has a chance to get off to a fast start against a Southampton side that struggled on the road last season. The midseason arrival of manager Ralph Hasenhuttl had a positive impact on the Saints last year, but it did little to fix their defense. Their summer transfer activity also failed to address their backline, which provides little optimism for a turnaround this season. Last year, Southampton conceded an average of 1.8 goals per away match. If that continues, McNeil should be able to start his season with a bang.
Zack Bussiere is not a FanDuel employee. In addition to providing DFS gameplay advice, Zack Bussiere also participates in DFS contests on FanDuel using his personal account, username zbuss1. While the strategies and player selections recommended in his articles are his/her personal views, he/she may deploy different strategies and player selections when entering contests with his/her personal account. The views expressed in his/her articles are the author's alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of FanDuel