EPL Fantasy: Draft Kings Classic – Week 13

WITH the final international break of the year thankfully behind us, we’re ready to take a look at the best DFS options heading into the thirteenth round of the Premier League season.

We’ll be basing our selections on Draft Kings Classic 8-Player format as we analyse the best inclusions for your Saturday night DFS lineups.

MARQUEE MUST HAVE

Raheem Sterling (Manchester City)
$9,700

We’re rolling the dice this week.

It’s usually a safe bet to include a Manchester City player in your line-up when they face lower-table opposition, and Sergio Aguero has yet to disappoint us in this marquee slot. However, a closer look at his form away from the Etihad this season makes us reluctant to include him – He has scored eight goals this campaign, but only one away from home, and he has made six assists, but all have come on home soil. Despite the likelihood he will start this week, we can’t ignore the fact that Guardiola’s slightly more conservative approach away from home has left Aguero often-times frustrated and isolated, leaving the likes of Sane, Mahrez, and Sterling with more of the ball, and more opportunities to impact the game.

Raheem Sterling has been Manchester City’s most influential and crucial attacking player this season, boasting the best fantasy points per minute played ratio in the Manchester City squad. The reason there is risk associated to this selection, is that we don’t know how Guardiola will manage his offensive resources, with a Champions League game away at Lyon looming.

Though it’s almost certain that two of Sane, Mahrez, and Sterling will play, they have played a similar amount of football this season, and a similar amount over the international break – However, Riyad Mahrez played in Africa, and the travel-time may prove decisive. We think Sterling will start, but if you want to play it safe this week, go with Aguero.

West Ham sit at 13th on the table, have lost 3 of 6 home games but only conceded seven times, meaning Pellegrini’s men could provide stern resistance. But we expect the champion’s quality to prove too much for the Hammers. Manuel Pellgrini facing off against his old club for the first time provides another layer of intrigue.

VALUE PICK

Xherdan Shaqiri (Liverpool)
$7,700

The stocky Swiss international is more than capable of showcasing his quality when given an opportunity to play – This season, the former Bayern Munich ace has accumulated a remarkable 34 points in just 305 minutes of game-time, a rate of one fantasy point every 8.97 minutes played; for comparison’s sake, it’s a higher rate than the top five scoring players in the league – Alonso, Hazard, Sterling, Aguero and team-mate Mo Salah.

In only his 2nd start of the season against Fulham last week, the 27-year-old’s stand-out performance indicated he will be more than just an able squad player for Liverpool. Jurgen Klopp has bemoaned the hectic international schedule that just passed, and will likely rotate his biggest stars, the likes of Salah and Mane who have played considerably more football this season. This will open the door for the likes of Shaqiri to continue staking their claim for a spot in the starting eleven. With two goals, and four assists in very limited playing time this season, his invention and movement in and around the box could be crucial in breaking down Watford’s backline.

The Hornets have enjoyed a fantastic season thus far, sitting in 7th place on the ladder, but they have conceded 8 goals in 6 games at Vicarage Road, suggesting there are vulnerabilities to be exploited. Liverpool have the best away form in the league, with 7 wins and 15 goals, more than any other club.

BASEMENT BARGAIN

Marcos Alonso (Chelsea)
$5,400

Recently described by his manager Maurizio Sarri as “in this position at left-back, maybe the best in Europe” and with the potential to become the world’s best, the Spanish international is enjoying an incredible season and will need no introduction for most. Nevermind the fact that with 84 points he is the leading scorer in fantasy football across all positions, thanks in large part to making seven assists in 13 games.

Why is he so cheap? We don’t really know, but whatever reason full-backs are criminally underrated in the Draft Kings format, meaning guys like Kyle Walker and Andrew Robertson, incidentally both of whom are also in our team this week, are available for even less.

It’s true that Chelsea make a very difficult trip to Wembley this weekend, but Spurs have already been defeated twice there in four games this season, and currently sit 14th on the home form table (though they have played the fewest number of games). Regardless, we think this sort of value for one of the best fantasy footballers in the league is not to be scoffed at.

THIS WEEK’S MANAGERIAL PHILOSOPHY

We’re right in the eye of the maelstrom now, games coming thick and fast all over the globe, in an incalculable number of leagues, cups, and competitions. It’s a great time to be a football fan, but it can be a challenging and frustrating time for players and managers.

We have said it before, but we will say it again. Be very, very, aware that round’s coming on the back of an international week, and sandwiched between midweek Champions League football, are unpredictable when trying to figure out team selection. Sometimes research doesn’t provide the full picture, and that can be frustrating.

Players pick up injuries, they’re mentally and physically drained, and managers need to look ahead to the next round of games, prioritising and managing resources, to ensure they pick up as many points as possible.

We’re not saying don’t take any risks, but if you must, be calculated. Understand and embrace the possibility of your star player that has travelled halfway across the world not being selected to play.

If you’re a punter, is there anything sweeter than a week of football that promises high risk and high reward?

Pickford(EVE), A.Robertson(LIV), Walker(MCI), Alli(TOT), Gundogan(MCI), Shaqiri(LIV) Sterling(MCI), UTIL M.Alonso(CHE)