This article is part of our DraftKings Fantasy Soccer series.
|West Brom||0.36||0.34||Crystal Palace||0.34||0.32||0.30|
Jack Butland, STK v. AVL ($4,100): After a wonderful first half of the season and accolades abound, Butland has left us wanting in the New Year, allowing 15 goals in seven outings with just one clean sheet – though it was against Arsenal. That said, Butland still leads the Premier League in both saves and saves on shots inside the box. Butland has only allowed multiple goals against Everton, Manchester United, Leicester and at West Brom, which all are top Premier League attacks outside of the Baggies. The most important part is Saturday's opponent, league-bottom Aston Villa, who has scored the fewest goals in the Premier League, sport a minus-26 goal differential and are already without top offensive threat Jordan Ayew due to suspension and their next top threat, Gabriel Agbonlahor (who frankly isn't all that impressive in the first place), in doubt as well.
Ben Foster, WBA v. CRY ($3,700): The two teams with the worst offensive current form square off. In their last six league matches, each team has scored just four goals. Thankfully, West Brom has gotten their goalkeeper back for the past four games, where they've salvaged five points including a win and clean sheet at Everton last time out. In that six-game span, Crystal Palace has paired their bad offense with poor defense, conceding 13 goals leading to just one point from a possible 18. Furthering the praise for Foster, in those four games he's allowed just one goal while totaling an extremely impressive 18 saves.
New Crystal Palace striker Emmanuel Adebayor got on the score sheet last time out, so maybe he gets the Eagles attack on track. Once upon a time, the striker from Togo had a double-digit goals and assists season while at Tottenham (contributing to a total of 28 goals that season). He's 31 now, but a player with a past club history made up of Manchester City, Real Madrid (yes Real Madrid bought him from City, that's how hyped he was at one time) and Tottenham (where he twice hit double-digit goals) has the potential to be a prolific presence. I was going to write a blurb about him in the forward section, but I'll just shift him to the "other forwards" section and let this stand for itself.
Fraser Forster, SOT v. CHE ($4,000): I feel obligated to mention the incredible run Forster is on since returning from injury. Since his comeback Jan. 13 against Watford, Forster has kept six consecutive clean sheets while making 16 saves (a stat largely bolstered by the goalkeeping performance of the year in making ten saves away at Arsenal) – an extremely impressive run. That said, he hosts a Chelsea side that looks to have finally found its legs, having gone undefeated in the Premier League since mid-December (a run of 10 matches) within which they have scored 20 goals. This past Sunday they scored five goals against Manchester City in the FA Cup. Granted, it was Manchester City's B…hold that…C squad; but five goals with contributions from Eden Hazard (one goal, two assists), Diego Costa (one goal), Willian (one goal), Gary Cahill (one goal) and Traore (one goal, assisted by Oscar who also had a penalty saved) will still go a long way towards the confidence and swagger most important to the attack.
Baba Rahman, CHE v. SOT ($2,200): With the Champions League now Chelsea's No. 1 priority, as a top-four spot in the Premier League is all but gone, I expect John Terry to be held out to ensure he's full healthy for the important second leg against PSG in two weeks. That means Branislav Ivanovic would move to centerback, though American Matt Miazga could make his debut) with Rahman coming into the leftback spot. Rahman was very good against PSG, recording three crosses, two fouls drawn, two tackles won and six interceptions on his way to a defensive bonus-less nine fantasy points. Rahman was equally impressive in the FA Cup match against Manchester City when he had five tackles.
Martin Kelly, CRY at WBA ($2,000): Minimum price fullback alert! With Pape Souare suspended, Kelly will be primed for his first Premier League start since early November. Frankly, Kelly isn't all that impressive of a fantasy option, averaging just 4.5 fantasy points per game in his nine appearances, but he saw the start last time Palace played West Brom and edged out six fantasy points – which covers the value needed to justify rostering him in order to open up cap space for attacking players.
Erik Pieters, STK v. AVL ($4,200): Pieters leads all defenders in crosses over the past six gameweeks with 39. Only one has been successful, so I'm not counting on any assists (he has just one this season), but he's been peripherally very good (outside of his propensity to foul). In his last five games, he's averaged 6.6 crosses, 1.4 fouls drawn, 2.4 tackles and 2.4 interceptions for 10.8 fantasy points per game. He also stands a solid chance at a clean sheet bonus as well.
Other defenders: Aly Cissokho, AVL at STK ($3,700); Nathan Ake, WAT v. BOU ($3,300); Leandro Bacuna, AVL at STK ($3,800); Matt Targett, SOT v. CHE ($3,600); Alan Hutton, Aston Villa ($2,900); Christian Fuchs, LEI v. NOR ($4,600); Charlie Daniels, BOU at WAT ($4,000); Cesar Azpilicueta, CHE v. SOT ($3,900); Liam Moore, LEI v. NOR ($2,000); Ben Chilwell, LEI v. NOR ($2,000)
Willian, CHE v. SOT ($8,200): Willian comes with the highest floor of anyone on the slate, and it's not close. In the away leg of the Champions League showdown with PSG, we saw that floor. The good news is that it still yielded 10 fantasy points. Since New Years, Willian has averaged 18.57 fantasy points per match in the Premier League, with a low of 14 that came at Watford and a high of 30 when he tallied both a goal and an assist against Newcastle. He does it with crosses (totaling 17 against the hardest team to cross against in the Premier League, Manchester United), goals (nine this season), assists (four) and drawing fouls (he drew five against PSG). The value is out there on this slate to slot Willian into your lineup and move on.
Xherdan Shaqiri, STK v. AVL ($5,300): I've ridden the Swiss midfielder, called the 'Alpine Messi' by some, through highs (21 fantasy points against Bournemouth last time) and lows (four fantasy points against Leicester), but my high opinion of the former Bayern Munich wing remains. Historically, playing time and injuries have been the biggest hindrances on Shaqiri's career. But, when healthy he's creative and electric, best shown by his hat-trick for Switzerland in the 2014 World Cup
Darren Fletcher, WBA v. CRY ($3,000): With a goal last weekend in the FA Cup (the Baggies only goal as they flamed out with a 3-1 defeat to mid-table Championship side Reading), Fletcher continues his offensive theme. Among the midfielders on this slate, just two have created multiple big chances over the past six weeks: Willian and Fletcher. During a great three-game stint right around the New Year, Fletcher tallied a goal against Newcastle (on five shots) and an assist in North London against Chelsea. He is yet to directly contribute to a goal in the Premier League since the assist against Chelsea, but the promise is there, best showcased by his five shots (two on target) against Swansea at the beginning of the month. Fletcher isn't a cash game play (he's totaled six fantasy points over his past two games), but he could bag you a surprise goal at a cheap price against a Crystal Palace defense that has been struggling.
Daniel Amartey, LEI v. NOR ($2,500): It's still unclear who will replace the suspended Danny Simpson in the lineup, but Amartey is a possibility after joining the club back in January. He wasn't a liberal crosser while at Copenhagen, but he was able to contribute in that category while also adding two goals during the 2014/15 season. The other possibilities for replacing Simpson are Liam Moore (listed in 'other defenders') and moving Marc Albrighton to that position while welcoming a wing from the bench, like Nathan Dyer or Demarai Gray, any of whom warrant strong consideration if listed in the starting XI.
Other midfielders: James McClean, WBA v. CRY ($5,300); Matt Ritchie, BOU at WAT ($5,800); Wilfried Zaha, CRY at WBA ($5,300); Junior Stanislas, BOU at WAT ($5,700); Eden Hazard, CHE v. SOT ($5,100); Yohan Cabaye, CRY at WBA ($6,200); Cesc Fabregas, CHE v. SOT ($5,400); Nathan Dyer, LEI v. NOR ($2,600); Riyad Mahrez, LEI v. NOR ($7,700); Yannick Bolasie, CRY at WBA ($5,000); Ben Watson, WAT v. BOU ($4,100); Carles Gil, Aston Villa ($3,500); Robbie Brady, Norwich ($5,900); Harry Arter, BOU at WAT ($3,000)
Jamie Vardy, LEI v. NOR ($7,400): Welcome, Mr. Vardy. This is the first time you've been featured in my recommendations this season – with 19 goals scored, it's safe to say I was a bit ignorant in my incessant fades and downplays. Not this week though, now I'm on board. Everyone knows how good Vardy has been, the heroic story of how he climbed from factory worker to Premier League star, so I won't spill too many stats outside of these: over the last four games he has four goals on 12 shots (eight on goal) and he has the most big chances in that time with six (tied with Harry Kane and Sergio Aguero, three more than Diego Costa). His next opponent is a Norwich side that's allowed the most goals in the Premier League (50, including 18 over their last six) and has taken just one point from their last six.
Diego Costa, CHE v. SOT ($7,000): I don't know if people will get wise and fade the Chelsea striker against Fraser Forster, but I hope so. Costa, complete with black mask and all, has returned to the podium as a super villain rather than the mediocre villainy he showcased through most of the season. Starting on Boxing Day against Watford, Costa is on a run of seven goals and three assists in just eight Premier League matches. Even traveling to face PSG couldn't slow Costa, as he assisted the important away goal and looked threatening throughout, scoring 16 fantasy points. He tacked on another goal in the FA Cup against Man City this past weekend to further cement his wonderful form.
Other forwards: Emmanuel Adebayor, CRY at WBA ($4,500); Saido Berahino, WBA v. CRY ($3,400); Mame Diouf, STK v. AVL ($3,300); Shane Long, SOT v. CHE ($5,400); Pedro, CHE v. SOT ($5,700); Jonathan Walters, STK v. AVL ($4,100); Troy Deeney, WAT v. BOU ($5,500); Salomon Rondon, WBA v. CRY ($4,000); Demarai Gray, LEI v. NOR ($3,100); Odion Ighalo, WAT v. BOU ($6,600); Benik Afobe, BOU at WAT ($4,700); Shinji Okazaki, LEI v. NOR ($4,100); Charlie Austin, SOT v. CHE ($4,000)