FanDuel Fantasy Soccer: Saturday Targets
FanDuel Fantasy Soccer: Saturday Targets

This article is part of our FanDuel Fantasy Soccer series.

I am changing up the format this week with the goal of providing a more well-rounded view of the slate instead of focusing on seven to nine specific players. Due to FanDuel's scoring system, it's worth focusing on attacking players and defensive players separately because of how points are accumulated.

If you have any specific questions or think the games will play out differently than I do, please feel free to comment below.

ATTACKING PLAYERS

The easy place to look for goals Saturday is Manchester City, who are obviously led by Sergio Aguero ($12,300) and Kevin De Bruyne ($11,800). The former is fairly shot/goal dependent given that he doesn't accumulate many peripheral stats, though he's also the likeliest to score a hat trick. Given their midweek win over Barcelona in the Champions League and international play coming up, where Aguero will have to travel to South America, it's certainly a possibility that Kelechi Iheanacho ($6,700) gets the start against Middlesbrough. The 20-year-old has scored in two of his last three starts, and while his ceiling isn't nearly as high as Aguero's, his floor isn't much lower. For reference, Aguero has just as many games with at least 50 fantasy points (three) as he does fewer than seven. Ilkay Gundogan ($7,300) is likely to get a ton of interest, as he has four goals in his last two games (one UCL match), and while he's not really a big goal scorer, he's probably the best peripheral stat accumulator on the team who could find the back of the net, with Fernandinho ($6,400) capable of filling the stat sheet but unlikely to score.

Chelsea are projected to score the second-most goals during Saturday's slate, but they'll face off against an Everton side that's allowed just seven goals in 10 games. They've done it by allowing just 28 shots on target this season, which is the second-lowest total in the league. However, Chelsea have shown a penchant for getting shots on target against decent teams recently, getting six, six and seven shots on target against Leicester (away), Manchester United (away) and Southampton (home), respectively, in their last three games. And while Everton's shots on target allowed look good on paper, as they've held all but one of their opponents to fewer than five, they haven't exactly played a murder's row of clubs: Tottenham (away), West Brom (away), Stoke (home), Sunderland (away), Bournemouth (home), Crystal Palace (away), Man City (home), Burnley (home), West Ham (away). Needless to say, Diego Costa ($10,000) and Eden Hazard ($10,000) are fine choices, though the latter is surprisingly goal dependent despite creating five chances last weekend against Southampton (he had four in his previous five games combined). Willian ($8,300) has the safest floor of Chelsea's attacking players, as he leads the team in chances created and still gets a few defensive stats, but as of now, he's behind Pedro ($5,300), who needs a goal to be valuable enough to play, on the depth chart.

And while Man City may have an easy matchup, and Chelsea's may not be as hard as it seems on paper, Bournemouth get the easiest one of the day, playing Sunderland at the Vitality Stadium. Bournemouth actually have the same odds to score two goals (+220) as Chelsea, though much of their attack is dependent on the return of Junior Stanislas ($6,300) from his calf injury. Stanislas has the highest ceiling of anyone on the Cherries because of his goal-scoring upside and decent peripheral stats, while Joshua King ($6,000) is slightly more attractive than Callum Wilson ($5,700) due to his higher floor and similar ceiling. However, both may not be worth it if Stanislas sits out again because no one else has shown a consistent attacking presence.

The West Ham attack is totally centered around Dimitri Payet ($10,200), who likely has the biggest fantasy upside gap over a teammate as anyone else in the league. The Hammers have created 54 chances in their last four games, with Payet picking up 18 over that span, and while Stoke have actually been better of late, they will likely be without two of their top attacking options, which could allow West Ham to press up field more. And because he's seemingly always on the ball, Payet could get plenty of opportunities to rack up attacking fantasy points if he spends more of his time in the attacking third. Outside of Payet, West Ham don't offer many players who score reliable fantasy points, though Andre Ayew ($6,000) may be worth consideration if he can get the start.

Finally, lots of people will be looking at the Crystal Palace-Burnley match, as Burnley have allowed plenty of attacking points this season, notably to Manchester United last weekend when they allowed 37 shots, including 11 on target. Burnley have allowed the most shots on target (and second-most shots), most chances created and most passes this season, though a lot of that is because of their incredibly rough recent schedule. Their last four games have been against Arsenal (away), Southampton (home), Everton (away) and Manchester United (home), each of whom are easily better than Crystal Palace. The Eagles' have struggled against the same type of clubs that Burnley just faced, and while they do perform better against teams in Burnley's range, there's little reason to think any of their options will be as successful as Manchester United's were last weekend. Christian Benteke ($6,200) is the definition of a goal-dependent forward, while midfielder Andros Townsend has failed to score even 20 fantasy points in seven of his last eight games, with his only one above that coming because he scored a goal (his only one of the season). Yohan Cabaye ($7,500) is likely the safest option given his ability to create chances and pick up defensive stats, though Wilfried Zaha ($5,900) should also be under consideration given his seven chances created, six tackles and five interceptions in his last two games. Oh, and he also had an assist in each. Jason Puncheon ($7,400) was excellent earlier this season, though most of that was without Cabaye, so it's tough to know how he'll perform when not taking more free kicks and corners.

DEFENSIVE PLAYERS

While the focus on attacking players revolves around teams who are favored, the opposite holds true for defensive players, as teams who don't have much possession and give up lots of attacking movements put themselves in better positions to pick up tackles (two points each), interceptions (1.5 points), clearances (one point) and blocked shots (two points). As we saw with Burnley last weekend, goalkeeper Tom Heaton ($6,600) scored over 42 points thanks to his 11-save clean sheet (his second time with 11 saves in the last three games), but their defenders also paid off handsomely, with Michael Keane ($6,500) scoring 32.0 points, Ben Mee ($6,100) getting 22.5 and Michael Lowton ($6,000) picking up 24.5. The fourth member of the quartet, Stephen Ward, was forced off due to injury in that match, which means Jon Flanagan could get the start on Saturday against Palace, making him an incredibly attractive option at just $3,900.

Manchester City should create plenty of defensive opportunities for Middlesbrough, which puts Calum Chambers in the conversation, though at $8,500 he's the most expensive defender on the slate. George Friend ($6,800) probably makes for a more economical play, as he picks up a fair number of tackles and is likely to see his clearances pick up against the strong City attack. Centerback Ben Gibson ($6,000) is also likely to get more clearance opportunities, though he doesn't tackle enough to really pay off.

As mentioned above, Stoke City are likely to be without two of their best attackers, which means they could be on the defensive much more than they have been of late. That certainly helps players like Ryan Shawcross ($5,400) and Bruno Martins Indi ($4,700). The latter has a fairly unexciting game log, but he did score over 23.0 fantasy points against Tottenham and Manchester United thanks to an increase in interceptions and clearances. And if what's good for defenders is good for a goalkeeper, then Lee Grant ($4,700) adds his name to the conversation for those who don't want to pay up for Heaton.

If you're a believer in Chelsea at home against Everton, then Ashley Williams ($6,600) and Phil Jagielka ($6,600) should be busier with interceptions and blocked shots, while Chelsea's four available defenders aren't likely to be all that busy. One player who is always busy is N'Golo Kante ($8,400), as he manages to get plenty of tackles and interceptions against teams that like to attack, which is certainly the way Everton will want to play (whether they'll be successful is the question). Kante's price is certainly high, but because he's also creating more chances this year than last, when he was with Leicester City, he's almost a lock for at least 20 fantasy points.

The author(s) of this article may play in daily fantasy contests including – but not limited to – games that they have provided recommendations or advice on in this article. In the course of playing in these games using their personal accounts, it's possible that they will use players in their lineups or other strategies that differ from the recommendations they have provided above. The recommendations in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of RotoWire. Andrew M. Laird plays in daily fantasy contests using the following accounts: FanDuel: kingmorland, DraftKings: andrewmlaird, Yahoo: Lairdinho.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Andrew M. Laird
Andrew M. Laird, the 2017 and 2018 FSWA Soccer Writer of the Year, is RotoWire's Head of DFS Content and Senior Soccer Editor. He is a seven-time FSWA award finalist, including twice for the Football Writer of the Year Award
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