This article is part of our Starting Eleven series.
7:30 a.m: Stoke City v. Crystal Palace
10:00 a.m: Bournemouth v. Swansea City
10:00 a.m: Leicester City v. West Ham
10:00 a.m: Watford v. Newcastle
10:00 a.m: West Brom v. Tottenham
12:30 p.m: Everton v. Southampton
Motivation is always a big consideration this time of year, as some teams have checked out now that they're safe from relegation and have no chance at a European spot while others are fighting for their Premier League lives. Because they essentially have nothing to play for, I find it hard to make legitimate cases for players from Leicester City, Watford, Newcastle, Everton, Bournemouth and Crystal Palace. Stoke City, Southampton, Swansea City and West Ham are all firmly in the relegation battle, while I'm willing include Tottenham in the "caring" category because Harry Kane is trying to win his third consecutive Golden Boot. No, it's not selfish, it's just caring a lot! We want strikers who want to score goals! He's a great competitor!
Anyway, Kane figures to be a very popular option with Tottenham traveling to face West Brom, who have been playing much better of late and still come in 20th in the table and likely confirming relegation this weekend.
If you're looking for a solid floor from duels, you can do no better than Stoke City's Peter Crouch, who is averaging 15.52 per 90 minutes this season, nearly three more per 90 than the next highest player. Stoke's home match against Crystal Palace isn't overly tough, even with how good the Eagles have been of late, and they need all three points to stave off relegation for another day.
Kane is the highest upside forward on the slate, but there are a number of others who can perform, with Swansea City's Jordan Ayew and West Ham's Marko Arnautovic leading the way for me because of what's at stake in their matches. Both players are able to contribute across multiple categories, and if their teams are able to get one in the back of the net, there's a decent chance they'll be involved.
With Tottenham such big favorites, there will be no surprise when we see plenty of fantasy players rostering Christian Eriksen and Dele Alli. Both are expected to start and continue to play major roles in the Tottenham attack. Spurs haven't technically locked up a top-four spot yet, so they'll be going to the Hawthorns with more than just Kane's Golden Boot quest on their minds. Dele comes in with five goals and two assists in his last five games while Eriksen has four goals on 16 shots (six on target) over the same span.
If there's a midfielder who has been as good, if not better, than Eriksen and Dele it's Crystal Palace's Wilfried Zaha, scorer of four goals on 12 shots (eight on goal) in his last four games. He's also drawn 10 fouls and created eight chances over that run, one that's seen Palace score 10 goals, which includes a scoreless draw with Watford. Stoke may be playing to keep themselves in the Premier League, but we can't overlook the fact they are 19th in the table after allowing the fourth-most goals at home this term.
Back to the teams fighting for something, Southampton's Dusan Tadic came up huge in last weekend's win against Bournemouth, scoring on both of his shots attempts while also drawing three fouls, winning two tackles and creating five chances. Southampton have scored multiple goals in three of their past four games (including two each against Arsenal and Chelsea), and Tadic has been a major piece of the offensive explosion. He definitely has the most upside of any Southampton midfielder, with Oriol Romeu the more consistent of the two because of his ability to fill the stat sheet.
DEFENDERS AND GOALKEEPERS
Tottenham's back line and Hugo Lloris figure to be popular options, as they come in with the best clean sheet odds on the slate by a wide margin. It also doesn't hurt that their fullbacks attack more than many attacking midfielders. The only difficulty will be in figuring out which two of Kieran Trippier, Ben Davies, Serge Aurier and Danny Rose start out wide. Fantasy players could play it safer with Davinson Sanchez and/or Jan Vertonghen, though their upsides aren't nearly as high.
After Totttenham it's a pretty mixed bag because none of the other teams have good clean sheet odds, which means we should focus more on peripheral stats. West Ham's Arthur Masuaku's 9.35 duels won per 90 minutes leads all defenders, which is helped by the fact that he lines up as a midfielder more often than not. West Ham will be on the attack, so Masuaku getting on the scoresheet wouldn't be a ridiculous outcome. The same can be said for Aaron Cresswell because of his free-kick ability.
Ben Chilwell has been raising the eyebrows of people paying attention to his attacking exploits of late, though he's questionable to play because of an ankle injury, possibly keeping Leicester from one of their better attacking pieces. In fact, Leicester are dealing with a plethora of injuries, which makes me even more optimistic about West Ham (I can't believe I just said that).
I wouldn't necessarily shy away from the Swansea wingbacks playing at Bournemouth, as they need to attack and there isn't a whole lot to rely on in the midfield. That line of thinking would push us toward Martin Olsson and maybe even youngster Connor Roberts, who wasn't bad last week again Chelsea, even if the fantasy production wasn't really there. With clean sheets are to come by, it wouldn't be the worst idea to rely on the saves made by Lukasz Fabianski, who trails only Jack Butland in total saves this season.