This article is part of our Starting Eleven series.
For detailed odds and stats, check out the Fantasy Premier League: Sunday Cheat Sheet.
7:00 a.m: Chelsea v. Fulham
9:05 a.m: Arsenal v. Tottenham
11:15: Liverpool v. Everton
Sunday's slate is highlighted by the North London and Merseyside derbies, but the fantasy points should be explosive in the first match of the day as Chelsea host Fulham at Stamford Bridge. Fulham's defense has been atrocious this season, and while they made a managerial change to Claudio Ranieri to hopefully solve the issues, their first match after the international break was a 3-2 loss to Southampton, who has seven goals in 12 matches before that one.
Understandably, Eden Hazard is likely viewed as the top forward on the slate. He has the best anytime goal scorer odds on the slate while Chelsea are likely to dominate possession significantly more than any team in either derby. Pairing him with Alvaro Morata is certainly a possibility if you think they score plenty of goals, but that's certainly not the safest route.
The biggest question will be whether it's worth having three high-upside forwards, which in itself seems like it has an obvious answer with the two Chelsea guys along with Harry Kane, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Alexandre Lacazette, Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino, Xherdan Shaqiri and Richarlison all available. The answer is probably yes, but it's always worth considering that one goal is the equivalent to 80 completed passes, a total that many more players (but not forwards) hit than goals are scored.
But seriously, three forwards is probably where everyone will go, with Hazard and Salah probably the two most popular followed by whoever you fancy in the North London derby, which likely pushes many people to Kane. Derbies can get pretty wild, so expecting the...expected...is probably setting yourself up for disappointment.
The safer options will always be in the midfield because of their high passing numbers, and no one emphasizes that more than Jorginho, who leads all midfielders with 1,126 completed passes this season, with the next-highest midfielder on the slate Arsenal's Granit Xhaka at 893. Given Chelsea's expected dominance in possession, pairing Jorginho with someone like Mateo Kovacic or Ross Barkley makes sense in terms of safety. Barkley definitely has the higher upside (he has to start, of course), but you're also choosing him over one of the guys from Liverpool, Everton, Arsenal or Tottenham.
Liverpool are significantly bigger home favorites than Arsenal, and while Merseyside derbies can get very chippy, the Reds are a far superior side. Their midfield is pretty fluid in terms of who starts, so we could get a more upside option like James Milner, who is really only an upside option because he's on penalties and some free kicks, while you could get some high passing numbers from guys like Fabinho or Georginio Wijnaldum. That being said, if you really want solid Liverpool exposure, it's through the forwards.
On the other side of that match is Gylfi Sigurdsson, who has been one of the best fantasy players this season. A decent role on set pieces in addition to a new-found sense for goal, a bet on Everton should really be a bet on Sigurdsson. Derbies are unpredictable, but Liverpool at Anfield have been excellent defensively so it's tough to expect a big game. If anything, it might be better to focus on the reliability of Idrissa Gueye, who has won more duels than any midfielder on the slate while also leading the league in tackles.
There are lots of intruiging options in the North London derby, but with the way he's been playing recently, I don't know how you overlook Christian Eriksen, who has a goal and two assists in his last two appearances (one start). His playing time has been a bit sporadic of late, but there's no denying the results that Spurs are simply better when he's on the pitch. Arsenal's midfield options are extremely unreliable outside of Granit Xhaka, a player who performs much better in terms of passing numbers when Arsenal have lots of possession. With Spurs coming to the Emirates, it's unlikely the possession will be lopsided in favor of the Gunners, making Xhaka a far less attractive option.
DEFENDERS AND GOALKEEPERS
I understand being attracted to the upside of Trent Alexander-Arnold, Andrew Robertson or Virgil van Dijk, or even Lucas Digne and Seamus Coleman on the other side, but there are probably goals to be scored in this match, so we're relying on their abilities to get on the scoresheet. Van Dijk probably has the highest pass and duels upside, so there's certainly a reason to have him in a lineup.
Ben Davies and Toby Alderweireld are probably the safest guys from Tottenham, but against Arsenal can we really expect that much? The same can be said for whoever the Gunners trot out there, with Sead Kolasinac the most likely to join the attack, even if it's unlikely to happen a lot.
Instead, the Chelsea back line is ripe for fantasy points because of the aforementioned expected possession dominance. All four regular starters are in the top 10 in passes completed this season, with Antonio Rudiger (959), David Luiz (937), Cesar Azpilicueta (790) and Marcos Alonso (747) in the top seven among players on the slate. Each player could finish with more than 80 passes, which, as a reminder, is the equivalent to a goal someone else can score. That also doesn't include their dominant clean sheet odds, which also puts Kepa Arrizabalaga as the clear top goalkeeper for the slate.