This article is part of our DraftKings Fantasy Soccer series.
- 10:00 a.m: Bournemouth v. Sheffield United
- 10:00 a.m: Burnley v. Southampton
- 10:00 a.m: Crystal Palace v. Everton
- 10:00 a.m: Watford v. Brighton
- 12:30 p.m: Tottenham v. Aston Villa
The first main slate of the Premier League season will give us a better idea about how DraftKings' recent scoring changes will affect our lineups, but as discussed in our recent article and podcast, the players we generally considered in cash games before the rules changes are still the ones we're looking at for their floors. The pool of players is probably a bit wider now, but set-piece takers on favored sides continue to be the priority, while those on underdogs shouldn't be ignored because they are usually cheaper.
Saturday's opening slate is a tough one because there are actually a good number of players worth targeting in cash games, so instead of getting the few we want and trying to fill in the rest of our rosters, we actually have to decide which ones we're fading for the ones we're not. Additionally, there's one giant goal-dependent forward who has nearly 62 percent odds to score, the highest on the slate by more than 15 percentage points.
Harry Kane, TOT v. AVL ($11,000): Kane is the elephant in the room as the most expensive player on the slate by a wide margin, and he has the best anytime goal scorer odds while leading the line for the biggest favorite. There has already been talk in the RotoWire subscriber Discord about whether he's necessary in cash games, but I think there are definitely enough reliable high-floor players at other positions – and even some at forward – where you don't have to play him. His goal odds are good, but they aren't outstanding, and Spurs still have other weapons, even if they'll be without Son Heung-Min (suspended) and Dele Alli (injured). That being said, Kane will be owned a bit in cash because people don't want to miss out if he has a big game, and he'll surely be popular in GPPs because of his goal upside. However, a pivot to teammate Lucas Moura ($7,900) seems reasonable given he's also very capable of scoring, and he saves over $3,000 in salary. It's also possible that Erik Lamela ($7,000) starts, though his cash-game consideration fully depends on Christian Eriksen ($9,200) not starting because it could mean he gets most of their set pieces.
Gylfi Sigurdsson, EVE at CRY ($8,800): Sigurdsson does not have a monopoly of set pieces, but he will have a share for a favored side, and he is their primary set-piece taker. He sent in more crosses than all but four players on the slate last season, and only one created more chances (we'll discuss him later), a foundation that easily makes him the safest forward for cash games. For those looking for floor, there's little doubt that Sigurdsson is where you'll turn if you don't want to pay up for Kane. And while Sigurdsson also has goal upside to make him viable in GPPs, it's possible to pivot to teammate Richarlison ($7,700) or pay down for Dominic Calvert-Lewin ($6,300) if you have strong faith in the Everton attack (I don't). Given that Crystal Palace could be without Wilfried Zaha ($8,100) after he submitted a transfer request but wasn't granted a move, Everton should control this match, though playing away in the first week of the season can always throw some unexpected wrenches. If you prefer to focus on home teams, the Burnley duo of Dwight McNeil ($7,200) and Johann Berg Gudmundsson ($7,500) aren't bad considering how much they like to cross when they have the ball. Unfortunately, Burnley just doesn't have it that much, though home against Southampton isn't a bad spot at all. Plus, if you are looking for low-owned goals, Ashley Barnes ($7,600) and Chris Wood ($6,900) have been known to take advantage of good spots.
Joshua King, BOU v. SHU ($7,100): There are a number of solid forwards for GPPs, including King's teammate Callum Wilson ($8,000), in a matchup against a Sheffield United side that is expected to be one of the worst teams in the Premier League this season. Wilson does more than King in open play, but the latter is expected to be on penalties, giving him an additional path to finding the back of the net. They will probably be pretty popular in GPPs because of the matchup, which is arguably as good as Tottenham's, so if you're looking for lower ownership then you're probably better off fading them. Instead, players like Troy Deeney ($7,300), Danny Ings ($6,400), Billy Sharp ($5,600), Christian Benteke ($5,500) and Glenn Murray ($5,200) each have reasonable goal expectations and cost less.
Christian Eriksen, TOT v. AVL ($9,200): One of the players with more crosses, and the one with more chances created, than Sigurdsson last season is Ryan Fraser ($9,000), who is expected to get a vast majority of Bournemouth's set pieces in a match they are solidly favored in. There's little doubt that he should get plenty of consideration in cash games because of his floor, but the new scoring rules on DraftKings should make Eriksen a more attractive play. While Eriksen doesn't cross as much as Fraser, he creates more chances and takes significantly more shots. Both players have very good matchups, and it would be easy to say you should just roster them both, though filling out the two forward spots becomes difficult if you do that, especially with defenders worth their high salaries. Bournemouth's David Brooks ($6,500) would have certainly been an interesting GPP option, but he's out with a knee injury, which could give us a start from Jordon Ibe ($5,200), who could be a popular pay-down forward option in cash games. He's unlikely to have a role on set pieces, but he's a cheap wide player on a decent favorite who can fill a forward spot, which is generally a recipe for saving in cash games. Additionally, if Harry Wilson starts instead of Ibe, he should also get some looks.
James Ward-Prowse, SOU at BUR ($7,600): Due to their prices, it's unlikely many people will be playing both Eriksen and Fraser, which means we have to look a little further down the salary list for more midfielders. Southampton playing away isn't usually a great spot, but facing Burnley shouldn't be too much of an issue after the Clarets allowed the most shots assisted (also known as chances created) and third-most crosses last season. Ward-Prowse isn't cheap, and neither is Luka Milivojevic ($7,300), who is expected to take set pieces for Crystal Palace, but they could be worth the nearly $2,000 in savings. Brighton's Solomon March ($6,300) is a pretty good open-play crosser, and he may split some corners with Pascal Gross ($6,800, midfielder/forward), but you have to wonder how many chances Brighton are going to create as sizable underdogs away to Watford.
Oliver Norwood, SHU at BOU ($5,000): Norwood is expected to take set pieces for Sheffield, and while they are underdogs playing away to Bournemouth, the Cherries were hardly a strong defensive side last season – conceding the fifth-most crosses and eighth-most chances – and they didn't do a ton during the transfer window to fix that problem. The benefit of Norwood, who averaged nearly six crosses and more than two shots assisted per game last season in the Championship, is that he's fairly cheap for a set-piece taker and isn't facing Tottenham, which is why he makes more sense than Conor Hourihane ($4,700) or Jack Grealish ($5,500), though Grealish is probably more suited for GPPs anyway. If you're looking for cheaper GPP midfielders, Stuart Armstrong ($4,500) is interesting, though he's unlikely to start, while Roberto Pereyra ($4,800) could go off if he's fit enough to start.
Lucas Digne, EVE at CRY ($6,600): The most expensive defender on the slate by $800, Digne would be a serious consideration as a midfielder at this price, and he's significantly better than the players at that position in the price range. He shares set pieces with Sigurdsson, but he's a tremendous open-play crosser who created more chances last season than any other defender on the slate (for reference, Liverpool's Trent Alexander-Arnold had 48 shots assisted last season versus Digne's 71). It's understandable to be hesitant about rostering Digne and Sigurdsson together, especially since there are bigger favorites on the slate, but they showed plenty of times last season that they can put up the peripheral stats in the same game despite the reasonable assumption that they are cannibalizing each other.
Jose Holebas, WAT v. BHA ($5,800): Those who don't want to pay for Digne will likely turn to Holebas, who is expected to continue taking set pieces for Watford. Admittedly, he does very little outside of the set pieces, and he created only 38 chances last season despite 209 crosses (the fourth-most in the league), but he still fits the mold of a cash-game defender. Digne is firmly ahead of Holebas in basically every way, but the matchup against Brighton probably puts them closer. The Tottenham fullbacks are also in this range, and it's possible that Danny Rose ($5,400) could get some set pieces, but being in the late game doesn't help if, for some reason, he isn't in the starting XI.
Diego Rico, BOU v. SHU ($4,300): Rico has been a consistent starter during the preseason, and while Charlie Daniels ($3,400) is reportedly back to fitness, Rico seems more likely to start. He's definitely a better crosser than Daniels, and the possibility of lining up against Sheffield United is solid enough for consideration. Not to mention, he makes for a good correlation play with Wilson or King up front. The Southampton fullbacks are in good spots too, with Yan Valery ($3,900) contributing more overall, though Ryan Bertrand ($4,200) occasionally has a role on corners. For GPPs, we're always on the hunt for centerback goals, with Yerry Mina ($3,800) and Nathan Ake ($3,500) sticking out because of their abilities in the box.
Paying up for Hugo Lloris ($5,900) seems like an unnecessary use of salary, though he has the highest win and clean sheet odds. That being said, the save upside might not be there, but you're paying almost $6K for the hope of 10 points, with any saves just icing on the cake. Paying slightly less for Artur Boruc ($5,400) or Asmir Begovic ($5,300) seems a bit nuts given Bournemouth's defensive problems, even if they're facing a weak Sheffield United attack. It wouldn't be surprising to see people paying for Nick Pope ($4,700) or Angus Gunn ($4,700), and if you're not playing many Watford attackers, Mathew Ryan seems reasonable at $4,200.