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EPL Rundown: Saturday 11.30.2019

This weekend we have a 5 game slate to work with thanks to the powers that be at DraftKings bringing the late game back. From a macro perspective, we have 3 matches that feature a home team implied to score 2.25+ goals and then 2 additional matches with standard 2.5 totals. In regard to the highly favored home sides, there isn’t one that necessarily jumps out as the clear stackable spot but I would rank them in this order: Chelsea, Liverpool, Tottenham. I also think the two remaining matches do have potential places to find needed value on this slate as well and in that sense, there isn’t one match, in particular, that is a complete fade for me. Let’s dive in!


Note/Updates:

  • Saturday 6:00 AM PT
    • Tottenham: Winks is out. Corners could go to Son, Ndombele, or Dele. Vertonghen in at left back. Don’t think he’ll get forward a ton but he’s still a value option at fullback. Sissoko looks to be starting in an advanced role but I rather pay a bit more for Ndombele who has a much better attacking skill set (shooting/creating chances).
    • Burnley: Brady is in – fire him up.
    • Chelsea: Giroud and Pedro start. Giroud is a great value for his scoring upside. Pedro another viable tournament play with a decent floor. No Willian means Mount is likely to have larger role on set pieces and this is a bump for him. Kovacic replaced Kante in the midfield as well and he’s worth a flier in tournaments at just $4400.
    • Liverpool: Oxlade-Chamberlain starts in the midfield and while not optimal is definitely a tournament play.
    • Brighton: Alzate is OUT.
  • Friday 6:30 PM PT
    • Liverpool: The indication is that one or both of Oxlade-Chamberlain and Milner could start in midfield. While I don’t consider either optimal (especially when you can have TAA for just a bit more), both are in play for GPPs as they represent relatively affordable exposure to the Liverpool attack.
    • Brighton: Alzate could start this match and is a dirt cheap forward option at $3700. He’s scored 6+ DK points in 4/6 starts. Much like Winks, the primary reason to play would be to open up salary elsewhere.
    • Spurs: During his press conference Jose Mourinho did mention that Jan Vertonghen was an option to replace the injured Ben Davies at left back. He also mentioned that the role would suit him well since he’d largely sit back and cover while Serge Aurier gets forward. While Vertonghen would largely be resigned to a defensive role, he’s just $3600 and has shown the ability to produce offensively when given the opportunity so he’s worth considering. Speaking of Aurier, Mourinho specifically mentioned that he liked Aurier’s ability to get forward and does not plan to limit Aurier in that regard. This is definitely a boost for Aurier.
  • Friday 10:30 AM PT
    • Early lineup construction thoughts: Winks and Brady are going to be key value-plays but remember that it’s possible Eriksen starts for Spurs and Brady doesn’t start at all for Burnley, which would render both of them obsolete. TAA is the first player going into my optimal build. As much as I don’t like utilizing Watford players who are road dogs, Deulofeu and Holebas provide a nice floor for their respective salaries. In an optimal build, the Liverpool forwards are just a little too expensive so using some combination of the Chelsea and Tottenham forwards seems to make a lot more sense (and you’re really splitting hairs between them).

Data Hub

All of the relevant data for the slate is contained within the embedded, sortable spreadsheet below, separated by tab. Under the spreadsheet, you’ll see an explanation of what each tab shows and how to utilize that information.

xG and xGA (Tab 1)

This tab shows the xG (xGoals) and xGA (xGoals Against) data from this season. If you’re not familiar with the xG metric read my strategy article on the topic here. Note: pm = per match basis, OxGpm = opponents expected goals per match, and xGA13 = expected goals a team is anticipated to concede in matchweek 14 after averaging their xGApm with their opponents xGpm (in short, it’s factoring in the quality of a team’s defense and their opponents offense from an xG standpoint – the higher the xGA14 metric, the more likely it is we’ll see that team concede goals this week).

DK Peripheral (Tab 2)

Tab 2 has the relevant offensive peripheral statistics teams have allowed to opponents this season (S = shots, SOG = shots on goal, CR = crosses, CRNW = corners won, CC = chances created, BCC = big chances created, PDKP = peripheral DK points). I’ve added an additional column, “DK”. This column gives the total DK points allowed based upon the scored categories in the table (S, SOG, CR, CC). The more peripheral statistics a team is allowing, the more likely it is that opposing players will be able to achieve a high floor under DK scoring.

DK GS % / FD GS % (Tab 3/4)

These tabs have the implied goal-scoring odds for players with implied odds of 10% or better. Each player’s salary on both DK and FD is divided by their implied goal-scoring odds. This is a great way to visualize where we can find scoring upside at the best value. The lower the number in the Value column, the less we’re paying per dollar of salary for each percentage point in implied scoring odds. As always, make sure to check lineups before lock as not every player listed in this tab will make the starting 11.

Match Previews 

The format of the content portion of the article is a bit different this week than in weeks past. Instead of listing out player targets by position in a separate section at the end of the article, I’ve incorporated optimal, tournament, and value plays under each match preview. Remember, I try to limit the specific plays I recommend so I encourage you not to limit yourself solely to the players I list below. Please feel free to reach out to me on Twitter if you have a preference either way regarding the change in the content format.

*Note: For those new to the EPL Rundown – the discussion of specific plays below refers primarily to DraftKings scoring. While there is certainly some overlap, be sure to use the data in the embedded spreadsheet above (FD GS % and FD player projections) to identify the strongest plays on FanDuel

Chelsea (2.5) v West Ham (1)

This is a prime matchup for Chelsea at home against West Ham, the only team on the slate allowing over 2 xGA per match. In addition, West Ham are dead last in the form table, having lost 5/6 matches while conceding 14 goals over that span. Chelsea, on the other hand, had won 5 in a row before losing away to Man City. One interesting note on West Ham is that although they are very poor in terms of xGA, they are actually an above average defense in terms of allowing peripheral stats. I believe this is a result of the way West Ham play – they generally don’t sit back in a defensive shell against anyone and allow even strong teams (see Tottenham last weekend) to play quite open and direct. Thus, while opponents do not necessarily rack up tons of peripherals from crosses and shots outside the box, they are able to score goals from open play. As a result, I don’t necessarily expect Chelsea players to achieve the high-end of their floors, but they will certainly have a ton of upside here.

Chelsea will be without Tammy Abraham and Hudson-Odoi is also expected to miss out here. This means we should expect an attack consisting of Batshuayi, Willian, Mount, and Pulisic. Batshuayi is $1400 less than Abraham and has the 5th highest implied scoring odds on the slate so he is an intriguing upside option but does have a relatively low floor. Chelsea’s set pieces have rotated between Mount, Willian, and Pulisic so I wouldn’t bank on any one of them having a majority in this match. Of that trio, Willian and Mount are the higher floor plays (both around 10 DK floor points per game), while Pulisic is in the best form and has the highest ceiling. In midfield, Kante and Jorginho are a bit overpriced in terms of their expected floors, but both do carry upside (Kante as he has been scoring goals in open play and Jorginho as the PK taker). Finally, whoever starts at fullback for Chelsea will be a strong tournament consideration, although likely not optimal given pricing.

Optimal: Willian

Tournament: Batshuayi, Mount, Pulisic, Emerson

Liverpool (2.5) v Brighton (0.5)

Liverpool also have a great set up as they host a Brighton team that is allowing 1.84 xGA per match. Trent Alexander-Arnold didn’t start the midweek UCL contest and came on as a sub in the 78th minute. He should be fresh to return to the starting 11 here. $7300 for the set-piece taker on the biggest favorite on this slate is a no brainer especially when you consider he can also pick up a clean sheet bonus and is a great open play crosser (18+ crosses in 3 of his last 4 matches). While DK continues to price TAA higher each week it seems Andy Robertson has reached his peak DK price at $5900 for some reason. For a player who has scored no less than 8.6 points all season and has 4 games of 14+ that is just too cheap, especially in this matchup.

The front 3 of Salah, Mane, and Firmino are all high-upside plays in this matchup but as has often been the situation lately, I can’t make a particularly strong case for any single one of them as being optimal. Salah and Mane are 2nd and 3rd overall in terms of implied scoring odds on the slate and both actually have DK floor averages of 8.5+. However, a floor of 8.5 isn’t going to cut it at a $10.5K+ price tag and there are players with nearly as high implied scoring odds for less salary available (from Chelsea and Tottenham). If I have to plant my flag on one of the three, it will be Mane who is in the best form at the moment and has scored in 3 straight EPL games.

Optimal: Alexander-Arnold

Tournament: Salah, Mane, Firmino, Robertson, Van Dijk

Tottenham (2.25) v Bournemouth (0.75)

In terms of goal-scoring upside, I definitely rank Chelsea and Liverpool ahead of Tottenham since Bournemouth are a bit better in that regard (allowing 1.55 xGA per match). However, Bournemouth are a very vulnerable defense in terms of allowing peripheral stats which bodes well for the floors of the Tottenham players. With that in mind, I think it makes sense to begin the discussion of Tottenham with a player I truthfully am not a fan of – Harry Winks. However, in two matches under Jose Mourinho, Winks has been the primary set-piece taker for Spurs and more importantly, is just $3400 this weekend. On a slate where pricing is very tight Winks provides vital salary relief. Just be aware that if Eriksen starts this match all bets are off for Winks since Eriksen would likely take over set-pieces.

Harry Kane leads the slate with implied scoring odds of roughly 67% but his floor has been quite low this year so he does carry that risk. Meanwhile, Son has implied scoring odds of 51%, has scored or assisted in his last 5 matches for Spurs, and has a safer floor of 8.1 DK floor points per game. Lucas Moura may be the least reliable of the trio but he’s just $7100 and has implied scoring odds of 44%. The value on Dele Alli didn’t last long as his price has come up to a season-high of $7600 after just two matches playing in his new role under Mourinho. Dele had an assist in his first Mourinho-led match and a goal in the second so he’s immediately embracing his new role behind the attacking 3. He’s still a definite upside play but his floor is too low to consider him as an optimal play. In defense, Ben Davies is injured which means that Danny Rose should start at left back while Serge Aurier has looked really good under Mourinho and should keep his place there, although with midweek EPL fixtures next week he could be rotated for Kyle-Walker Peters or Juan Foyth (who is just $3500).

Optimal: Winks (only with Eriksen on the bench)

Tournament: Kane, Son, Moura, Dele, Aurier

Value: Foyth (if starting at right back)

Burnley (1.5) v Crystal Palace (1)

This game could be an ugly one to watch but Burnley have a decent matchup here at home. Crystal Palace allow a healthy 1.68 xGA per match as well as the 4th most points to peripheral points among teams on the slate. Ashley Westwood is suspended for this match and the most likely scenario is that Hendrick moves to the center to fill his spot while Robbie Brady comes in on the wing. To give you an idea of what Brady can do, when he was a regular starter two seasons ago he averaged 8.66 crosses, 1.83 chances created, and 1.69 shots per 90 minutes. At just $4600 he would make for a great value play if he starts. Dwight McNeil could also see an increased role on set pieces with the absence of Westwood and he should be in cash consideration due to his 10 point DK floor average. That being said, I do have concerns about his upside given his $7800 price tag, especially on a slate where we have 3 games with teams expected to score multiple goals. If Brady starts I’ll play him over McNeil and I don’t think it’s optimal to play both and tie up that much salary in a team with a 1.5 implied total. Chris Wood and Ashley Barnes continue to score goals and I again like them both as tournament plays, although their prices have come up about $1K each so I don’t feel nearly as strong about either of them as I did last weekend.

If you look at the xG table above you’ll see that Burnley are projected as the least likely team to concede a goal on this slate (using xG / xGA averages). For that reason, I like Nick Pope as a goalkeeper play and I would not bank on Palace scoring here. That being said, Burnley will allow points to peripheral stats and Milivojevic therefore makes sense as cash play given his role on set pieces.

Optimal: Brady

Tournament: Wood, Barnes

Value: Lowton (although it’s not clear whether he will start)

Southampton (1.5) v Watford (1) 

The late-game has returned to the DK slate (thank you DK for not leaving us with a 4-gamer) and it’s … a relegation battle. That’s right, the late game we get is between the two teams sitting dead last in the table at the moment. I will again mention that Southampton has had the toughest schedule to date and showed they are a capable side as they outplayed Arsenal last weekend (yet conceded a late goal to end with a 2-2 draw). While this game could be ugly to watch, I don’t think it’ll be so bad from a DFS perspective. If we look at the xGA for each team in matchweek 14 (last column of the xG table) we see that both teams will, on average, allow 1.5+ xGA in this matchup, which is tied for third-most on the slate. In addition, Southampton are the most vulnerable team in terms of allowing points to peripheral stats.

The first thing I noticed on the Southampton side is there have been some significant price bumps from last weekend. I wrote up Danny Ings last weekend and he produced with a goal, however, he’s now up to $7200. For a player who doesn’t tend to accumulate any peripheral stats, he’ll barely make value even if he does score this week. For that reason, he’d really need a brace to give you a shot in tournaments this weekend. In addition, it would be hard to pull the trigger on Ings when you can instead take the reliability of his teammate, James Ward-Prowse. JWP has a near-monopoly on set pieces and takes penalties for Southampton. He’s also scored double-digit DK points in 7 of his last 10 matches.

What if I told you there was a forward eligible player averaging 9.5 DK points, has 28% implied scoring odds, takes a share of set pieces for his team, and costs only $6.6K? Would you be interested in that player? That player is Gerard Deulofeu and you should be. I will admit I have an inherent bias against Deulofeu which I attribute to playing him many times in the past only to see him randomly subbed off at halftime. However, bias aside, Deulofeu makes a lot of sense on this slate based upon the metrics I mentioned above. Sure, he’s on the road, but a trip to Southampton is not necessarily imposing at the moment. It’s also really hard to ignore his teammate, Jose Holebas, this week. Holebas has taken more corners than Deulofeu over the last couple matches and has a great matchup against a Southampton team allowing the most crosses among teams on the slate. In the same vein as McNeil and Brady from Burnley, I don’t like the idea of tying up salary in two Watford players on this slate, but I think playing either one of these guys makes sense on this slate.

Optimal: Ward-Prowse, Deulofeu, Holebas

Tournament: Doucoure

rundown

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