Southampton @ Crystal Palace
The Saints make the quick trip into London to face Crystal Palace in what should be a low scoring affair between, in terms of direction, two very different clubs.
Towards the end of last season there were very few teams worse than Palace. If the season hadn’t ended when it did, the Eagles would’ve had little chance to avoid relegation. It was complete free-fall mode, and that’s not exactly something new for this core of players. It wasn’t that long ago when they set league records for the worst team, literally ever, after only 8 games into the season, so I’m not buying into a home field advantage, which they’ve held respectably until the restart. There’s hope Zaha and Townsend can do something from those salaries as it allows for Liverpool stacks. However, Leeds still hold more potential, both in ownership, ceiling, and savings. Use Palace sparingly. I don’t hate the idea of a clean sheet chase, but it’s a chase at best, as hosting the Saints has been something to fear for a while now, for everyone.
Southampton, on the other foot, held the league’s best away record last season, and by all definition this team is on the up-and-up. Last year, Danny Ings had a tremendous season and will look to continue it. If Southampton find the net, it’s a good chance Ings and/or captain James Ward-Prowse will be involved. The Saints have a great chance to shut out Palace, so use their defenders freely, and stack up with one of the slates best keepers in Alex McCarthy. Palace isn’t immune to shooting, but they are horribly allergic to winning games. If Palace scores twice it would be an unlikely disaster, as scoring even once has been alluding them for three straight home games vs. Southampton. At worst the Saints’ backstop is sitting at double digits, so lock in McCarthy as your top keeper. Ings’ ownership is going to be too high for my tastes, so look for a JWP penalty.
As it’s opening day I’m not expecting fireworks. James Ward-Prowse should be a top exposure, and pay special attention to the potential Saints’ clean sheet.
Prediction: 1-0 Southampton. 0-0 draw. Lowest scoring of the slate, hopefully.
Leeds United @ Liverpool
Not the ideal start for the newly promoted, but long in history, Leeds, and for Liverpool it’s the right kind of start for a Champion. There’s only a few other clubs Liverpool would rather show off on.
Liverpool rarely lose at home, and keep more than enough clean sheets. They also possess the modern day DFS god in Trent Alexander-Arnold, though his DK 8k salary will severely dictate the rest of your build. Whomever starts at CB with Van Dijk is a good option, as Van Dijk’s salary is only viable if he scores; as a basic CB he can’t pay off from his DK salary. My bigger concern is what will the attack do, as opening day doesn’t have players in the best of form. If the slate completely craps out, than Salah at 14fpts will still pay off, so if the first game of the day is slow, don’t be shy on Salah. If there’s lots of points from the first game, be shy on Salah. I’m not expecting more than three goals from Liverpool, but I’m also expecting them to concede. It’s a three game slate after all.
Leeds United, what a club. From the depths of history returns a great. Leeds has two very capable keepers, great passers, and now one of Europe’s best scorers. Given it’s the first game of the season, some risks can be taken with a higher chance that Liverpool won’t be as sharp, so if chasing saves and savings, a Leeds keeper, maybe even in cash, isn’t the worst idea. Another reason I like Leeds is their sheer volume of set pieces. Leeds will blindly throw themselves into anything with reckless abandon, and created an insane 250+ chances from set pieces last season, the next closest a full 210+ chances behind them. This weekend, Kalvin Phillips is someone I’m trying to be over with along with Jack Harrison and Luke Ayling. All three are massively involved with this set pieces process, and their style of quick passing has troubled Liverpool in the past. Do not sleep on Leeds for a goal, they signed Rodrigo Moreno, currently Spain’s top choice attacker, so he’s more than good enough. This guy is legit, and I am deeply invested in his early season success. For a three-game GPP setting, I’ll be surprised if Moreno doesn’t find the net. Yes, it’s at Liverpool, but it’s also the first game of the season, and not enough people will own the Leeds attack.
Liverpool should still come out on top, but like I said, don’t be surprised if Leeds is more than just a brush off, especially in GPP settings, and especially from set pieces.
Prediction: 3-1 Liverpool, but I prefer 2-1 Leeds, Moreno twice.
Newcastle United @ West Ham United
In what can only be described as one of the worst opening schedules ever, West Ham play host to a newly formed Magpie squad, decimated with injuries.
West Ham is a very weird case. The buzz this summer has been about manager David Moyes, and how there’s no way he’ll survive to midseason. However, I see this as a far more respectable outcome, as it comes off as more of something we’ll look back on and ask “how did he manage that?”, rather than “how is he allowed to manage anything?”. So, if question is how, the first answer is probably not defensively. Łukasz Fabiański has always been a favourite of mine, but he’s seemed long past the years of having an eight save floor. Aaron Cresswell is interesting, but without an assist (which isn’t out of the question), his floor is only viable in cash, as there’s little chance for a clean sheet bonus. If this game is high scoring, which it should be, take a CB from the Hammers in GPP. It’d be great to say “play Snodgrass” and know it’s 90min of production, or “play Noble” and know he’ll take the PK over Antonio, but neither of those are factual statements. Mind you, coming to the end of last season, Michal Antonio had been one of the league’s best, but he’s going to be owned like Danny Ings, however, the latter is less likely to continue his form. Throughout his career, Antonio has been dealing with a lot of non-contact injuries, and in truth outside of those injuries he’s been incredible. So, Antonio>Ings for GPP, and if you want something for cash, Jarrod Bowen isn’t the worst, however, his DK salary means no Salah. West Ham had been incredible down the stretch, especially at home, so ’d stack a Fabz and Diop in GPP, just in case. Yarmolenko, if he starts, is an Eastern European legend, don’t sleep on him as well, though it sounds as if he’s off to China.
Newcastle isn’t a bad side, they just happen to be coming into this season hurt, and lacking rejuvenation. Another ownership bid fell through, and their main attraction has been brining in a guy from Burnley, a guy who quit on his team with eight games left (which basically relegated them), and his teammate; a guy who has had more career ending injury scares than the world’s worst employed stunt double. It’s still safe to believe that they are underpriced, especially up front, as Callum Wilson can score, and if he doesn’t, Andy Carrol has been in scintillating summer form. Mind you, Newcastle hasn’t had a lot of luck coming to London, especially West Ham, and given they’re missing their keeper, three starting defenders, their two main set pieces takers, and the only guy on the team who could score since the restart; Newcastle will need all the help they can get. All that being said, this game could go off, and it wouldn’t take much for Wilson to capitalize. Newcatsle’s attack is exciting enough; young Jacob Murphy could be especially useful, and at the end of the season Saint-Maximin was up there with Antonio. One place to avoid is the defensive aspect. There was a time Darlow was a -8 floor, so take care, the Leeds keepers are better options.
There’s a hope this game could outscore Liverpool, and in doing so make an excellent path for some top end pays. That being said, at home West Ham is the safest and potentially best attack of the slate.
Prediction: 4-1/3-2 West Ham. West Ham CB with a goal.
Callum Wilson, Newcastle
There’s not many solid cash options outside of Salah. Mind you, it’s not that other expensive players can’t score, but affording TAA along with another non-CB defender, and any kind of a serviceable midfield is a huge ask. And that’s not even saying we need Salah, but given it’s the first game of the season I’m not willing to chance it. There should be little to no goals at Palace, though I wouldn’t hate Townsend instead of Wilson, and Antonio/Ings are just as likely to come off early as score. If you want to afford TAA, based solely on salary, Wilson is the most logical. He’s never had an issue taking shots, and while this could be the highest scoring game of the slate, if you don’t go Salah, Bowen is equally safe for some crosses, and Newcastle is nothing short of decimated at the back.
Andros Townsend, Palace
Jarrod Bowen, West Ham
Rodrigo Moreno, Leeds United
As an opposition player in 2020, going to Anfield is as unappealing as it gets. Liverpool failing at home is less likely than a desert rain. The reigning champions are looking to further their domination in repeat fashion, and take their history to new heights, but I’m interested to see if they can keep a clean sheet through the first 90min of the season. With Valencia, Moreno has broken Euro slates against some of Europe’s biggest clubs, and while he may not be a household name, he’s Spain’s first choice attacker. He’s going to be under owned, and while he doesn’t fit the bill for cash, Leeds’ Rodrigo Moreno stands as one of the slate’s better GPP attacking options. There seems to be limited upside from the Palace v. Saints game, so attacking the weakened Newcastle backline, or even game stacking, would be in order. I also LOVE the idea of Palace scoring, but it probably won’t happen.
Michail Antonio, West Ham
Jacob Murphy, Newcastle
Che Adams, Southampton
James Ward-Prowse, Southampton
It’d be surprising, even to Vegas, if this game had more than a couple of goals. However, outside of Liverpool’s TAA, fellow three-initial-nicknamed JWP still stands as the safest floor of the slate. Palace had been in a complete free-fall since the restart, and even then, they’ve never been particularly convincing. As a last ditch effort to stay relevant, the Eagles have repeatedly held onto Zaha, like most clubs, choosing not to sell until relegated. JWP should find no issue finding his floor, and if Southampton does find the net, which they should at least once, there’s a 3000% JWP was in some way involved. If there’s a Saints’ set piece, he’s there, and I don’t expect too many chances outside of set pieces. Saint-Maximin should have a fun afternoon, and Leeds’ Kalvin Phillips and Jack Harrison could find production well above his price tag. Milivojevic is another guy who is probably too cheap, but I’d keep him more as a GPP flyer for a PK.
Kalvin Phillips, Leeds United
Alan Saint-Maximin, Newcastle United
Mark Noble, West Ham United
Ideally in this situation, looking to the Newcastle/West Ham fixture is the best route, but with everyone so beat up and being the first game of the season, it’s hard to find someone overly relevant,. If Matt Ritchie and Jonjo Shelvey aren’t a go, I’m looking to Mark Noble. Look, I’m not proud about it, but it’s a three game slate, and when hasn’t Mark Noble done Mark Noble things? If Newcastle’s backline is in any way behind the 8-ball, which they should be, Noble, or maybe Antonio, but probably Noble should get a penalty opportunity. And Noble isn’t immune to ending up on some set pieces, so I’m looking for some 90min upside from a cheaper salary, and Noble is my guy.
Matt Ritchie/Jonjo Shelvey/Jeff Hendricks, Newcastle United
Will Smallbone, Southampton
Trent Alexander-Arnold, Liverpool
Not much needs to be said here outside of how TAA’s salary changes your build. 8k for a defender is rather unheard of, even Kimmich in his prime didn’t get there. However, with TAA, JWP, and a Salah-esk attacker, it puts a serious limit on what you can do, and you’ll be forced into the Phillips/Milly range. Keep in mind who you want to afford, because TAA is one of, if not the only must-have of the slate. Don’t go crazy on GPP, he’ll limit builds, and if he isn’t perfect you’ll have a leg up on 40% of the people who took him. Aaron Cresswell is another solid floor option, and Newcastle/Palace should be putting out some cheap wing backs.
Aaron Cresswell, West Ham United
Joel Ward, Crystal Palace
Kyle Walker-Peters, Southampton
This selection has as much to do with stacking the keeper as it does the player. I’d love Palace to find the net, even twice, but the prospects of this being the lowest scoring game of the slate are massive, and there’s a solid chance Palace will fail to score at all. Given the other options, teammate Ryan Bertrand is too expensive, and comparatively, KWP’s floor isn’t the worst. If he happens to find a clean sheet and an above average game, 4.5x salary on DK would be a certainty. KWP could be highly owned, so I’d be lighter in bigger GPP’s, and in those situations try to land either a Palace/Saints, Liverpool, or West Ham CB.
Jan Bednarek, Southampton
Issa Diop, West Ham