“The Diamond Standard” (EPL) – 9/19

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GAME BREAKDOWNS

Fulham @ Leeds United

An ugly slate begins with an ugly game; Fulham make the trip from London and heads north to face Leeds United, which is hosting an EPL home game for the first time since I graduated high school 16 years ago. They let in a lot of goals then as well.


But, make no mistake, this isn’t a high school movie where the ugly teen becomes the prom queen, these teams are defensively incapable, and come next season, neither should be around. Leeds is by far the more favourite to stick around, and a lot of that has to do with their relentless attacking efforts. Leeds was embarrassed midweek through penalties by their arch-rivals, and coastal neighbors, Hull City.

It remains to be said that Leeds played nobody from their valiant weekend effort vs. Liverpool, so we can expect some 90-minute games. Sure, the clean sheet isn’t out of the question, it’s not like Fulham scores four on the regular, but unless the whole slate craps out, or Fulham goes ham on shots (the latter isn’t likely), Meslier will struggle to pay off from his DK salary.

Leeds’ defensive salaries, especially on DK, are beyond unreasonable, as vs. Liverpool they combined for zilch in terms of crosses, and considering Leeds still scored three times, it shows the wing backs aren’t involved enough/floor options for cash. However,Fulham is as defensively incapable as any EPL side, so if a CB is needed, check out captain Liam Cooper or Koch, as their upside is tied to how deeply flawed the Cottager’s  backline is.

In the midfield, Kalvin Phillips’ DK salary increased far too much, especially considering his set pieces are shared with Jack Harrison (another absurd DK salary increase), and Pablo Hernandez. The only guy worth owning is Helder Costa, but even with his affordable DK salary, he fails to find a proper (set piece boosted) floor and holds just as much risk to come off as other soon to be mentioned names.

Up front is equally DK concerning, as Bamford and Moreno are decent options, but the season neither seem slated for 90min. We are better off hoping for a lottery win than either guys cashing from half a game. It is frustrating, Leeds would be decent options if we were not giving up an arm and leg for ‘em, so it goes against everything DFS stands for to spend that much. Fulham is bad, but Leeds is also not 6k great.

On the other half of the pitch we have the Cottagers, and wow, they are an awful side. As they’ve shown with an almost instant return to the EPL, they’ll be lottery lucky to avoid relegation. They barely won midweek vs. lowly Ipswich, and that was using their proper squad. Keeper option Rodak is a weekly candidate to let in more than he will save, and that does not exactly mean every game will be high scoring.

Considering this is Fulham away; two goals from Leeds isn’t too far out, and Rodak shouldn’t have more than three saves.

Defensively, however, it’s not a complete firesale, as Joe Bryan does offer some cash floor, and the min-salary CB’s posses tons of GPP salary relief, but you’ll be pressed to find anything worthwhile that doesn’t unnecessarily compromise your card. In the midfield there’s Cavaleiro and Kebano, two guys who take some set pieces yet haven’t, and two guys who’ve played two, full 90 min games over the past week.

My hope, and it’s a desperate one at that, is Anthony Knockaert starts for 90min, as in their stead he’s a solid floor-player out on the wing who could take some set pieces. Kamara and Mitrovic, two capable players, are bound to regularly take each other off for 60min games.

Scoring isn’t off the table, but 90min probably is. I’d have no issue using one or the other, but knowing they’re almost guaranteed not to see 90min, they fall down the list very, very quickly. So, don’t expect much from Fulham this weekend, outside of Joe Bryan and the most GPP of scripts, they have little to offer.

Actually, don’t expect much from this game at all. Leeds is by far the more suitable option, but all-in-all this game adds up to the slate; it stinks.

Prediction: 2-1/3-1 Leeds. Fulham should score, but probably a sub.

Crystal Palace @ Manchester United

For the second game of the slate we have Palace travelling to Manchester for a an interesting clash where United is playing their first game of the season.

Manchester United opted not to have a preseason. Everyone went and did their own thing; some had international duty, some went on vacation, and their captain was arrested in Greece. United is a spectacular club, so there is no disputing their ability to win, especially at home. However, United is also a flawed team; consistently overflowing with deep, central midfielders, and ignoring the most obvious issues like relying on Phil Jones.

It sucks that paying up at keeper may make sense, because in this slate little else does. Palace relies entirely on defensive aspects, so a clean sheet is GPP viable, but certainly not cash. Mind you, it’d be the most DFS thing ever for Maguire to score, and a clean sheet would be needed for Wan-Bissaka’s value to be straight.

Gross to think about, but at least DK thinks they’ll smash, and given the other games it does make sense. It’s also painful that Bruno Fernandes is the only midfield, outside of the future to mention stud of the slate, worth paying up for, and it only re-enforces my belief to withdraw those 50/50 entires.

Cash is not viable this weekend. The only player worth monitoring in the midfield is Daniel James; his DK salary could be one of the only blips on this slate. If he starts, make sure to use him liberally as his floor makes him far too cheap.

Rashford and Martial are only appealing to me in a stack as their solo ownership will be far too high, like obscenely high, further drawing me to Daniel Jones if he starts, especially in GPP. It’s important to remember United is coming into the season rusty; if they are scoring you’ll know it, and if it’s a stinker you’ll know it too. I expect the latter.

Crystal Palace shouldn’t be in this game, but they will be. Palace loves to press up the pitch, making the opposition kick the ball at the Eagles’ massive backline, or force the opposition to make silly mistakes trying to move the ball forward.

United is prone to bouts of confusion when this very occasion occurs, and while Palace will be pushed for the  win, scoring should come. It all depends on how well they keep United out, and if last week was any indication, Palace won’t be scored on all season.

Guaita was incredible last slate, and he had the midweek off, so he’s fresh. It’s tough, because the fear is he’s recency biased to fail, but I’d take almost any keeper against United’s first game of the season; United should be as sharp as a rubber ball.

Palace’s defensive options are great on sites that score defensive stats, as United should be smashing it forward with Palace trying to lure them into a counter, or forcibly removing United from possession. Palace counters so intently that they rarely have defenders up the field, so their defensive viability is super limited on DK, especially when not min-priced.

Eze and Milly both played a midweek 90min, and I can’t stress enough that McCarthy, McArthur, and especially Schlupp are liabilities, though the Arthur of the Mc’s is far more interesting. Much like last weekend I also don’t hate Townsend and or Zaha, cash and GPP respectively.

Townsend is cash passable, but barely, as he comes with risk, and Zaha will be over-owned. The one guy I am considering in any serious light is Jordan Ayew. Given the midweek fixture he’s likely to play 90min, and given the recency bias on the aforementioned Zaha, in GPP there’s going to be a massive ownership edge on Ayew.

As mentioned, outside of last weekend’s friendly vs. Villa, United didn’t play a preseason. United should find some issues around Ayew’s dynamic quickness, and while he’s not cash viable, if he starts use him in GPP.

United rarely lose at home, and while last season one of their two home losses came against Palace, an Eagles goal isn’t out of the question, maybe even twice to draw.

Prediction: 2-2 draw, United come back late.

West Ham @ Arsenal

In the final game of the slate we have a London derby between the Gunners of Arsenal and the Hammers of West Ham.

This game should be pretty simple. On paper, Arsenal rarely, if ever, lose at home to West Ham. Furthermore, they also tend to crush the Hammers at home to the tune of 3+ goals on a regular basis.

Considering these two teams have played each other a gazillion times in the past 20 years, this rivalry has fallen in Arsenal’s favour. I’m far more comfortable spending up on Leno/using an Arsenal defensive stack than Manchester, Leeds, Fulham, or the opposition.

Bellerin’s salary is too cheap, even without the clean sheet, so he’s viable, and Tierney is only bound to eventually make people rue for not using him anymore, but there’s little else to find back there. When we get to the midfield things get more confusing.

In soccer, one of the bigger DFS issues is finding a late game with a team that has no set starting 11, or to further that, a team that subs a lot. Arsenal is both of these things, Chelsea is another side that comes to mind; as there’s a lot of talent that can’t be satisfied only playing the odd game until Euro’s.

Willian isn’t as ideal, even with his set pieces. He’s coming off the field at some point for numerous different, late game options, so he isn’t as viable as I’d like to see.

There’s only one way to attack this team, and it’s through Aubameyang. And attack through him with force, if either the United of Manchester or West Ham come out flat, he’s the only guy on the slate capable of breaking it.

I’m all in with Aubz this weekend; the slate is such rubbish he’s the only reliable goal scorer. My hope is Aubz will “Salah” the slate at a reduced ownership, because everyone is always hesitant to pick that late game.

West Ham isn’t in the worst place, but they kind of are at the same time. Their next game vs. a side that isn’t an Euro contender doesn’t come until November. They beat Charlton midweek in an FA Cup derby, so while they used a different starting XI, it’s promising that this weekend their best DFS assets should have 90min.

Fabz will see more than enough shots, but probably too many high-level chances. Against Newcastle, Creswell lead the team in crosses, and Fredricks wasn’t the worst player neither.

This slate I’m less bullish for a Hammer CB, as Arsenal shouldn’t give up the same type of chances. Noble looks like he could miss, which only makes Antonio more valuable. DK has mispriced Antonio, especially putting him under Jarrod Bowen; it seems off and should be capitalized on. In GPP, don’t be afraid to go heavy on Soucek, he’s very likely to pay off from that salary, and didn’t feature midweek.

I hope not to be drawn into a Fornals trap, but come 90min those savings could mean everything. West Ham is likely to score, especially through Antonio, so he’s another guy you can go slightly high on.

If you can find a way to keep Aubz/Rashford as a midfielder, try to get him in as well. Game stacking isn’t out of the question, though I would try to find a way to go Arsenal’s direction for the finish.

Last slate, West Ham needed a result, and unless they’ve lit the proverbial fire on their behinds’, Arsenal could easily score 3+ once again. Given this is the late game and people wanting to finally play rusty ManUtd options, try to make PE Aubz your top player this slate. His goal odds are too good to refuse.

Prediction: 3-1/4-2 Arsenal. Clean sheets are unlikely.

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