“The Diamond Standard” (EPL) – 10/17/20

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Welcome to another edition of this season’s The Diamond Standard: EPL Matchday 5, for the slate of October 17th, 2020.

We’re back to a three game slate, and with a literal ton of action to go around there should be more than enough opportunities for profit. While at face value the slate doesn’t look entertaining, it’s actually quite the opposite, and with a plethora of stars missing out there’ll be a lot of edges to use.

Chelsea and the Manchesters, all favourites, have some glaring deficiencies, and given the ownership will be massively condensed (due to the missing star power) on a few, select names. A lot of people will flock to some horrid DFS options, and in turn hand you the keys to your own success. All you’ll have to do is exist, and not pick the wrong players, which sometimes can seem more complicated than choosing the correct options.

That’s why I’m here, with multiple seasons of picking the wrong players under my belt, let’s use my experience, as this weekend looks appealing, and I can’t wait to share it with you. There’s lots of options for either format, so for this slate, focus on contest selection more than player selection, as the latter will come together once the first game lineups are announced.

GAME BREAKDOWNS

Southampton @ Chelsea

For the first game of the slate, we have Southampton making the always tough trip into London for a game against one of the league’s top attacks in Chelsea.

This slate would be far more accessible and appealing with this game as the late hammer. This should be the least owned game of the slate, with the Saints being the least owned team, so make sure not to overload, but also not fade Southampton. The game is loaded with different options in different formats, but it’ll be important to avoid certain dead zones, and a serious lack of consistent minutes on the Blues’ side.

Starting off with problem-laden Chelsea; if it wasn’t for the fact they can score goals, everyone would be talking about their defensive capabilities, or more specifically their lack there of. Kepa will be getting the nod for the first time in weeks, both because newly acquired Edouard Mendy is yet to find match fitness, and because Caballero has been #notgood. Sure, people probably won’t play Kepa, so he has a few things going for him. By all accounts, Kepa is nothing but a liability. Chelsea has yet to master certain aspects of clearing the cross, so the chances of Kepa walking away with any kind of value are slim. Southampton happen to possess one of the league’s best scorers along with one of the league’s best crossers, so it may not be wise to jump on a defensive chase.

That being said, Chelsea possess the two most expensive DK defensive options, and for good reason. Both Reece James and Ben Chilwell have superior floors, ceilings, and matchups. Southampton should be starting two wingers, who when combined, have as much EPL match fitness as I do. Neither Chelsea defender will fit into many builds, especially in GPP, so having the pair without Kepa is still viable due to nobody owning them both. However, without a clean sheet, and outside of ownership, it’ll be tough to find enough of an edge to make them ultra-viable.

All that said, and as mentioned, Chelsea remains incredibly incapable at defending the cross, and unless Southampton decide to stop doing what they’ve made their name off of, Chelsea’s backline should be in store for a tough day at the office.

The Chelsea DFS trademark has been taking the optimal DFS positional players off the field. This hasn’t been much of an issue this season, as they’ve had more than enough injuries, but with guys coming back, nearly everyone is viable to come off early. Kovacic, Kante, and Jorginho all can’t play at the same time, though the latter is back on penalties. Havertz is a future world star, but he’s lucky to find a ceiling that’s more than a few points over the multiple goals he would need to crush.

On the wings would be some truly locked in options if it wasn’t for the bench. Ziyech, who is incredible, should be coming on for Werner, and at some point Pulisic should replace Mount. That’s not even mentioning Hudson-Odoi and the forwards. It’s not that the midfield crew can’t find success nor 90min, but this is where the majority of Chelsea ownership will fall, and it’s not wrong. The Chelsea midfield options are some of the league’s best attackers, just don’t be upset when they come off at 70min.

Finally, the Chelsea attack. Just like the midfield options, there’s a solid chance whoever starts won’t finish the game. Abraham is a great option for double digits and will feature in my GPP exposure, but he also carries the minutes issues. Giroud hasn’t played enough this season, and eventually he’ll start to see more minutes, that’s unless Abraham goes ham. It’s important to note that Southampton hasn’t conceded in over 180 minutes, but neither game featured the likes of Abraham.

Moving onto Southampton, as mentioned they’ve been defensively on fire the past couple of games. Alex McCarthy has been the sole beneficiary of the outings, as he’s been racking up saves and clean sheets. McCarthy will see more than enough opportunities to make saves, and if the oppositions defensive capabilities are anything to read into, he’s on the defensively superior team with a salary that suggests nothing of the sort. McCarthy is my top keeper option, and while that didn’t work out last time it was suggested, this time around his salary is far less of a risk.

Defensively, the Saints possess some capable DFS options. Ryan Bertrand has a serious history playing with Chelsea during some of the Blues’ greatest years, and he isn’t immune from producing vs. serious opposition. KWP may seem like a good option, and he could pass in cash, but his lack of experience usually shows through during the tougher games, and there won’t be many tougher than a London trip to Stamford Bridge. Using a Saints CB is an interesting GPP punt, especially Vestergaard, who puts out enough advanced passes to give notice. Bednarek is more of a man marker than a DFS option, and it also helps that Vestergaard is like 80million feet tall.

Moving into the midfield is where we find my favourite GPP option in James Ward-Prowse. JWP’s DK salary is too cheap, and while he is cash viable, there’s better options elsewhere, though not many. His floor should be limited due to Chelsea being a great team, but at the same time, JWP is one of the best crossers in the league, and should be owned in both formats, though especially in tournaments. Elsewhere, the Saints midfield is one massive trap. Will Smallbone is a great player if you want someone more likely to kick the ball away than connect on a cross, though his salary and dual-eligibility on DK makes him unfortunately viable. Theo Walcott isn’t the same kind of player he was with Arnseal those four times, especially not a 90min player, especially if Nathan Redmond is on the bench. Smallbone, Redmond, and Walcott won’t all play together, so there should be a lack of 90min options out wide.

Southampton also possess one of the league’s best scorers in Danny Ings. He has been showing why Liverpool once picked him up, and outside of Vardy, for the past couple of seasons Ings has been one of the country’s hottest attackers. Ideally, his salary should be cheaper, but given his ownership will be low, and his goal scoring odds should be high, Danny Ings stacked with a winger, or preferably JWP, could be one of the slate’s sharper GPP plays. When Chelsea collapses it’s massive, so even stacking three deep will provide one of the slate’s biggest ownership edges.

It’s hard to ignore that one of the better clean sheet chases will be a low owned and with a low cost keeper, but unless Chelsea has figured out how to defend the cross, Southampton has a serious chance to outscore Chelsea, making the Saints some of the weekend’s better GPP options.

Prediction: 3-1 Chelsea, 1-1 Draw, 2-0 Saints.

Arsenal @ Manchester City

For the second game of the slate we have Arsenal making the trip north-west to face the City side of Manchester.

If this season has been any indication, this game should have at least four total goals. Both sides have been defensively shambolic, and while it’s been a long time since we’ve had a KDB-less slate, it only opens up more cash directions, and hopefully will leave a lot of the less experienced players grasping for answers.

It’s safe to say that I’ve eaten my words. Had more than enough time to think about how last slate I downplayed Ederson just for him to go out and finish KEP1. This time around I’m equally less confident, as City is likely to concede, hopefully more than once, and fail to provide enough floor for Ederson to recover. I will stand by the absolute fact that taking the expensive keeper is rarely the way to go, especially in cash, so if you have to use Ederson, use him in GPP.

There is equally less reason to suggest using City’s defensive options in cash. They are barely GPP options; needing a clean sheet to have a hope for double digits isn’t a core to build around. Maybe if Ake starts he could be viable at 90min, but Walker, Mendy, and whomever else starts at CB will be far less viable, for either format.

The midfield, however, is wide open, especially with no KDB. So, there’ll be options galore. Those options are limited to the attackers, with limited value coming from the likes of Fernandinho or Rodrigo. Phil Foden is in danger to come off for Gundogan, however, he should be one of the more lower owned City players, therefore, is GPP viable. BSilva would be a far superior GPP option, but is even less likely for 90min.

Lock in Mahrez. Mahrez is a must have for cash, and if possible he’s ideally slotted in at forward, allowing for the use of other midfield options yet to be named. Raheem Sterling is another massive option for the slate, and while he is better suited for GPP, no KDB creates a massive skill gap. There’s worse cash options, that’s for sure (see: Southampton wingers), but it’s safer to stick with Mahrez.

Speaking of City attackers, if Sergio Aguero starts he will be the highest owned player of the century. Aguero’s goal scoring odds are absurd, even though he’s expected to come on from the bench for only a (latter) potion of the second half. I’ll probably still use him in something low stakes, or the highest stakes ever imagined. Aguero’s DK salary and upside do not mix, and if it’s looking like he’ll play, even a little bit, I want a piece.

Arsenal is another piece of work; their schedule has not been a challenge, and their results haven’t been convincing. Leno has had a serviceable floor, especially from his DK salary, and it’s not like City will be anywhere near 100%. Thanks to his affordable salary, Leno is one of the better keeper options of the slate, and I wouldn’t talk you out of making him your top option. Mind you, if you take City attackers against him, try to limit it to a single attacker, rather than multiple.

It will be interesting to see the Gunners’ formation. Outside his assists, Bellerin hasn’t been much of a DFS threat, and should continue as such. The same can be said of the left side; it’ll be either the out of form Kolasinac, or the guy who probably has COVID, Kieran Tierney. Luiz, Holding, and Gabriel are so unappealing that they may be GPP viable. David Luiz loves to shoot from distance, and Gabriel happens to be 6 foot billion in height. So sure, why not? City has been a comparable embarrassment to the City of previous years, and they are technically playing with no true forward options.

Arsenal’s midfield is super over-loaded and hard to pin down. Elneny has been one of the few consistent, yet useless options, as Xhaka and Ceballos would be excellent floor plays if it wasn’t for their equally inconsistent minutes. The latter pair would be GPP viable if starting, but barely. Saka hasn’t played much, but he’s played well, and usually out of position, so he’s worth considering if starting, but alas, not 90min cash viable.

Willian is likely to suffer this weekend as he’s solely a bonafide corner taker, and City has consistently lead the league in least amount of corners allowed. There’s more than enough options, especially in the final game, than to waste salary on Willian’s two corners. Aubameyang is another GPP option that shouldn’t go ignored. Hopefully his ownership is driven down by his questionable status, which was only brought on because he didn’t play over the international break. Aubz shouldn’t be your top midfield option, leave that to Mahrez, but make sure he’s up there.

It’s also important to note that so far this season Lacazette has scored in every EPL game he’s played, making him viable for GPP. Lacazette’s minutes have been a massive concern, but if he’s starting and scoring, he’s far from the worst option.

City and Arsenal should both score, so don’t be afraid to game stack. The lack of KDB’s talent will make things interesting, but probably not as interesting as the late hammer.

Prediction: 3-2 either way, probably City.

Manchester United @ Newcastle United

In the final game of the slate we have the Red Devils of Manchester hoping across country to face another historical rival in Newcastle United. This is always one of my favourite matchups of the season.

Don’t be fooled by this fixture; for whatever reason ManUtd struggle at St. James Park. The Red Devils have lost two of their previous three on this trip. I would not be surprised if Newcastle score early, and potentially often. The Magpie’s conversion rate is off the charts, and while it’s not long term sustainable, it’s the short term that will hopefully still hold true.

Darlow is not the ideal value cash keeper, especially since he’s not the cheapest. If you fall on him, sure, there’s worse ideas, like spending up, but if at all possible look to spend down further. However, he’s sneaky enough for GPP. Manchester isn’t at their best, and while Darlow would be an under owned beneficiary, using him would be more of an expression towards a Manchester downfall, rather than Darlow being the best option. Sometimes in DFS that’s all we need, so a Newcastle GPP chase isn’t the worst of the weekend.

One place to avoid is the Newcastle wing backs. If Darlow is to be used, try to use him naked, as he is only viable with Fernandez, or if crazy desperate, Lascelles. Newcastle’s defenders rarely produce on DK, and all the focus should be placed on their midfield. So, if you end up fading the lot, you can feel safe it won’t be the worst thing you do all slate. 

Newcastle’s midfield is a great place to start any card, in particular; Jonjo Shelvey, Miguel Almiron, and/or Jeff Hendricks, as the latter would be better suited for GPP. Shelvey’s DK salary makes him viable for either format, especially cash, and Almiron’s dual-positional option makes his salary viable as well. Jeff Hendricks has been good for a shot/game, and that’s viable with or without Shelvey,

This weekend, the Magpie attack is as interesting as it is crucial to winning money. Callum Wilson has been pure 90min flames. If he has hit the net, he has scored, so fire him up in either format as his DK salary makes him viable in either format. Newcastle will be unfortunate to blank, so Callum Wilson should be one of the this slate’s higher owned forward options.

I’m going to make a couple bold calls. First off, this will either be De Gea’s last game for Manchester United, or secondly, this will be his first game on the bench with the Henderson chapter about to take place. Manchester United has been in free-fall mode; they seem incapable of playing sensible footy, and with a repeated ignorance to their defensive irregularities, it’s only a matter of time until the most error prone keeper, maybe behind Pickford, is used as the first response to a failing season.

Harry Maguire isn’t OK, at all, and Luke Shaw has been #notgood for a long, long time. Alex Telles, however unlikely to play, is an elite level DFS option, and is even slightly discounted at his DK salary. One can hope he sees 90min, but it’s a hope at best. Without Maguire, the pair of Lindelof, and last time out Bailly, whom was a 90min victim of Spurs, won’t cope for long. Newcastle should score, at least twice, so don’t look to the Red Devils’ defensive options.

Without KDB, Bruno Fernandes is as near must play as anyone, especially in cash. While there may be different ways to attack GPP, don’t be afraid to game stack the midfield with Fernandes and Shelvey. Pogba is too defensive to be viable, and while there’s no Martial, if Pogba is attacking make sure to get him in some cards, because he’s not coming off in a high scoring game.

Another factor to consider is without Martial; Rashford, and especially Greenwood, will be guaranteed 90min against a poor backline. The pair stack well, and in particular 90min Greenwood’s salary stands as too cheap. Greenwood has an excellent floor, and is cash viable with a 90min game, but isn’t someone to build around.

David De Gea is in serious disarray, and he has consistently struggled away to Newcastle.  Callum Wilson has been outer-worldly, so this seems to point one way. Load up with this game; make sure to have at least three guys for a pivot. Much like most of this slate, it’s going to be a guessing game as to who will be starting.

Prediction: 2-0/4-2 Newcastle. Callum Wilson breaks the slate, early.

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