Football

1 year ago

EPL Gameweek 34 Fantasy Preview. Stacks, Value Plays, Captains

With all the double gameweek and FA Cup madness (wow, Watford, wow!) now behind us, the time has come to preview another week in the Premier League. We will start by looking at how our recommendations had done the previous gameweek.

Last week's analysis

In the short 3-match slate we opted for the Leicester stack (safe play), Newcastle (value play), and Huddersfield (differential).

Do not be fooled by Huddersfield 1,62 xG. The penatly kick that the hosts had scored was valued at 0,76xG (all pentaly kicks are, in fact). Still, with 10 shots (4 on target), the host arguably had deserved their goal.

As far as our brave punt with Huddersfield's defence is concerned, well, to put it mildly, it didn't work. Vardy and Co had their shooting boots on and it looks like Brendan's Rogers arrival has invigorated this capable squad. Look out for a strong finish from Leicester.

Newcastle must feel hard done by, as the visitors had scored with their only shot on target - the penalty kick (0,76xG). Apart from that, the hosts were in control and should have won keeping a clean sheet in the process.

As far as captains are concerned, we singled out Vardy (safe play) and Almiron (alternative).

Almiron had 2 shots, 1 key pass, 0,16xG+0,04xA (2nd in the team). He had a decent game, but failed to get on the score sheet.

Vardy has scored 2 goals and had 1 fantasy assist to his name, putting Huddersfield to the sword in front of their home crowd. He had 5 shots, 3 key passes, 1,52xG+0,59xA - a fantastic performance.

Gameweek 34

Here are the games that make up FanTeam's slate for the weekend:

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Before we dive into stacks, double-ups, and captain recommendations, let us share with you this chart that might come in handy while preparing for the slate.

  • Home teams are golden, teams playing away - silver.
  • % - to keep a clean sheet
  • Red number - xG Conceded over the last 4 games (4 home games for teams playing at home, 4 away games, for teams playing on the road)

Defensive Stacks

Great odds

Manchester United's opponents - West Ham - have the least amount of shots (26) over the last 4 gameweeks of all teams playing away. That bodes well for the hosts' defense, who have been quite solid at home as of late - 3,10 xG , 22 shots in the box, and 4 big chances conceded in the last 4 home outings.

The stack value is 26,9, which is affordable, with a 39% chance to keep a clean sheet according to bookies.

Beware: United’s players might be leggy after their tiresome match against Barcelona at Old Trafford on Wednesday.

Value Play

Brighton are a side which is hard to beat on home turf. They are slight favorites in what looks like an even match on paper. Bournemouth, though, seem to be in a bit of slump with only 1 win (hud) in their last 9.

Bournemouth have 4,03 xG, 23 shots in the box, 7 big chances in their last 4 away games (liv,ars,hud,lei). Not in the relegation dogfight, they might take it easy and struggle again away from home.

Brighton, on the contrary, are not safe at all (16th place, 5 points from the relegation zone). They will be fighting for their lives, focused on limiting the opposition’s scoring chances.

With a 31% to keep a clean sheet and a stack value of 19 mln., we consider Brighton to be the best value option of the slate.

Tip: Dunk and Duffy’s (sounds like a great name for a pub, ei?) offensive appeal (40 shots and 7 goals cumulative after a set-play situation) further strengthens our case.

Differential

The game against Burnley is a ‘must-win’ game for Cardiff City. Five points from safety, any loss at his stage of the season will be detrimental to their survival chances. Expect the Welsh side to park the bus and bend over backwards to get the result here.

I am well aware that Cardiff conceded 10,2 xG, 18 big chances, and 47 shots in the box over the last 4 away games. But I am expecting it to be a low scoring affair where both teams will be worried more about not conceding, than scoring. 55% chance of under 2,5 goals scored in this match according to bookies.

The stack is dirt-cheap (14,5 mln) which gives us a  good opportunity to save funds and invest upfront.

Tip: Include morrison in your stack as he is the primary target at throw-ins and corners

Offensive Double-ups

Good correlation of players in your squad is of extreme importance in any fantasy team no matter the sport. In football, it is crucial to single out players who assist each other often, are involved in the attacking play, and are on set-piece duty. With a lot fewer opportunities to get offensive returns in comparison to other sports, such as hockey, basketball, American football etc., understanding which players offer the most threat and link-up well is one of the most important tasks a fantasy manager faces.

Double or triple-ups should come into consideration when you are expecting one team to score more than 2 goals, with selected players sharing assists and goals between them.

In this section, we will provide you with some advice on which players make a well-correlated duo (trio) for the slate. 

Premium

It is hard to look past Manchester United’s assets against the leaky West Ham. The visitors have conceded 20! big chances, 77 shots,  and horrendous 11,60 xGC over their last 4 road trips.

The price for United’s attackers is high, but we can certainly see more than 2 goals scored by the home team come the end of the day.

Lukaku (13,3) is in stellar form (4,31 xGI -  leads all forwards - and 4 goals in his last 4 matches) and only Kane has had more shots over the same period.

The United’s lineup will not be available by the start of the slate, so we are opting for a safer bet in Pogba (13,6), who is guaranteed to start (2,94 xGI in his last 4). His numbers and attacking returns have dwindled in the last couple of weeks, but he is still on penalties and capable of a good haul.

Optional: May triple up either with Rashford or Lingard, although neither is guaranteed a start due to possible rotation after the midweek clash with Barcelona.

Value Play

Southampton are on the rise with 3 wins (FUL,TOT,bri) and 2 losses (mu,LIV) in their last five. The last home game against Liverpool also looked winnable and the Saints approach this matchup in good spirits.

The same can not be said about their opponents, who squandered their 2 goal lead in the last 15 minutes of their FA cup tie with Watford. They might not have gotten over it yet.

Redmond (8,0) (20 penalty touches), and Ward-Prowse (7,8) (on set-pieces)  lead the team over the last 4 home matches in XGI with 1,87 and 1,55 respectively.  

Wolverhampton are not rock-solid at the back in their last 4 away outings (5,60 xGC). Southampton are still not safe, sitting ominously close to the relegation zone (17th place) and will put up a helluva fight.

The price is right for this duo as well - 15,8 million.

Alternative: Danny Ings (8,3), provided he starts, is another option.

Differential

Many will be looking to exploit Fulham’s leaky defense (7,50 xGC in their last 4 home games) picking Everton’s attacking assets.

Playing contrarian, I am opting for the Fulham’s double-up in Mitrovic (8,0) and Babel (7,8). The price tag seems a bit high for relegated players against a solid opponent (4,20 xGC in their last 4 away outings), but with 4,77 XGI and 3 goals and 1 assist between them, these lads can cause damage on home turf.

Budget options

Players that are worth less than 7 mln. Capable of attacking returns. Used to pluck holes in your lineup.

Not much to choose from this week, budget-friendly options are hard to come by. Hazard (7,5) away at Liverpool is a tad expensive to make the cut, but consider him in that role as well.

  • Sessegnon (FUL) (6,5) Fulham will be ignored by most players
  • Camarasa (car) (6,2) 2 goals, 3,06 xGI in his last 4, on penalties and set-pieces in a team fighting for survival
  • Zaha (CRY) (6,2) Earns a lot of penalties, dangerous on a counter
  • Milivoevic (CRY) (5,6) Crystal Place have a good history against City recently, is on penalties
  •  

Captains

Safe pick

We will go for the obvious here - Lukaku. Great stats over the last 4 games (4,31 xGI -  leads all forwards, 4 goals), terrible defense to face - what more to wish for?

Alternative option

Everton seem to have rediscovered their form, they should’ve beat Arsenal by a bigger margin. Sigurdsson leads the team in xGI over the last 4 outings with 2,64 (1 goal, 1 assist), is on set-pieces and penalties.

Fulham have tightened up a bit lately, but still are allowing too many chances (7 big chances conceded, 7,50 xGI in their last 4 home matches).

Reg’s recommendation

It is awd2 (20k+ of profit on FanTeam) that provides us with an insight today:

All Brighton are capable of this year is solid defense and center-backs attacking prowess on set-pieces. Thus, I'd go for Duffy as my captain.

Alexey Bobrov
Author

Alexey Bobrov

Alexey, also known as KJIIOIIIKA, has been playing daily fantasy football since 2015 on various European sites. Scratches his fantasy itch mostly on FanTeam, where he has a net profit of €6000+ with more than 2000 tournaments played and a 40% ROI. FanTeam's 2018 World Championship of Fantasy Football finalist. As Head of Content at DraftGym, his mission is to help our young European fantasy community grow. A proud father of two, plays ice-hockey at the regional level, loves board games.