Football

2 years ago

EPL Gameweek 38 Fantasy Preview. Stacks, Value Plays, Captains

It all comes down to this. The title shall be claimed in the very last gameweek. Will the City get twitchy and panicky after unconvincing one-goal wins of late? Will the Wolves be as solid as always against the top-6? Is the last gameweek of the EPL season going to be as bonkers as in the previous years? With uncertainty and unpredictability being keywords in any fantasy manager's head right now, let us briefly examine how our last week’s picks did before moving on to the slate on offer at FanTeam for gameweek 38.

Last Week’s Picks in Review

Defensive Stacks

We picked Manchester United’s defense as our best-bet stack material away at Huddersfield. A 1-1 draw with the league’s worst team sums up a dismal season for the Devils. The visitors conceded 7 shots (3 on target), and  0,74xG letting in 1 goal.

Wolves were our value play stack.

The hosts concluded their season on home turf with a decisive victory not reflected in the scoreline (1-0). Fulham were restricted to only 0,51xG and 6 shots (2), while the hosts should have scored more. Doherty, somewhat expectedly (0,41xA), got an assist.

Credit: understat.com

We tipped Brighton capable of an upset away at Arsenal. It was a long shot, of course, and the scoreline of 1-1 doesn’t reflect a goalfest it could have been (2,36xG - 1,91xG). Dunk and Duffy failed to nick one from a set-piece meanwhile.

Offensive Plays

Chelsea was our pick for their home game against Watford and they didn’t disappoint.

Eden Hazard was one of the best players as always with 15 penalty area touches, 3 shots (3) and 1 big chance. He came away with 2 assists (0,17xG+0,55xA) and could have added more to that.

Higuain showed some class and got on the scoresheet (0,25xG + 0,02 xA) failing to impress otherwise. He had 7 penalty area touches, 3 shots (3), 1 big chance.

Picked as our value play, Southampton failed to impress away from home with the gaffer rotating his squad heavily.

Redmond was restricted to just 45 minutes off the bench, during which he managed 4 shots (4), 0,21xG, and 5 penalty touches. Long had a quiet game with 0 shots to his name.

Our differential picks from Leicester (Vardy and Maddison) were shut down completely in a tight affair away at Manchester City. Maddison had 2 shots (1) and Vardy was shotless throughout the match.

Our Alternative captain - Jimenez - had 2 shots,1 key pass and 0,20 xGI, failing to score or assist with his teammate Jota being more of a threat.

Gameweek 38

Here are the games that make up FanTeam daily fantasy slate for the weekend:

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)
  • Matching colors at the bottom show teams playing each other

Defensive Stacks

Defensive stacks are extremely important when playing at FanTeam. That is why we will focus on this aspect of the game providing you with safe, value, and differential options for the slate on offer in every preview article.

GREAT ODDS

I am expecting many changes to be made by many a manager. Make sure to check out the starting lineups for some surprising starters. All games begin at the same time on Sunday, which is handy as we will be fully informed on every team's first XI.

Manchester City will be looking to seal the deal away at Brighton. The hosts will put up a fight, for sure, but the visitors will most likely prevail without conceding in the process.

The City’s backline has conceded 1,40 xG, 26 shots, and 1 big chance in the last 4 away games.

Brighton are in an awful goalscoring form at home with only 2,90xG and 2 big chances created in their last 4 on home turf.

Look for the visitors to take the ball and rarely give it back. Manchester City have a 51% chance of keeping a clean sheet.

The stack is costly at 31 mln., and City’s defenders rarely contribute upfront, but I just don’t see Brighton scoring in this one.

Value play

I am torn between two teams playing each other in London here. Their stack values and clean sheet chances are almost identical, and while it is prudent to expect one clean sheet here, it’s hard to call who is going to get it.

Fulham are playing at home, which is an advantage, but have inferior stats (6,60 xGC, 62 shots and 9 big chances). Newcastle’s deadly duo in Perez and Rondon (21 goals and 9 assists combined) will be ready to punish the home side.

Newcastle are playing away, but have superior defensive numbers (4,40 xGC, 38 shots and 8 big chances conceded). The visitors tend to play defensively away from home and Fulham might lack class to break Rafa Benitez’s organized back line.

Fulham have a 25% chance to keep a clean sheet; stack value is 19,1 mln.  

Newcastle have a 23% chance to keep a clean sheet; stack value is 19,6 mln.

I will be picking both these defenses as it is so hard to make the right call here.

If money is not a problem, consider upgrading Dummet to Schar, who has more of an offensive threat in him (3 goals, 1 assist, 2,31 xGI this campaign).

Differential

I am picking Everton here. Resolute away from home (4,40 xGC, 42 shots and 7 big chances conceded in their last 4 away), the Toffees are on a good run of form.

Tottenham will be mentally and physically exhausted after their last-second escape in Amsterdam and might find it hard to break down such a solid defense.

Everton have kept 6 lean sheets in their last 7 games, including shutouts against Chelsea, Arsenal and Manchester United.

The stack value is 17,2, chances to keep a clean sheet stand at 20%. Might be worth the risk.

You can decrease the stack value by 0,7 mln by downgrading Digne to Zouma, but I advise against this as Digne is too much of an offensive threat him being on set-pieces.

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

Never give up. 4:0 against Barcelona. Do you really think Wolves stand a chance? I do, as a matter of fact. Spirited Liverpool will prevail, of course, but I do not see the visitors conceding a ton. I also think Manchester City’s victory will be hard-fought; Manchester United is hard to rely on lately; Arsenal have woeful away home.

Sometimes absolute madness happens in the last gameweek, so, with that thought in mind, I pick Southampton players in the premium bracket. Take a screenshot, I doubt it will ever happen again.

To prove to you that I have not gone off the rails, I will throw some stats straight at you. Southampton have 8,57 xG, 57 shots and 17 chances created in their last 4 home games. And they are playing Huddersfield, which in most cases is enough to justify any picks.

Nathan Redmond (11,2) has 25 penalty area touches (leads the team), 15 shots (10) (leads the team), 2 big chances in his last 4 outings. He looked like the Saints’ best player being subbed on at half time against West Ham last week.

Shane Long (12,2) has 2 goals (2,27 xGI), 17 penalty touches and 5 big chances in his last four. I think he will start ahead of a loanee - Danny Ings.

VALUE PLAY 

There is one more roulette, after the infamous Pep's,  in the EPL. Eddie Howe’s mini-roulette. You never know when the Cherries explode and when they flunk.

I will risk and bet on the visitors in their game against Crystal Palace. No one has anything to play for, Bournemouth might shine in such a matchup free of relegation worries.

Callum Wilson (8,8) leads the league with 3,29 xGI (3 goals, 3 assists) over the last 4 games.

Ryan Fraser (8,5) is 2nd in the league with 3,45xGI (1 goal, 4 assists) over the last 4 games.

These two stand out, and, with their modest price tag, make for a nice value play

DIFFERENTIAL

I am backing Leicester in their home game against the tired Chelsea side. Maurizio Sarri hinted his team needed a rest after their Europa League semi-final victory following the penalty shootout.

Chelsea are a good side, but Vardy and Co have been quite good offensively under Rogers and will be looking to finish with a bang on home turf.

Chelsea are vulnerable away as of late (4 last games), conceding 5,21xG, 45 shots, and 7 big chances.

Jamie Vardy (8,5) has 3 goals (2,87 xG), 5 chances, 11 shots (11) in his last 4 appearances and is on penalties.

James Maddison (8,3) is their set-piece taker and despite having only 1 assist and 0 goals (1,29xGI) in his last 4 has a natural partnership with Vardy.

Consider Youri Tielemans (7,3) if money is scarce, he poses an offensive threat (1 goal, 1 assist, 1.26XGI in his last 4) and might still be flying under the radar.

Budget options

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

  • Jimenez (wol) 6,2 – there might be a goal in the visitors' coffers
  • Jota (wol) 6,0 – their best player in the last 4 games, might nick something away at Liverpool
  • Grant (hud) 5,9 – the only gun firing in Huddersfield
  • Dendoncker (wol) 4,6 – the price is good enough to pluck a hole in your lineup

Captains

SAFE PICK

I would call Salah (14,5) the safest play this week. With fatigue and injuries an issue before a must-win game, look for the rested Egyptian King to dispatch the wolf pack single-handedly.

He leads the team with 4 goals and 1 assist (3,36 xGI) in his last 4 and is on penalties. We should expect a spirited performance from the Reds’ star man.

Salah has a 52% chance to score according to the bookies.  

ALTERNATIVE OPTION

SOUTHAMPTON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 27: Nathan Redmond of Southampton during the Premier League match between Southampton FC and Newcastle United at St Mary's Stadium on October 27, 2018 in Southampton, United Kingdom. (Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)

We have covered Redmond (11,2) in the double-up section above. I am picking him as my alternative option this week to stand out from the pack.


I play at FanTeam under the username KJIIOIIIKA. Although I have expressed my personal view on the games above, they do not necessarily reflect the views of DraftGym. I may use different players and strategies in my lineups compared to what I had talked about above.


xG = expected goals. The model works by assigning a value to a shot that is taken based on the likelihood of it being scored. 
xA = expected assists measure the likelihood that a pass will be a primary assist. The model is based on the finishing location of the pass, what type of pass it was and a variety of other factors.
xGI = expected goals involvement equals xG+xA.


We hope this helps you build a winning lineup for this weekend’s slate. We will be providing similar tips ahead of major slates atFanTeam in the future. Follow us on Twitter , stay tuned and good luck!

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.

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