EPL Targets: February 25th

The most exciting league in the world is back this weekend and serves up a six-game Saturday slate. In this article I have gone through each position and picked a handful of players with an explanation of why each one made the cut. Enjoy…


GOALKEEPER

STUDS

Thibaut Courtois – ($6,000) – Chelsea – Chelsea are an immovable object at Stamford Bridge this season and have won eight games in a row. In that time Courtois has kept six clean sheets, and I don’t think he will be troubled sufficiently enough by Swansea for his fantasy total to drop below 10 points.

Eldin Jakupovic – ($5,200) – Hull City – Jakupovic has conceded just once across the course of two home games in the Premier League since the arrival of Marco Silva. In that trio of games he has 16.5 fantasy points per game (FPPG) and in recent weeks has kept a clean sheet against two of the top six in Manchester United and Liverpool. Burnley’s away record is woeful, and I don’t think they will do anything to stop Jakupovic picking up another double digit haul.

VALUES

Victor Valdes – ($4,400) – Middlesbrough – Boro have struggled to score goals this season; however, their defence has been stubborn all season long. Only three sides are better defensively, and they face a Crystal Palace side that has stopped scoring since Sam Allardyce arrived.

Vito Mannone/Jordan Pickford – ($3,700/$3,500) – Sunderland – Both Mannone and Pickford, who may return from injury, average 4.6 saves per game this season and taking one of these two will save you a lot of salary. Goalkeepers playing against Everton in the last three matches have averaged four saves per game, and this week should be no different. The only caveat is that Sunderland could take an absolute hammering. Think about it carefully, but in the saves department there are none better than this pair.


DEFENDER

STUDS

Marcos Alonso – ($6,600) – Chelsea – Fans of Chelsea can smell the Premier League title, and Alonso is one of the key pieces of the jigsaw. The Spaniard has hit double digits for fantasy points in four of the last five EPL games and always shows good performance across various categories. His four goals and two assists show he is just as relevant from an attacking perspective, and that’s important to consider against the league’s worst defence in Swansea.

Seamus Coleman – ($6,000) – Everton – Coleman is another defender in excellent form, and like Alonso he offers a huge potential from an attacking perspective. Stats-wise, Coleman averages some 2.3 tackles and 1.3 interceptions per game, putting in an average of 3.5 crosses per game. I like Coleman in a matchup like this where Sunderland will likely sit back and defend for the entire 90 minutes.

VALUES

Bryan Oviedo – ($3,900) – Sunderland – In two appearances for Sunderland, Oviedo is averaging 11 FPPG, and his former club Everton will know only too well what he can offer on both the attacking and defensive side of things. In fact, across the season as a whole, he averages 3.3 tackles, 1.4 interceptions and 2.3 crosses per game. Even without a clean sheet, Oviedo could provide good value at this price.

Gareth McAuley – ($3,600) – West Brom – West Brom have scored the second highest number of headed goals (12) and face Bournemouth, who have conceded the second highest number of headed goals (11). McAuley already has five goals this season and could well make it six in this match, and if one came from a header it would be no surprise.


MIDFIELDER

STUDS

Pedro – ($8,600) – Chelsea – The Spaniard has been a player reborn under Antonio Conte and has hit double digit fantasy points in three successive games in all competitions. Only Diego Costa (15 goals) and Eden Hazard (10 goals) have more than Pedro’s six goals. To illustrate the twin threat he offers, Pedro has complemented those goals with five assists. Along with a smattering of points in almost every other scoring category each week, he’s Chelsea’s most reliable point scorer in midfield.

Ross Barkley – ($7,300) – Everton – Barkley is a regular feature in this column, and it’s down to the fact he’s an uber-reliable performer. No Everton player has more assists than Barkley’s five and his 2.4 shots per game is only bettered by Lukaku. The young English midfielder has hit double digits in six of the last seven games, and Sunderland will likely be powerless to stop him.

VALUES

Manuel Lanzini – ($5,600) – West Ham – Saturday’s opponents, Watford, have only kept one clean sheet in the last six games, and that was against an exceptionally low scoring Middlesbrough side. West Ham, meanwhile, have scored three or more goals in three of the last four away games, Lanzini picking up two assists in the only one of those games that he started. For the season as a whole, he has five goals and scored once in a man of the match performance against West Brom last week. At a price this modest, it’s tough to pass on Lanzini.

Lazar Markovic – ($4,800) – Hull City – Markovic is a slightly unique fantasy midfielder in that he offers a good amount on both sides of the ball at a very low price. In the defeat at Arsenal, he finished up on 14pts, and that was despite the fact he didn’t score or get an assist. His scoring came in the crosses (five), fouls drawn (four) and tackles won (four) columns, and against Burnley he looks primed for another solid performance.


FORWARD

STUDS

Diego Costa – ($10,100) – Chelsea – The only player above $10K on this slate, and it’s for good reason. Costa’s 15 goals may well be the third highest in the Premier League, but it’s the five assists to go alongside it that makes him even more valuable. Costa also averages three shots and 2.6 fouls drawn per game. Even though Swansea have improved under the new manager Paul Clement, I think Costa still has too much for them to cope with.

Romelu Lukaku – ($9,000) – Everton – Lukaku’s four goal haul against Bournemouth means that he is the league’s second highest scorer on 16 goals. The Belgian tends to enjoy himself against generous defences, and Sunderland are always high on generosity where goals are concerned. All things considered, I won’t be surprised to see Lukaku get multiple goals once again this week.

VALUES

Troy Deeney – ($5,400) – Watford – Deeney’s form has been on the up of late, so much so that he now has seven goals and three assists this season. West Ham are still a tad shaky at the back and have not kept a clean sheet in four games on their travels. With the likes of M’Baye Niang and Mauro Zarate supporting him, Deeney could score plenty of goals in the final months of the season.