This has been an interesting fantasy season for me personally. When Yahoo decided to abandon its Fantasy Game that many of us had played and enjoyed for years, my focus shifted to the English Premier League daily fantasy cash game on Draft Kings, which is where most of my weekly research goes into. So far, I am happy to report that I won money in 10 out of 14 weeks played, which is quite a feat for a "minnow" swimming in a pool full of "sharks" (those who play DFS will especially know what I mean).
On Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, I re-watch all the Premier League action from the week before. On Thursday, I create my own weekly Excel spreadsheet that contains player values and other variables. Friday is all about teams news, injuries, and finalizing my lineups. As a result, I have had very little time to dedicate to the Official Game and my Fantrax league team. Notwithstanding, I am currently in 12th place in the Fantrax "Beat the Bloggers" league with 1465 points, trying to catch up to Mo and Stall who are in 10th and 1st, respectively. I am coming for you boys!
Let's take a look at the Game Week 15 Schedule:
Stoke City vs. Manchester City
Manchester United vs. West Ham United
Arsenal vs. Sunderland
Swansea City vs. Leicester City
West Bromwich Albion vs. Tottenham Hotspur
Maarten Stekelenburg - Saints have had two consecutive shocking performances against Manchester City and Liverpool in Capital One Cup, respectively. Home to Villa, however, I remain confident that the Dutch keeper will be in the green and should be able to secure at least a win.
Thibaut Courtois - the Belgian is set to return in goal after suffering an injury in August. Still relatively cheap in most leagues, he presents a good "season keeper" option moving forward, especially if you believe that Chelsea will turn things around and start winning.
David De Gea - the Spaniard is expensive in every Fantasy game, but let's face it, West Ham without Dimitri Payet is not the same team. The Hammers are currently experiencing a striker crisis with Diafra Sakho set to be out for at least 3 months with a thigh injury. On top of that, Manchester United had conceded just one (1!) EPL goal at home this season, a late Christian Benteke strike in a 3-1 win in September.
Boaz Myhill - only Willy Caballero (6) made more saves last Game Week than the Welsh keeper (5). At home to the Spurs team that has been playing well is not an easy match up, but Myhill is at home and will make saves against a Spurs team that averages over 15 shots per game. Hence, I would chose one out of the three previously discussed keepers in your league play and consider playing Myhill in a GPP setting.
Virgil van Dijk - Southampton have lost 3 competitive games in a row, but that still does not preclude me from recommending their defenders at home against Aston Villa. Ryan Bertrand was directly responsible for the Kevin De Bruyne goal, but van Dijk played well and was unlucky not to score when his thundering strike hit the cross bar.
Branislav Ivanovic - the cross to Eden Hazard against Tottenham was an absolute peach and would have resulted in a goal had it not been for the Hugo Lloris heroics in goal. With Ryan Allsop in for the injured Adam Federici, the Serbian's stock rises especially if Diego Costa is back in the starting 11.
Hector Bellerin - with Santi Cazorla and Alexis Sanchez out, it will be up to the young guns like Joel Campbell (the only Arsenal midfielder not to have suffered injury in 2015), Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Bellerein to carry to the torch. Expect a more straightforward football from Arsenal (with plenty of crosses) when Sunderland visits Emirates on Saturday.
Alberto Moreno - the Spaniard is quickly becoming one of the premier offensive-minded left backs in the league. Away to a struggling Newcastle team should present plenty of opportunities to further cement that claim.
Danny Rose - just like Moreno, this has been an excellent season for Rose. He defends, crosses and shoots. What more can you ask for from a defender?!
Nathan Ake - with so many expensive options, Ake is a bargain (priced at $3,844 in Fantrax) who likes to go forward. At home to a Norwich team that allows its opponents over 52% of possession, expect the Chelsea loanee to continue starting for Quique Sánchez Flores' team.
Dusan Tadic / Sadio Mane - I expect a major rebound by Ronald Koeman's men at home against Aston Villa. Having both is too expensive, but at least one should be in your line up.
Philippe Coutinho - the Brazil international has returned to full training and received plenty of rest by not playing in the Capital One game against Southampton. Expect him to wreak havoc against the Newcastle defense on Sunday.
Kevin De Bruyne - the Belgian was exceptional in place of Jesus Navas and I hope he continues to play on the right side now that Bony is also healthy and should Aguero not be ready to face Stoke on Saturday. Won't be buying at retail, but would keep at a discount with Manchester City facing Swansea at home the following week.
Riyad Mahrez - it's been all about Jamie Vardy, and rightfully so since Mahrez has not scored since the Halloween brace against West Bromwich Albion, but the Algerian is too good of a player to remain quiet for too long. I expect at least a goal against Swansea.
Robbie Brady - here is a player who is probably better suited for DFS for the sheet number of crosses rather than weekly fantasy leagues, but he is in such great form that I am having a tough time leaving him out away to Watford.
Joel Campbell - while Mesut Ozil is the Arsenal "in form" player and will play right behind Olivier Giroud, he is very expensive. What also concerns is whether Arsenal will have enough finesse to slice through the Sunderland defense that has conceded just 1 goal in its last 3 games without Cazorla and Alexis. Nonetheless, the Costa Rica international is relatively cheap and will take Alexis' spot on the right.
Eden Hazard - the Belgian played up front in Diego Costa's absence and played well. Whether the Spaniard comes back to reclaim the forward spot is not terribly relevant as Chelsea will keep majority of possession and I fancy Hazard to be among the goals against Bournemouth.
Graziano Pelle - Aston Villa is gifting goals away. What is even more concerning is that Remi Garde's men are losing the aerial duties - one of the club's inherent strengths - as seen in the Troy Deeney's goal last week where he easily jumped over Ciaran Clark. While Clark is banned for the visit to St. Mary's, I do not foresee this trend stopping. Moreover, Southampton will be looking to end a three game skid.
Daniel Sturridge - played 59 minutes, scored two goals, should be roaring and ready against Newcastle.
Jamie Vardy - Leicester City looked somewhat vulnerable against Manchester United last week. The game against Swansea should be more open which would, in turn, allow Vardy more opportunities to exploit the clumsiness of Kyle Bartley and Ashley Williams.
Romelu Lukaku - the Belgian is showing Chelsea exactly what they have been missing this season with a torrid display. At home to Crystal Palace should be another entertaining affair and I would recommend holding on to the big man with Norwich, Leicester, Newcastle and Stoke to go in the next 4 games.
Best of luck this week.