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Friday 26th May 2017

Rare midweek EPL fixtures allow us to take on GW31 today and tomorrow and play Daily Fantasy Sports on DraftKings both days. Hurry up, DraftKings contests for today lock at 2:45 PM Eastern Time.

Tuesday, April 4 matches are:

Burnley – Stoke City
Leicester City – Sunderland
Watford – West Bromwich Albion
Manchester United – Everton

Wednesday, April 5 matches are:

Arsenal – West Ham United
Hull City – Middlesbrough
Southampton – Crystal Palace
Swansea – Tottenham Hotspur
Chelsea – Manchester City
Liverpool – Bournemouth

The standard lineup of each DraftKings contest has one goalkeeper, two defenders, two midfielders, two forwards and one utility player. We have two sets of recommendations for your fantasy lineups: one is for the Tuesday matches and the other one is for the Wednesday matches. Note that both suggested lineups fit within the $50,000 salary cap.

Our recommendations for your GW31 Tuesday fantasy lineup are:
      
Goalkeeper: Kasper Schmeichel (Leicester City, $5,500)
    
Defenders: Leighton Baines (Everton, $4,600), José Holebas (Watford, $4,200)   

Midfielders: Henrikh Mkhitaryan (Manchester United, $8,500), Marc Albrighton (Leicester City, $6,600)
      
Forwards: Jamie Vardy (Leicester City, $7,400), Islam Slimani (Leicester City, $5,200)
      
Utility: Ross Barkley (Everton, $8,000)

Our recommendations for your GW31 Wednesday fantasy lineup are:
      
Goalkeeper: Fraser Forster (Southampton, $5,500)
    
Defenders: Héctor Bellerín (Arsenal, $5,000), Aleksandar Kolarov (Manchester City, $4,000)
    
Midfielders: Philippe Coutinho (Liverpool, $8,000), Cesc Fàbregas (Chelsea, $6,800)
      
Forwards: Divock Origi (Liverpool, $6,800), Wilfried Zaha (Crystal Palace, $6,900)
      
Utility: Nathan Redmond (Southampton, $6,200)
      
Some midfielders and forwards qualify at both positions, in addition to utility, on DraftKings. Unfortunately, that may not help your salary cap, as all of these players are quite expensive. Our strategy is to insert into the mix low-salaried defenders.

Follow Pasko on Twitter @varnica123. His essays about sports in ancient Roman times can be found at SportsInAntiquity.com

After the break due to international matches, the English Premier League resumes this coming weekend. Gameweek 30 will be played on Saturday, April 1 and Sunday, April 2. DraftKings will feature seven Saturday games for their daily contests. The matches are:

Burnley – Tottenham Hotspur
Chelsea – Crystal Palace
Hull City – West Ham United
Leicester City – Stoke City
Manchester United – West Bromwich Albion
Watford – Sunderland
Southampton – Bournemouth

Our recommendations for your fantasy lineups are below. The standard lineup of each DraftKings contest has one goalkeeper, two defenders, two midfielders, two forwards and one utility player.

In searching for a winning fantasy lineup, we are sensitive to the requirements of the dreaded salary cap. Our recommendations include players who have a favorable scheduled match and whose salary will allow you to field a well-balanced team. In addition, our recommendations for your lineup are based in part on the odds set by English bookmakers for each game.

Our recommendations for your Gameweek 30 fantasy lineups are:     

Goalkeepers (choose one): Eldin Jakupovic’ (Hull City), Thibaut Courtois (Chelsea)   

Defenders (choose two): Antonio Valencia (Manchester United), Kyle Walker (Tottenham Hotspur), Christian Fuchs (Leicester City), Maya Yoshida (Southampton)   

Midfielders (choose two): Christian Eriksen (Tottenham Hotspur), Dele Alli (Tottenham Hotspur), Dusan Tadic (Southampton), Pedro (Chelsea)     

Forwards (choose two): Jamie Vardy (Leicester City), Diego Costa (Chelsea: he is expected to recover), Christian Benteke (Crystal Palace), Jermain Defoe (Sunderland)     

Utility (choose one): N’Golo Kante (Chelsea), Henrikh Mkhitaryan (Manchester United)     

Note that several midfielders and forwards qualify at both positions, in addition to utility, on DraftKings. Unfortunately, this may not help your salary cap, as all of these players are quite expensive. Our strategy is to insert into the mix low-salaried defenders.

Follow Pasko on Twitter @varnica123. His essays about sports in ancient Roman times can be found at SportsInAntiquity.com

In its first post-Raineri era match, Leicester City recorded their first win in 2017, defeating Liverpool 3-1 at the King Power Stadium. Was Liverpool’s play so dismal that it allowed an almost relegation-bound team to shine or have the manager-less Foxes regained their last year grit? Just wondering. We will see and learn this coming Saturday, but at this point it seems appropriate to consider placing a couple of Leicester City players on our daily fantasy team on DraftKings.

Next Saturday, March 4, DraftKings will feature six games for their daily contests. The matches are:

Swansea City – Burnley FC
Leicester City – Hull City
Liverpool – Arsenal
West Brom – Crystal Palace
Watford – Southampton
Stoke City – Middlesbrough

Our recommendations for your fantasy lineups are below. The standard lineup in each DraftKings contest has one goalkeeper, two defenders, two midfielders, two forwards and one utility player.

In doing the search for a winning fantasy lineup, we are sensitive to the requirements of the dreaded salary cap. Our recommendations include players who have a favorable scheduled match and whose salary will allow you to field a well-balanced team. In addition, our recommendations for your lineup are based in part on the odds set by English bookmakers for each game.

Our recommendations for your GW27 fantasy lineup are:     

Goalkeeper (choose one): Lukasz Fabianski (Swansea City), Ben Foster (West Brom)   

Defenders (choose two): Gareth McAuley (West Brom), Andrew Robertson (Hull City), Patrick Van Aanholt (Crystal Palace), Alfie Mawson (Swansea City)  

Midfielders (choose two): Gylfi Sigurosson (Swansea City), Danny Drinkwater (Leicester City), Roberto Firmino (Liverpool), Riyad Mahrez (Leicester City)     

Forwards (choose two): Manolo Gabbiadini (Southampton, the newest Saints’ acquisition), Fernando Llorente (Swansea City), Christian Benteke (Crystal Palace), Jamie Vardy (Leicester City)      

Utility (choose one): Troy Deeney (Watford), Matt Phillips (West Brom)

Note that several midfielders and forwards qualify at both positions, as well as utility, on Draftkings. Unfortunately, that may not help your salary cap, as all of these players are quite expensive. Our strategy is to insert in the mix low-salaried defenders.

Follow Pasko on Twitter @varnica123. His essays about sports in ancient Roman times can be found at SportsInAntiquity.com

Help, my fingers hurt from scratching the bottom of the barrel!

This is the cliché cry of the AL and NL-only league managers. By the 20th round, we are indeed scouring deep into the player pool. With the baseball season two weeks away and most drafts taking place between now and then, this is a good time to take a look at the peculiarities of the 2017 NL-only league player pool.

What follows are conclusions reached during my participation in the CBS Analysts league, innumerable mock drafts and observations of Experts leagues, like LABR. Standard Roto 5x5 format is assumed.

Third Base strategy: Nolan Arenado and Kris Bryant will be selected early in the first round (draft) or cost a pretty penny (auction). Jonathan Villar’s eligibility at third does not help; he will likely go as an SS. Personally, I prefer Arenado to Bryant because he has a longer track record. Be prepared because the battle for third basemen will be fierce.

Corner Infield strategy: In a nutshell, there just aren’t enough full-timers to fill 12 teams with three CI’s each. There are a couple of ways to go about this. One is to pick up a top 1B and 3B and get the CI late (draft) or spend $1 (auction). Since by then, players with a full-time job are likely gone, aim for players who sit behind an injury-prone full-timer. Adam Lind, who is behind Ryan Zimmerman, comes to mind. The other option is to avoid spending on top 1B’s and 3B’s in order to have enough money to compete for mid-level CI players, like Justin Bour or Jose Reyes, both of whom could return a profit.

Multi-positional eligibility: In deep leagues like an NL-only, I particularly like players who qualify at more than one position. As unavoidable injuries start affecting a team, players like Matt Carpenter, Ben Zobrist or Howie Kendrick become more and more valuable. The ability to move players around the lineup is worth an extra couple of bucks. Incidentally, Willson Contreras is the only catcher eligible at more than one position.

Wins consideration: The Wins category is the most ephemeral one. Wins are very difficult to predict on a week-by-week/player-by-player basis. Late in the draft, when we face the dilemma of having to fill the sixth starting pitcher slot, the available hurlers may be MLB teams’ fifth starters. These players may end up destroying your ERA and WHIP. As I wrote previously on these pages, these two categories are essential and should not be ignored. Rather than picking up a starter, look for bullpen arms who may not add to Wins but may help elsewhere. If they provide an occasional save, all the better. Grant Dayton, Blake Treinen and Hector Rondon are all valid alternatives.

Follow Pasko on Twitter @varnica123. His essays about sports in ancient Roman times can be found at SportsInAntiquity.com

Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) Championship League (CL) Round of 16 continues today. The first four matches of the Round of 16 were played last week and both Barcelona and Arsenal lost. The losses were not as much a surprise as the final score, particularly the five goals scored by Bayern Munchen against Arsenal.

Day 2 of the Round of 16 sees two matches today and two tomorrow.  

Round of 16, 1st leg - Tuesday, February 21

Bayer Leverkusen – Atletico Madrid
Manchester City – Monaco

Round of 16, 1st leg - Wednesday, February 22

Porto – Juventus
Sevilla – Leicester City

DraftKings features UEFA Championship League Round of 16 contests. Each contest has players from the above four games. Hurry up, these contests lock today at 2:45 PM Eastern Time.

Our recommendations for your DFS fantasy lineups are below. The standard lineup of each DraftKings contest has one goalkeeper, two defenders, two midfielders, two forwards and one utility player. Note that the first choice players listed below fit under the $50,000 salary cap.   

Goalkeeper (choose one): Gianluigi Buffon (Juventus, $5,100), Sergio Rico (Sevilla, $5,600, sorry Foxes fans, but expect a clean sheet for Rico)     

Defender (choose two): Leonardo Bonucci (Juventus, $3,400, quarrel with Allegri notwithstanding) and Bacary Sagna (Manchester City, $3,600). Other good choices are Nicolas Otamendi (Manchester City, $3,500) and Alex Sandro (Juventus, $4,500)     

Midfielder (choose two): Raheem Sterling (Manchester City, $7,600) and Paulo Dybala (Juventus, $7,700). Other options are Karim Bellarabi (Bayer Leverkusen, $5,500) or Samir Nasri (Sevilla, $6,500)     

Forward (choose two): Stevan Jovetic (Sevilla, $7,200) and Fernando Torres (Atletico Madrid, $6,400). Alternatively, you could go with Gonzalo Higuain (Juventus, $8,500) or Luciano Vietto (Sevilla, $7,300)   

Utility (choose one): Kevin De Bruyne (Manchester City, $9,000, the most expensive player on this list but well worth the high salary) or Wissam Ben Yeder (Sevilla, $7,800)

*Sergio Aguero at $9,200 is the most expensive player on DraftKings. We are not fielding him this week. Gabriel Jesus’ broken foot means that Aguero will likely be in the starting eleven, but at that high salary we prefer to be cautious.

From our recommendations, you can clearly see that according to the English bookmakers, Sevilla and Manchester City are odds-on favorites to win with Juventus and Atletico Madrid positioned slightly ahead of their opponents.

Follow Pasko on Twitter @varnica123. His essays about sports in ancient Roman times can be found at SportsInAntiquity.com

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