This article is part of our Starting Eleven series.
Welcome back to another season of fantasy Premier League on Starting Eleven. Before we jump into Saturday's breakdown, here's a reminder of the scoring rules:
Rosters consist of 11 players in any acceptable formation (minimum of three defenders, three midfielders and one forward) and there is no salary cap. Fantasy points are distributed as such:
Defenders, Midfielders, and Forwards:
• Goal: 8 pts (exclusive of shot on target)
• Assist: 5 pts
• Shot on Target: 2 pts
• Shot Off Target: 0.5 pts
• Missed Penalty Kick: -5 pts
• Clean Sheet (for Defender in user's Active Lineup for the player's entire match): 5 pts
• Clean Sheet (for Midfielder in user's Active Lineup for the player's entire match): 3 pts
• Foul Drawn: 1 pt
• Completed Pass: 0.1 pts
• Tackle Won: 1 pt
• Pass Intercepted: 1 pt
• Duel Won: 0.5 pts
• Red Card: -5 pts
• Yellow Card: -2 pts
• Own Goal -3 pts
• Every two goals conceded (for Defenders): -2 pts
• Clean Sheet (for Goalkeeper in user's Active Lineup for entire game): 7 pts
• Saves: 2 pt
• Penalty Saves: 5 pts
• Every two goals Conceded: -2 pts
• Own goal: -3
• Goal: 8 pts
To enhance the fantasy points above, fantasy owners choose one player to be their captain, who will score double points (similar to the Premier League's official fantasy game). The enhancements don't end there, as fantasy owners can also make up to three substitutions, so if a player gets injured, sent off or is simply not performing well, they can be replaced by a player in the same game or another one that kicked off at the same time (note: captain's points do not transfer). A few more key points:
• Goalkeepers, Defenders, and Midfielders must play the entire match, including stoppage time, to qualify for the clean sheet points. The player's team must allow zero goals, including own goals, over the course of regular time and stoppage time to qualify.
• An own goal counts towards the number of goals conceded and will preclude the team scored on from getting clean sheet points.
• A Goalkeeper will earn 5 pts for a penalty kick save even if the penalty kick is not on target.
• Points for shots and saves are not awarded on penalty kicks. The only points available to be earned on penalty kicks are points for a goal, penalty miss, penalty save, and own goal.
And finally, Starting Eleven has a great bonus for anyone playing a cash game of at least £5 this weekend:
— Starting 11 (@starting11app) August 8, 2018MATCHES (EDT)
7:30 a.m: Newcastle v. Tottenham
10:00 a.m: Huddersfield v. Chelsea
10:00 a.m: Bournemouth v. Cardiff City
10:00 a.m: Watford v. Brighton
10:00 a.m: Fulham v. Crystal Palace
12:30 p.m: Wolves v. Everton
Chelsea and Bournemouth are the biggest favorites on Saturday's six-match slate, but there are few consistent fantasy producers among their forward pools. Bournemouth's Joshua King was the highest-scoring forward last season among the two teams, but his 382.2 total fantasy points (not including cards) were good for 54th-most in the league. Nearly 29 percent of his production came from his 221 duels won, and while he has decent odds to find the back of the net in relation to other players Saturday, they aren't overwhelming enough to consider him. Meanwhile, Chelsea's Alvaro Morata is even more goal dependent, and he only has one Premier League goal in 2018.
Turning away from the favorites, Everton's Richarlison jumps out because of his excellent fantasy floor. Playing away to Wolves has Everton as underdogs, but Richarlison comes in as the highest-scoring forward from last season (among players on Saturday's slate). More than 30 percent of his fantasy points came from his league-leading 323 duels won, and there's every reason to think he'll be generating those chances against Wolves.
It's not enough to roster forwards who depend on goals because all it takes is 16 duels won to equal one goal. Even shots on goal are more reliable, as it only takes four to equal the value of a goal. Ultimately, we're better off focusing on guys who like to attack with the ball instead of those who simply have the ball fed to them to shoot quickly. Richarlison obviously fits into that former category, as does Crystal Palace's Wilfried Zaha, who averaged 8.08 duels won per 90 minutes last season and is expected to continue taking on a big part of their attacking load. In a similar mode, you could even turn to Christian Benteke, whose 11.67 duels won per 90 minutes were the second-most among players who played at least 1,000 minutes.
The Tottenham situation is worth monitoring as well, with Harry Kane unlikely to start after beginning preseason training late after the World Cup. If that's the case, Son Heung-Min could be an interesting alternative, as he completes a decent number of passes for a forward and isn't afraid to shoot. His goal upside isn't as high as Kane's (that applies to most players), but he could be in for a big one before he leaves for the Asian Games.
And now to the reliable point scorers. With Chelsea's expected possession dominance against Huddersfield, Cesc Fabregas comes firmly into play after he averaged more than 70 passes per 90 minutes last season. Fabregas isn't the only Chelsea midfielder worth serious consideration, as Jorginho could be the top play at the position after he averaged more than 96 passes per 90 minutes for Napoli last season. That Napoli team isn't the same as Chelsea, but with the same manager, we can expect a possession-heavy midfield that will help us rack up the passing points. Neither Fabregas nor Jorginho are big attackers in open play, but they can also chip in with a few tackles won and fouls drawn to raise their fantasy floors.
The Tottenham midfield isn't far off, with the possibility that they also have a good amount of the ball playing away to Newcastle. Christian Eriksen is always the first midfielder to consider when it comes to Spurs because of his ball-heavy role in their attack, and while they usually have a few others you can consider, namely Dele Alli or Eric Dier, the expectation is that they'll be on the bench next to Kane.
Zaha and Benteke were attractive options as forwards, but Luka Milivojevic should be considered as well thanks to his role on penalties. Just kidding. Obviously that helps his upside, but we're more interested in his ability to win tackles, draw fouls, intercept passes, complete passes and win duels. He was the 13th-highest scoring player last season, and while some of that was certainly helped by his 10 goals, he was still a top 20 player overall after removing goals and assists. Milivojevic's floor makes him a more attractive option than teammate Andros Townsend, who has a role on set pieces but doesn't do nearly enough in the relevant stat categories to provide the same floor.
On the opposite side of that game is Jean-Michael Seri, one of 254 players Fulham brought in this summer (I'll have to double check that number). Seri is expected to have a major role in the middle of the park, and after averaging 82.65 passes, 4.67 duels won and 2.09 fouls drawn per 90 minutes for Nice last term, he looks primed to be a regular in Starting Eleven lineups this season. Fulham actually have a number of interesting fantasy options, including Ryan Sessegnon and Tom Cairney, though I may be hesitant to use more than one in their first match back in the Premier League.
DEFENDERS AND GOALKEEPER
Finding defenders who complete a lot of passes and playing for a team expected to have most of the possession is key to getting high floor production. Chelsea and Tottenham fit into that category, though the latter may be using a rotated back line because seemingly all of their players just returned from the World Cup. Chelsea, on the other hand, have excellent options in players like Antonio Rudiger, Cesar Azpilicueta and Andreas Christensen, with Marcos Alonso providing the upside. A full Chelsea stack isn't crazy against a Huddersfield side that could really struggle with consistent attacks this season, though I'd feel even better about it if Kepa Arrizabalaga was in goal instead of Wilfredo Caballero. I wouldn't totally avoid the Huddersfield defense, as center-back Christopher Schindler finished tied for fourth in duels won (241) last season, though the five points for a clean sheet are unlikely to hit.
Even against the team with the highest odds to be relegated, I still struggle to feel confident about the Bournemouth back line and goalkeeper, especially after Asmir Begovic co-led the Premier League in goals conceded last season. Cardiff aren't expected to be a great attacking team, but that Bournemouth back line is no guarantee for a clean sheet. Bournemouth may have the ball a bunch, but I'm not sure they are in a spot where their defenders really take advantage.