UEFA/EPL Roster Construction Thoughts, Part I

English Premier League games are not scheduled for a week from today, while the UEFA Championship League does not resume ‘till mid-February.  Sigh!

Let me take advantage of these barren, soccer-less days to perform a brain scan on myself.  But since my head is crammed due to too many hours of watching and reading about soccer. So, this break is a good time to organize and clear those thoughts while dumping ideas about selecting players for DFS lineups right here for you, the reader’s benefit.

Building a winning roster when unpredictability is the name of the game is a struggle, but, it is also why we love to play as well as what makes fantasy soccer is such an intriguing and entertaining pastime. Nevertheless, when projecting future results one must make the leap from the unknown to a likelihood of outcomes.

To increase the probability of favorable results when building a DFS roster, begin the selection of players by mixing in three elements:

  1. The player’s performance this season.
  2. The player’s team.
  3. The team next opposing the player’s team.

That means a  player’s’ranking changes weekly depending upon these variables involved, which indicates that ’ statistics are not the only factor to consider.

To borrow an example from baseball, which ideally readers will appreciate,  Clayton Kershaw’s stats may be affected by the defensive ability of his infield, but the Southpaw is still unquestionably a top round pick. However, making similar conclusions in soccer DFS is a mistake.

For example, the week Manchester City, who are dominating this year, face Swansea City, rosters ought to field as many City players as the salary cap allows (with apology the Swans fans). A similar focus should be placed on Chelsea when the Blues are up against a bottom dweller.

On the other hand, no matter how good City players are, ignore the Citizens when facing Manchester United as both teams have excellent defenses and midfields which makes scoring difficult. The bottom line weekly roster selections often require players from mid-table teams.

There are other valid reasons why our player lists includes bargain players. First, the main DraftKings contests cover only Saturday mid-afternoon games when top teams may not be playing. Secondly, due to the dreaded salary cap, roster budgeting is imperative. Lastly, repeating, over and over, names of well-known top players with whom everyone is familiar is of no advantage if half the contest plays them.

Going back to the baseball comparison,the certainty of the rotation–or lack thereof–is another huge difference between the two sports. In baseball the starting pitcher is announced well in advance of a scheduled mound appearance:  something that only changes due to injury or suspension or some fluke.

And, the eight hitters may rotate, but never as much as in soccer, where the active lineup means eleven starters on a roster that is 20 or so players deep. Not only is the identity of who will be on the pitch from the first minute is a big unknown, but managers may change the formation (for example, go from 4-3-3 to 3-4-1-2).

Each formation has a different number of defenders, midfielders and strikers making the active roster fluid. And, let’s face it: Very few players are indispensable to their teams at all times. Thus, when selecting a roster, ensure that whomever you select is not going to begin the game from the bench. (Note that by accessing team home pages to is a helpful way to draw such insights.)

One last note about the perennial injuries and suspensions. DraftKings does a good job in pointing them out. On the other hand, DK notes about players being out for reasons other than an injury or a suspension should not be trusted.

DraftKings places an “O” next to a player name, indicating the player is “Out.” That generally means that this player has missed the previous game, however it is also possible that said player was out because the manager wanted him fresh for the upcoming game. So, keep an eye on DraftKings notes as missing the prior game could imply that a healthy player is going to be a starter.

Next week we will go over the specifics of player selection position by position.

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

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