Gameweek 8 begins on Saturday for Draft Fantasy managers and culminates on Monday with a marquee matchup. The international break can certainly be a disruption for certain players. Injuries picked up, the level of their exertions, number of days rest and length of travel can affect their minutes and sometimes their ability to start. This can be an annoyance for fantasy managers so watching the team news on Friday will be important as you may want to bench a star in place of a guaranteed starter. Let's take a look at the matchups and the potential fantasy impact of the players involved.
Chelsea v Leicester
With this being a big matchup I expect both managers to name strong squads. On defense, I am backing Chelsea at home as the better of the options but the potential return of Terry could mean a change, possibly with Cahill dropping to the bench. Elsewhere, Moses is looking like an interesting pickup in the new formation and it is likely he will not face a suspension for pulling out of international duty for Nigeria. Costa will lead the line, though he is one yellow card away from a 1-game suspension, and don't be surprised if Leicester's physical pair of Huth and Morgan draws it. All the big names should start, with the exception of Willian who has been ruled out, look for Oscar likely to fill in. In general though, I favor the home side in this matchup.
Arsenal v Swansea
The big concern in this one is if Sánchez will get the start or not, he has often come off the bench in the past after returning late from international play. Giroud could be in line for a surprise start and would make a solid play at home. The Walcott, Özil, Iwobi midfield three should be preferred and Cazorla is a decent start also. Bellerín seems to have shrugged off an injury scare and I would be surprised to see any changes from the back row of himself, Koscielny, Mustafi and Monreal. This is a tough matchup for Swansea players so I would look for alternatives to the likes of Fer and Sigurdsson.
West Brom v Tottenham
For Spurs, the lineup that defeated Man City should remain in tact with Son, Alli, Eriksen and Lamela leading the offense. On defense, it can always be a danger to put your faith in a visiting team but Spurs have been solid on the road. It looks like you can safely deploy Rose who seems to be back to full health, he and Walker both bring attacking potential from the fullback position. For West Brom, Chadli, along with Rondón and Phillips to a lesser degree, are the best options but I don't see a big fantasy day from the Baggies in general.
Stoke v Sunderland
Well if you held onto any Stoke players then I should not have to tell you that this has to be the week to give them a shot. Bony is a good option at forward and Arnautovic, Shaqiri and Allen, assuming he shakes off an injury, also look like solid bets. Johnson and goalkeeper Grant are you best defensive options as a clean sheet is possible here. For Sunderland, Defoe is their main man and if anyone is likely to get them on the scoreboard then it is him. The attacking forays of van Aanholt keep him in our fantasy thoughts too, definitely a week you can risk starting him.
Bournemouth v Hull
Bournemouth have played well at home and are hosting a struggling Hull side. Keeper Boruc and defenders Smith, Daniels, Francis and Cook are all worthy of starts. Offensively, Wilson is the man up top and is getting better by the week. Arter is likely out injured but feel free to confidently play Stanislas, Wilshere and possibly King too. Hull are led by Snodgrass but he has really been the lone bright spot as Hernández does not seem reliable at all.
Man City v Everton
Man City have a few injury situations that need to be checked on as the pre-game news comes in. Agüero looks to be ok after picking up a minor issue for Argentina. De Bruyne has progressed well and has a chance for this one but my guess is he will not be risked with Barcelona coming up in midweek. I could see some minutes off the bench at best but is that worth you playing him? Sterling did not feature for England and he could also not be fit enough for the weekend. City still have a wealth of stars to choose from as Nolito is back from suspension and he will likely join a midfield which could include Silva, Gündogan and possibly Navas. And if Agüero can't go then be ready to jump on Iheanacho. On defense, Sagna is out but I will not recommend their backline right now anyway as they have made a habit of conceding at least one goal. For Everton, Lukaku made the bench for Belgium's second match so he should be able to shake off his complaint and start. Bolasie has looked lively recently but I am not holding out much hope for a good fantasy day for Everton. Baines could return to the backline but trips to the Etihad rarely end up in great fantasy defender points.
Crystal Palace v West Ham
West Ham brings their leaky defense to Palace and Benteke is looking like a great start after scoring a hat trick for Belgium. Townsend, Zaha and Puncheon are all worthy midfield selections too. I am not backing either defense for a clean sheet but the returning Scott Dann is a force in the air and is worth starting just about every week. Payet and Antonio are West Ham's most reliable fantasy producers but outside of them is not suggested until the Hammers get things turned around. Cresswell could make the bench for this game so if you have room on yours then it is probably the time to grab him for future gameweeks.
Middlesbrough v Watford
This game could have goals but figuring out where they might come from as far as Middlesbrough goes is the challenge. Negredo has slowed down since his quick start so Stuani and Downing look like the safest plays, but watch for Rhodes if he gets hot. On defense, Gibson has been the fantasy leader so far. For Watford, Capoue and Deeney are the your best bets but Holebas and Amrabat may hold some value. Success is pushing Ighalo but I expect him to retain his starting role for now despite his struggles.
Southampton v Burnley
A home matchup with Burnley brings a lot of Southampton players to the forefront. Austin has taken the starting striker role and should be fresh and ready, expect a goal from him. Tadic is coming off an excellent display for Serbia and will pull the strings for Southampton. Redmond also could offer a big upside from midfield. Davis could be worth a play in deep leagues. The clean sheet potential has taken a bit of a hit with injuries to both Cédric and Bertrand but Forster, Van Dijk and Fonte are still good options. Martina and Targett should come in at fullback and both are worth your consideration. For Burnley, if they are to get anything from the game it will likely come from Defour or Vokes, but I do not like this matchup for Burnley.
Liverpool v Man Utd
The big game of the weekend is full of star power and the fantasy spoils could be good for both sides. Liverpool may have to change things up with injuries to Lallana and possibly Wijnaldum. Sturridge could be the main beneficiary as he should get the start. Countinho, Firmino, Mané and Milner are the top plays from midfield. For Utd, Zlatan has still been getting chances and is a must play as he relishes the big stage. Pogba impressed for France and is looking more settled as each game passes for Utd. Mata and Lingard should keep their midfield roles which should keep Rooney on the bench and Rashford and Martial will compete for the minutes on the left. I am not going to suggest backing the defenders for either squad as this game has goals written all over it.
Enjoy the return of the Premier League and Draft Fantasy Football, and may all your lineup choices be the right ones.
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