DraftKings Fantasy Soccer: Thursday World Cup Picks

DraftKings Fantasy Soccer: Thursday World Cup Picks

This article is part of our DraftKings Fantasy Soccer series.

MATCHES (EDT)

8:00 a.m: Denmark v. Australia
11:00 a.m: France v. Peru
2:00 p.m: Argentina v. Croatia

FORWARDS

Antoine Griezmann, FRA v. PER ($10,600): Griezmann has an opportunity to take a majority of set pieces for the biggest favorite on the slate in addition to coming in with the second-highest any-time goal scorer odds. He could lose some corners to Kylian Mbappe ($9,200), but you have to expect Griezmann will be on any direct free kicks. Pairing the two of them in cash lineups is too heavy for me, especially because it prices you out of another high-salary player, but it's reasonable in GPPs. Additionally, if you think France comfortably handles Peru and scores multiple goals, you could also roster their actual center forward, Olivier Giroud ($8,400).

Cristian Pavon, ARG v. CRO ($5,800): There is plenty of speculation about how Argentina will line up tomorrow, but it's possible that Pavon starts in place of Angel Di Maria ($7,900), who was responsible for four of Argentina's nine corners in their opening 1-1 draw with Iceland. He takes a few corners for his club team, Boca Juniors, though there's no guarantee he gets them Thursday, especially with the possibility of Lionel Messi ($12,700) deciding to take them himself. Speaking of Messi, he comes in with the highest price of any player on the slate by $1,900 and is playing for the weakest favorite, at least according to the bookmakers. Paying that much for Messi can certainly pay off if he

MATCHES (EDT)

8:00 a.m: Denmark v. Australia
11:00 a.m: France v. Peru
2:00 p.m: Argentina v. Croatia

FORWARDS

Antoine Griezmann, FRA v. PER ($10,600): Griezmann has an opportunity to take a majority of set pieces for the biggest favorite on the slate in addition to coming in with the second-highest any-time goal scorer odds. He could lose some corners to Kylian Mbappe ($9,200), but you have to expect Griezmann will be on any direct free kicks. Pairing the two of them in cash lineups is too heavy for me, especially because it prices you out of another high-salary player, but it's reasonable in GPPs. Additionally, if you think France comfortably handles Peru and scores multiple goals, you could also roster their actual center forward, Olivier Giroud ($8,400).

Cristian Pavon, ARG v. CRO ($5,800): There is plenty of speculation about how Argentina will line up tomorrow, but it's possible that Pavon starts in place of Angel Di Maria ($7,900), who was responsible for four of Argentina's nine corners in their opening 1-1 draw with Iceland. He takes a few corners for his club team, Boca Juniors, though there's no guarantee he gets them Thursday, especially with the possibility of Lionel Messi ($12,700) deciding to take them himself. Speaking of Messi, he comes in with the highest price of any player on the slate by $1,900 and is playing for the weakest favorite, at least according to the bookmakers. Paying that much for Messi can certainly pay off if he explodes for a few goals, but Croatia have a solid defense and players around the field that will make it tough for him. Tough isn't impossible, but that price is steep when you can have Griezmann for $2,100 less or even teammate Sergio Aguero, who actually scored Argentina's lone goal against Iceland, for $8,600.

Ivan Perisic, CRO v. ARG ($6,300): It's tough to find reliable floor forwards who are expected to start, and while Perisic's matchup doesn't seem great, Argentina are in lineup flux while the Croatian players all know exactly what their roles are for Thursday because they're the roles they always play. Perisic will be out on the wing, and while he isn't much of a crosser, he has shown time and again that he can score fantasy points through fouls drawn, tackles won and shots. His salary is pushed down because of the matchup (he was $8,000 against Nigeria when he had 5.5 fantasy points), but I'm not worried enough about the Argentina defensive scheme to not strongly consider Perisic due to price and forward eligibility. If you're looking for even cheaper Croatian attacking exposure, you can grab Ante Rebic for $4,400, though there is the possibility he doesn't start and Croatia play in the last game of the day.

MIDFIELDERS

Christian Eriksen, DEN v. AUS ($10,800): The easiest lineup spot to fill, Eriksen does it all for Denmark and comes in on a favored side that has the same implied goal total as Argentina but fewer guys who can score them. He'll be on all corners, direct free kicks, indirect free kicks and penalties, and he's the best chance creator on the team. Because of all he does, he has the highest floor of any player on the slate, and given the matchup he might have the highest upside.

Aaron Mooy, AUS v. DEN ($5,800): Mooy has a basic monopoly of corners for Australia, and that role paid off handsomely during World Cup qualifying, as we saw have some huge games, such as when he sent in 24 crosses against Thailand and 20 against Syria. Denmark are much better than those sides, and while while Eriksen is a fantastic player, Denmark are hardly a team that needs to be avoided. It's worth noting that Mooy may take nearly all free kicks but Mile Jedinak ($3,800) will take the penalties, as we saw in their match against France last weekend.

Maximiliano Meza, ARG v. CRO ($4,900): Potentially fading Messi doesn't mean you have to fade Argentina, and Meza showed he can be a solid attacker in their draw with Iceland, creating five chances, sending in five crosses and winning three fouls in 84 minutes. Expected to start again, Meza could be on even more corners than the four he took last week with Di Maria on the bench. There is also some talk that Argentina could play with three-man back line and use Marcos Acuna ($5,500) as a wing-back, a position that would allow him to use his crossing ability like we saw during the club season at Sporting CP, where he averaged eight crosses per 90 minutes, including some corners (he could theoretically take some Thursday as well). Overall, there is solid value in the Argentina midfield Thursday, which could help lessen the blow for those who don't want to pay up for Messi.

Blaise Matuidi, FRA v. PER ($4,100): What would you pay for a holding midfielder who was getting the start on the attacking wing for one of the favorites to win the World Cup against the last team from South America to qualify for the tournament? If your answer is $4,100, please meet Mr. Matuidi, who played 2,354 minutes (32 games, 27 starts) for Juventus this past season and took 24 shots (seven on goal), sent in 22 crosses, created 17 chances and drew 24 fouls. For those who prefer per-90 figures, that would be 0.92 shots (0.18 on goal), 0.84 crosses, 0.65 chances created and 0.92 fouls drawn per 90 minutes. Can you feel the attacking excitement? Rostering Matuidi, who did have one goal and two assists in 12 qualifying appearances (10 starts), is really a play on the France attack, and his salary is priced like the defensive midfielder he normally is; oh, and he's probably one of the highest sub risks on the team. The upside is there for sure, but you've been warned.

DEFENDERS

Luis Advincula, PER v. FRA ($4,000): France are expected to line up with four defenders who normally play as center-backs, so while two of them are technically going to be playing as fullbacks, a high number of crosses and attacking play shouldn't be expected. Instead, I'll go to the other side for Advincula, who is a prolific crosser for Lobos BUAP, his club team, and could move forward if Matuidi isn't doing much while attacking down his side of the field. You can forget the clean sheet, but with the way that France have been playing of late, I wouldn't be so scared to roster guys against them.

Sime Vrsaljko, CRO v. ARG ($4,500): Vrsaljko is more defender than attacker, but he's not immune to crossing when the situation presents itself. His salary is a bit high given that he could be defending quite a bit against Argentina, but I see him as a better value than the players on the other side, even Eduardo Salvio ($5,600), one of Argentina's potential wing-backs.

Andreas Christensen, DEN v. AUS ($3,700: We've seen the Danish fullbacks cross at times, but I see no reason to spend nearly $1,500 more on them versus Christensen and center-back partner Simon Kjaer ($3,500). None of them do much in the attack, and this is probably more of a clean sheet play than anything else, but a few tackles won and fouls drawn should at least help them reach value.

GOALKEEPER

Kasper Schmeichel, DEN v. AUS ($5,300): Paying up at goalkeeper has been a fairly successful strategy during the tournament, and while I don't think Schmeichel is as sure of a thing as Fernando Muslera, Rui Patricio or David de Gea were Wednesday, he comes in with decent win and clean sheet odds and is facing the worst team in Group C after shutting out the second-worst team in their opening match. France's Hugo Lloris ($5,900) is certainly in play too, but how much can you trust head coach Didier Deschamps' defensive plans after seeing him decide to start Matuidi on the attacking wing?

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Andrew M. Laird
Andrew M. Laird, the 2017 and 2018 FSWA Soccer Writer of the Year, is RotoWire's Head of DFS Content and Senior Soccer Editor. He is a nine-time FSWA award finalist, including twice for Football Writer of the Year.
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