DraftKings Fantasy Soccer: Wednesday UCL Picks

DraftKings Fantasy Soccer: Wednesday UCL Picks

This article is part of our DraftKings Fantasy Soccer series.

MATCHES (EDT)

For detailed stats and odds, check out the DraftKings Fantasy Soccer: Wednesday UCL Cheat Sheet.

FORWARDS

Lionel Messi, BAR at SLP ($11,000): Messi is the most expensive player on the slate, but with Barcelona heavily favored away to Slavia Prague, it's a recipe for high ownership. His season began slowly due to injury, and while he hasn't had any truly explosive games yet, he has gotten on the score-sheet in four straight games, including two goals on 13 shots (seven on target) and two assists on 10 chances created in his last three. Fading him in GPP is always more about leverage than it is finding someone who is just as good, though it's possible that Luis Suarez ($9,200) or Antoine Griezmann ($8,400) has a big game while Messi is just average (average for Messi, that is). Suarez finally broke out in their last UCL match with two goals on three shots, with Messi providing one assist, and given the returns this season, Suarez is certainly in better form than Griezmann, scoring five goals on 15 shots (10 on target) in his last four games, though Griezmann did have a goal and an assist just last weekend. However, Griezmann isn't the volume shooter Messi is, having taken one shot three of

MATCHES (EDT)

For detailed stats and odds, check out the DraftKings Fantasy Soccer: Wednesday UCL Cheat Sheet.

FORWARDS

Lionel Messi, BAR at SLP ($11,000): Messi is the most expensive player on the slate, but with Barcelona heavily favored away to Slavia Prague, it's a recipe for high ownership. His season began slowly due to injury, and while he hasn't had any truly explosive games yet, he has gotten on the score-sheet in four straight games, including two goals on 13 shots (seven on target) and two assists on 10 chances created in his last three. Fading him in GPP is always more about leverage than it is finding someone who is just as good, though it's possible that Luis Suarez ($9,200) or Antoine Griezmann ($8,400) has a big game while Messi is just average (average for Messi, that is). Suarez finally broke out in their last UCL match with two goals on three shots, with Messi providing one assist, and given the returns this season, Suarez is certainly in better form than Griezmann, scoring five goals on 15 shots (10 on target) in his last four games, though Griezmann did have a goal and an assist just last weekend. However, Griezmann isn't the volume shooter Messi is, having taken one shot three of his last five games, and he's only created multiple chances twice this season. The lower ownership might be there, but the expectations have to be lower too.

Mohamed Salah, LIV at GNK ($10,700): The second-most expensive player on the slate, Salah missed last weekend's match against Manchester United due to injury, but a full return to training could have him back in the starting XI. The absence of Trent Alexander-Arnold (illness) could open up more set-piece opportunities for Salah, though those chances could also be taken by someone else (more on that later). Nevertheless, Liverpool are the biggest favorite on the slate, and no one has better anytime goal scorer odds than Salah. Paying down slightly for Sadio Mane ($10,300) makes sense if you want someone lower owned, and we don't even get the usual bigger price break with Roberto Firmino ($10,000). It's also possible Salah doesn't start, which could give an opportunity to Divock Origi ($8,700), who makes plenty of sense as a cheaper attacker for a heavily favored side. And finally, we can't rule out the possibility of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain ($7,500) filling in up front, though his upside isn't nearly as high as the others, even with a possible role to set pieces.

Antonio Candreva, INT v. BVB ($5,900): Candreva could have a big share of set piece for Inter on Wednesday, a solid situation for a player at his price as the fourth-biggest favorite. Admittedly, Inter's win odds aren't that high, and they're playing in the game with the lowest implied goal total, but consideration for Candreva is always about his pointless crosses and not his goal upside. There are probably going to be a good number of Messi/Salah lineups, or maybe even Messi or Salah and Memphis Depay ($8,900), but Candreva offers considerable salary savings that can be used as the other positions. His upside isn't as high as teammates Romelu Lukaku ($7,700), who scored two goals this past weekend against Sassuolo, or Lautaro Martinez ($7,300), who is surprisingly cheaper despite four goals on 15 shots (nine on target) and four chances created in his last three games. 

Dries Mertens, NAP at RBS ($9,300): The difficulty with paying up for Messi and Salah is that you're likely not playing Mertens, who has been taking plenty of set pieces for Napoli, who face off against RB Salzburg in the game with the highest implied goal total. Mertens' past few games haven't been great, as Napoli have been struggling to get much going, but this team is filled with playmakers who can really light up the scoreboard. Mertens is probably the best of the group ahead of Lorenzo Insigne ($9,100), Jose Maria Callejon ($9,000) and Hirving Lozano ($8,800), but any of them can pop up on the score-sheet in a game that is expected to have goals.

MIDFIELDERS

James Milner, LIV at GNK ($6,900): Admittedly, I generally hate rostering Milner, but with Alexander-Arnold out and Salah possibly on the bench, he could have a monopoly of set pieces for the biggest favorite on the slate. There are actually a number of midfielders in the same price range who could be very good for cash games, including Benfica's Pizzi ($7,300), Valencia's Dani Parejo ($7,100), Slavia Prague's Nicolae Stanciu ($6,400) and Lille's Jonathan Bamba ($6,100), but Milner is ahead of them simply because of his dead-ball opportunities that are likely to outnumber the other guys'.

Zlatko Junuzovic, RBS v. NAP ($5,300): Napoli have been excellent defensively, allowing three goals in their last eight Serie A and Champions League matches, posting five clean sheets in that span, but Salzburg have shown they are willing to attack anyone, and Junuzovic plays a big part because of his role on set pieces. Again, this match has the highest implied goal total, so getting exposure in cash games and GPPs isn't a crazy idea. If you are looking for more open-play production, teammate Dominik Szoboszlai ($4,300) can do that at a decent discount, enough so that he could be more popular. Within Junuzovic's price range is Inter's Marcelo Brozovic ($5,500), who could have a big role on set pieces in his match if Candreva doesn't start.

Ianis Hagi, GNK v. LIV ($4,300): It feels a little weird considering the set-piece taker for the biggest underdog on the slate, but we can't ignore that those dead balls helped Hagi to 17 crosses and six shots assisted against Napoli in their last Champions League match, and Liverpool are already shorthanded in defense and could be in the attack as well. The upside is pretty low given the lack of shots he's likely to take, but Hagi could be an important roster piece for those looking to pay up for other midfielders or two forwards. Szoboszlai is obviously close to the price, and Yusuf Yazici ($4,300) should also get consideration if he starts for Lille because of his role on set pieces, though it's unlikely.

DEFENDERS

Alejandro Grimaldo, BEN v. OL ($5,500): We don't have nearly as many elite defenders as we did on Tuesday's slate, but that doesn't mean there are no options. Grimaldo continues to be an excellent attacking fullback for Benfica, and the matchup against Lyon is surely not one that needs to be feared. Also in the upper range is Achraf Hakimi ($5,700), who has been lining up as an attacking midfielder of late, though his matchup against Inter isn't as good as hosting Lyon. The absence of Alexander-Arnold takes away the most expensive player at the position, and while Joe Gomez could start for him at right-back, it feels insane to pay $5,000 for him given how little he actually joins the attack when he does start our wide.

Andreas Ulmer, RBS v. NAP ($4,500): UImer feels a bit underpriced given how much RBS like to attack and use him on the wing. He's not really a volume crosser, but he's capable of moving up, and there's a possibility he has a role on set pieces in the match with the highest implied goal total. Given the situation and prices, he seems to make more sense than whoever starts out wide for Napoli since they're more expensive.

Manuel Akanji, BVB at INT ($3,200): This is more of a warning than a recommendation, as Akanji looks like he could get the start at right-back, but we can't ignore that he's really a center-back playing out of position, and he's highly unlikely to move up in the attack. That being said, he does enough defensive work to make this price pay off, but the attacking upside is almost null.

GOALKEEPER

Gaetan Coucke, GNK v. LIV ($3,700): Coucke is the lowest-priced goalkeeper, falling $100 below Ondrej Kolar, who will try to keep out a Barcelona side that's scored multiple goals in five straight La Liga and Champions League matches, including seven goals in their last two. Meanwhile, Coucke will be hosting a Liverpool team that will be without it's attacking right-back who takes set pieces, and possibly without their best attacker in Salah. The save upside is theoretically high, and while the win and clean sheet are highly unlikely, we saw Tuesday with Fernando Muslera that saves continue to pay the bills in the Champions League.

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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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