World Cup Fantasy: Player Guide, Picks and Strategy

World Cup Fantasy: Player Guide, Picks and Strategy

This article is part of our World Cup series.

The World Cup kicks off Nov. 20 and as usual, the soccer world is offering a World Cup fantasy game in the style of Fantasy Premier League. Players can create a team with a $100 million dollar budget and compete throughout the tournament. Two transfers can be made following each round of the group stage with unlimited transfers available before the knockout rounds. Full rules can be found here.

If you're looking for added World Cup information, we have injury reports, projected lineups and depth charts, as well as a bevy of betting and fantasy content, most of which can be found on our article hub.

*As of the writing of this article there are a lot of players missing from the player pool. As they begin to appear please feel free to leave a comment with any questions on players not mentioned.

GOALKEEPERS

RankPlayerPriceTeamAdvance to KOsGolden Glove Odds To Win 
World Cup
1Matt Turner4.5United States42.0%0.8% 0.8%
2Diogo Costa5Portugal77.8%6.7% 6.7%
3Dominik Livakovic5Croatia56.5%2.2% 2.0%
4Justin Bijlow4.5Netherlands83.3%5.3% 7.7%
5Jordan Pickford5.5England90.9%6.7% 11.1%

My strategy in this format is to spend down at goalkeeper, but for those wanting to pay up at the position there are plenty of options. Both Ederson (5.5) and Jordan Pickford (5.5) have relatively easy groups that their nations are expected to top. Pickford's group looks devoid of goals on paper and England are set up to dominate possession and not concede goals, helping his clean sheet odds. Emiliano Martinez is another top option with Argentina expected to waltz into the knockout rounds, though he does have the ever dangerous Robert Lewandowski in his group.

I won't be paying over 4.5 for a keeper making the USA's Matt Turner (4.5) an intriguing option. Turner is a capable shot stopper and as mentioned above with Pickford, looks to be in a group that won't turn out a lot of high scoring matches. You could say the same for Wales' Wayne Hennessey (4.5) if you prefer him to Turner. Canada's Dayne St. Clair (4.0) has a chance to start, but he may only be worth a roster spot because of price. I'm also interested in Serbia's Vanja Milinkovic-Savic pending what price he's at. Bijlow (4.5) is a bit of a risk, but he's cheap and seems 50/50 to start for Netherlands.

DEFENDERS

RankPlayerPriceTeamAdvance to KOsTo Win 
World Cup
1Kieran Trippier5.0England90.9%11.1%
2Alex Telles4.5Brazil84.6%20.0%
3Ricardo Rodriguez4.5Switzerland42.0%1.2%
4Pervis Estupinan4.5Ecuador42.0%0.7%
5Borna Sosa3.5Croatia56.5%2.0%

Like goalkeeper, I also don't think spending up at defender is the way to go with there being so much firepower at the midfield and forward roles. For those looking to spend up, both Joao Cancelo (6.0) and Denzel Dumfries (6.0) are attack minded full-backs, but my highest-priced defender option is England's Kieran Trippier (5.0). Trippier presents some decent salary savings from the top group while likely having a role on set pieces and playing at an advanced right wing-back. 

There are plenty of 4.5 priced defenders worth a look including Switzerland's Ricardo Rodriguez, who takes set pieces, and Denmark's Joakim Maehle who loves to get forward. Alex Telles is worth a look if he starts for Brazil, while readers of my Fantrax Waiver Articles know I am a big fan of Ecuador's Pervis Estupinan for his attacking upside, though outside of Sunday's opening match he doesn't have the best fixtures.

One ultra cheap name to consider is Croatia's Borna Sosa (3.5). Sosa is dealing with a muscle strain, but if he starts he's almost a free square at this price. The left-back is a premier attacker in the Bundesliga for Stuttgart and while he likely won't see the same role on set pieces that he does with his club, he's far too cheap at this price if he starts for a Croatia side that are favored to advance.

MIDFIELDERS

RankPlayerPriceTeamAdvance to KOsMost AssistsTo Win 
World Cup
1Kevin De Bruyne11.0Belgium84.6%13.3%6.7%
2Bruno Fernandes9.5Portugal77.8%5.3%6.7%
3Christian Eriksen8.0Denmark55.6%3.4%3.4%
4Gavi7.0Spain84.6%0.10%10.5%
5Phil Foden8.5England90.9%3.8%11.1%

At midfield, I'm all about getting players who have the majority of their team's set pieces while also being capable of providing upside in open play. Starting at the top with Kevin De Bruyne (11.0), who provides the drumbeat for Belgium just like he does with Man City and although he won't take penalties, his role on set pieces is secured. 

Portugal's Bruno Fernandes (9.5) is the second-highest priced midfielder but is under 10 percent selected at the time of writing (Nov. 16). While Cristiano Ronaldo will always get the headlines, especially at the moment, Fernandes is a lot like De Bruyne where the team plays through him in the buildup and he should be on all corners and free kicks in the tournament. 

Phil Foden (8.5) and Luka Modric (8.5) are priced the same with both being solid mid-range targets. Both could see a role on corner kicks, with Modric getting the slight nod for me due to his role on penalties as well, though Foden is better in open play. The same can be said for Denmark's Christian Eriksen (8.0), who is slightly cheaper but should have the monopoly of deadball opportunities for his nation. 

There are some exciting cheaper attacking options with less security of set pieces, including Brazil's Lucas Paqueta (7.0) if he can start, while Gavi (7.0) is a cheap way to get access to Spain's midfield with similar upside to the more expensive Pedri (8.5). Below the 7.0 range there isn't much to get excited about with primarily defensive-minded midfielders to be found. 

FORWARDS

RankPlayerPriceTeamAdvance to KOsGolden Boot OddsLead Team in GoalsTo Win World Cup
1Neymar10.5Brazil84.6%10.0%47.6%20.0%
2Lionel Messi10.5Argentina87.5%9.1%55.6%15.4%
3Kylian Mbappe11.5France85.7%11.1%44.4%13.3%
4Lautaro Martinez8.0Argentina87.5%4.8%26.7%15.4%
5Harry Kane11.0England90.9%12.5%63.6%11.1%

With the amount of depth at midfield it's impressive that the forwards in this tournament are even more sparkling, but it is the World Cup after all. Kylian Mbappe (11.5), Harry Kane (11.0), Karim Benzema (11.0), Neymar (10.5), Lionel Messi (10.5), Robert Lewandowski (10.0) and Cristiano Ronaldo (10.0) are all viable options and I can't fault anyone who wants to add any of these players to their lineup. 

My lean is going to be for Neymar and Messi, as they have the third and fourth highest Golden Boot odds, respectively, while also being on both penalties and set pieces for their teams. If you want a pure goalscoring threat, I prefer one of Mbappe or Benzema to Kane, with England being content in the past to grind out 1-0 wins. Kane does have the best Golden Boot odds at, so he's certainly not a bad option.

Moving down from the top tier, Memphis Depay (8.5) is a discount version of Neymar and Messi. No one would say he's the caliber of player as those two, but he's cheaper while having the best Golden Boot odds for the Netherlands and taking the penalties and free kicks. Lautaro Martinez (8.0) is too cheap, as well, considering his decent Golden Boot odds and playing for one of the tournament favorites. 

Cheaper than that there really isn't much to be excited for and I would recommend paying up at forward with goals and assists being the big ticket scoring items in this format. Cody Gakpo (7.0) has a solid price, but his role is not secure for the Netherlands, while good players like Mexico's Hirving Lozano (6.0) and Canada's Jonathan David (6.0) are cheap and nailed-on starters. Of course, these guys are cheaper for a reason.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Ethan Sexton
Ethan Sexton covers soccer and is RotoWire's original League of Legends content provider (starting in late 2015). He is a fan of the Philadelphia Phillies, Chelsea FC, Bayer Leverkusen, AS Roma and the Boston Bruins. Oh, as well as being sadly a fan of the Cleveland Browns.
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