DraftKings Fantasy Soccer: Friday UCL Picks

DraftKings Fantasy Soccer: Friday 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: Friday UCL Cheat Sheet

THE CHALK

Cristiano Ronaldo, JUV v. OL ($10,900): Ronaldo is the most expensive player on the slate, but it's completely understandable given his regular fantasy production and match situation. He lost out to Ciro Immobile for the Serie A golden boot, but Ronaldo still finished with 31 goals on 208 shots in 33 games, averaging a ridiculous 6.41 shots, including 2.47 on target, per 90 minutes, which not only helped him finish as the highest-scoring player in Serie A this season, but he also finished fourth in floor points despite taking only 22 free kicks (19 shots and three corners). Meanwhile, Juventus have to overcome a 1-0 aggregate deficit after losing the first leg in France back in February, so you know Ronaldo is going to come out aggressively.

Kevin De Bruyne, MCI v. RMA ($10,100): It's tough to fit both Ronaldo and De Bruyne, but that isn't likely to stop people from trying. De Bruyne is the primary free-kick taker for a Manchester City side that is favored, already has a 2-1 aggregate lead, including two away goals, and facing a Real Madrid back line without their best defender, Sergio Ramos (suspended). De Bruyne was the highest-scoring player in the Premier League this season, including the most floor points, which is why many will target him, but values will surely have to be used for those who want to pair the two most-expensive players on the slate.

FORWARDS

Paulo Dybala, JUV v. OL ($9,200): Dybala was excellent for Juventus after the league restart, but he suffered a thigh injury against Sampdoria on July 26 and hasn't played since. He is expected to be fit for Friday, though with five subs at their disposal, it would be very surprising to see him last even 75 minutes. Anyone looking to fade Ronaldo will surely have to consider Juventus' other front-line players, and if it's not Dybala then Federico Bernardeschi ($6,900), who usually has a role on set pieces when he's in, and Gonzalo Higuain ($7,600) make sense. In fact, only Ronaldo, Gabriel Jesus ($8,200) and Dybala have higher anytime goal scorer odds than Higuain, though he's very unlikely to produce any meaningful fantasy points if he doesn't score a goal. Paying up also makes you consider the Manchester City forwards, with Jesus still cheaper than Raheem Sterling ($8,700) and Riyad Mahrez ($8,500) because his floor is lower (but he also has higher anytime goal scorer odds than anyone but Ronaldo).

Karim Benzema, RMA at MCI ($6,800): Madrid may be underdogs playing without their best defender, but they also have to score multiple goals to advance. Benzema continues to spearhead their attack, and the absence of Ramos should have him on penalty duty. His shot floor isn't overly reliable for cash games, but he has the sixth-highest anytime goal scorer odds on the slate (and highest for Real Madrid), and the expectation is that they'll be going all-out to score. Fantasy players could also consider Eden Hazard ($6,700) or Vinicius Junior ($5,900) if they want to target even lower-owned Madrid options, though they should be reserved for GPPs only. And if you want to go even further on the contrarian side, the Lyon forwards have to be considered, though you don't get as much salary savings with Memphis Depay ($7,900) as you do with Maxwel Cornet ($6,000), Moussa Dembele ($5,300) or Bertrand Traore ($5,800). The Juventus defense isn't nearly as good as it used to be, so it wouldn't be shocking if Lyon found the back of the net, even in a loss.

MIDFIELDERS

Toni Kroos, RMA at MCI ($5,900): Kroos is the primary set-piece taker for the team that just won La Liga, but a matchup against Manchester City has him priced down considerably. With how much attacking Real Madrid have to do in this match, Kroos figures to be pretty popular because of his role and price, though more so in cash games than GPPs since he doesn't get on the score-sheet all that often. There really aren't many expensive midfielders worth targeting (basically none other than De Bruyne), and getting the set-piece takers from both teams in the game with the highest implied total for $16,000 isn't bad.

Miralem Pjanic, JUV v. OL ($5,200): Pjanic has a regular role on set pieces, though certainly not a monopoly, and he's likely to split corners with Bernardeschi or Dybala, depending on who starts. He's definitely more of a floor play than ceiling, as he only took 21 shots in 30 appearances (28 starts) this season, but he's still a very good source of shots assisted and crosses. For those looking to pay down even further, Lyon's Leo Dubois ($4,000) is fairly inexpensive and now midfield eligible because he made some starts as a wing-back, though you have to wonder if Lyon will attack much as long as they remain up on aggregate. Otherwise, you're stuck on defensive midfielders like Casemiro ($4,100), Adrien Rabiot ($4,300), Rodrigo ($4,400) or Rodrigo Bentancur ($4,900), and at that point you're basically at Pjanic, with contrarian players likely considering Houssem Aouar ($5,100) as an attacking player for Lyon.

DEFENDERS

Dani Carvajal, RMA at MCI ($4,400): Real Madrid have affordable pieces at each position, with Carvajal and Ferland Mendy ($4,000) both worthy of consideration given their prices and need to score. Real Madrid won all 10 La Liga games after the restart, and there's little doubt that they'll do as much as they can to win this tie. Carvajal is the more attacking fullback for Real Madrid (as long as Marcelo doesn't start, as expected), and with clean sheets unlikely (at least in this match), it seems best to consider the upside of the Madrid attacking players versus the Manchester City ones who may be forced to defend more and are more expensive.

Juan Cuadrado, JUV v. OL ($6,200): Cuadrado's price is pretty high for a defender who doesn't take any set pieces, but he's basically an attacking winger playing as a full-back. Teammate Alex Sandro ($5,600) is also a consideration for the same reason, though he's a more traditional defender and Cuadrado scores more fantasy points by drawing fouls, something that helps his floor but does nothing for his upside. Cuadrado's price makes it necessary to compare him with midfielders in his range, and given the dearth of impact players at that position, it wouldn't be surprising to see people pay down at midfield in order to fit Cuadrado or Sandro in.

GOALKEEPER

Thibaut Courtois, RMA at MCI ($4,200): While Juventus and Manchester City are firm favorites, it's surprising to see just how much more expensive Wojciech Szczesny ($5,800) and Ederson ($5,500) are than Anthony Lopes ($3,800) and Courtois. Both expensive goalkeepers have to get clean sheet wins to justify their prices, which is likely why many will end up targeting Lopes and Courtois, who are unlikely to win but could post enough saves to pay off. In fact, Courtois could win his match 1-0 and Manchester City would still advance, so relying on Ederson, who had the most clean sheets in the Premier League this season, doesn't seem as safe as Szczesny, who had 11 clean sheets in 29 Serie A starts this season while making 96 saves (13th-most in the league).

The author(s) of this article may play in daily fantasy contests including – but not limited to – games that they have provided recommendations or advice on in this article. In the course of playing in these games using their personal accounts, it's possible that they will use players in their lineups or other strategies that differ from the recommendations they have provided above. The recommendations in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of RotoWire. Andrew M. Laird plays in daily fantasy contests using the following accounts: FanDuel: kingmorland, DraftKings: andrewmlaird, Yahoo: Lairdinho.
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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 an eight-time FSWA award finalist, including twice for Football Writer of the Year.
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