UCL DFS Breakdown – 12/5/17
After a two-week hiatus, the UCL is back and better than ever. Actually, that second part isn’t true. It’s not better than ever. There are several things going on this week that make it an interesting slate. First, it’s match-day 6/6, and there are already several teams who have qualified for the next round. Therefore, expect all of those teams to rest a few or their normal starters, especially given the jam-packed schedule club teams have this time of year. It is very important to check starting lineups this week to make sure your guys are starting, but also to find some hidden value plays. Second, good plays this week will depend much more on matchup and game-flow than normal given the stage of the tournament. Third, there are no 12ET kickoffs, so there are more players on this slate than there have been recently.
Neymar (PSG @ Bayern Munich, $13,500) – The price of these top forwards just keeps going up, making these players look less and less appealing. However, Neymar is averaging an incredible 50.3 fantasy points per game in the UCL, so all of the sudden 13.5k doesn’t seem so bad. Neymar is one of the best goal-scoring forwards in the world right now, but he also does an amazing job at providing assists and creating chances. Both PSG and Bayern have qualified for the next round, so they could literally come out Tuesday and agree that everyone takes a 90-minute nap, and both teams would move onto the knockout stage. They could also take notes from the NBA All-Star Game, play 0 defense, and see who can score more goals. Given the nature of these two teams the second option is more likely, making Neymar a top play in what could be a game full of scoring.
Romelu Lukaku (CSKA Moscow @ Manchester United, $12,500) – This game will be the exact opposite as PSG @ Bayern. Both teams still have much to play for because neither have qualified for the next round yet. Depending on the result of the other game in Group B (Basel @ Benfica), Moscow will need a win to advance. They obviously know this, and I expect them to come out ready to give Manchester United a challenge. However, Manchester United need at least a tie to advance. I expect them to come out hot early in the game on offense lead by Lukaku. Since tearing up both the UCL and EPL early in the season, Lukaku cooled off a bit. However, he’s been better as of late, and surely he knows what is at stake tomorrow. I think Lukaku gets out of his mini slump tomorrow at home against a Moscow defense that gives up 1.6 goals per game.
Paulo Dybala (Juventus @ Olympiacos, $11,000) – This is a great matchup for Dybala. His opponent, Olympiacos, have already been eliminated from moving on in the UCL. This is probably due to their terrible defense (allowing 2.2 goals per game). Juventus, on the other hand, need a win to guarantee themselves a spot in the next round (a draw might do it too depending on other results). Olympiacos will likely come out flat and unmotivated, making Dybala’s matchup look even better. Dybala was incredible in the UCL last year, leading Juventus to the championship game, and he has a big opportunity to get his team back on track Tuesday.
Also like: Edin Dzeko ($10,500), Antoine Greizmann ($10,500), Anthony Martial ($9,500), Gonzalo Higuain ($9,000)
Stephan El Shaarawy (FK Qarabag @ Roma, $8,000) – El Shaarawy’s average fantasy points per game on FD is a little deceptive. Technically, his average is 15.5 like it’s listed on the site. FD calculates these averages based on games that each player appeared in. El Shaarawy came on as a substitute twice late in the game, and scored 0 points. So, his average is really 25.83 fantasy points per game in the 3 games that he has started. Since Roma is in a position this week where if they win they go to the next round, I fully expect El Shaarawy to play and play well. His opponent FK Qarabag, have given up 5th most (out of 32) goals. They have also been eliminated, and don’t have anything to play for except pride. I expect Roma score several goals making El Shaarawy and the other Roma forwards, Edin Dzeko ($10,500) and Diego Perotti ($7,500), good plays.
Dmitri Oberlin (Basel @ Benfica, $7,000) – Oberlin and Basel still have a (decent) chance of making it to the next round. A win essentially (but not mathematically) puts them through, so they will be ready to play. They draw a soft matchup against a Benfica team that has given up 12 goals (2.4 per game) and scored 1 (0.2 per game). The 20-year-old striker has been good in the UCL so far, including exploding for 2 goals (57.75 fantasy points) the last time he played Benfica. Oberlin is Basel’s only forward, and he should see a lot of goal opportunities this week.
Also like: Leigh Griffiths ($7,500)
Paul Pogba (CSKA Moscow @ Manchester United, $10,500) – After missing most of the season due to injury, Pogba is finally back on the field. He’s been solid since his return, including getting 2 assists over the weekend before getting a red card. This will most likely be Pogba’s last game until December 23rd because he got hit with a 3-game EPL suspension for the red card, and after today there will be no UCL until February. Pogba has yet to play a full 90-minute game since his injury, but with no games for 3 weeks there is no reason he shouldn’t play the full match Tuesday. Like I said for Lukaku, Manchester United need at least a tie in this game, so all the players should be fully motivated to perform well. Pogba is in a good spot for success Tuesday
Saul Niguez (Atletico Madrid @ Chelsea, $9,500) – Atletico Madrid need a win in order to have a chance to make it to the next round. Unfortunately for them, even if they win, a win from Roma would still mean Atletico Madrid would be eliminated. Needless to say, Atletico should be very motivated for this game against Chelsea who have already clinched their spot. Saul has averaged an impressive 24.2 fantasy points per game so far, including 32.25 last time against Chelsea. Chelsea’s defense has not been great (giving up over 1 goal per game), giving Saul a nice matchup Tuesday. Saul is one of my favorite midfielders Tuesday.
Marco Veratti (PSG @ Bayern Munich, $9,000) – Like I wrote about for Neymar, I am expecting a very open and free-flowing game between these two super-clubs. This kind of game is ideal for a midfielder like Veratti. Veratti is the heart of PSG’s midfield, and will have a ton of space to work in a game like this. Assuming he doesn’t get rested Tuesday, Veratti is in a good spot in what could be a very high-scoring game.
Also like: Miralem Pjanic ($9,000), Joshua Kimmich ($9,000), Koke ($8,500)
Celtic midfielders Scott Sinclair ($8,000), Callum McGregor ($7,500), Olivier Ntcham ($7,500), Scott Brown ($6,500). The biggest value plays of this slate can be found here. Celtic take on an Anderlecht team that has given up an average of 3.4 goals per game in the UCL. Granted they’ve played some good teams and they’re way over their head in this league, but that’s just bad. Celtic posted 3 goals on them last time they played, and that was an away game for them. I’m expecting something similar from Celtic Tuesday at home. Another name worth mentioning (again) is Celtic forward Leigh Griffiths ($7,500) who I previously mentioned in the “also like” section of cheap forwards.
Taulant Xhaka and Renato Steffen (Basel @ Benfica) – Both Xhaka and Steffen are priced for 7k, and they both have a nice matchup against Benfica. I touched on this game earlier in my writeup for Dmitri Oberlin. A win for Basel is basically enough for them to get through to the next round, so they will bring their A game. They face a Benfica team that has given up 12 goals in 5 UCL matches so far. Oberlin (FWD) is the preferred play, but if you’re looking to save some money consider Xhaka and Steffen. Neither player is known much for their goal-scoring ability, but they are both good chance creators. In a game they should dominate offensively, both players make good punts at midfielder. Luca Zuffi could be involved offensively as well, and would make a decent play at 6.5k.
Douglas Costa (Juventus @ Olympiacos, $6,000) – If the Juventus midfield was actually playing well right now, I would be all over them this week. Like I mentioned when I was talking about Juventus forward Paulo Dybala, Juventus has a great matchup offensively due to the defensive struggles of Olympiacos. The only midfielder on Juventus who is playing well is Miralem Pjanic, but he’ll cost you 9k. Juventus as a team is struggling offensively this season, but they know they need to play well in the game and they have a good matchup to do so. Costa is my favorite midfielder on Juventus besides Pjanic this week. His speed should be a huge factor in this game, and he is very attacking-minded so I expect him to easily surpass his average fantasy points.
Also like: Kinglsey Coman ($7,500), Paulinho ($7,500), Thomas Partey ($7,000), Alexandr Golovin ($7,000), Rodrigo Battaglia ($7,000), Tiemoue Bakayoko ($6,500), N’golo Kante ($6,000), Qara Qarayev ($6,000), Sergio Busquets ($5,500)
If you’re looking to go really cheap at midfield, there are some options (although they’re not recommended, these players are DEEP punts and it would be unwise to expect 15+ fantasy points from them). Denis Suarez is a decent option at 5k. Any Barcelona midfielder who is starting a game has the potential to go off. If indeed Suarez starts, he could hit some good value. Suarez has started 1 game in the UCL for Barcelona. He played 75 minutes and scored 11 fantasy points at the end of October in a 0-0 stalemate against Olympiacos. In all competitions this season, Suarez has played 45+ minutes in 3 games, and he has 2 goals and 2 assists in those games. If you absolutely need to go this cheap Tuesday, take a look at Suarez. Michel is another fair option at 5k. Michel is a center midfielder for Qarabag who will be asked to do a ton of defending against Roma on Tuesday. He is an experienced midfielder who could accumulate a lot of defensive stats.
Aleksandar Kolarov (FK Qarabag @ Roma, $7,000) – Kolarov is another one of those attacking defenders who is off to a hot start this season. He is averaging 23.9 fantasy points per game in the UCL right now, and draws a wonderful matchup against FKQ. Roma should dominate this game in ball possession, giving Kolarov a ton of liberty to get up the field and join the offense. Kolarov is a game-time decision Tuesday with an undisclosed injury, but if he starts, fire him up.
Kieran Tierney (Anderlecht @ Celtic, $6,500) – Much like Kolarov, Tierney is very much an attacking defender (at times an extra midfielder even). Celtic technically line up with 5 defenders, which gives their outside defenders freedom to join the attack when it makes sense. Tierney is a 20-year-old outside defender who draws a good matchup against a poor Anderlecht defense (and team in general). He played his best game of the UCL season against Anderlecht earlier (28.25 fantasy points), and I expect him to put up a similar number Tuesday.
Also like: Dani Alves ($7,5000), Cesar Azpilicueta ($6,000), Sebastian Coates ($6,000)
Uros Spajic (Anderlecht @ Celtic, $5,500) – Spajic is averaging 13.6 fantasy points per game in his 4 UCL games, but that number climbs to 17.33 if you take out the game he did not start. That average is pretty solid for a defender at 5.5k. Spajic has a neutral matchup tomorrow against a decent (but not great) Celtic offense. He’s a decent cheap option Tuesday.
Filipe Luis (Atletico Madrid @ Chelsea, $5,500) – If you’re a fan of rostering players with a narrative (I’m thinking of one reader specifically), Luis could be your guy. Filipe Luis used to play for Atletico Madrid, played for Chelsea for one season, and after that didn’t go well he returned to Atletico Madrid. On Tuesday, Luis will return to Stamford Bridge and take on his old team. He’s also had a really good UCL season so far averaging 22.8 fantasy points per game (how he’s still $5,500 confuses me). This is also a plus matchup for Luis. His team NEEDS a win badly, and will have the chance to be involved in the offense like normal. Plus, Chelsea has some horses on offense, so he’ll be needed on defense as well. Luis is in a position to see a ton of action in this game, and is my top cheap defender.
Michael Lang (Basel @ Benfica, $5,000) – Much like I wrote about for Celtic and Kieran Tierney above, Michael Lang plays for a Basel team that lines up with 5 defenders. He is one of the outside defenders, which allows him to join the attack at times. Against a poor defensive team like Benfica, I expect Lang to be involved early and often. Lang has 2 goals to his name in the UCL this season, and makes a nice play at 5k on Tuesday. Raoul Petretta ($4,500) is the other outside defender for Basel who makes his way up the field at times. Petretta is averaging 17.1 fantasy points in his 4 UCL games this season, and could exceed that in a plus matchup Tuesday.
Jeremy Mathieu (Sporting Lisbon @ Barcelona, $5,000) – Mathieu is returning to Camp Nou where he spent 3 seasons as a regular starter on Barcelona’s defense. Mathieu has publicly spoken about the slight grudge he as against Barcelona’s front office, not its players. Mathieu will surely be ready for this game. Although he hasn’t been great this season, he did have his best fantasy performance of the UCL season last time against Barcelona. I expect Mathieu to be on his A game to shut down his former teammates on Tuesday.
Also like: Diego Godin ($5,500), Viktor Vasin ($5,500), Marquinhos ($5,000), Gary Cahill ($5,000), Alex Sandro ($5,000), Marcos Rojo ($5,000), Javi Martinez ($5,000), Dennis Appiah ($5,000), Vasili Berezutski ($5,000), Jakub Rzezniczak ($4,500), David Alaba ($4,500)
There are 2 dirt-cheap defenders at 4k that MIGHT have decent games if you REALLY NEED to go that cheap (Mario Fernandes, Andreas Christiensen).
Alisson (FK Qarabag @ Roma, $5,500) – As Qarabag has only scored 2 goals in their 5 UCL games this season, Alisson is a good bet for the clean sheet bonus. Roma plays tough at home. They should dominate most of the possession, leaving very few opportunities for FK Qarabag to score.
Craig Gordon (Anderlecht @ Celtic, $5,000) – Gordon is another top GK for the clean sheet bonus. Anderlecht have only scored 1 goal in their 5 UCL games. However, Celtic’s defense is not that great so Gordon could still see some shots which lead to saves.
Also like: Tomas Vaclik ($4,000), Sergio Romero ($4,500)