Sunday was a good day for me (and people who read my breakdown) for DFS purposes. I cashed pretty safely making me 2/3 since the World Cup began. Here’s to getting on a long winning streak as start to chug through the group stage. As always, I’ll be available on Twitter (@vdray5) throughout the day for questions and updates.
Harry Kane (England vs. Tunisia, $12,000) – Given that the value at forward is minimal on this slate, paying up for top-priced players at this position like Kane might be a necessity. As most of you probably know, Harry Kane is fresh off a spectacular goal-scoring season with Tottenham, so his form is not a question. Kane averaged 5.3 shots per 90 minutes on his way to a 30 goal club season. Kane will always be a threat to score a goal (or more) when he’s on the field. When you add in his points for peripherals like shots and chances created, Kane has a solid floor making him a nice cash option. Other England forward Raheem Sterling ($9,500) is a much cheaper way to get exposure to England in GPPs. He has not scored for his country since 2015, but after an excellent season with Manchester City, Sterling will look to get on the scoresheet for England in a plus matchup against Tunisia.
Dries Mertens (Panama vs. Belgium, $9,000) – Mertens is essentially as far down as I would like to pay for a forward on this slate, but I still like him a pretty good deal (especially on DraftKings). Mertens generally leads the team in crosses, and tallied 5 goals and 6 assists in qualifying. Mertens production has dropped off only slightly since his stellar season in 2016-2017 with Napoli, but with his ability to collect peripheral stats and his plus matchup versus a weaker Panamanian team, he should be in line for a good game at an affordable price. Romelu Lukaku ($11,000) is obviously talented enough to score against anyone, but his price and limited ability to get peripheral stats has me staying away for cash games.
Kevin de Bruyne (Panama vs. Belgium, $10,000) – Kevin de Bruyne will surely be one of the highest owned players on his slates given his role in Manchester City’s record-breaking EPL season. KDB will be playing a similar role on the field for Belgium as one of the most potent attacking midfielders in the tournament. This club season, KDB averaged 2.7 shots, 3.1 chances created, and 7.3 crosses per 9 minutes, and I would expect similar numbers in the group stage. Kevin de Bruyne is also a master freekick taker which will only add to his cross and assist count, making him even more valuable in the fantasy game. However, with his price-tag and ownership that is likely to be sky-high, I don’t view him as a must-play. If you have the salary for him, he’s a priority play. But, if you want to spend elsewhere, you should be able to make money in cash games without him. I prefer teammate Eden Hazard ($10,500) in GPPs since he has more goal and shot upside, especially against a poor Panama team in their first World Cup game ever.
Dele Alli ($8,500) / Jesse Lingard ($8,000) (England vs. Tunisia) – At the time I write this article, it is not clear exactly who will be in England’s starting squad for the game. Whoever starts between Alli and Lingard should be considered a good GPP option in a game where England should control the majority of the ball. I would target Alli if he starts since he and top striker Harry Kane have the Tottenham connection. However, I would most likely avoid Lingard, but I can see the GPP appeal. A name to watch in England’s midfield is Reuben Loftus-Cheek ($7,000). If one of Alli/Lingard get dropped, Loftus-Cheek should slide into the spot. Loftus-Cheek would be an important addition for England’s attack since his ability to dribble and bring the ball up the field is better than that of Alli/Lingard. He has a very fair price-tag and is someone I would seriously consider if he starts.
Edgar Yoel Barcenas (Panama vs. Belgium, $7,500) – With two good international teams facing two teams without much international success, there will be a lot of stacking of England and Belgium making it crucial to get the right Tunisian and Panamanian players. Barcenas is a good place to look for that. He’s a talented wing player for Panama who takes the majority of the team’s set pieces. He should be able to get some peripheral stats (both offensive and defensive) in this game making him a solid player to add to a England/Belgium stack.
Naim Sliti (England vs. Tunisia, $5,500) – Sliti is a great low-priced midfield option on this slate in my opinion. You get a quality player who scored 7 goals and added 6 assists this season with Dijon in Ligue 1 (France) for a cheap price. Although a matchup with England is not ideal, he is a good GPP salary-saver in this game.
Kieran Trippier (England vs. Tunisia, $6,500) – Trippier is another English name that should be familiar to many DFS soccer players. If you don’t know, Trippier plays as a wide back for Tottenham where he essentially acts as an additional midfielder. He was an elite play on DraftKings all season with his ability to cross the ball, and he will continue to play the same role for England. His offensive upside as a defender is one of the best in this tournament. In a game against a weaker opponent, I expect Trippier to be heavily involved in the attack down the flanks. Something else to note on Trippier is that he plays on the same club team as Harry Kane, so the duo should be pretty in-tune with each other. If you can afford a high-priced defender, Trippier should be the guy especially with a clean sheet likely. Kyle Walker ($6,000) is one of the best defenders in this tournament, and someone I will consider in cash games. Gary Cahill ($4,500) seems too cheap on this slate with his tendency to clear everything that comes toward him plus the clean sheet upside against Tunisia.
Thomas Meunier (Panama vs. Belgium, $5,000) – One of my favorite value defenders on this slate is Belgian right back Thomas Meunier. He totaled 4 goals and 7 assists as a ‘defender’ during the qualifying rounds including a monster game against Gibraltar. The fact that FanDuel is listing him as a defender made me very happy and at this price he’s as close to a lock as you can get. Meunier adds enough shots and crosses to have a solid floor, but I expect him to be near his ceiling as Belgium should run all over Panama in this one. I don’t expect Panama to score either, so he should get a 5 point bonus for keeping a clean sheet as well.
Thibaut Courtois (Panama vs. Belgium, $5,500) – It is becoming increasingly clear to me that clean sheets and wins are super important for goalkeepers. Based on my assessment, Courtois is the safest GK for those bonuses on this slate. Panama has never played in a World Cup Finals game and none of their players play in a major European domestic league. They will struggle against Belgium, so Courtois should be in line for both bonuses.
Jordan Pickford (England vs. Tunisia, $5,500) – Like I stated above, wins and clean sheets are important for goalkeepers under FanDuel’s new scoring. Pickford is my second bet to get these bonuses on this slate. I think there is more upside with him compared to Courtois since Tunisia has enough quality to test England meaning Pickford might get more points from saves. However, Tunisia is more likely to score than Panama so the bonuses are less secure.