Robert Lewandowski (Senegal vs. Poland, $12,000) – Lewandowski is arguably one of the hottest goal-scorers entering the World Cup. The star forward had 16 goals in 10 qualifiers, which was the highest total among European players. His shot (5.3 per 90 minutes) and goal (1.13 per 90 minutes) averages with Bayern Munich this past club season are also among the highest averages among forwards. Poland should control most of the possession, especially given Senegal’s favored tactics to sit in defensively and break out on counter attacks. This isn’t anything new to Lewandowski because this is a common strategy he faces from Bundesliga foes. With his ownership expected to be fairly high (but for good reason), Lewandowski is good chalk in cash games.
Sadio Mane (Senegal vs. Poland, $9,000) – Sadio Mane is another name casual fans should recognize as a part of Liverpool’s potent attack in both the Premier League and the Champions League this season. Mane is easily Senegal’s best player, but they have a solid supporting cast for him as well. Mane averaged 2.8 shots and 2.0 chances created per 90 minutes with Liverpool this season, but I expect him to eclipse those averages for his country. Mane has a great price (too cheap in my opinion) on this slate, especially given Poland’s defensive struggles. They gave up an average of 1.33 goals per game in qualifying, which is the most out of any European team in Russia. Mane is a threat to score in this game and his ability to pick up peripheral stats will help him reach value even if he cannot find the back of the net. Although slightly expensive in my mind, Keita ($8,000) is potential sleeper pick. He scored 8 goals and added 5 assists (in the equivalent of only 16 games) in Ligue 1 this season. If striker Diafra Sakho ($6,500) starts, I like him as a GPP punt if you need to save some salary. Senegal will run off the counter attack, and with Poland’s recent track record of giving up goals, stacking their attackers could be sneaky.
Aleksandr Golovin (Egypt vs. Russia, $10,000) – A five-digit price-tag for Golovin is massive and unnecessary, but with the lack of superstars on this slate, he is still pretty affordable even with other top-priced players like Mane and Lewandowski. A lot of people will be chasing points given that Golovin had a goal and 2 assists with other peripheral stats that ended in a 50+ FDP game for him. While it’s unlikely Golovin reaches that level again, Egypt’s defense is essentially just as poor as Saudi Arabia’s, so the bright 22-year-old has a good chance to continue his World Cup success. After their dominant performance in the opening game, some exposure to Russia’s midfield is smart. Denis Cheryshev ($8,500) was a game-changer after he came on in the 24th minute, and will surely want him involved from the get-go in this one so I expect him to start. He’s a solid option in all formats.
Idrissa Gueye (Senegal vs. Poland, $8,000) – The midfield options are rough on this slate. Gueye is one of my preferred plays though with his ability to accumulate all kinds of peripheral stats. He’s a steady midfielder with a safe floor that I like as a filler for cash games, but his GPP upside is limited. To my point, Gueye recorded a very high number of tackles in the Premier League this season and he should continue to do the same in this tournament.
Kamil Grosicki (Senegal vs. Poland, $6,000) – My favorite value midfielder on this slate is Hull man Grosicki. He averaged 3.2 shots, 1.7 chances created, and 5.8 crosses this club season and added 3 goals and 2 assists in qualifying. Grosicki should be working with Lewandowski as the two main players in Poland’s attack, and with them likely to hold most of the possession, chances should be abundant.
Ahmed Hegazi (Egypt vs. Russia, $6,000) – I wrote about Hegazi in my breakdown the first time Egypt played, and the writeup here will be similar. Hegazi was one of the best players on West Bromwich this year in the EPL, although that isn’t saying much as they got relegated to the Championship at the end of the season. However, Hegazi was one of the most consistent fantasy performers on defense with a stable floor in the high-teens. Hegazi looks to have a floor around the same place in the World Cup with Egypt. He’s a little pricey, but he’s as close to a sure 15-18 points as you can find anywhere. There is more upside in this game for Hegazi than there was in his first game against Iran, making him slightly more appealing than the first time out.
Kalidou Koulibaly (Senegal vs. Poland, $5,000) – Koulibaly is one of the most talented defenders on this slate despite his low price. The Napoli man is great at collecting peripheral stats due to his constant activity across the field. He’s a great cash play for the price, and has some GPP upside in this matchup against Poland. Youssouf Sabaly ($5,000) is another good option at defense for Senegal especially on DraftKings with his 4.0 crosses per game average this club season.
Mario Fernandes (Egypt vs. Russia, $4,500) – Fernandes is one of the best value defenders on this slate. After a 17 FDP outing in the first matchup against Saudi Arabia, I expect Fernandes to be around the same output again, making him an intriguing low-price option. He was free to get up the field in the first game and should be again versus Egypt. If Mo Salah doesn’t play again, I like Russian defenders for their clean sheet upside, but obviously Salah on the field puts that in danger.
*BONUS* Kamil Glik (Senegal vs. Poland, $6,000) – About a week ago, Glik was ruled out of the tournament with an injury, but within the last few hours there were rumors that he could face Senegal. Glik is by far Poland’s best defender, and their clean sheet chances get a big boost if he is healthy. Obviously, I don’t have any idea what his fitness status is, but if he finds himself in the starting lineup, he could be worth a look.
Khadim N’Diaye (Senegal vs. Poland, $4,500) – In past articles, I have been stressing the importance of a GK with win and clean sheet upside. On other slates, this GK has been pretty obvious, but I don’t think there is a clear-cut decision on goalkeeper on this slate. N’Diaye is my risk-reward GPP goalkeeper. Poland doesn’t have a great attack outside of Lewandowski, and with a solid and well-organized defense in front of him, N’Diaye could potentially get the clean sheet bonus. I think Senegal can score against Poland’s susceptible defense, so the win bonus is possible as well.
Igor Akinfeev (Egypt vs. Russia, $6,000) – Whether or not I really like Akinfeev will depend on whether or not Mo Salah is in Egypt’s starting lineup. Russia does not have a strong enough defense to contain Mo Salah, but I believe their defenders would be up to the task if Salah does not play. His price is not anything I am a fan of, but he makes for a good play if Salah is unfit.