THE 2018 WORLD CUP GROUP STAGE HAS ARRIVED!! After last week’s drama, the initial World Cup Finals field has been cut in half and a bracket has been formed for the knockout stage. After a successful group stage of fantasy advice, I am continuing to provide breakdown articles (or cheat sheets) until the end of the tournament. The slates are smaller now, with only 2 games per day (one morning, one afternoon), so there will be a stress on combining the right studs with the right value players. Luckily for you, I have all of my favorite players written up below! Thanks for reading, and you can find me on Twitter (@vdray5) for information on lineups, extra tidbits, and availability for questions.
Luis Suarez (Portugal vs. Uruguay $12,000) – The forward position is jam-packed with stars on this slate including many familiar names like Suarez, Ronaldo, Griezmann, Aguero and more. Suarez hasn’t looked amazing in this tournament so far, but he has scored 2 goals and added 4 shots on goal in 3 games. He’s Uruguay’s most dangerous goal-scorer, and he’s in a plus matchup in this game with Portugal having conceded over one goal per game on average in the group stage. Defense is not a strength of Portugal’s, so Suarez should have continuous chances at a goal. I am boldly fading Ronaldo on this slate because I think this will be more of a floor game for him, and I like the idea of getting 2 top strikers which is nearly impossible with Ronaldo at $13,500. Therefore, Suarez is my top forward on the slate especially in cash lobbies. Forward teammate Edinson Cavani ($11,000) is more of a GPP play in this game. He finally got on the scoresheet against Russia which is good to see. He’s taken a ton of shots (13 total, 5 on goal) so far, and if he keeps shooting, more goals will come.
Antoine Griezmann (Argentina vs. France, $11,000) – Unless you’re stacking Uruguay or using Cavani as a low-owned one off, I favor Griezmann for the same price. His opponent, Argentina, have given up 5 goals so far (tied for most out of any team still left in the World Cup), and their struggles have been well documented by the media. Griezmann does a little bit of everything from a fantasy perspective which always makes for an appealing floor in cash games. He’s also one of France’s best goal-scorers, so big game upside is definitely present. Griezmann scored in France’s first game against Australia, and will look to get back on the scoresheet in this plus matchup. FanDuel does not have Kylian Mbappe ($9,500) as an expected starter which seems contradictory to what I have been seeing. Assuming he starts, Mbappe is one of the best values at forward. His pace will challenge Argentina’s center defenders.
Carlos Sanchez (Portugal vs. Uruguay, $9,000) – Sanchez has hands down been Uruguay’s best creator in the midfield with an assist in each of the games he has played. With Uruguay already through to the next round, Sanchez earned a rest game so he should be ready to go against Portugal. Sanchez’s involvement gives him a pretty solid floor in most games including this one. With the amount of stud forwards on the slate, Sanchez could be tough to get, but if you have the money for him he’ll be a viable play.
Ever Banega (Argentina vs. France, $8,000) – For the most part, Argentina players have not looked all that good so far. However, Ever Banega finally got the start in Argentina’s crucial third group stage game against Nigeria, and he looked very good. In my opinion, Banega should have been starting all along, so it was good to see him do well enough to (probably) earn a second consecutive start. Banega should be in for another solid game, making him one of my favorite midfield plays especially with an affordable price.
N’Golo Kante (Argentina vs. France, $7,000) – Another one of my favorite cash midfield plays on this slate is N’Golo Kante. The Chelsea man is one of the best shutdown defenders in this tournament, and he should be extremely active in this game against an attacking team like Argentina. Kante thrives off defensive stats like clearances, interceptions, and tackles (all of which FanDuel awards points for). Despite solid play, Kante’s price has dropped since the first games and that is something I will be taking advantage of. He’s a top-tier midfield filler in cash games. With midfield value possibly hard to come by on this slate, Kante can also be used in GPPs as a filler/salary-saver.
Diego Godin (Portugal vs. Uruguay, $7,500) – I’ve written about Godin a few times already, and he continues to be on my list of preferred defenders. Godin sandwiched a poor game fantasy-wise, with two great games. In both of those good games against Russia and Egypt, the game was more back-and-forth than it was against Saudi Arabia. This game should be open which will help Godin from a fantasy perspective. Godin is one of the more talented center defenders in this tournament, and he’ll get the unenviable task of defending Cristiano Ronaldo in this game. He should be busy picking up peripheral defensive stats from the get-go making a nice floor for him. He kept clean sheets (+5) in all of the group stage games, and while that’s a tough ask for any team facing Ronaldo, a clean sheet is still possible.
Marcos Rojo (Argentina vs. France, $5,500) – Marcos Rojo is going to be busy defending France’s potent attack which should lead to lots of opportunities at peripheral defensive stats. Rojo has one of the safest floors out of all of the mid-priced defenders. He also carries some offensive upside that was seen in Argentina’s last game against Nigeria where Rojo scored a massive late goal. If Argentina finds themselves down late in the game, Rojo will be the first defender they throw forward into the attack. Rojo also carries some goal upside from set pieces, which adds to his case as a GPP player.
Djibril Sidibe (Argentina vs. France, $4,500) – Unfortunately for Sidibe, a knee injury in mid-April ended his club season for Monaco and put his World Cup in doubt. However, he has fit to play a full 90 minutes in France’s last game. Not only did he played the whole game, but also played really well totaling 19.2 FDP. Luckily for FanDuel players, Sidibe’s price has not risen very high. There should be opportunities for him to push forward up the wide areas of the field against a team like Argentina. Sidibe is one of my favorite value players on the whole slate given he earns another start.
Hugo Lloris (Argentina vs. France, $5,500) – Lloris is my risk-reward GK option in this slate. Argentina should be able to force him to make some saves in this game, and he’s only allowed one goal in the World Cup (a penalty kick). I like Lloris for the win bonus, and while the clean sheet bonus is not a guarantee at all, if Argentina’s goal-scoring struggles continue, Lloris would be in for a big game.
Fernando Muslera (Portugal vs. Uruguay, $6,000) – Muslera was really good in the group stage, averaging 23 FDP per game. He did not give up any goals and Uruguay helped him to a win bonus in all three games as well. Like I said above for Diego Godin, a clean sheet will always be a challenge against a Ronaldo team, but Portugal could only muster 1 goal against Morocco and Iran which makes Muslera look better for a clean sheet bonus. He’s definitely earned a $6,000 price-tag, and he’s a good GK option in cash games. However, I will likely be saving $500 and looking for lower ownership with Lloris.