After months away, the Champions League returns with knockout round action this midweek and there is a four-game slate on DraftKings to get your teeth stuck in to. The following article goes through each position and offers considerations at every price range.
Manuel Neuer – ($5,600) – Bayern Munich – Neuer has been on the winning side in 10 of the last 11 games in all competitions and actually had a surprisingly high 2.8 saves per game in the group stage. Given Arsenal’s situation right now and the fact that nerves will almost certainly affect them in the Allianz Arena, Neuer looks the best goalkeeping option on a tough slate to me.
Ederson Moraes – ($4,400) – Benfica – Moraes did only manage a pair of wins and clean sheets in the group stage, but did average 3.4 saves per game. Dortmund came out of the group stage averaging 8.2 shots on goal per game, the most of any side, and the potential for a third double digit fantasy return in the Champions League this season for Moraes is high.
Marcelo – ($5,300) – Real Madrid – Marcelo returned from injury to post a 19 fantasy point return last time out against Osasuna, assisting a late goal from Lucas Vazquez and putting in a man of the match performance. The Brazilian full back offers excellent cross category performance, something illustrated by 3.8 tackles won, 2.3 interceptions, 3.8 crosses and 1.3 shots per game in the group stage. Marcelo is encouraged to attack more in the continental competition and, given Real’s imperious run of 40 consecutive games with a goal, the left wing back should be involved.
Faouzi Ghoulam – ($5,000) – Napoli – Ghoulam was one of the fantasy finds of the group stage, his 9.9 crosses per game among the best of any player. The Algerian also chipped in with three assists and his Serie A form, where the full back has 8.2 crosses per game and four assists, shows that his UCL form is no one off. Real are yet to keep a clean sheet in the competition this season, which only serves to embellish Ghoulam’s attacking threat, and I think he is very good value at this price.
Nelsinho – ($4,000) – Benfica – Benfica is the place to find affordable point scoring defenders and Nelsinho is the best of the lot in my opinion. In the group stage, the Portuguese right back averaged 2.8 tackles and 2.5 interceptions per game, and on the attacking side of things, had a reasonable 1.8 crosses per game. In addition to the one goal he already has in UCL play, Nelsinho also had one goal and four assists in Liga NOS and will be looking to improve all that against Dortmund.
Lionel Messi – ($11,200) – Barcelona – Already on 27 goals and six assists in 24 games across La Liga and Champions League combined, PSG are simply not strong enough to stop Messi. The Argentine forward averages 4.4 shots per game, a figure that only Cristiano Ronaldo can better, and 13 goals and one assist in the last 15 games in all competitions. The game log on DraftKings also shows that the last time he failed to hit double digits was against Real Madrid.
Ousmane Dembele – ($7,600) – Dortmund – Only one player (Messi) has more Champions League assists this term than the 19-year-old Dembele, and he also leads the Bundesliga with eight assists. Dembele averaged 1.3 shots, 3.3 crosses and 1.8 fouls drawn in the group stage, and is always going to be a threat in a team that is this free-scoring. Remember that no side has ever scored more than the 21 goals that Dortmund managed in the group stage, so it’s very tempting to take Dembele.
Angel Di Maria – ($7,000) – PSG – Di Maria ended up with the fifth-best shooting average in the group stage (four shots per game) and 6.8 crosses per game is up there among the best in the competition. Even though PSG face a very good Barcelona team, I don’t think Di Maria’s value diminishes enough to not consider him at what is a very respectable price.
Pizzi – ($5,400) – Benfica – The departure of Goncalo Guedes means that plenty of players have the opportunity to step up for The Eagles, Pizzi one of the most likely to do so. The Portuguese midfielder has eight goals and five assists in the league but nothing yet in the Champions League this season. However, that was with Guedes in the team, and if Pizzi takes a share of the goal scoring, it will be a nice addition to his two fouls drawn and 5.1 crosses per game. Don’t underestimate his potential against a Dortmund side that have won just one of the last three league games.
Cristiano Ronaldo – ($10,900) – Real Madrid – Ronaldo managed a disappointing two goals and four assists in the group stage, and if we know him like we think we do he will go all out to catch Messi. The Portuguese forward still managed 5.5 shots per game, which was better than anyone else, and has hit 14 goals and three assists in 16 La Liga games this season. Like Messi, it’s always hard to leave Ronaldo out, and this matchday is no different.
Robert Lewandowski – ($8,800) – Bayern Munich – The Polish centre forward already has five goals in the Champions League and it’s part of a season where he has a huge 30 goals in 33 games for club and country. Lewandowski averages four shots per game in the Champions League this season and also scored in the 5-1 group stage win on the last occasion that Arsenal visited the Allianz Arena.
Edinson Cavani – ($7,000) – PSG – Replacing Zlatan was always going to be tough, and in truth no one expected Cavani to do as well as he has done, his total of 31 goals in 29 games in the Ligue 1 and UCL incredibly impressive. Only Messi has more than Cavani’s six UCL goals this season, and the Uruguayan centre-forward also has 4.2 shots per game. It’s nine goals in the last six games in all competitions for Cavani and at this price, he’s a great value in my opinion.