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A World Cup full of surprises did not disappoint on Sunday, with hosts Russia punching a spot in the quarterfinals and an early plane ticket home for perennial European powerhouse Spain. Monday features two of the tournament favorites in favorable spots, so let’s take a closer look at which players to target to take your team to the top of the leaderboards.
Neymar, Brazil vs. Mexico, $11,200 – Neymar piled up stats across the board in group-stage action, topping 21 points in all three games. He finished with a combined 16 shots (eight on target), 21 crosses and 17 fouls drawn over that span, and after watching Sweden hang three goals on Mexico in their last outing, we can expect more of the same from the Brazilian superstar.
Others to Consider – Romelu Lukaku, Belgium ($10,300); Dries Mertens, Belgium ($8,900); Gabriel Jesus, Brazil ($7,600)
Hirving Lozano, Mexico vs. Brazil ($6,400) – Lozano has been the liveliest player in the Mexican attack this World Cup, averaging nearly 14 fantasy points per game against a tough Group E. He’s been racking up most of his points through shots and fouls drawn but he’s shown he’s capable of putting up big crossing numbers too. With Brazil favored, game flow could play into his favor and with Mexico potentially playing catch up, Chucky should have ample opportunities to top double digits again.
Others to Consider – Willian, Brazil ($6,600); Carlos Vela, Mexico ($5,600)
Eden Hazard, Belgium vs. Japan ($10,100) – Hazard is set to return to the lineup after resting in Belgium’s final group stage match. He’s averaging over 25 points per game this World Cup after a pair of electrifying performances in dispatching Tunisia and Panama. I expect this talented Belgium attacking unit to have their way with Japan, and with plenty of fantasy points to go around, Hazard has a relatively safe floor and tournament-winning upside.
Others to Consider – Philippe Coutinho, Brazil ($8,700); Kevin De Bruyne, Belgium ($8,300)
Miguel Layun, Mexico vs. Brazil ($5,400) – Layun took nearly half of Mexico’s 13 corner kicks across three group-stage matches and gives us relatively cheap exposure to set piece points. Even without set pieces, Layun is active enough in the attack to give us a safe-ish floor at this price. Similar to Lozano, Layun’s fantasy appeal increases if Mexico are playing from behind and are forced to throw everything forward.
Others to Consider – Takashi Usami, Japan ($4,800); Gaku Shibasaki, Japan ($3,400)
Thomas Meunier, Belgium vs. Japan ($5,600) – With Marcelo’s status up in the air, Meunier sticks out as the defender with the biggest attacking upside. He earned an assist in his last outing and isn’t shy about firing a shot off when the opportunity arises.
Others to Consider – Marcelo, Brazil ($6,000)
Gen Yoshida, Japan vs. Belgium ($2,500) – Look, this isn’t a cheat code but more of a reminder that you can get creative at the defender position if you really want to jam the heavy artillery in elsewhere. After the elite defenders (above), there just aren’t many defenders worth paying up for. With knockout-round matches as tight as they are, some of the minimum priced center backs have been logging as many points as their higher priced counterparts. On a two-game slate with so many big names to squeeze in, taking a punt with a min-price defender can be justified in tournaments.
Others to Consider – Thiago Silva, Brazil ($4,100); Toby Alderweireld, Belgium ($3,800)
Thibaut Courtois, Belgium vs. Japan ($5,800) – Courtois kept two clean sheets in group play and he’s in a good position to notch his third against a less-than-threatening Japan side. Despite scoring four goals in their first two group stage games, Japan were held scoreless in a 1-0 loss to Poland to round out group play. They were fortunate to advance as the first team to ever punch a ticket to the knockout phase via the FIFA fair play tiebreaker but their luck runs out against a talented Belgium squad.
Others to Consider – Alisson, Brazil ($5,600)
Guillermo Ochoa, Mexico vs. Brazil ($3,900) – Of the two underdogs, Ochoa is realistically the only goalkeeper I would consider punting with on this short slate. His 17 saves are a big reason Mexico are still in the tournament and they’ll rely on him to keep them in the game against a dynamic Brazil attack. As we saw with Igor Akinfeev and Russia, sometimes the stars align and goalkeepers rack up enough saves to provide big value in tournaments.
I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is MONEYMACHiNE) and may sometimes play on my personal account in the games that I offer advice on. Although I have expressed my personal view on the games and strategies above, they do not necessarily reflect the view(s) of DraftKings and I may also deploy different players and strategies than what I recommend above. I am not an employee of DraftKings and do not have access to any non-public information.