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The knockout phase of the World Cup is upon us, with some of the biggest names in the game taking center stage on Saturday. Let’s break down the top fantasy soccer targets and values for the first batch of Round of 16 matches.
Cristiano Ronaldo, Portugal vs. Uruguay, $11,600 — Ronaldo had a game to forget in his final group stage match, when his penalty kick was saved and he failed to score for the first time in the tournament. That might be enough to drive his ownership down, but let’s not be too quick to forget his hat trick and 40-point outburst versus Spain to kick things off. Uruguay can be stout defensively, but if Ronaldo can do it against Spain, he can do it against anyone. In the spotlight of the World Cup knockout round, I think we see him bounce back in a big way.
Other Options — Lionel Messi, Argentina, $10,800; Antoine Griezmann, France, $9,400; Luis Suarez, Uruguay, $8,700
Carlos Pavon, Argentina vs. France, $4,800 — Pavon has been used off the bench this World Cup, and he might be a long shot to start on Saturday, but he’s been a difference-maker when he’s on the field. He’s the preferred corner kick taker when he’s on the field, and at this price, he’s certainly one to look for when lineups are announced in case Argentina decide to shake things up.
Other Options — Ousmane Dembele, France, $7,100; Angel Di Maria, Argentina, $6,900
Ricardo Quaresma, Portugal vs. Uruguay, $7,700 — Ideally, Quaresma would be used in one of the forward slots, but multi-position eligibility gives us the freedom to work him in where we can when lineups for the late game are announced. He only started the last game of the group stage, but that was enough to give us an idea of what Quaresma brings to the table. He scored one of the goals of the tournament and whipped in 11 crosses on his way to 20 DraftKings points to see Portugal through to the Round of 16. That might have been enough to keep his spot in the starting lineup, and for my money, he’s one of my favorite plays on the slate if he’s back in the XI.
Other Options — Kylian Mbappe, France, $8,200; Carlos Sanchez, Uruguay, $6,800
Ever Banega, Argentina vs. France, $5,400 — Banega was part of a new-look Argentina lineup in the final group stage match, and he delivered with an assist and 11 fantasy points to help Argentina advance. He has set piece upside as he took two of five corner kicks in the game, and on a two-game slate, set piece takers in this price range should be high on the fantasy radar.
Other Options — Joao Moutinho (if Quaresma doesn’t start), Portugal, $5,500
Djibril Sidibe, France vs. Argentina, $5,200 — Sidibe swung in six crosses in his only start of the tournament, highlighting his ability to get forward on the wing and earn attacking stats. France are dealing with some injury concerns at the back, so there’s a good chance Sidibe logs another start, and if he’s back in the lineup, he sticks out as arguably the most attractive defender in the player pool.
Other Options — Lucas Hernandez, France, $4,800; Raphael Guerreiro, Portugal, $4,600
Gabriel Mercado, Argentina vs. France, $3,700 — The right back delivered the game-winning assist to punch Argentina’s ticket to the knockout round, finishing with four crosses and 9.5 points to see off Nigeria. He’s typically not a high-volume crosser, but as was the case with the Nigeria game, game flow could cause Mercado to get forward more than usual if Argentina are chasing the game.
Other Options — Martin Caceres, Uruguay, $3,800; Marcos Rojo, Argentina, $3,100
Fernando Muslera, Uruguay, $4,800 — Muslera kept a clean sheet in all three group stage matches, albeit in arguably the weakest group in World Cup. He’ll have a stiffer test versus Ronaldo and Portugal, and with more save opportunities potentially coming his way, Muslera has big upside if he can pair multiple saves with a clean sheet or win bonus.
Other Options — Hugo Lloris, France, $5,100
Franco Armani, Argentina vs. France, $4,400 — Despite conceding from the spot, Armani earned a win in his World Cup debut and looks set to keep his spot in goal for the remainder of the tournament. While France are favored here, knockout games generally are tight, so taking the savings with Armani on a two-game slate makes sense.
Other Options — Rui Patricio, Portugal, $4,700
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.