Welcome to a midweek Champions League article where I run over some of the most important UCL selections on the DraftKings and FanDuel main slate for Tuesday, November 27th, 2018.
It’s hard not to get overly excited for European footy. The quality is through the roof, there’s all sorts of random names to learn about, and the ownership edges couldn’t be sharper than any other mainstream sport. As always we get our hands on some of the world’s best, but while this week is dominated by a few different games for the most part we will have to wait until Wednesday for the fan fav’s.
Tuesday offers us options but for the most part the day will be based around fades, and not picks. Taking the right team can mean everything, and while some teams’ attacks like ManUtd and Juve may struggle to find their GPP ceilings relative to their salaries, teams like Hoffenheim are set to smash, and even Bayern has some hidden goods as well.
Along with some player selections from this slate I also wanted to give a comprehensive breakdown of the schedule and a rough expectation of each team. It’s important to know what teams want and need to accomplish if you plan on adequately judging their ceilings. For each group two teams advance, and in the next round the first place team plays a second place team from another group and vice versa. So, while some teams have already booked their place, others are still looking to get through as well. Some teams need a win from this slate, and some teams have already been sent packing. In any case this is the second last set of games, so following this week’s results we will have a much better idea of how things will look going forward.
Good luck everyone, have fun! And as always see you at the top!
NOTE: Yaroslav Rakitskiy (Shakhtar) and Eden Dzeko (Roma) will not be playing and were announced out after I had written them up, sorry not sorry.
In terms of Tuesday we are dealing with the lower half of the table, Groups E-H.
In Group E Bayern and Ajax can close out their promotion with any kind of a result. While Bayern has already gained promotion into the next round they are hoping for an Ajax loss to claim 1st. In the likely case both Bayern and Ajax win on Tuesday it will set up a meeting in the final week to determine first and second. While AEK are toast, Benfica needs a win AND for AEK to upset Ajax. However, without all the spoils for Benfica OR any kind of Ajax result and Benfica will also be eliminated. One thing to note is Bayern has been nothing short of rotten as of late, and there’s significant suggestion that there is general unrest inside the camp. In any case, this group is pretty clear cut, and with an early Ajax win we can expect a Bayern result to follow.
Group F is far more complicated. Whoever the losers are come 90min will be in serious trouble going forward. If City lose then they and Lyon are equal in points. If Lyon lose than both Hoffenheim and Shakhtar Donetsk are given a hand back in. Whoever loses between Hoffenheim and Shakhtar is eliminated, but at the same time a draw would do no help to either as well. One of my bigger concerns around this group is nobody really needs to win. City and Lyon can tie; City goes through #1 and Lyon knows on the final day Hoffenheim has to beat City in order to have any hope at all. Hoffenheim can draw knowing Lyon probably aren’t going to beat City (again) and in doing so set themselves up to hopeullfy face a ManCity B squad on the final week for progression. It may not be something to write home about, but when teams aren’t needing the win, don’t search for it.
Group G is a different situation where teams need a victory. Mind you, an early CSKA win and things are way more interesting as it would force a victory from Real Madrid. Roma has the luxury of travelling to Plezn for the final day, so Real would know they need a win this slate to solidify progression, because Roma are winning on the final day. Roma know they have one more win in their pocket for later, but a loss basically spells out first and second, with second potentially having to deal with CSKA on the final day. The heaviest scenario would be a Roma win; Real would host CSKA on the final day with tons on the line, assuming of course CSKA wins early on Tuesday, having CSKA only a win vs. Real away from progression. Then again, if CSKA fail to win all this can be forgotten as Real and Roma would be auto-advancing, and they could draw out and play for goal differential on the final day for progression as first or second (which would be fun for us).
In terms of DFS, Group H is absolute gold. Here’s how it works; everyone wants to own the ManUtd and Juve players, and the games rarely if ever see more than two or three goals for the two teams, max. So, what ends up happening is we see a train of Juve/ManUtd ownership in GPP and the games rarely ever produce a ceiling. Floor? Sure, nothing is going to stop Ronaldo from shooting the ball at least five times, but in terms of scoring three he will need a rare game, even by his standards. I’m also not saying Young Boys or Valencia are overly viable, Valencia has some but very little value. At the moment Juve is looking like the legitimate best team in the world but they do so with possession and defending. The same can be said for ManUtd except the are exceptionally worse at every category. Point being, you may not want to fade Juve in GPP, but ManUtd deserves the fade. Not to mention while Young Boys are done, Valencia only needs some sort of a result vs. Juve and we have ourselves a group. A ManUtd/Juve win would seal both team’s progression, though Juve is already going it’s just a matter of in what position. All things considered, Juve should be winning this game, so if ManUtd fail to search for a result, the karmagods may outright deny them. Since it’s kind of Mourinho’s thing not to search for results I think one may argue this group is far from over.
Team Rank: 10/12
They will have the chance at goals and they aren’t too expensive. General rule for Shakhtar is find a Brazilian, the vast majority of their goals are scored by guys from Brazil. They love to play the counter but aren’t talented enough to hold the clean sheet. If they somehow get ahead they won’t have enough to hold back Hoffenhiem, they should probably concede three, but could score more than once.
Team Rank: 3/12
Probably my favorite team of the day simply based on salaries. They are at home and super capable of scoring. They are playing a team that should concede multiple goals, and if literally any of these salaries land on either side of both goals you will be caking on both ownership and value. I don’t like them to keep the clean sheet, but I do like them to score more than twice and not concede more than twice. Some other teams will need 4 goals to pay off, these guys need two, and it’s one of the more sure fire two goal teams of the slate. There are options everywhere for either format, except keeper. The German side has been too unreliable at the back, stack or one off on the attacking options, they will be far better worth you buck.
Team Rank: 4/12
It’s City, so what do we really expect? Now, they did lose last time around, and in terms of their weaknesses Lyon lines up 100%. I happen to be of the mind City vastly underestimated Lyon in the first set, and despite being away I don’t see that happening again. Aguero should get 90min of uncontested minutes, and Mahrez didn’t play on the weekend, so that instantly makes the team a better target thanks to their consistent minutes.
Team Rank: 7/12
They aren’t my favorite team but they have some interesting players. City hasn’t been as good away from home and Lyon did showcase how countering absolutely destroys City. I like them more than Real Madrid due to ownership and prices, but I don’t have the same kind of implied total/ceiling from Lyon. All we really need is some City clean sheets to be ruined and we don’t even need raw points, that should offset ownership enough to make them slightly more valuable than, say for example, Benzema doing just OK isn’t as valuable as Lyon doing just OK because they were cheaper and lesser owned. Lesser risk, and they really need to win, there’s that as well.
Team Rank: 11/12
Not much hope. Depending on who they start there could be some relevance, but in terms of a script all we can really shoot for is maybe a clean sheet buster. Bayern has infinitely better options in both elite and value salaries, so I find it hard to turn to anyone outside of maybe Jonas if he plays. Benfica did provide Neuer with his highest ceiling of the campaign, so there is also that to consider, it could cash in for them this time around as things aren’t settled at the Bayern camp. Or, they could completely go bust-o again, because they are pretty well done and dusted, especially with an Ajax win we could see a Benfica shutdown mode; they’ve been poor all season.
Team Rank: 2/12
One of the best teams in the world is at home playing a massively inferior opponent and has more than enough value options to fill a cash card on their own. There are concerns around squad moral and the injuries piling up, however if anything that should add more 90min players to your exposure. Don’t go crazy though, there’s lots of Bayern players not worth a look. But, if you fall on the right ones you can be banking for a massive NFL weekend.
Team Rank: 12/12
ManUtd are ManUtd, but travelling to Old Trafford isn’t exactly a recipe for instant results. ManUtd absolutely dominated these guys last time around, and while YB aren’t void of options, if ManUtd come out in any way up for it this could be over quickly. While I’m not looking for a multi-penalty shot affair like last game the stat should be indicative of United’s superiority. Young Boys could score, but it’s the biggest maybe of the slate. I’m not sure how much United has emotionally invested into the domestic result any longer; we may start to see the beginnings of United’s intention of a Euro focus. Needless to say Young Boys are long eliminated, and while United still has everything to play for I think they have more than everything to lose. Young Boys will be under it.
Team Rank: 5/12
If Lukaku was scoring at all, let alone a little bit we could think about taking some attacking options. However it’s safer to look at the defensive options and who ends up taking set pieces; the likely result for United goals. Pogba is an option based on the facts he’s been shooting like a forward and is taking the penalties; of which he scored multiple in their last meeting. A lot of this week’s exposure should be decided around which would class defense to side with, De Gea and ManUtd, or Juve and Schnez. If ManUtd had a better in form attack they would be rated higher, and if their defense wasn’t up for a clean sheet we would have issues as well. However, considering De Gea has been single handedly keeping United involved it’s hard to ignore their defensive upside against such an inferior opponent.
Team Rank: 9/12
Of all the weaker teams Valencia has the most upside. But, of all the weaker teams Valencia is playing the most superior opposition of the slate. One plus is Valencia love to cross the ball, so while you may not be drawn to them in either format, especially in GPP they add great contrarian context with their decent crossing floors. Their chance creation should be super low, so I only consider that a DK play. However, in the situation you fall on a forward in GPP you can rest on the fact the Juve keeper is as close to a Crystal Palace quality keeper as any of the legit-major-elite clubs have ever seen in their professional history.
Team Rank: 1/12
All around beasts. It’s hard to say what format these guys should see from your exposure; they don’t score a lot of goals, and they don’t allow a ton of keeper production. Juve are just as likely to go up 2-0 within 20min and sit back with 90% possession for the next 75min. That being said, Ronaldo is still shooting the ball at a rate where one goal and he can break the slate. Dybala has one of the safer floors AND ceilings, on top of not being a million dollars in salary he makes an incredible play for either format. I don’t like Szczesny as a keeper, but I’ll be damned if his team isn’t world class. Valencia shouldn’t have the goods to outlast Juve, and if anything will look to outshoot them. Bad idea. Despite their high salaries, Juve at home against an inferior opponent make them some of the better, if not the best plays of the slate.
Team Rank: 6/12
Part of me says Roma should absolutely smash from these salaries, especially Kolarov. Real Madrid hasn’t been anything remotely close to the team of yesteryears, and in the case people are still wild over their 6-0 Plzen victory it should draw more ownership to the Spanish side. Which is fine. Kolarov will still cross the ball eight times, no matter who is up front nor the opposition. Dzeko will still be 6’5 and faultless in the air, no matter how angry and malicious Sergio Ramos gets. Olsen is a legit keeper and hasn’t allowed a European home goal in ages, nay, yet this season? So, it’s not like Real Madrid are PSG caliber anymore. Roma are dealing with some injuries, but so is Real, so I’m not overly concerned and hope it adds more value to the mix. Roma may not win and definitely isn’t my first pick, but if there was one underdog I could side with it’s absolutely the Italians.
Team Rank: 8/12
It’s hard to know where to begin with these guys. I think it’s first most important to state this is not the same Real Madrid despite it being the same Gareth Bale. They are conceding, are wildly inconsistent, and in many cases struggling to find a foothold in most games. In terms of Tuesday there are more merits to fading Real than taking their side. They have been massively underwhelming against any kind of capable opponents, and especially away from home other than the Plzen result this team has been borderline mediocre. Real is also dealing with a rash of injuries, but in this case their defensive options are either hurt or coming back from being hurt. At this moment they have no true defensive midfielder on their roster for their one formation, and their main defensive CB that pairs with the Red card in waiting Ramos is also out, leaving Real wanting for defensive stability. In any case, they are still Real, and Bale can still come out of nowhere and break a slate. Unlike United or Juve, Real stand a real chance at a ceiling. The much bigger issue is the one thing standing in their way is Roma, a much more formidable opponent than Valencia or YB. This game will probably shootout, game stacks are in order, but in the case one side dominates, it shouldn’t be Real.
As mentioned already, at this moment Juve are looking like the legitimate world’s best team. I’m one of the biggest Schnez haters I know of, so none of this is overly easy to admit, but until last slate’s fall from grace vs. ManUtd the Juve backline had yet to concede. So, considering they are Juve the chances of being blown out are incredibly slim, while at the same time always be favored to walk away with the win. Valencia are far from incapable, so while I don’t exactly see a sure thing for a clean sheet, multiple saves and the win are more than in play. Again, considering how good Juve is and on neither site is he the most expensive, it’s hard not to consider Schnez one of the better keeper plays of the slate.
DAVID DE GEA
Keeper, Manchester United
Keeping with the same theme we have Group H’s ManUtd and their keeper David De Gea. Identical to Juve in the sense there’s no blowout ceiling on either end; ManUtd are at home, facing a far inferior opponent (who has been eliminated), and De Gea isn’t the most expensive salary on either site. Last time these two sides faced off in in Switzerland ManUtd completely dominated, and in truth at the time they had everything going against them. While there has been little and less to hope for domestically it wouldn’t surprise me to see United take their frustrations out on European competition. All this being said I can’t count the amount of times Dea Gea and United have checked all the boxes only to not show up, so I’m less convinced about his team security than Schnez and Juve. However, YB are the weaker team of the group so it’s not like we have to worry about stiff competition. If United show up this won’t be an issue. De Gea makes for a fine play in either format and is worth a clean sheet chase in GPP.
There’s a lot of obvious risk involved but I have a feeling Roma’s Robin Olsen will be the better value keeper play of the slate. As it stands Real Madrid is in serious doo-doo. Their away record this season has left everything to be desired and they are in serious threat of failing to qualify for any European action next season, let alone Champions League. Both teams are coming into this midweek off of embarrassing weekend losses, however where Roma had the excuse of rotation, Real Madrid simply failed to show up. This failure to show up wouldn’t be concerning if it wasn’t the running theme of Madrid’s season. Roma hasn’t lost in seven straight UCL home games, keeping a clean sheet in all but one, and has only lost one of their last eight (this past weekend), so we don’t have the same form concerns as found from Real. Not to mention Real are dealing with serious injury concerns to the already lack-of-depth issues. In particular their defensive core of Navas/Casmiero are out, and with Varane/Carvajal still coming back into form. Real may not be fully capable of dealing with the likes of Dzeko. I think Olsen will get the opportunity to make more than enough saves to offset any goal he may concede. If he does concede you are still fine, but once he starts conceding more than twice be genuinely concerned, it is Real after all. I’ll be very surprised if they score more than twice, but I’d never suggest they can’t. However, when you are looking for a value keeper my pick will be on Roma’s Robin Olsen.
The first defender I wanted to highlight is Hoffenheim’s Nico Schulz. For Schulzy it all comes down to positioning. So far this season he has been deployed as a wing back, a central midfielder, and a wing midfielder. In any case Schulzy is viable from any position, but more recently he has been used as a wing midfielder, skyrocketing his value. Basically, he gets all the attacking of a midfielder, the defensive output of a defender, and if Hoffenheim happen to find a clean sheet (this would be the most likely time) Schulzy still gets credit for the CS. He’s the ultimate +EV play of the slate. However, if he finds himself a CM fade him, and if he’s a wing back take care because Hoffenheim hasn’t been as effective using that formation. But, if you find him as a wing midfielder I have no issue with Nico Schulz in either format. There should be goals galore from this game, so he has tons of upside to go with his excellent floor and situation.
Defender, Shakhtar Donetsk
It’s no longer a secret that Shakhtar’s Rakitskiy is one of the better cash plays from slate to slate. His salary isn’t the lock and load from the past, but at the same time his situation is only made better by the notion this should be the highest scoring game of the slate. I’m not expecting a clean sheet from him, if never, so keeping him to cash is the best idea. If you are absolutely desperate for guaranteed 6-8fpts and nothing more nothing less, than sure, take him in GPP. However, he’s best kept to cash where you don’t need a clean sheet to complete to proper ceiling.
JOÃO CANCELO/ALEX SANDRO
To finish up the defenders I wanted to quickly touch on the wing back pairing from Juve. While I would prefer Sandro in cash and Cancelo in GPP, there’s no reason not to take them both in GPP; with a clean sheet they have a ceiling. While Dybala and Ronaldo need goals (and multiple to be GPP viable from their salary) all these two need is the clean sheet chase combined with their floor make and they become ultra relevant. Sandro definitely has the better floor so I prefer him first in line, and considering he’s the cheaper of the pair it’s even harder to turn him down. Cancelo was rested on the weekend so I fully expect him to be involved for 90min. Don’t sleep on these guys, they may be harder to afford if you take their attacking teammates, but in the case the attack doesn’t produce the three goals needed the defenders may end up the more valuable.
Starting off the midfield we have my favorite play on DK and still a very serviceable option on FD, Hoffenheim’s Kramaric. While his scores were slightly resered vs. City, against Lyon and Shakhtar he had no issue producing a massive floor outside his goals and assists. As I have been mentioning this game should be one of the higher totals of the slate. Neither keeper has been overly effective in their attempts at clean sheets, in fact Hoffenheim has not only conceded twice in each UCL game so far, but has conceded in all but one game this season. Neither team can lose nor draw, so if at any point Hoffenheim go behind, like their incredible comeback against Lyon, they will throw everything WITH the kitchen sink to get back into games. Hoffenheim are probably my favorite team to stack, and that leads and leans heavily on the performance of Kramaric.
When looking at the roster of Juve options there are some incredible world class names that jump out at you. One of my DFS pre-lock concerns is the consistent in occurrence, numerous variations in formations Juve has rolled with all season. I want to say Cuadrado is starting and playing 90min, but I can’t. He was a big play of mine going into last slate but didn’t get past a floor. But, what I can say is if he does play he makes for one of my more liked GPP options this slate. Juve’s main issues are ownership and lack of slate breaking ceilings. The best way to deal with both of those issues, which goes hand in hand, is take the defensive options, or at least the lesser attacking, cheaper salaries. Cuadrado has played right winger, right midfielder, and even wing back on occasion, so it would be unfair to call him an attacker like Dybala or Ronaldo. He’s taken four shot attemtps in each UCL game he’s played, including at least a shot on net and a cross in each game as well. So, while his floor and role may not be instantly cash worthy you may be able to sneak by, especially if he finds some sort of scoring. I prefer him in GPP for a few reasons. His salary doesn’t demand the ceiling Juve games can’t provide. Not only is he the cheaper, but he’s also the lesser owned of the Juve attacking threats, and his floor won’t ruin you in either format. Now, is his floor instantly double digits like Ronaldo or Dybala? No, but neither is his salary nor ownership. Like I said, with the return of Mandzukic it’s hard to say how Juve will continue to line up, but if Cuadrado finds his way into the starting XI he’s one of my favorite, if not only attacking GPP selection from Juve.
CARLOS SOLER/DANIEL WASS
If in case you aren’t playing a Juve defensive stack/keeper make sure not to sleep on the Valencia options, in particular their midfield duo of Soler and Wass. Wass is actually a wing back, so while both sites have him slated as a midfield this only really hurts his ceiling, not his floor. I have no issue with Wass in cash, even if you are taking Schnez and Juve at the back. His salary on DK doesn’t need a goal, where on FD I wouldn’t suggest him and Juve defensive options in the same card. He’ll go out, get his crosses, do his thing, while at the same time from his salary offer little risk for -EV value. I’m a little less bullish on Soler because he doesn’t have the same kind of floor and may be a little more goal dependent. Anyways, I have no issue with Wass in cash and no issue with Soler in GPP, though if you were to twist my arm about it you can probably get away with both in either.
It’s important to remember a few factors when City travel to Lyon this week. Firstly, outside the massively inferior Shakhtar (which caught City and Napoli off gaurd last season) City has been far from impressive in the Euro competition, barely getting by Hoffenheim and falling to Lyon last time around. While I don’t see City making the same mistake again, it still remains to be said they have conceded away at a rate which demands attention, and they continue to be susceptible to capable, counter-attacking teams. WIth Fekir both struggling with fitness and lacking overall health we can expect another healthy dosage of Depay for 90min on exclusive set pieces rights. I don’t necessarily expect City to lose, but at the same time I don’t expect them to prevent Depay from getting double digit fantasy points. Because it’s City we see Depay’s salary a bit reserved considering his role. However, considering Lyon are at home and has everything to play for, they must have to feel good about taking on a City side they have already expertly dealt with. Again, I’m not saying Depay slate breaker, but in cash when you need 10-12fpts from your forward; Depay can do that without a goal nor an assist. In his past seven games Depay has nine points, and like I said if you can get 6-10fpts floor from someone below 8k on DK it’s worth a few looks in cash, no matter opposition. I wouldn’t build around it, but Lyon’s Depay makes for one of the better fillers in the slate; for either format.
Forward, Young Boys
I didn’t want to finish forwards on such a low-salary note so I brought him up a peg, YB’s Assale may be one of the better value plays of the slate, forget forward. So, like usual, I’m not sitting here telling you to play Assale because he’s going to break the slate. On the contrary, Assale shouldn’t get you double digitis, but he in no way needs it. Look, I’m sure there are other players in the same salary range in different positions that can get you that score, know what position can’t from that salary? Forward. He smashes his salary range to bits, and while I wouldn’t expect a slate breaking performance nor even an assist, when you need a forward in either format that costs near min salary look no further than Assale. It’s not my first nor favorite choice, but chances are if I didn’t mention him you wouldn’t have looked to see how serviceable he’s been from the start of the competition. He’ll take some shots, take some crosses, draw some fouls, and if you’re lucky he’ll get you just enough fantasy relevance to allow your higher salaries everywhere else to shine. I wanted to restress, this isn’t something to build around, this is when you are in a sticky situation up front and need someone cheap or are looking for some to risk in cash. Unless you are in those very strict scenarios do not roster Assale, he’s not breaking this slate.
Finishing up the forwards we have my favorite forward of the slate in Hoffenheim’s Joelinton. While on both sites he is too cheap it’s his DK sa;ary that’s one of the bigger discounts of the slate. As I’ve been droning on about; I expect this to be one of the higher scoring games of the slate, and considering he’s at home and costs next to nothing, this is a no brainer. You could even get away with ol’ Joely in cash, I wouldn’t recommend it, but from his salary it’s definitely feasible. If you haven’t been following Hoffenheim, Joelinton is an absolute beast. He plays as the main target man up front, so most of the attack is looking to either end on him or gain entrance into the attacking zone through his hold up skills. The 6’1 Brazilian should feature for 90min on the home team in one of the higher scoring games of the slate, and cost below 7k. Like I said, you could use him in cash, it’s not ideal, but in terms of GPP there aren’t many forwards in his salary range with as much potential. He is even first-click worthy, get Joelinton into your GPP cards this slate.
MIDFIELD, Bayern Munich
Tuesday’s Man of the Slate prediction is none other than Bayern Munich’s Renato Sanches.
If you are unfamiliar with Sanches let me give you a quick run down; three years ago this guy was considered the wonderkid of all wonderkids. Playing a defensive midfield role like never seen before, the expectations for Sanches were through the stratosphere. Obviously, since/if you are just learning that, needless to say he hasn’t hit those expectations yet. Last season he made an incredibly bizarre loan move to Swansea which was as successful as their season and he came back to Bayern severely lacking match fitness, let alone the level of fitness expected from a club like Bayern. It’s taken him half a year to get back into form and find an opportunity to get back into the starting XI. Needless to say he’s absolutely running with it.
Sanches was never a bad player but his roles on teams never attributed to DFS success. However, with most of his teammates either currently injured or coming back into health Sanches has found a ton of minutes as a roaming midfielder. What makes him even more impressive, not to mention his absurd low salay, is the fact he’s now in full exclusive control of set pieces for Bayern; roles previously held by the injured James Rodriguez and the oft-overpriced Kimmich.
That is the massive question people need to ask this slate, who is taking Bayern’s set pieces? It’s not like Sanches has come out of nowhere with this; he handled set pieces for Swansea on occasion. However the likelihood Sanches continues in this exclusive role is completely up in the air. Furthermore, if in fact Sanches continues on set pieces (which would be awesome and makes him the easy lock of the slate) Kimmich will be lucky to surpass five crosses, let alone find value in either format from his salary.
So, jumping on Sanches could be great for a few reasons. You’re getting the main guy on the main team for the slate, AND at the same time he will destroy tons of other ownership which latched onto an expected output Sanches now owns. This concept does come with risk; with injuries and a lack of starter minutes, lasting a full 90min seems pretty likely, however if Kimmich ends up on set pieces don’t cry and wonder what could have ever caused this to happen. The idea here is we are trying to sneak one under the masses. Without question Sanches is the sharpest play of the slate, but that rests entirely on the idea he continues as the exclusive set pieces taker for Bayern. If pre-lock you can confirm that is the case I have no issue with Sanches in either format, and though I would never recommend it, go literally 100% on this guy. Renato Sanches is lining up to be the play of the slate and it’s not even a discussion, though it has been.