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 and Wednesday, February 19/20th, 2019.
This slate is all about chasing that penalty shot goal. There won’t be a lot of clean sheets to be had, so chasing the keeper who will allow the least goals/most saves ratio makes far more sense, or in other words, value not salary. Every game possesses the ability to multiple goals coming from the spot, so in slate order: Messi, Depay, Lewandowski, Salah/Milner, Aguero, Ronaldo, and Griezmann are all very high on my list. Barcelona and Bayern may play for the next leg, and City is looking like a classic 4+ goal victory. It’s an incredible slate mixed with some incredible talent, so no matter how you choose to build this midweek, getting one superstar into your cards may not be enough.
Good luck everyone, have fun! And as always see you at the top!
This has to be one of the heaviest four-game slates I can remember.
Not only do we have both Ronaldo and Messi, but a plethora of other options, some who are thousands too cheap in salary. Barca will be travelling from Spain into France, and while that doesn’t seem demanding, Lyon’s record on home soil will make this a very complicated affair. Bayern are looking to rebound from what has been a disappointing season, and while Liverpool’s home record has been near perfect, their backline is looking thin, so there should be goals for both sides. Don’t be surprised to see Bayern play safe until they get Liverpool away from Anfield. If we are looking for the biggest mis-match of the Knockout round it’s easily City vs. Schalke. The German side has had no business even being in the competition, and their progression was far more due to their group than stellar performances. Finally, Juve is making the trip into Spain to play Atletico. While this game has every story-line to suggest a low scoring affair, both of these teams have seen a massive increase in production and ceilings, so the majority of my ownership will be focusing on the final game of the slate in the hopes it goes under-owned.
The two keys for this slate will be the under-priced elite talents with their low ownership, and the lack of solid keeper options. Fade the Barca win, and chase some penalty shots!
Targets: Keeper with a wing back (cash), Coutinho (cash), Leo Messi.
For the first game of the slate we are offered our first serious take, how to handle Bara’s first leg trip into France.
There’s three ways to consider this. Firstly, it’s Barca, they are Barca, it’s Messi and he’s Messi, Coutinho, Suarez, it’s very obvious and old news of what Barca are about, and how they do business. You can buy into that, most notably through Messi being your highest owned player, but their ceilings aren’t suggesting success. The second way to handle this side is the DFS logic side; they’re old news, expensive, too highly owned, and at home this season Lyon has made work of all Europe’s high class sides. Barca has been leaky on defense, and without massive blowout victories (which haven’t been as prevalent lately), their salaries and ownership fail to own up. In fact, away from home and in all competitions each they’ve won only once in their previous four games, and this season they’ve won only 10 of their 17 (all-competition) away games; sub-standard considering their status. A more concerning issue surrounds Barca’s form, of which seems to be dipping. Their four goal outings back in September and October seem a distant memory from the current side, as low scoring games has become more the form than blowouts. Barca has never lost to Lyon in six UCL games, so while I don’t expect a Barca loss, I also don’t expect a (big) Barca win.
Given they are playing away from home, in low scoring games, and playing a team who loves to counter, ceilings may not be the best usage for Barca exposure. Make sure to use these guys exclusively in cash. Messi makes GPP sense, and chasing a penalty goal against an ultra-countering team is a solid play, so you could be excused using him in GPP. Barca tend to allow more shots on the road, so look for either keeper (whichever gets the start) as a decent floor play, because Lyon aren’t a team to blowout anybody. The same can be said of the wing backs, both decent floor plays, but without the obvious clean sheet chase (which technically is still there, it’s Barca afterall) their raw points nor value won’t hold up in GPP, remember, their ownership. Taking Coutinho in cash is an interesting and viable pivot when you are looking for Barca exposure but not wanting to ruin your salary script. The idea with Barca is the only way you can avoid their ownership is to use them in cash, and (outside of Messi) since they are lacking raw points ceilings this works out anyway. However, across the board they are still too expensive for the “most viable plays of the slate” tag, so going overboard on Messi in the hopes his ownership is decreased due to his high salary and other big name options seems the only sound option.
Unfortunately, Barcelona isn’t a team to go out and score 4 goals. What’s worse, their ownership and salaries demand 4 goals. They are always more than capable, so chasing Messi makes sense, but that’s all the Barca I will strive for.
Targets: Anthony Lopes, Memphis Depay, Martin Terrier.
For the first home team of the slate we have French side Lyon. This is the very kind of team that make DFS and UCL so much fun. And profitable.
This season Lyon has consistently dealt with the biggest sides in the world. They beat PSG and ManCity, home and away respectively. They then drew ManCity at home, went undefeated in the Champions League, played incredibly productive footy, and have lost only three home games all season. The same players play the same roles in the same position for the same amount of time every game, so not only have they been doing well, but it’s extremely predictable. Along with all this, going up against a team like Barcelona will drive down their salaries and ownerships. While that may not matter for their defenders, Memphis Depay instantly becomes one of the best plays of the entire slate. Mind you, things aren’t entirely rosy for the French side; they aren’t exactly healthy nor presented with a plethora of options. They have won only once this UCL campaign, drawing the other five, and the win wasn’t even at home. Their scripts for success are limited, and if Depay falters/Messi scores an early goal, this slate could be over very quickly for Lyon ownership. So, while Lyon is one of the better DFS options from this slate, they aren’t the best team, and while they do present some interesting sharp plays, they don’t come without serious risk.
A lot of my builds this midweek will start with Anthony Lopes as my keeper. Clean sheets may be hard to come by, and I’d rather bet against Barca not scoring 4, which they haven’t been lately, vs. City scoring 4, which has been happening at an extreme frequency. If Barca scores more than 2 goals then Lopes is ruined, however, considering both sides present a low scoring game outlook, Lopes stands to be one of, if not the best keeper option for the midweek. However, the same can’t be said about his defenders, who are unquestionably the worst options of the slate. Anything can happen in DFS, but these guys do not produce, period. Hopefully this will drive down Lopes’ ownership (in either format) as people find there is nothing viable to stack with. The two main points outside of Lopes will be Memphis Depay and Martin Terrier. With no Fekir, Depay is THE guy for Lyon. His salary is far too cheap, and considering he’s up against Barca his ownership will be at a massive discount as well. I wouldn’t suggest this for GPP as there shouldn’t be a massive ceiling, but in terms of ownership and salary vs. talent and role, there’s nobody comparable to Lyon’s Depay. Get him into your cash cards, and I wouldn’t talk you out of him in GPP either. Terrier should also see a ton of minutes, and while this slate is pumped full of massive names and elite talent, there’s not a lot of decent value. Terrier presents that, for either format. He’s a huge risk for cash, so he may be better suited for GPP, though from his salary a goal will set you up for a takedown, as it allows builds that feature those insane names, with an S.
Lyon has done well all season to quell the biggest names in football. Barca isn’t the gods from earlier in the season/recent history, and while a Lyon win may be a big ask, Barca not winning isn’t a big ask at all, and that’s even before we consider the insanely massive DFS relevance that entails.
Targets: Kimmich (Cash), Javi Martinez, James Rodrigues (Cash), Robert Lewandowski (GPP).
For the second away side of the slate we have Bayern travelling into England to face Liverpool.
It’s tough to peg this Bayern side. To put it almost too simply, they probably won’t win this away trip, and in knowing this will be playing for the return leg, or more specifically playing for a draw or as close to as possible. The notion is Liverpool is not only a great home side, but they are also conversely quite poor away. Bayern will feel strongly about dealing with Liverpool away, and be understandably less confident at Anfield. As they are Bayern and will be lower owned compared to the field, they aren’t without options, and having won 10 of their previous 15 show they have gotten over the early season cobwebs. Outside of AEK, Bayern allowed Benfica and Ajax to score (the latter had 4 in the two games). They have shown defensive issues all season, and travelling to Liverpool won’t fix those. Bayern is also coming into this massively under-manned. We will get some solid 90min games from a select few players, but if they aren’t cutting it (considering they are at Anfield, crazier things have happened) Bayern won’t the have options to go for it. They may settle for an away goal and try to out-aggregate Liverpool back in Germany. This all means a few things; while they will be low owned and give solid 90min games, they will be lucky to score more than once, and considering Liverpool has lost a ton of away fixtures this season to an array of caliber teams, Bayern will be happy with just a goal, and that’s never something to look for in DFS.
As a whole Bayern has a ton of cash options, but very few for GPP. One of the bigger issues with Neuer is he rarely sees more shots than he concedes, and his salary will rarely represent that fact. This is exactly one of those games waiting to happen for Neuer. Kimmich will continue to be the prototypical slate-to-slate cash play, but my concern is his lack of team ceiling, as without an assist his salary may hinder your ability to get the massive salary attacking floors, or reach those heights, which this slate will be far more viable. James Rodriguez is another ultra-cash viable option that without a massive team ceiling could be left behind. However, with James’ minutes and exclusive set pieces, he makes for one of the more role-defined options of the slate, even if it’s away at Liverpool (I’ll be honest, he reminds me of Kroos from last slate, and that didn’t turn out well). Lewandowski is scoring goals at a rate that suggests he’s a viable GPP option, and with his low ownership and salary he could very easily continue that scoring trend, especially from the spot. Considering Liverpool will be without multiple starting defenders, the make-shift structure could play right into my namesake’s hand and we could be looking at multiple Bayern goals as well. Finally, Javi Martinez is far, far too cheap. He’s one of the better options of the slate, and is a near cash lock (his mis-position on FD makes him even more valuable). Make sure to get Martinez in as many cards as possible this midweek.
Liverpool has been too good at home to expect a Bayern victory, however, both teams are coming into this lacking bodies. Expect Bayern to score, but choosing what amount of guys to use in cash will be the real decision. There are three, and while you could get away with it against Liverpool’s makeshift backline, a little more diversity may be the better play.
Targets: Alisson, Wing Backs, Milner if wing back, Salah (GPP), Mane (GPP).
For Tuesday’s second game we have Liverpool hosting the German giants Bayern Munich.
Liverpool is another side that is incredibly hard to predict. On one hand, they are at home which this season has seen an almost near perfect record, winning 11 of their previous 12 at home, losing only once there all season. On the other hand, they have a make-shift backline, and it’s been showing in recent weeks. They’ve been conceding to teams far FAR below the Bayern caliber, so there isn’t a lot to suggest that should change this slate. That being said, I like Liverpool for a couple reasons. Firstly, they will be lesser owned and cheaper than they should be, and secondly, if their backline continues to lack then they’re sure-fire for conceding a goal, if they are to win (which they should), then they’ll need to score more than 2. Liverpool isn’t oblivious to their lack of away form, so they will be looking to make as much space as possible, where Bayern will be looking to keep it close. Now, Liverpool could fail in this bid, making the lesser owned Bayern-playing-not-to-lose script far more valuable. That being said, Liverpool has been lacking at the back, but Bayern has been poor in general.
Alisson is too cheap, but, and that’s a massive but, he’s super unlikely to keep em’ all out. He does have viability as a lesser salary cash option, or with his great stacking points in GPP. Fabhino may end up playing CB, and while that won’t change a lot on DK, it could sky-rocket him to a top end option on FD. I’m less interested in Robertson and TAA, with the latter still lacking match fitness. Much like other games I will continue the penalty shot chase through Salah, though Mane is a massive bump up in my eyes; given his salary, lesser ownership than the field or compared to Salah, and going up against the purely offensive Kimmich, makes Mane an extra viable GPP play. I also don’t mind Milner in GPP if he’s starting in place of TAA. but if he’s in the middle of the field I would keep him to a low exposure GPP. Bayern should score, making a clean sheet chase obsolete, so defenders in cash. Mind you, Liverpool should score more than twice, so getting Salah and Mane, maybe even together, is equally viable. One of my bigger concerns is Liverpool has been done-in repeatedly by counter attacking teams. If Bayern choose to keep this close and counter, Liverpool could and will find themselves caught out.
Liverpool is so good at home and so bad away that they may end up going full throttle for the win. Considering there was already lots to suggest Bayern will be looking to not-lose before winning, Liverpool could end up being a massive ceiling from this slate. They aren’t my favourites, but they’re up there.
Targets: Laporte, KDB, Sane or Mahrez (Cash), Aguero (GPP).
For Wednesday’s first game we have City making the trip into Germany to play Schalke.
This game is so one-sided it’s almost too good to be true. Up until the new year City were showing signs they were no longer the incomprehensibly dominant side, but 2019 has been kind. They’ve won 12 of their last 13 games, scoring a massive 49 goals over that time. All of their group stage games finished with more than 3 total goals, and Schalke has seen as many in six of their previous nine home games. There’s not much more that needs to be said; City is in ultra-dominant form, Schalke probably didn’t deserve to be in the UCL in the first place, and every City UCL game has seen at least 3 total goals. At the very least City should win +2, making them one of the more solid ceilings of the slate.
However, there are a few issues around City, namely with their DFS production. Ederson, while viable, shouldn’t see enough shots, and in the case he gets a clean sheet there will be no backing. He will need some luck to beat out every other keepers’ value, if not raw points. I like Laporte, especially for smaller slates and showdowns. However, there’s no consistent crossing floor from the wing backs, making an Ederson stack super sub-optimal. City played on Saturday and Jesus played 90min, come Wednesday I’ll be surprised to see Aguero plays anything less, making him an excellent GPP option. KDB didn’t feature, as David Silva did. 90min chase on the first, fade for the latter. It’ll also be important to see what wingers are used, either Sane or Mahrez could be valuable, but if both start at the same time it kills either floor. One of the bigger issues for not only City but the slate is; City should do well, but they all cost too much. If you take Aguero and KDB, you’re script building is ruined, and if one or both fail you’re completely done with their prices. If you take David Silva or any other CM and they see less than 80min, toastcity. If Mahrez and Sane both start, then there’s no crossing floor, and on their own they are borderline too expensive, especially with Ronaldo, Griezz, or any other +9k DK salary. So, City should do well, but in terms of DFS that may not translate into slate success. City could just as easily score 4 goals and half of the available production comes from subs.
Schalke has no business this deep into the competition, and while City has been extremely dominant, this game holds too many of “too good to be true’s” to sit back on.
Targets: Daniel Caligiuri.
Don’t let their group stage fool you, Schalke isn’t very good, they don’t deserve to be here, and should get absolutely smashed this midweek.
There’s a couple ways to approach this, either Schalke has been bad at home, or they were very unimpressive in the UCL, either way it’s not ideal. They are in a domestic relegation battle, residing only a couple wins out of freedom. Despite the massively inferior competition that was their group, Schalke repeatedly failed to score more than a couple times per game. They concede a lot and with consistency, they don’t score a lot, and are at home vs. ManCity.
Whichever keeper starts is facing 4 goals. In fact, there’s only one viable Schalke option to use, and that’s Daniel Caligiuri. Even then, he’s limited at best. It should also only take a moment to notice the vast amount of names with points, that’s because Schalke love to sub, and sub the DFS friendly positions. So, not only do they have a ton of things going against them, but they also do themselves zero favours. At least Uth gets 90min, but guys like Mendyl, who should be viable, rarely start.
This is so bad it makes them good. Schalke will be dustbowl owned for good reasons, and while I would favour them the further we got up the field, they will be my last options from this slate.
Targets: Pjanic, Ronaldo.
For the final game of the midweek we have my two favourite sides of the slate, Juve travelling to Atleti.
There’s two ways to approach these sides; the right and wrong way. Firstly, the wrong way, which would be assuming and betting on a low scoring game. Much like City and the new year, the new calendar has Juve becoming some of the top scorers in Europe. They are obliterating the Italian league, and over the weekend after resting some of their bigger names, are looking to take this midweek by storm. What has been a long trend of low-scoring games has become old news, and the buy-low on Juve is now the 3+ goals bet. In six straight and in six of their previous eight games, Juve has seen at least 3 total goals. There were 3+ goals in half of Juve’s group games, including seven of their previous 11 Knockout games. For multiple seasons I have preached the Juve-no-ceiling trends, but that has most certainly ended. Expect at least 2 Juve goals this slate, and considering it’s Szczesny there’s always room for 2 goals coming back.
As mentioned, Szczesny isn’t a Juve standard of player and is just as likely to finish -EV than win you a slate. Atletci +1 goal. Juve’s backline is old, getting older, and lacking consistent 90min games. Sure, they have viable options, but wait to see who the wing backs are before making a decision. With Douglas Costa and Cuadrado missing, this should open up a couple doors. My main concern is Dybala and Bernardeschi don’t play at the same time, and while they could, Juve seems unlikely to use a formation like that. Mind you, the entire slate should revolve around Ronaldo and his lack of top-end salary. He’s taking more than five shots, more than three on net, and scoring at least once. Don’t be surprised if he also pulls a penalty goal and another from open play. The last name on Juve I want to cover is Pjanic, who is one of my fav GPP options. He takes the deeper set pieces where Ronaldo will take close in shots. Look for Pjanic to provide some of the highest end discounts in both salary and ownership to someone who still has a high end role and skill set.
This Wednesday, Juve has all the ability to score and concede a couple. Guys like Ronaldo and Pjanic are thousands too cheap in salary, and with the long running theme of low scoring Juve games, we may get some massive ceilings for little to no ownership.
Targets: Antonie Griezmann.
For the final home team of the slate we have Atletico Madrid hosting Juve.
Much like Juve, for seasons I have harped on-and-on about Atletico’s defensive capabilities and low scoring games. Both of these notions are no longer relevant. Four of their previous seven home games have seen 3+ goals, they’ve won only once in their last three, and three over their previous six, so there’s goals, and they aren’t winning. They’ve gone from conceding >2 goal in games to conceding multiples in +3 total goal games. They should have dominated their group stage, but they lost to Brugge and allowed almost as many goals as saves made. They no longer play to not-lose, giving them a slight uptick in offensive DFS, as they will do more and need more to outright win. If only their production would up to a level that would make their ownerships and salary worthwhile, we could have excellent options this slate. As they still aren’t a great DFS team, our exposure should be limited to a few players at most.
Simply put, if Oblak does it, he shouldn’t, but if he does find a ceiling, it will be the biggest in history. Felipe Luis would be far more viable if he wasn’t facing Ronaldo’s side and wasn’t taking a card every other game. Koke not playing will define the slate, as it make Saul slightly better, and makes Griezmann one of the safer locks of the entire slate. He will have exclusive set pieces, and given I am still chasing the penalty shots, Griezz stands to be one of the best PK options of the slate. I wouldn’t stray too far away from Griezz, as the slate doesn’t necessitate strange, far out plays. By striking up the penalty shot multiple goal script, very few people line up like Griezz. He will be too low owned for his role and skill, his salary is too cheap, and his upside is comparably endless. Game stack this game. Griezz and Ronaldo FTW, it’s hard to ignore the final game of the slate, especially when everyone else will be.
This game has been sold as one of the lowest scoring of the season. However, I’m completely bought into both sides scoring, and at least one of the two sides will score more than once. I like Griezz and Ronaldo for a pair each, though I give the slight upper hand to Griezz for his discounts in salary and ownership.