This article is part of our DraftKings Fantasy Soccer series.
If you're sitting there thinking, "wait, I thought this match wasn't supposed to be played until the second week of April," you are right in that thought. Brisbane Roar were scheduled to play Melbourne Victory this weekend, while Newcastle Jets were set to face Wellington Phoenix. However, with those two opponents now self-isolating after playing in New Zealand (where Wellington Phoenix are located) last week, the league decided to move up the Roar v. Jets match to this week thanks to "a space in the schedule." Additionally, like almost all matches that are still being played around the world, this one will be without fans in the stadium.
The Jets come in unbeaten in their last six, though the run of success still has them just ninth in the table with a minus-13 goal differential. Meanwhile, Brisbane sit fourth thanks to strong defensive work, allowing just 24 goals, the fourth-fewest in the league, in 21 matches. Unfortunately, they've also only scored 24 goals, with last-place Central Coast Mariners the lone team to find the back of the net fewer times. Brisbane's good play of late still doesn't have them favored in the match, as they are +165 to win versus Newcastle at +155, so obviously a close one is expected. Additionally, the strong defense and poor attack of Brisbane plays into the odds of only -148 for more than 2.5 goals (+120 under) versus -220 for under 3.5.
The most expensive player on the slate is Brisbane's Jay O'Shea ($10,200), who co-leads the team in shots while leading them in crosses by a decent margin. He took two shots, drew two fouls and sent in 13 crosses in the first meeting between these teams back on Dec. 28, and his role on set pieces will certainly make him one of the highest-owned players and a popular captain in cash games. The only other player who has shown a tendency cross for Brisbane is defender Scott Neville ($6,600), but it's worth noting that he's been playing as a center-back in a three-man back line recently and most of his crosses came earlier this season when he was a right-back. Unfortunately, lining up centrally really limits his ability to move forward, and paying a full-back price for a center-back doesn't seem prudent.
Corey Brown ($5,400) and Jack Hingert ($5,200) are expected to be the starting wing-backs or full-backs, with the former a more active crosser while the latter takes more shots. There really isn't much of a difference between the two, with Brown's floor maybe ever-so-slightly higher due to fouls drawn. Neither player really needs to be prioritized, but if you're looking to fill your last spot in their salary range, they're fine.
One player who probably should be prioritized is Scott McDonald ($9,600), who comes in with three goals on eight shots (four on target), eight chances created, five crosses and seven fouls drawn in his last two games. McDonald has had a strong floor while playing in the attacking three, much more so than Bradden Inman ($8,400), who had an assist on two chances created in each of the past two games but also hasn't sent in a single cross in the past four, three of which included zero shots. Meanwhile, Mirza Muratovic ($4,400) could lead the line and seems quite cheap for a starting attacker. Then again, his spot in the starting XI isn't guaranteed because Brisbane could just use McDonald and Inman up front like they did a few matches ago when they used a five-man back line. Muratovic also has no floor, so you're rostering him with the hope he scores one of the few (or the only) goal(s) in the match. If you want a slightly higher floor, Aiden O'Neill ($4,200) is likely to provide that, but his upside isn't nearly as high since he plays as a defensive midfielder. However, with a scattered shot or two plus some fouls drawn and tackles won, he could be fine if you're looking to save in a spot and pay up elsewhere.
The Newcastle side has plenty to offer, led by Dimitri Petratos ($10,000), who is first on the team in crosses, shots, shots on target, goals and assists. His numbers are exactly what you want from a floor perspective, as he went six consecutive matches with at least 11 crosses, and while he had just 15 total in his past two games, he also took six shots, including two on goal, and added four fouls drawn in that span. He is also perfectly fine from an upside perspective, as he has two goals and three assists in his last five. Given that Newcastle are the favored side, even while sitting ninth in the table, Petratos will surely be one of the highest-owned players and a popular captain, even with his high price. Newcastle may have only scored 24 goals this season, but 11 came in the past five games, so they are certainly trending in the right direction.
The Newcastle goal hunt should probably start with Roy O'Donovan ($9,800), who has scored one goal on three shots, including two on target, in each of the past three games, a run that also saw him win seven fouls. O'Donovan, who actually played for Brisbane this season before returning to Newcastle, has the highest anytime goal scorer odds in the game, though at +155 they aren't that great. Petratos is definitely the floor play, and moving to O'Donovan for GPPs is understandable, though pairing them might be asking a lot for a game that should be tight.
In terms of floor plays, Matthew Millar ($7,800) might be the better option, particularly because he's so much cheaper. Newcastle have also used a three-man back line, using Millar as a right wing-back, and his production is similar to Petratos', as he's second on the team in goals, shots and crosses while leading them in fouls drawn and interceptions. That kind of overall production should certainly make him a popular play, and he makes sense as a correlation play with O'Donovan. Then again, Millar has been GPP-friendly lately, scoring two goals in his last four games, a run that included eight shots (four on target) and 14 crosses. In fact, Millar's production is strong enough where he could be an interesting pay-down captain option, which could allow spending up in the other spots more than Petratos or O'Shea would. Bobby Burns ($6,000) is expected to start on the other wing, but his overall production doesn't come close to Millar's despite sending in 21 crosses five games ago (Petratos had 11 in that one, plus two goals and one assist).
The wildcard is Wesley Hoolahan ($8,000), who you may remember from his time at Norwich City and/or West Brom. He started in the front line for last weekend's win over Adelaide, but he failed to take a shot in 69 minutes, a time that did see him send in two crosses and win two fouls. It seems very difficult to make the case that he can be a cash-game consideration, and it's possible that he's owned more than he should be in GPPs because people actually recognize him (really).
Finding values might be tough because the pricing seems to be fairly efficient and we don't have any huge absences. With that, we're probably looking at holding midfielders and center-backs to fill out the rest of our lineups, which isn't that fun. Angus Thurgate ($3,000) wouldn't normally be a consideration since Steven Ugarkovic ($4,600) has been the more productive player, mostly for his defensive work, but the difference in salary could tip the scales.
Unfortunately, the goalkeepers don't provide much salary relief either. Given this match could be tightly contested, rostering a goalkeeper like Jamie Young ($6,200) looks interesting, especially since he's scored at least 8.2 fantasy points in eight of his last nine games, a run that saw him hold all of his opponents to one or zero goals. Meanwhile, Lewis Italiano ($5,600) has been solid too, though he's cheaper because his success hasn't been as great despite wins in each of his past two games. Then again, neither are great values, so you're using those roster spots on them instead of midfielders or center-backs who could theoretically ,score a goal.