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DraftKings Fantasy Soccer: Tuesday Champions League Picks

Andrew M. Laird

Andrew M. Laird, a four-time FSWA Award finalist, is RotoWire's Senior Soccer Editor and an editor for the site's NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL, CBB and DFS content.

With two of Tuesday’s eight Champions League matches being played in Belarus (BATE v. Bayer Leverkusen) and Russia (Zenit v. Valencia), which means they start at noon EST, the DraftKings slate leaves us without one of the bigger favorites of the day (Leverkusen are 4/7 road favorites) and one big time producer in Hulk. Less Hulk always means less fun.

Nevertheless, there are still a number of heavy favorites to take advantage of as we tackle another week of Champions League action on DraftKings.

Home (win odds) (draw odds) Away (win odds)
Arsenal (2/9) 11/2 Dinamo Zagreb (12/1)
Barcelona (2/7) 9/2 Roma (10/1)
Bayern Munich (1/7) 15/2 Olympiakos (16/1)
Lyon (7/10) 14/5 Gent (4/1)
Maccabi Tel Aviv (10/1) 7/2 Chelsea (4/11)
FC Porto (8/13) 14/5 Dynamo Kyiv (5/1)

Zenit, Real Madrid and Manchester City have already clinched spots in the knockout phase (though not their seeds), while Maccabi Tel Aviv and Borussia Monchengladbach are the only clubs to have no chance at finishing in the top two of their respective groups (thanks for playing!). If you're overly curious what each club needs to do to qualify for the next round, you can find it here, but ultimately nearly every club playing Tuesday needs some kind of result.

Because we have a number of solid favorites, there are a fair amount of value plays that can help us fit in the power options.

Goalkeepers:

Unsurprisingly, Manuel Neuer ($4,600) v. Olympiakos, Petr Cech ($4,400) v. Dinamo Zagreb and Marc-Andre Ter Stegen ($4,300) v. Roma are the three most expensive options. All three are excellent choices.

For a cheaper play, Lyon's Anthony Lopes ($3,800) v. Gent should provide solid savings, as will FC Porto's Iker Casillas ($4,000) against Dynamo Kyiv. Of the two, Porto has the higher win odds, but it's worth noting that Kyiv have scored eight goals in their last four games (three in the Ukrainian Premier League). Lyon sit second in Ligue 1 this season, though they've been awful in the Champions League, losing three of their first four and drawing the other. They need wins to make a legitimate run at the knockout phase.

It's understandable to focus on Chelsea's Asmir Begovic ($4,100) playing against a Maccabi side that's already been eliminated, but Chelsea have been so unreliable this season that you just never know what you're going to get.

Defenders

Because of the new DraftKings scoring system, searching for clean sheets isn't as important for defenders as it is for goalkeepers. Because defenders only get three points for clean sheets, and don't lose any points for goals allowed, finding a defender who sends in crosses is far more important than one on an overwhelming favorite that could shut their opponent out. Sure, a clean sheet and lots of crosses is nice, but those are the expensive guys. You also get points for tackles (+1) and interceptions (+0.50), but crosses are much more plentiful and should be the focus.

Miguel Layun ($3,600)
Layun is the sixth-highest priced defender but he's shown this season that can be provide big scores, including 24 and 23 points, respectively, in Porto's back-to-back matches with Maccabi Tel Aviv. He also has a goal in both of his last two games, though depending on those from a defender is naive.

Jeremy Morel ($2,400)
Cristophe Jallet ($3,300) scored in the reverse fixture, while Rafael ($3,100), formerly of Manchester United, has also gotten playing time at right back lately, and while both are solid plays, neither crosses that much more than Morel to warrant the extra salary, though Jallet does lead the team in tackles per game (3.6).

Kieran Gibbs ($2,700)
Hector Bellerin ($3,300) and Nacho Monreal ($3,300) will likely spend plenty of time attacking because Arsenal need all three points to have a shot at advancing to the knockout round, but Gibbs could get the start as an actual attacking winger, as he did Saturday against West Brom as an injury replacement for Theo Walcott and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. With both players still out, Gibbs provides solid attacking value from a defender.

Adriano ($2,600)
This is less a specific recommendation for Adriano than it is a place to discuss the importance of checking our lineups page before finalizing your roster(s). Every gameweek there are instances where at least one of the bigger favorites puts out a surprise at one of their fullback spots, which is where you want to focus for defenders, even with the addition of tackles and interceptions as fantasy stats. Adriano was one such example in the last Champions League gameweek when Barcelona played BATE, and while Jordi Alba ($4,300) and Dani Alves ($4,200) are expected to start Tuesday, you just never know until the lineups are announced.

Other suggestions: Baba Rahman ($2,300); Mathieu Debuchy ($2,900); Henri Bedimo ($3,200)

Midfielders

While there are a number of upside plays in the midfield, some of the higher options have issues that cut their value a bit. Eden Hazard ($7,100) is the highest priced midfielder but has been a shell of himself this season. Given his production, there is absolutely no reason why he should be this expensive. Even his ceiling isn't particularly high, as he's not a huge goal scorer, he doesn't cross much and Chelsea have been awful this season as a whole. Making matters worse, his floor is fairly low, so paying out this much for a player with a low floor and low ceiling makes little sense.

You could make the case for Arjen Robben ($6,700), as he has a goal and two assists in his last three appearances (two starts), but you could also argue that using the Bayern forwards (more on them later) provide more upside in a game they should dominate.

Arsenal's Mesut Ozil ($5,900) has been a very solid contributor in Premier League contests, as the switch to Opta as a stats provider allowed Ozil's corners and free kicks from the side to be counted as crosses. His 11 assists lead the Premier League, though his goal upside is limited.

Speaking of crosses, the following lower-cost players should still provide a decent amount of points, even if their teams don't score much, or at all.

Mathieu Valbuena ($5,100)
Valbuena was a decent fantasy option before corners were counted as crosses, but now he's nearly a must play given his price and the fact that Lyon are heavy favorites. Valbuena has sent in 49 crosses in four Champions League fixtures this season, while drawing at least three fouls in each of the last three. With Lyon needing three points to stay in the knockout round picture, they will have to attack at full force Tuesday, which should give Valbuena plenty of opportunities to stand over the ball.

Konstantinos Fortounis ($3,000)
Olympiakos are heavy underdogs playing at Bayern Munich, but Fortounis' role is too important to ignore, particularly at this price. He sent in 12 crosses against Dinamo Zagreb in the prior gameweek, and because he takes corners for the Greek giants, he has to be in consideration.

Willian ($5,200)
Willian has easily been Chelsea's best player this season, though with the way they've played it's not really saying that much. Regardless of the Blues' struggles, Willian has been an excellent fantasy performer because he's taking free kicks and corners. He has scored double-digit fantasy points in 10 straight games, and he's sent in at least 10 crosses or drawn 10 fouls in four straight. He's got a great floor because of everything he does on the pitch, with goal upside thanks to his free-kick abilities.

Eran Zahavi ($3,900)
Chelsea's defensive struggles this season makes it imperative to at least consider players from Maccabi, especially since they are playing at home. Yes, the Israeli champions have been eliminated from knockout stage contention, but that could allow them to play more openly. If that's the case, Zahavi is a decent shout, as he has taken 17 shots (six on target) in his last three Champions League matches, and he posted a very solid 30 points against Porto in the last gameweek when he scored a goal on five shots (four on target), drew four fouls and sent in three crosses.

Ruben Neves ($2,800)
Neves provides nice cheap exposure to Porto without having to pay up for players who are more goal dependent to exceed value. He has sent in 24 crosses in the last three UCL matches, including 11 in the last gameweek. If he's that active again, he'll blow past his $2,800 price tag.

Others to consider: Miralem Pjanic ($3,900), Paulo Machado ($3,000), Andre Andre ($4,400), Thomas Foket ($3,000), Yacine Brahimi ($6,400)

Forwards

We've discussed on the RotoWire Fantasy Soccer Podcast that paying up for expensive forwards in Premier League contests isn't worth it because of the huge focus on crosses. The forwards just don't have consistent multi-goal upside, and so paying at least $8,000 for one player just doesn't pan out enough. However, that is not the case during Champions League play, where the upper-tier forwards have legitimate 40 to 50-point upside. You search for values in the other positions in order to grab as many upper-tier forwards as you can.

Neymar ($8,700)
Neymar and Luis Suarez ($8,500) held down the fort while Lionel Messi ($10,000) was out with a knee injury, scoring 20 of the 21 goals Barcelona netted during his absence. Messi returned for El Clasico this past weekend, a 4-0 drubbing of Real Madrid that saw Neymar score a goal and assist on another (Suarez bagged two), and it's entirely possible that Messi returns to the starting XI on Tuesday. However, it's tough to pay out five-figures for a player who is unlikely to play 90 minutes after a lengthy layoff. Neymar gets the edge over Suarez because he contributes in so many categories, as evidenced by his dynamic performance against BATE in their last Champions League match when he had two goals on seven shots (four on target), one assist, six crosses and two fouls drawn for 47 fantasy points. Roma is not BATE, of course, but Neymar is Neymar.

Thomas Muller ($7,600)
Robert Lewandowski ($8,600) was the hot commodity earlier this season when he scored 12 goals in four games for Bayern before adding three more for Poland in their two matches over the October international break. However, he's cooled significantly since then, scoring three times in his last seven matches and his last assist came back on Aug. 14. On the flip side, Muller is playing better of late, scoring four goals and picking up two assists in his last three club matches, including one Saturday against Schalke. He partners very well with Lewandowski and takes penalties for Bayern, giving him much more value for $1,000 less than his strike partner.

Teammate Douglas Costa ($6,900) is another strong possibility, as he's sent in 29 crosses in his last three Champions League matches, though he was much more attractive when he was listed as a midfielder and not a forward. The same applies to Bayern youngster Kingsley Coman ($4,400).

There are a few cheaper options that have decent upside but they aren't nearly as high as the players mentioned above and their fantasy floors are lower.

Vincent Aboubakar ($6,300)
Aboubakar takes a high number of shots, and while his ceiling is high if they're on target, his floor can be pretty low if they're not.

Alexandre Lacazette ($5,500)
Lacazette has failed to find the form that led him to win the Ligue 1 Golden Boot last season, but he did break out in a big way before the international break, bagging a hat trick against Saint-Etienne. He's only scored three other goals this season in all competitions, and his floor is very low if he can't find the back of the net.

Others to consider: Alexis Sanchez ($7,800), Olivier Giroud ($6,500), Andriy Yarmolenko ($4,200), Felipe Pardo ($3,500)
The author(s) of this article may play in daily fantasy contests including – but not limited to – games that they have provided recommendations or advice on in this article. In the course of playing in these games using their personal accounts, it's possible that they will use players in their lineups or other strategies that differ from the recommendations they have provided above. The recommendations in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of RotoWire. Andrew M. Laird plays in daily fantasy contests using the following accounts: FanDuel: kingmorland, DraftKings: andrewmlaird, Yahoo: Andrew Laird, TheSix: Lairdinho.