Because of the timing involved with Wednesday’s Champions League slate here on DraftKings, I apologize for timing of this getting posted and the relative shortened length of the piece. If you have any specific questions, feel free to message me at @arisoha and I’ll be happy to answer them.
As relatively certain Tuesday’s slate was to the eye before and how it played out, especially the strength of home favorites, Wednesday comes in looking like a very unpredictable and open set of eight matches. Let’s get to it.
Asmir Begovic ($4,000)
As chalky Begovic is on the surface of things, I’m really not willing to a) lock him into a majority of my lineups and b) fade him completely. On paper, you have the reigning English champions facing Israel’s Maccabi Tel Aviv. Against their high standards, Chelsea has been very poor defensively–but in the end, they’re a heavy favorite at home against an admittedly in-form opponent. Maccabi is not a walkover for Chelsea, but looking at the keeper “spectrum” on Wednesday Begovic looks to be the most certain option.
Bernd Leno/Petr Cech/Manuel Neuer/Iker Casillas ($5,000-5,600)
Here we have the higher end foursome, eminently stackable with defenders from their respective sides. But all but Leno are on the road, despite being favorites. Leno is the strongest play of the quartet, with the weakest opponent and the home start. Neuer and Cech have their own merits, while Casillas will be the lowest owned of the four most likely.
Marc-Andre Ter Stegen ($3,500)
Perhaps Ter Stegen will have a strong ownership rate, perhaps the highest in contests–unless people are doing the “set it and forget it” with their lineups. It looks like Luis Enrique will repeat his rotation of last season, with Claudio Bravo in league play and Ter Stegen in Europe. For the price tag, he’s hard to fade–while a clean sheet on the road against a strong Roma team isn’t probable, he still could hit double digits through a win/one GA/saves.
Jaume Domenech ($3,100)
A lot of players used Diego Benaglio and Sergio Rico successfully on Tuesday, and Jaume is the equivalent on this slate–backup keeper, at home, low priced. Zenit has talent, but can be neutralized, especially on the road.
Miguel Layun ($3,000)
All. Day. Long. He and Danilo Silva ($3,800) play in a system that encourages attacking from its outside backs in a 4-3-3, plus Layun will shoot on sight if given the chance. The only negative is the road start in the Ukraine, but overlook that. A clean sheet on the road will be the icing on the cake.
Baba Rahman ($2,500)
A combination of Layun and Rahman in lineups seems like the easiest, non-stacking, save your salary for forwards options, and it makes sense. Rahman had a superb season with Ausburg in the Bundesliga last season, and that’s why Chelsea came calling. Jose Mourinho is shuffling the deck–which almost never happens–and Rahman is supposed to get the start on the left, with Cesar Azpilicueta going to the right, and Branislav Ivanovic gets benched. My only concern is this–how much with Rahman get forward in his first start?
Joao Cancelo/Gaya/Barragan ($3,300-$3,500)
Two of these three fine gentlemen will start for Valencia on the outside–Gaya is a near certainity, while Barragan looks like he’ll get the call over Cancelo. Like Jaume before, they’re relatively cheap options, at home, with a possible clean sheet on top offensive stats they can get.
Roberto Hilbert/Wendell/Giulio Donati ($3,500-4,000)
A little more expensive than Valencia options, but it’s a better (worse) opponent and a better chance at a clean sheet. Wendell is a bit more offensively centered than the other two. Stacking Leno and the two starters is a bit like using Benfica yesterday, without the multiple attractive options to pivot to like you had to choose from on Tuesday.
Jordi Alba ($5,100), David Alaba ($4,800)
If I’m spending up on defenders on Wednesday–and if you do, it will be a contrarian play, even if you use one as a Flex–I’m going with one of these two. Alba gets forward for Barca, even in the absence of Dani Alves on the other side, while Alaba does get chances via free kicks in a talented Bayern side. The Arsenal pair of Bellerin and Monreal just don’t get the number of crosses for me to invest around $5k for either.
Douglas Costa ($7,500), Karim Bellarabi ($6,500)
Most, if not all, of my lineups will contain one or both of these mid-value midfielders with very healthy ceilings. Costa, in the absences of Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery, has thrived in his first season with a goal a game in the Bundesliga. Bellarabi is Bayer’s fulcrum of attack; he’ll have chances on goal directly, from free kicks, can pick up assists. Both are very strong plays.
Eden Hazard ($10,300)
By far the most expensive of midfield options, Hazard has been ice cold in his start for Chelsea. For me, he’s a tournament play despite his ability and ceiling because of that. Would you rather play up for a secondary Barcelona option or create a more level team, or gamble that Hazard and Chelsea wake up collectively?
Santi Cazorla ($7,500), Alex Oxlade Chamberlain (%5,600)
There’s a chance that Arsene Wenger could rest some players, including Cazorla, Mesut Ozil, etc. I like Cazorla and Chamberlain in starting roles in this one, especially the latter with his price tag.
Dani Parejo ($4,000), Rodrigo De Paul ($4,300)
This Valencia pair, like the rest of the side, is relatively underpriced and are blocks to fit around higher priced options. De Paul is the winger, Parejo the creator with free kick responsibilities and likely penalty taker.
Mathieu Valbuena ($5,000)
The French international midfielder should see pretty large ownership numbers because of his skill and his placement as the #10 in Lyon’s lineup, despite his almost Messi-like lack of stature.
Eran Zahavi ($4,800)
Fading Chelsea at home? Want a really nice, in-form contrarian option? He’s your guy. Zahavi has been red hot for Maccabi in qualifying, plays central forward despite his DK midfield status–and that price tag.
Luis Suarez, Neymar, Lionel Messi ($10,400-12,800)
You don’t need me to tell you to try and get as much as you can of the front three from Barca; but who gets the big game out of the three? At best, you can fit two of the three into your lineup if you value pick the rest–and you can–but you’ll find it hard to roster anyone from the middle priced options, of which there are several very promising options. Don’t exclude using one of the three from your lineup, especially Messi, even on the road.
Admir Mehmedi, Hakan Calhanoglu, Stefan Kiessling, Chicharito ($6,200-7,000)
All four of these individuals will start for Bayer at home against BATE, overwhelming favorites. Unfortunately, Mehmedi and Calhanoglu are placed as forwards while used in midfield in reality, limiting slightly their usefulness. Calhanoglu was a great play last season and continues to be for Bayer, and he looks to be the penalty taker for the side. Mehmedi is a winger who’s replaced Son Heung-min in the lineup, while Chicharito looks like he’ll get his first start alongside Kiessling. Calhanoglu is the best, most solid play of the bunch.
Iago Falque ($4,800), Mohamed Salah ($5,200)
If, and it’s a strong if, Barcelona gets opened up in Rome, it’ll be by one of these two talented and nicely priced attackers. Salah, in particular, is a guy I like a lot.
Vincent Aboubakar ($6,500), Cristian Tello ($6,800), Yacine Brahimi ($8,500)
These names should look familiar; Aboubakar did well when Jackson Martinez was out of the lineup last season for Porto, Tello is the winger who can pile up plays and be the lowest owned of the three, and Brahimi is the most certain and best play of the bunch.
Alexis ($10,600), Robert Lewandowski ($9,800), Thomas Muller ($9,500), Olivier Giroud ($9,300), Hulk ($8,500)
Here we have the high end plays not in blue and red; the Bayern duo of Lewandowski and Muller will be highly owned, with the Arsenal pair behind them. Of the four, Lewandowski is the most in-form, Muller has the highest ceiling, Alexis the highest floor. Giroud, as you know, can disappear or score goals. There’s no in between, really.
Pedro ($7,500), Alex Lacazette ($6,800), Loic Remy ($6,500), Claudio Beauvue ($5,900), Rodrigo ($5,500), Paco Alcacer
And here lies (relative) value. Pedro isn’t cheap, per se, but if Diego Costa does not start he or Remy (along with the dormant Hazard) are the likely goalscorers for favorites Chelsea. Don’t overlook Lacazette, Beauvue or Rodrigo–Lacazette is the more well known of the Lyon pair, but fellow striker Beauvue has two goals in Ligue 1 play while the former has none. Rodrigo will lead Valencia’s attack with Alcacer, although there’s a chance Alvaro Negredo cold get a start in place of one of them.