Like Tuesday, Wednesday is split into two slates–the early one started at 10am Eastern, with Benfica facing Astana and Wolfsburg at CSKA Moscow. The bigger slate locks at 2:30pm, with six games to choose from with narratives a plenty? Zlatan in his hometown? Real Madrid attempting a bounceback from a hiding at home in El Classico? City against Juve?
I really prefer home favorites on Wednesday, and they’re relatively affordable, especially if you’re not going to use a certain Madrid forward in your lineup. You have chalk plays like Jan Oblak ($4,400) and David de Gea ($3,900), favorites at home, while Gigi Buffon ($3,700) is likely to see a lot more action and has a higher ceiling in my opinion than the other two.
I like Oblak at the top of the pyramid; at home, Atletico can clinch advancement with a win against a side they’re clearly better than in Galatasaray. De Gea is in a tougher matchup; PSV will clearly be a counterattacking side looking to hit Manchester United on the break, so that may limit the chances he sees with a greater chance of giving up goals.
As for Kevin Trapp ($4,200) and Keylor Navas ($3,800), it’s a tricky situation with little margin for error. If I have to choose between the two, it’s Navas–Madrid will most likely bounce back in this one against Shakthar Donetsk, and Trapp makes way too many errors for my liking.
If you’re looking for value, I’d look towards Jeroen Zoet ($3,000) or Andriy Pyatov ($3,000) on Wednesday. Zoet and PSV travel to United, in a likely low scoring match against a United side that has several injury question marks. Pyatov faces Madrid, a terrible matchup, but if you want to face the Spanish giants, this might be the best time if Madrid don’t get up for this one.
Two of the best options are out on Wednesday; scratch Marcelo and likely Juanfran because of injuries. There’s a lot of good value that can you hit in this group. Let’s go game by game in this one.
Despite playing as a forward, I’m likely not going to include the USA’s Fabian Johnson ($3,900), even at home. Any return of value or hitting a ceiling is based on a goal, like Johnson did earlier this month. Unless Johnson finds the scoresheet, he’s likely to be in the low single digits. I’d be much more comfortable in the Sevilla starters–Benoit Tremounlinas ($3,200) and either Coke ($3,100) or Mariano Filho ($2,400). Sevilla’s a very friendly DFS team when it comes to its players on the outside of the formation, with very friendly floors and relatively high ceilings.
It looks like Daniel Carvajal ($3,400) will get the start over Danilo at right back; both he and Marcelo’s replacement Nacho ($2,800). They both have relatively friendly salaries, Carvajal is much more likely to find himself in the attack for Madrid of the pair; if you’re looking to spend down at defender, there’s probably better targets than Nacho. For Shakthar, if he starts, minimum play Ismaily ($2,000) looks a very nice option who might have high ownership rates.
For Manchester United, it looks like Marcos Rojo ($2,900) will get the start at left back due to injuries. In his last home Champions League start for United, Rojo hit for 23 points against CSKA.
I’m all in for whomever starts for PSG at right back; it looks like Serge Aurier will miss this one with a quad injury (as always, keep an eye out when lineups are announced) so all in on the Gregory van der Wiel ($2,900) train. If you want a PSG stack, throw in Maxwell ($3,400) as well.
It’s hard to fit in Alex Kolarov ($4,800) when you’ve got to spend up elsewhere in your lineup, Ronaldo or not. But with Marcelo and Juanfran out, Kolarov is clearly the player with the highest ceiling on the night. But he’s not my favorite play in this one.
That goes to Stephan Lichtsteiner ($3,500); the Swiss right back will get forward at home and take advantage of Kolarov’s lack of high end defending and should get a number of crosses in. Lichtsteiner’s value will grow if Juventus lines up in a 3-5-2 instead of a 4-4-2; look at the starting lineups, and if you see all of Barzagli/Bonucci/Chiellini starting, then target the wingbacks from Lichtsteiner, Alex Sandro ($2,400), Patrice Evra ($3,200) and Juan Cuadrado ($4,700) (Cuadrado is a midfielder on DK, but still a strong play if used as a wingback).
Lastly, Atletico’s outside defenders are near the top of anybody’s list on Wednesday. With Juanfran out, it looks like Guillherme Siqueira ($3,300) will get the start over Filipe Luis ($3,100) at left back, while Jesus Gamez ($2,400) should get the call at right back. It was Luis and Gamez this past weekend in league play, but those two are the least DFS friendly of the group. Gamez’s price tag definitely gives you reason to play him on Wednesday if he starts. Otherwise, see who starts and try and fit them into your lineup.
For midfielders, let’s focus specifically on price tags. With the new scoring systems, we want to focus on guys taking set pieces, and getting them as cheap as possible for the high ceiling forwards into our lineups.
There’s just a handful of guys over $5,000 I’d be looking to roster on Wednesday, and using them limits the amount of high priced forwards you’ll be able to roster. Angel Di Maria ($7,500) is easily the top midfield play on the day; the Argentine takes set pieces and consistently gets crosses game to game. The ceiling might be a bit lower today if he tries to play provider to a certain Swede in this one; we’ll get to Zlatan later.
Guys like Juan Mata and James Rodriguez I’ll be overlooking; unless you’re throwing a lot of lineups together, and their games are very goal dependent in order to return value. I’d go down to Atletico’s Koke ($5,800) or Kevin de Bruyne ($5,500); Koke has set piece responsibilities for Atletico while de Bruyne gets crosses on a consistent basis as well. Their salaries are very usable no matter who you’re trying to include into your lineup.
Then we travel into ValueLand. We have to aforementioned Cuadrado, Isco ($4,400) (if he starts after seeing red over the weekend), Toni Kroos ($4,300), Lars Stindl ($3,900), Davy Propper ($3,800), Ever Banega ($3,700). Gabi ($3,600) and Vitolo ($3,600) in the tier from $3,500 to $5,000. I really like the latter two and Kroos from that group; both Gabi and Vitolo play on the outside and have a share of set piece responsibility for their teams. Kroos, he’s purely a play on him taking corners and the set pieces Ronaldo doesn’t take.
Go even lower and there’s still more; both Yannick Carrasco and Ibrahima Traore ($3,300) are strong plays if in starting lineups. Traore’s currently taking corners for Gladbach while Carrasco is an out-and-out winger, a perfect DFS storm. The latter, it’s just a question if Diego Simeone starts him.
At $3K and lower, you have Adrien Rabiot ($3,000), Bernard ($2,700), Jesse Lingard ($2,700) and Casemiro ($2,500). With Rabiot and Casemiro, you have central midfielders on strong teams that could be lifted up in a potential blowout. Casemiro, both this season and last, has shown the ability to return value, while Rabiot is a creative midfielder who has seen a lot of run for PSG as of late. All you’d need is one assist or a few fouls drawn to get your value.
But the stronger options from the bottom are Lingard and Bernard. Shakthar’s Bernard is a pure winger who will likely return value from crosses even against Madrid; anything off the scoresheet will be sweet, sweet icing on the figurative cake. Lingard isn’t likely to cross as much as Bernard, but the young attacker shoots on sight and is much more likely to find himself on the scoresheet. He’s hit 20 points in two of his last three matches, and Lingard has found himself consistently in the United attack over the last month.
First, let’s attack the Cristiano Rolando ($10,200) conundrum. There’s two factors against using him in a majority of lineups on Wednesday; first, the price tag will require you to hit on value plays for the remainder of your lineup. Secondly, Ronaldo is relatively cold personally and putting aside Madrid’s issues off the field, and since the start of October he’s only scored three goals in eight club matches, and none in his last three (versus PSG, Sevilla and Barcelona). Shakthar isn’t any of that trio, and fading Ronaldo completely is a mistake. But 10-20 points is not enough; you need that ceiling of around 40 points.
I’m more likely to go elsewhere with a mix of higher priced guys and value plays. At $5k and higher, you have Zlatan Ibrahimovic ($8,300), Sergio Aguero ($8,000), Memphis Depay ($7,200), Antoine Griezmann ($6,500) and Alvaro Morata ($5,300). Zlatan has incredibly strong narrative on his side; if anyone is likely to grab a hat trick on Wednesday, it’s him. Anything within reason, he’s going to pull the trigger and go for a goal. Griezmann has a strong home matchup and should be highly owned, while Morata faces a City side that can be carved up, ESPECIALLY if Martin Demichelis starts.
Aguero and Depay are likely to be lower owned in this tier, but are worth considering. Both are the lead attacker for their sides, and the ceilings are pretty high. They wouldn’t be in my first or second lineup, but if you’re playing in bulk, keep both in consideration.
But likely a lot of money will be won by choosing the right options in the group below $5K at forward. We have Luciano Narsingh ($4,900), Luuk de Jong ($4,600), Yevhen Konoplyanka ($4,500), Olexandr Gladkiy ($4,300), Paulo Dybala ($4,300), Angel Correa ($4,200), Raffael ($3,900), Kevin Gameiro ($3,900), Jese ($3,500), Jurgen Locadia ($3,400) and Markus Rosenberg ($3,000).
Let’s break that group of 11 down. First, we have the chalk plays of Konoplyanka and Dybala. Both have set piece duties for Sevilla and Juve respectively. Dybala has goals in his last two league matches for Juve and is really on fire, and he’s got a safe floor if he does not score through shots and crosses. But my play is Konoplyanka in a game Sevilla needs to attack in. They’re very unlikely to advance to the knockout rounds with City in and Juve to follow, but after winning the Europa League last season Sevilla could see another title run their only way back into the Champions League next season.
Then we hit the front three of PSV. Narsingh, de Jong and Locadia are pure tournament plays, but there are factors in their favor against United. By the time their match begins, both sides will know the result from CSKA/Wolfsburg and what they’ll need from this match result wise. If there is a winner from the early match, they’ll vault over PSV in the group standings and the Dutch side will be much more in need of a point or three in this one. Also, if Daley Blind starts in the center of United’s defense, all three have a speed advantage over him, especially Locadia and Narsingh. Locadia has two goals and two assists in his last five matches, but lead striker de Jong has a goal in each of his last five matches. All three will be very low owned, and even with a strong United defensive shell PSV can exploit and grab a goal or two at Old Trafford.
Next, the lead strikers: Gladkiy, Raffael, Gamiero and Rosenberg all are the spearpoint for their teams. I like Raffael (three goals and two assists in his last five for Gladbach) and Gamiero in the same match. Then you come to Jese and Correa, both of which may not start for their respective sides. But if they do, they’ll be low owned in really strong spots to succeed for their respective Madrid sides.