The main event. Die Meister. Die Besten. Les grandes equips. The Champions. Welcome to another week of champions league football presented by DraftKings. This second set of fixtures marks the end of the first leg of the round of 16 in the Champions League. We have some interested narratives to look into, including Borussia Dortmund meeting Juventus for the first time since Dortmund defeated the Old Lady in 1997 to win the Champions League. Also, Arsene Wegner, Arsenal’s manager, returns to where he coached from 1987 to 1994. And last but not least, Manchester City is playing a Barcelona team that dismantled them 4-1 on aggregate last season in this same stage of the competition.
So what do we do to celebrate this great event? DraftKings has offered us several tournaments we can get into including a $10K Treble with a $300 entry as well as a $10K Equalizer that you can enter for just $20. For those who prefer the low buyin tournaments, there is a $4.5K Nutmeg for just $2 to enter. So without further delays, here are this week’s top plays!
Moya, Atletico Madrid $4,400 – Atletico are having a great month, they recently defeated Real Madrid 4-0 in La Liga, and just last weekend managed to defeat Almeria 3-0 at home. The one blemish on their record this month is a 2-0 loss to Celta Vigo on the road. In that game, Madrid created several goalscoring opportunities but because of a high number of errors didn’t manage to score any goals and ended up losing the game. Moya was not at fault for these goals as his team was dropped back into its zone and had to struggle for possession. If the same scenario follows in this matchup then you can expect Moya to face plenty of shots on target that could result in a few saves. While the goals may also happen, that is a risk you can accept as Moya would be a great GPP play as the saves might be at a premium this week.
David Ospina, Arsenal $5,400 – Ospina or Szczesny, either could get the start today for Arsenal facing a Monaco team that will play some heavy defense. In their last 6 games Monaco have only scored five goals while only allowing two goals in that same span. Arsenal will have some trouble scoring goals in this match, even with the odds heavily in their favor, I’m more of a fan of Arsenal’s defense than their offense and for that, if Ospina or Szczesny start then I’ll be rostering them. Moreover, you can probably look at the Arsenal defense for a good safe set of plays.
Other GoalKeepers I Like: Roman Weidenfeller – Borussia Dortmund ($4,000), Danijel Subasic – Monaco ($3,700), Giancarlo Buffon – Juventus ($4,800), Joe Hart – Manchester City ($4,100)
*Note: Hart has the toughest matchup so roster at your own risk, but he will face plenty of save supply.
Dani Alves – Barcelona $5,200 – Probably the top defender in this slate is Dani Alves with a close second being his backcourt teammate Jordi Alba ($5,100) and for my money I’ll go with Alves who is slightly more expensive but a more consistent offensive threat. Barca will be going heavy for the attack in this matchup and they’ll be attempting to push Manchester City back and pile on the pressure and go for an early goal. With that match scenario you can expect the full backs to be heavily involved in the offense which creates some great opportunities for DFS purposes. If you can fit either of the full backs from this team then go ahead and do it as you won’t regret it.
Hector Bellerin/Calum Chambers, Arsenal – Depending on who ends up starting in the full back position for Arsenal you can probably do a full Arsenal Stack in a GPP situation, if you had to pick a single defender I would look at Bellerin due to his slightly cheaper price at $4,200. Chambers at $4,600 isn’t that bad either, and if Szczesny starts you can have enough savings to field a good roster with the Arsenal keeper+defense.
Marcel Schmelzer, Borussia Dortmund $3,300 – For his price, Schmelzer is an excellent play as you can expect him to push forward as part of the Dortmund attack and he will get plenty of touches close to the midfield. Also, if you trust in the narrative that Dortmund plays better in Europe than they do in the Bundesliga, then the Dortmund defense should be high on your list.
Other Defenders I Like: Jordi Alba – Barcelona ($5,100), Juanfran – Atletico Madrid ($5,300), S. Lichsteiner – Juventus ($4,300), Lucasz Piszczek – Borussia Dortmund ($4,000), Fabinho – Monaco ($3,300), Layvin Kurzawa – Monaco ($2,900)
Koke – Atletico Madrid $7,700 – This pick comes with a risk as Koke may not get to play Wednesday so make sure to have options to pivot to if he does indeed start this one on the bench. However, if he does start, he instantly becomes my favorite midfielder due to his excellent crossing skills as well as his recipient for these crosses, Mario Mandzukic. Atletico will be looking to attack early as mentioned earlier and Koke makes for a great play if he does indeed start.
Ozil/Santi Cazorla – Arsenal $8,000/$7,800 – These two have taken turns being effective, prior to last weekend Ozil had three straight games where he either scored or assisted or did both for Arsenal, then last weekend he dazzled us with 1 fantasy point while Cazorla managed to score a goal and score 17 fantasy points. Of course there is a chance for both of them to have a good game together and that happened as recently as February 1st against Aston Villa. Arsenal is facing a tough defense in Monaco, however, I expect them to give Monaco several tests to see if they are really deserving of the “tough defense” moniker and if that does happen then look for one of these two to be the main instigator from the midfield.
Hakan Calhanoglu – Bayer Leverkusen $6,400 – he’s an excellent crosses who delivers several attempts into the box for his teammates. Calhanoglu will be even more threatening if Atletico manage an early goal that leads to Leverkusen abandoning their defensive style and push forward with Calhanoglu leading the charge.
Pierre-Emrick Aubameyang – Borussia Dortmund $7,400 – The Dortmund striker is listed as a midfielder and he’s priced low compared to other strikers. He’s a must play in this position and you would be foolish to overlook him. Now if Dortmund manage to not score any goals, then maybe you’re not that foolish, but playing against Juventus, Dortmund will manage some attempts and I would be surprised if most of them don’t come from Aubameyang.
Other Midfielders I Like: Andrea Pirlo – Juventus ($5,900), David Silva – Manchester City ($7,300), Paul Pogba ($5,300), Arda Turan – Atletico Madrid ($5,500), Ivan Rakitic – Barcelona ($5,600)
Lionel Messi – Barcelona $12,700 – Very few will manage to fade Messi in this weeks matches as Messi is arguably one of the best strikers to ever play the game. His form is great right now as well as he’s managed six goals and four assists in his last six games alone. The only concern is his last game where he failed to score or assist and Barca lost to Malaga 0-1. Beyond that however, I will not hesitate to roster Messi regardless of his price and right now, his price isn’t entirely formidable. Also worth note is his ongoing battle with Cristiano Ronaldo for the top-striker title as they both are neck and neck in the goals scored battle.
Antoine Griezmann – Atletico Madrid $6,800 – He’s coming off a game in which he scored twice in just 64 minutes in La Liga and Atletico Madrid are in spectacular form right now. Between him as his teammate Mario Mandzukic ($8,200), you can expect some attacking prowess as both these players have combined for 10 goals and five assists for the Spanish side in their last six matches. Their prices are affordable and can help you stack an offensive team if combined with Turan or Koke from the midfield.
Carlos Tevez – Juventus $8,100 – He’s the most consistent starter for Juventus as he can score, cross the ball and draw fouls, all of which are great point generators in the DraftKings system. If you want some exposure to the Juventus attack, Tevez makes a fine play. If you want to differentiate a little, whoever starts next to Tevez deserves a look, especially if low-priced Alvaro Morata ($5,200) then you could do worse than rostering him.
Other Forwards I Like: Neymar – Barcelona ($10,200), Alexis Sanchez – Arsenal ($10,000), Sergio Aguero – Manchester City ($9,600), Josip Drmic – Bayer Leverkusen ($3,300), Marco Reus – Borussia Dortmund ($8,900), Luis Suarez – Barcelona ($9,800)