DraftKings Fantasy Soccer: Tuesday Champions League Values
DraftKings Fantasy Soccer: Tuesday Champions League Values

This article is part of our DraftKings Fantasy Soccer series.

Welcome back to real Champions League football. We've worked through the qualifying rounds and while we're ready to watch the big boys play, we've got a number of smaller clubs that are ripe for targeting.

There are a few big favorites, though it's a little tough to just target them because most of their players are near or at the top of the price list. However, with a few key value plays, we'll be able to fit in the guy who scored five goals on Saturday.

With some help from Paddy Power, we can get a good look at who the strong favorites are (odds as of 11 a.m. EDT on Sept. 14):

Home (win odds) (draw odds) Away (win odds)
Benfica (1/5) 11/2 Astana (14/1)
Galatasaray (9/2) 12/5 Atletico Madrid (3/4)
Manchester City (4/5) 27/10 Juventus (7/2)
Paris Saint-Germain (1/8) 15/2 Malmo (20/1)
PSV Eindhoven (13/5) 12/5 Manchester United (11/10)
Real Madrid (1/7) 15/2 Shakhtar Donetsk (16/1)
Sevilla (4/7) 13/5 Borussia Monchengladbach (20/3)
Wolfsburg (17/20) 13/5 CSKA Moscow (10/3)

Unsurprisingly, PSG at home against Malmo (coincidentally, Zlatan Ibrahimovic's boyhood club) is the one to focus on, and while it would be great to target as many PSG players as possible, they're mostly too expensive to stack.

Real Madrid are the next highest, playing home against Ukranian side Shakhtar Donetsk, though we are still left with the issue that most Galacticos are very expensive. That's why they're Galacticos.

However, there are ways to get exposure to these dominant sides without having to punt any positions. Here are a few value plays that could help fit in enough tournament-winning players:

Goalkeeper:

The two highest priced goalkeepers come from the two highest favorites: Kevin Trapp ($5,600) of PSG and Keylor Navas ($5,500) of Real Madrid. Grabbing one of these two keepers will all but clinch the DraftKings five-point win bonus, and likely five points for the clean sheet. However, it's tough to spend more than 10 percent of your budget on a goalkeeper when there are a plethora of high-upside options at other positions over $9,000.

Instead, it may be worth focusing on Sevilla's Sergio Rico ($3,100) and Jeroen Zoet ($4,300) of PSV Eindhoven.

Sevilla have struggled to start the season, failing to win any of their first three La Liga games, and they did allow three goals to Atletico Madrid. However, with regular keeper Beto ($4,900) expected to miss six weeks with a knee injury, targeting Rico against Borussia Monchengladbach, who have lost their first four Bundesliga matches and scored just two goals this season, makes a ton of sense.

Zoet is another story, as Manchester United have plenty of firepower. The Red Devils are coming off their best win of the Premier League season, a 3-1 victory over Liverpool, though it should be noted it was the first time in league play they scored multiple goals. Zoet opened the Eredivisie season allowing two goals, but he's been beaten just twice in the subsequent four matches, saving 14 shots over that span. He's likely to get a number of shots sent his way, probably from PSV alum Memphis Depay, so he could certainly put up a high save total against a United side that scored three goals in their first four games and will be without starting forward Wayne Rooney.

Other value options: Gigi Buffon ($4,600), Koen Casteels ($4,800)

Defenders:

We have the same problem with many defenders that we do with the goalkeepers: the heavy favorites have heavy price tags. All four Real Madrid expected starting defenders are at least $4,400, including Marcelo at $6,000 and Sergio Ramos at $5,400. One possible starting option is Dani Carvajal, who makes a solid play at only $3,900, but he's no guarantee.

The PSG quartet are rather expensive, though with Serge Aurier suspended, we could see Gregory van der Wiel ($3,900) get a start. If Layvin Kurzawa ($3,500) gets in, he's nearly a must play with the clean-sheet potential and reduced price.

If we want to stack our value goalkeeper with a value defender, we can focus on Sevilla rightback Coke (not to be confused with Atletico Madrid midfielder Koke). At only $3,700, he is the cheaper of the two fullbacks, with Benoit Tremoulinas coming in $500 more. Neither are huge crossers, with Coke sending in nine through three matches and Tremoulinas 10, according to

The Wolfsburg fullbacks of Ricardo Rodriguez and Christian Trasch are both intriguing options at home against CSKA Moscow, particularly when they can be had for at least $1,000 less than the Real Madrid possibilities.

To maximize crosses, it's worth looking at Galatasaray's Sabri Sarioglu, who has sent in 30 crosses in four league games this season. He has picked up three assists in the last three games, and while Atletico Madrid are certainly a bigger animal than Sivasspor, Osmanlispor, Konyaspor and Mersin, one point per cross is one point per cross.

Other options: Aleksandar Kolarov ($6,300), Filipe Luis ($4,100), Dante ($3,700), Alex Sandro ($3,400)

Midfielders:

This is where the fun begins. Some of the best players in the world can be found in this slate at the midfield position, and their prices are appropriately high. Angel Di Maria ($10,000) and Gareth Bale ($9,800) top the list, but there are still six others above $8,000, including Memphis Depay ($9,700), David Silva ($9,200), James Rodriguez ($9,000), Juan Mata ($8,700), Raheem Sterling ($8,600) and Yaya Toure ($8,400). Injuries make this group a little smaller, as James is out with a thigh injury, while Silva and Sterling both missed last weekend's fixture with injuries, though they've been deemed fit. Despite the issues, there are still a number of solid value plays that can be good fantasy contributors.

Whether Silva and Sterling start or not, Kevin De Bruyne ($6,500) will have a major role for Man City at home against Juventus, last season's Champions League runners-up. Had De Bruyne still been with Wolfsburg, his price would likely be in that upper tier, north of $8,000 and possibly over $9,000. He's still learning to play with his new teammates, but De Bruyne has incredible upside, as evidenced by his 10 goals and 20 assists in Bundesliga play last season, and a price of only $6,500 allows for spending elsewhere.

Coincidentally, De Bruyne's No. 10 replacement at Wolfsburg also fits the bill of a solid value play: Julian Draxler, who comes in at only $5,600. Draxler's career stats are a bit misleading because he's dealt with injuries, but he has elite upside and is pulling the strings for a Wolfsburg side that is still built to score tons of goals (they scored only eight fewer than Bayern Munich in league play last season).

It's been discussed a number of times that PSG are heavy favorites against Malmo, and that a number of their best players are very expensive (Di Maria is the highest priced midfielder of the slate). However, one player who is priced relatively low is Blaise Matuidi, who comes it at just $6,000. He tends to play a somewhat defensive role, but he's been every part of the attack this season, with two goals and two assists through four Ligue 1 matches, in addition to a bagging a brace for France in their Euro 2016 qualifier against Serbia last week. PSG could pour it on, and Matuidi figures to be part of the action.

Other options: Lucas Moura ($6,200), Andre Schurrle ($6,000), Paul Pogba ($5,800), Isco ($5,000), Bastian Schweinsteiger ($4,500)

Forwards:
The point of focusing on value players is to ensure we have enough money for the appropriate upper-tier options. This is where we'll find them.

After a relatively slow start to the season, Cristiano Ronaldo reminded everyone Saturday why he's arguably the best player in the world. Seven shots, five on target, FIVE GOALS, one assist, two fouls drawn and three crosses against Espanyol would have equated to 72.5 points on DraftKings. Simply put: we search for cheaper options to fit Ronaldo in.

One could try to go a little "bargain hunting" in the Real Madrid attack and spend less for Karim Benzema ($9,500) or Bale but neither has the upside of Ronaldo because no one does in this slate.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic ($11,100) facing his boyhood club is a nice story, but he's been dealing with an injury of late, which kept him out of Friday's Ligue 1 match. If we're looking for the in-form player for Paris Saint-Germain, it's Edinson Cavani, who has scored four goals on 11 shots (six on target) in his last two matches. Making it even better: we can get Cavani for $1,500 less than Ibrahimovic.

The next tier of forwards has a few attractive options, including Wolfburg's Bas Dost ($8,900), who had a four-goal game last season against Champions League-participants Bayer Leverkusen, and he has two goals in four league matches already this season. Atletico Madrid's Jackson Martinez ($8,500) was excellent in Champions League play last season for FC Porto, but paying $1,000 less for Antoine Griezmann is the better way to get value out of the Atletico attack.

PSV's Luuk de Jong has already bagged five goals in five league matches this season and faces a Manchester United side that has been solid defensively but has allowed three goals in their last two games.

With Sergio Aguero battling a knee injury suffered over the weekend, Wilfried Bony ($7,200) makes for an attractive play, though Juventus could try to play more defensively to secure a point on the road.

Speaking of Juventus, Alvaro Morata ($5,600) was a big fantasy value during Champions League play last season, and he's significantly less than Mario Mandzukic ($8,800), but the target from Juventus should be Paulo Dybala ($5,300), who has scored three times in four appearances in all competitions, including goals in back-to-back Serie A matches. The Manchester City defense haven't allowed a goal in Premier League play yet, but Juventus in the Champions League is another animal.

Other options: Jonas ($8,000), Kostas Mitroglu ($7,100), Fernando Llorente ($6,500)

Here are two lineups I'm still tinkering with. Remember, never set your rosters without checking the lineups page, with confirmed lineups announced roughly one hour before kickoff.

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: Lairdinho.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Andrew M. Laird
Andrew M. Laird, the 2017 and 2018 FSWA Soccer Writer of the Year, is RotoWire's Head of DFS Content and Senior Soccer Editor. He is an eight-time FSWA award finalist, including twice for Football Writer of the Year.
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