SOCCER

FanDuel World Cup Daily Fantasy Helper: Thursday 6/14/18

Fyodor Smolov should lead the line for host Russia as they open the 2018 World Cup with a match against Saudi Arabia, one of the weakest teams in the field. Which other players should you target in Thursday's single-game contest?

The World Cup is here, and FanDuel is offering daily fantasy contests that will include each match of the world's biggest sporting event. On most days, there will be a main slate featuring multiple games, but Thursday's opening day has just one match, so FanDuel is offering a single-game contest with a five-man roster, including a captain spot for a player's points to be multiplied by 1.5.

FanDuel has altered its scoring format, and it will have a fairly meaningful impact on how we go about our business in daily fantasy, so make sure you're up to date on the changes.

Let's check out some players to target in the Russia-Saudi Arabia match, the opening fixture at the 2018 World Cup.

Fyodor Smolov, Russia

FanDuel Salary: $15

Russia, the host nation, gets a delectable first match as they play Saudi Arabia, the second-worst team in the tourney, per our nERD-based rankings. Unfortunately for Russia, they're not real good, either, but we have the hosts projected to win 1.62-1.03.

Fyodor Smolov is Russia's top striker, and with his team a healthy favorite, this is a great spot for him. In club action for FC Krasnodar in the Russian Premier League, Smolov netted 14 goals with 6 assists in 21 starts. At -130, he's got the best anytime goal odds in the match, per Bovada, and he's absolutely in play for the captain spot.

For game-theory reasons, it's worth thinking about fading Smolov as he'll likely be the most popular player on the slate. But with it being a one-gamer, that move could blow up in your face if he puts one in the back of the net. If you want to hedge your bets a little, you could roster Smolov but put someone else in the captain spot, a move which would differentiate your lineup a bit.

Aleksandr Golovin, Russia

FanDuel Salary: $14

Golovin and fellow midfielder Daler Kuzyayev ($14) are both appealing pivots off of Smolov, or you could roster one of them to stack with Smolov in hopes of pairing an assist with a goal. If you stack them, money would be tight with the rest of your lineup, but there are some expended defensive starters priced at $5 and $3, so it's possible.

With Saudi Arabia likely to sit back and defend for a good portion of this match, Kuzyaev and Golovin should see a lot of the ball from their spots in central midfield -- assuming Russia use a similar setup to what they rolled out in their final friendly -- and they will likely be tasked with a lot of playmaking duties.

Playing for CSKA Moscow this past club season, Dzagoev recorded 5 goals and 3 assists in 26 domestic-league starts. Kuzyaev, playing for Zenit, had 6 goals and 2 assists in 22 starts in the Russian Premier League.

Mohammed Al-Sahlawi, Saudi Arabia

FanDuel Salary: $11

Admittedly, it's not super easy to find good information on Saudi Arabia, but Al-Sahlawi looks like the attacker to target in their side. And even though they're one of the lesser teams in the field, we do project them to score in this match, so you'll want some exposure.

Playing club ball for Al-Nassr, Al-Sahlawi bagged 10 goals in 16 starts. At +320, he has far and away the top anytime goalscorer odds for Saudi Arabia, and he's got an impressive 28 goals in 38 caps for his national team.

With Uruguay and Egypt up next, Saudi Arabia know they need to get at least a draw from this match to have any realistic chance of getting out of the group, so they have every reason to open up if they fall behind.

Fahad Al-Muwallad, Saudi Arabia

FanDuel Salary: $9

Al-Muwallad spent most of his club season on loan with Spanish top-flight side Levante, and he scored a banger against Japan in the final round of qualification to help secure Saudi Arabia's spot in the World Cup.

Al-Muwallad didn't see much action in La Liga, logging 26 total minutes in 2 appearances as a sub. But he should be one of the key cogs for his national team, and his pace will come in handy as Saudi Arabia will likely be looking to spring on the counter. Before going on loan, he scored three goals in eight starts with Al-Ittihad, his parent club.

Osama Hawsawi, Saudi Arabia

FanDuel Salary: $5

Whoever starts at the center of Saudi Arabia's defense is worth targeting as they'll likely be dealing with a lot of pressure from Russia, especially early on. Hawsawi is just $2 above the minimum, and he should offer a decent floor as long as he's starting.

FanDuel has Mohammed Al-Burayk ($3), Omar Hawsawi ($6) and Yasir Al Shahrani ($7) joining Osama as expected starters along the back line. It makes sense to nab one of them for their floor and cap relief.



Austan Kas is not a FanDuel employee. In addition to providing DFS gameplay advice, Austan Kas also participates in DFS contests on FanDuel using his personal account, username akas247. While the strategies and player selections recommended in his articles are his personal views, he may deploy different strategies and player selections when entering contests with his personal account. The views expressed in his articles are the author's alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of FanDuel.