Champions League Daily Fantasy Helper: Saturday 5/26/18
The club season comes to an end Saturday with the Champions League Final between Liverpool and Real Madrid, which starts at 2:45 p.m. EST.
FanDuel is offering a one-game slate for the final, and it's the same format as the final legs of the UCL semifinals. However, the single-game format is a lot different than the usual multi-game offering from the regular season. Instead of having to roster a certain amount of players from each position, you now have $50 to select five players from any position (other than goalie, which isn't in the player pool), and you tab one player to be your captain, with his points being multiplied by 1.5.
Also, there are no head-to-head contests available, with the smallest contest being a five-person clash.
Oddsmakers are expecting a close, high-scoring match. As of Friday morning, Real Madrid, the holders, are a 0.5-goal favorite, and the over/under is set at 3.5 goals. That means the implied scoreline, per Vegas, is 2.0-1.5 in favor of Madrid.
Let's break down the final club DFS slate of the season by looking at a handful of players across various price points.
Cristiano Ronaldo ($16) and Mo Salah ($15)
Why start anywhere else?
Ronaldo and Salah ($15) are the two most expensive dudes on the slate, and they'll likely be the two highest-owned players. For most, the captain choice will come down to these two, and the reason is obvious -- they're the two mostly likely to score, with their anytime goal odds (Ronaldo at -140 and Salah at -130) well clear of the rest of the field. Ronaldo's -140 odds imply a 58.34% probability, while Salah's -130 line implies a 52.54% chance. Gareth Bale (+145) has the third-best odds to score at +145, which implies 40.82% probability, so oddsmakers really favor Salah and Ronaldo to slot one home.
But from a game-theory perspective, you have to think about fading both of them, especially in large-field tourneys. If you faded both and neither scored a goal, you'd have a huge leg up on a big chunk of the field. If you fade both, neither score and you roster the guys who do score, you're in serious business. Even if you can't muster up the courage for a full fade of Salah and Ronaldo, just putting someone other than these two into your captain spot would likely differentiate your lineup from a large portion of the field.
Of course, if you fade these two and they go nuts -- as they're more than capable of doing -- your lineups will flatline.
Ronaldo has 41 goals and 8 assists in 39 appearances across all competitions this season. Salah has tallied 42 goals and 14 assists in 48 total appearances. This game, on paper, lines up really well for Salah. Playing on the right wing, Salah should come up against Marcelo, Madrid's left-back, fairly often, but Marcelo is one of the more aggressive full-backs in the world as far as going forward, so when Liverpool break on the counter, Salah could find himself with space to operate.
Ronaldo and Salah are two of the best players in the world, and in a game with a 3.5-goal over/under, this is a prime spot for them to do their thing. In smaller contests, you have to use at least one of them, but in GPPs a full fade is firmly in play.
Sadio Mane ($14) and Roberto Firmino ($13)
Salah's two sidekicks in Liverpool's high-octane front three are in great spots as well. With pricing the way it is, you can definitely fit in two of Salah, Ronaldo, Mane and Firmino. Fitting in three won't be possible unless you want to roster a non-starter, barring an unexpected starting XI from one of the managers.
Thanks to his goal-scoring ability, defensive work rate and passing prowess, Firmino offers a floor that is as good as anyone's on this slate. In UCL play this campaign, he's scored at least 23 FanDuel points in 10 of 12 matches. The ceiling is there, too, as he's produced single games of 54.5, 64.75 and 81.0 FanDuel points. You couldn't ask for a more in-form player, with Firmino totaling three goals and four assists over his last four European fixtures. The Brazilian is well worth considering for the captain slot.
Mane doesn't have the floor of Firmino, but he's got upside for days. Here are Mane's last seven FanDuel outputs in UCL play, starting with the most recent: 31.0, 33.75, 7.25, 34.5, 5.5, 71.25, 57.25. The upside is tantalizing, while the floor is scary, especially when you're working with just a five-man roster. Mane feels like the ultimate boom-or-bust play, but in a match in which Liverpool are projected to have chances, he could go off.
Benzema ($12) and Marcelo ($11)
Ronaldo didn't score in either match of the semifinal win over Bayern Munich, while Benzema netted a brace in the second leg on his way to 49.0 FanDuel points. Benzema's UCL form prior to that match, at least DFS-wise, was pretty shoddy, though, as he had just one game with more than 15 FanDuel points all campaign prior to his two-goal effort against Bayern.
Benz becomes a lot more attractive if Isco starts over Bale. Benzema's anytime goal odds of +150 are the fourth-best in the match, but they'd be second among Real's starters if Bale isn't in Zinedine Zidane's lineup.
As for Marcelo, with almost any other left-back in the world, you'd expect them to be heavily focused on their defensive duties in a matchup with Salah. But this is Marcelo we're talking about. He's been superb in all competitions this season, scoring two goals with six assists in 26 La Liga starts while registering 3 goals and 2 assists in 10 UCL appearances.
Liverpool have improved defensively as the season has progressed, and Trent Alexander-Arnold, the Reds' right-back, pocketed Manchester City star Leroy Sane for the better part of both legs in the UCL quarterfinals. When Marcelo gets forward, he should see a lot of TAA, but Marcelo should still send plenty of balls into the box. A Marcelo-Ronaldo stack is never a bad idea.
Gareth Bale ($10), Isco ($8) and Asensio ($6)
It sounds like not even Real's players know the starting lineup, but one of these three figures to get the nod.
Bale is a massive wild card. The Welshman had a mostly disappointing season for Real and hasn't been starting big UCL matches, but he ended the La Liga campaign on a world-beating tear, netting five goals in his last four starts. If he's in the starting XI, he'll be mighty appealing given his form and Madrid's 2.0-goal implied total, and he'd likely be the cheapest starting attacker. Plus, Bale has the third-best odds to score, as we mentioned earlier.
If Bale doesn't start, it'll likely be Isco in his floating midfield-attacker role. After a monster season a year ago, Isco hasn't been at the same level this season, failing to secure an every-week spot in Madrid's starting XI. In 30 La Liga appearances (21 starts), he recorded seven goals and seven assists, and he's usually on the ball quite a bit.
Asensio has made 32 appearances (19 starts) in La Liga play, and he totaled six goals with six assists. He's probably the least likely of the three to draw the start. For obvious reasons, it's incredibly risky to roster a non-starter, but if you're in a risk-taking mood, he's got the best DFS ceiling of any of the expected reserves and will likely come on at some point. If the match went to extra time, he could end up seeing 50 to 60 minutes on the pitch, and his anytime goal odds of +225 aren't bad.
Gini Wijnaldum ($5) and Trent Alexander-Arnold ($4)
These two Liverpool players are extremely unlikely to get a goal -- +1000 for TAA and +750 for Wijnaldum -- but they're the cheapest expected starters. If they can help you fit in the studs you want, you have to at least think about them.
Wijnaldum, a midfielder, has all of two goals in 47 total appearances this season, though one of them did come at Roma in the second leg of the UCL semifinals. He's put up at least 12 FanDuel points in five of his last seven UCL outings, and Liverpool's injuries in midfield -- most notably Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain's ACL tear -- pretty much guarantee Wijnaldum a starting spot and lot of pitch time.
TAA has been a late-season breakout star for the Reds, cementing himself as the team's starting right-back and even earning a place in the England team for the upcoming World Cup. The 19-year-old doesn't offer a ton going forward, notching two goals and two assists in 30 total appearances, but he'll be tasked with slowing Ronaldo and Marcelo on the left side of Real's attack, so he should rack up a decent number of defensive actions.
TAA's FanDuel output over his last four European matches -- 15.5, 11.5, 17.0 and 30.0 -- is pretty darn good considering he's priced at the minimum. It makes a lot of sense to pair him with a Liverpool attacker and hope one of his crosses into the box finds them for a goal.
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.