World Cup Daily Fantasy Helper: Thursday 6/21/18

After a disappointing first match, Lionel Messi will look to bounce back in a tough match against Croatia. What other players should you target for Thursday's main slate?

After a four-year wait, the World Cup is back, and FanDuel is offering daily fantasy contests for the entirety of the tournament. For those who played DFS during the Premier League season, FanDuel has made some changes to their scoring system, so make sure you're up to date on how the new settings impact things.

This article will focus on FanDuel’s main slate, which doesn't include the match between Denmark and Australia.

Let's go through the four positions and look at some players to target at various price points.

Forwards to Target

Antoine Griezmann ($11,500) -- Griezmann backed up his performance in qualifying (15 goals) in France’s first match, scoring on a penalty kick while taking five shots -- three on target -- and sending in two crosses. Despite only playing 70 minutes against Australia, the Atletico Madrid star should see opportunities against Peru as the Les Bleus are the largest favorite on the slate and have an implied team total of 1.75 goals. Kylian Mbappe ($9,500) -- playing outside of Griezmann -- is also a threat to find the back of the net, as he placed one shot on target against Australia while adding two chances created.

Mario Mandzukic ($9,000) -- Manning the front-line for Croatia, Mandzukic should have opportunities to score his first goal of the tournament against Argentina in a game that could see a lot of open play, as Argentina should be looking to pick up the full three points. According to our models, Croatia is projected to score 1.21 goals, and Mandzukic has the best odds (+250) of any Croatian to find the back of the net. Seemingly more a goal-dependent option than Griezmann, Mandzukic took two shots off target while creating three chances in his first match against Nigeria. Playing for Juventus, Mandzukic scored five goals during the Serie A campaign while adding another four in Champions League play, and he will be looking to help Croatia advance to the knockout stage.

Midfielders to Target

Lionel Messi ($12,500) -- After a surprising draw against Iceland, Argentina needs to find a way to get three points against Croatia (although a draw won’t kill them), and Messi will need a bounce-back performance if that is going to happen. Despite 11 shots in his first match, Messi was only able to place three of those shots on target, including a critical missed penalty. Messi should be a safe play in all formats, as he added three crosses and three chances created against Iceland. With our models projecting Argentina to score 1.29 goals against Croatia, Sergio Aguero ($11,000) is worth a look at forward, as well, as he scored one goal on three shots -- the goal being his one shot on target -- against Iceland.

Luka Modric ($8,500) -- As a 0.5-goal underdog, Croatia will be looking for an upset over Argentina to advance to the knockout stages. Modric is the key piece in the center for Croatia, and he finished a penalty in the first match against Nigeria. Although goals are always a plus, DFS players are likely rostering Modric for the peripherals he brings (crosses, chances created and tackles), and while he was unable to record any chances created in his previous match, the Real Madrid player did send in six crosses against Nigeria. Croatia has a fairly deep squad -- Ante Rebic ($6,500) and Ivan Rakitic ($7,500) will also be key components of their attack, with both players sending in four crosses and taking one shot off target in their first match of the tournament.

Angel Di Maria ($8,000) -- Di Maria played in eight crosses and created two chances in Argentina’s first match of the tournament against Iceland, and he should continue to get those opportunities against Croatia. He should stand over most set-pieces, minus obvious scoring chances (those generally go to Messi). Argentina have an implied team total of 1.25 goals and are a 0.5-goal favorite over Croatia in a match that could see a lot of open play, as Argentina will be looking for a much-needed win.

Andre Carrillo ($6,500) -- According to our models, Peru has the lowest project total on the slate (0.90 goals) as they face France, who are one of our favorites to win the World Cup. Currently sitting at the bottom of their group, Peru will need to push up the pitch and look to find the back of the net. Paolo Guerrero ($7,500) is clearly Peru’s best player -- although he came on as a substitute against Denmark -- but Carrillo played well in Peru’s first match. He recorded five crosses, four chances created and one shot on target while playing a full 90 minutes against Denmark, and while Guerrero -- if he starts -- will definitely take over a large role in the attack, Carrillo could offer a solid leverage play.

Defenders to Target

Raphael Varane ($5,500) and Samuel Umtiti ($5,000) -- If DFS players are looking for clean sheet equity, the French defenders offer the best possibility for those points, as Peru have a projected team total of 0.9 goals, according to our projections. Both Umtiti and Varane picked up five clearances in their opening match against Australia while Umtiti also added one shot off target. If France is able to score an early goal, Peru will need to push up the pitch as a loss will all but end Peru’s hopes of making the knockout stages and that open play should bode well for Varane and Umtiti.

Christian Ramos ($5,000) and Alberto Rodriguez ($4,500) -- Center-backs always seem to do well on FanDuel, and as the largest underdog on the slate, Ramos and Rodriguez should see plenty of opportunities to pick up a high number of defensive actions. The two center-backs combined for 11 clearances and 3 interceptions in Peru’s first match against Denmark while Rodriguez was able to take 2 off-target shots. In their first match of the tournament, France forced 40 clearances -- 28 to defenders -- against Australia, and that pressure should continue against Peru.

Goalies to Target

Hugo Lloris ($5,500) -- According to our projections, France has the best possibility to pick up both the win and the clean-sheet bonuses. Argentina and Croatia are both projected to find the back of the net, per our models, while Peru is unlikely to score, and those points from a clean sheet and win could make Lloris the highest-scoring keeper on the slate. Lloris made one save in his first match, although he conceded a goal on a penalty, and if he is able to make a few saves, he could have a huge fantasy day.

Pedro Gallese ($4,000) -- Despite being the largest underdog on the slate, our projections have Peru scoring 0.90 goals. If you believe Peru is going to find the back of the net, Gallese could be the top-scoring keeper on the slate. The other match -- Argentina-Croatia -- is unlikely to offer either keeper clean-sheet equity, according to our projections. Gallese was able to make only two saves in his first match against Denmark, but the French have an extremely deep and talented attack that should be able to put constant pressure on Gallese, which gives him the possibility to rack up points via save volume, though he does offer low odds for a win.

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