World Cup Daily Fantasy Helper: Sunday 6/24/18
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.
Sunday's main slate features matches that have different meanings than what we thought they'd have before the World Cup began. Group H co-leaders Japan and Senegal will face off while previous favorites Poland and Colombia try to get back into the race. The 8 a.m. EST Group G clash between England and Panama is not on the main slate.
Let's go through the four positions and look at some players to target at various price points.
Forwards to Target
Robert Lewandowski ($12,000) -- Poland were the pre-tournament group favorite and have the advantage in our projections against Colombia due in part to Lewandowski. His teammates had trouble finding him in the opening match, but Lewandowski came back into the play and drifted wide to get the ball. He finished with two shots and was fouled once. He was down on the ground plenty of other times, so depending on the referee there could be a lot more foul calls for Lewandowski. The referee of the first match, Nawaf Shukralla, has one of the lowest fouls per match totals so far this World Cup. Remember, Lewandowski scored 16 goals in qualifying and is still the favorite to score in this match. Keep an eye on the starting lineup as Dawid Kownacki may start alongside Lewandowski and provide a budget option at $6,500.
Sadio Mane ($9,500) -- Mane caused problems in the first match even though he was the player targeted as the biggest threat. In the opener against Poland, he had one shot and two key passes while being third on the team in touches. Our projections have this match very even, giving a slight edge to Japan, while Paddy Power gives an edge to Senegal. That means that both teams should be able to share the ball, and their star players will have a chance to create. Mane’s odds to score are just over 2/1, and his speed should come in handy against an older Japanese team. Mane is listed as a forward on FanDuel, but he will likely play in an attacking midfielder role.
Yuya Osaka ($9,000) -- Osaka’s odds to score are 11/4 after tallying in the opening match. It was a bit of a surprise that he started ahead of Shinji Okazaki, who was substituted on late in the match. Osaka's man of the match performance rewarded the decision. He was second on the team in aerials won, which may have been why he was on the pitch. Japan could always go long to relieve pressure in that match knowing that Osaka had a good chance in the air, and the goal came off a corner kick in which Osaka skied above his defender to finish. Our projections give the slight edge to playing the over of 2.0 goals, so it is likely that Osaka will get several looks on goal against Senegal.
M’Baye Niang ($7,500) -- Last match, Niang was the beneficiary of an unusual referee decision that allowed him back on at an opportune time after he had to go off injured. He pounced on a bad pass and deposited the ball into an empty net. He also has good odds to score in this match, playing up top in a two-man attack. His height and athleticism make him a threat on set pieces, as well. In his man of the match performance, Niang was also fouled twice and had two successful dribbles. He has never been one to shy away from taking on his opponent and can be the primary beneficial of the his teammates’ speed.
Genki Haraguchi ($7,500) -- Haraguchi generally plays in an attacking midfielder role. He led Japan in tackles in the opener against Colombia, so ignore the forward designation on FanDuel when thinking about his ceiling. He added one interception to go along with his six tackles in a game in which the opponents saw more than 60% of the ball. Senegal struggled as much as Japan did to hold the ball in their opener, but the possession battle should be more even on Sunday. Japan want to play with speed and allow their attacking players more freedom, and if our projections hold true, this match should allow for moments of creativity on both sides. Haraguchi's playing time in 2. Bundesliga was limited this past season, but he averaged nearly two shots per match and tallied three assists when he did play. He also averaged a touch more than three defensive actions per match, generally from attacking positions, so he will track back to help defensively against Senegal.
Midfielder to Target
Juan Quintero ($6,500) -- Given the amount of players listed as forwards that will play in the midfield, only Quintero is listed here. He will play in a number 10 role, pushing James Rodriguez to the wing. Quintero was Colombia's highest-rated player after their disappointing loss. He scored on a lovely free kick and made two key passes to go with the two shots on goal. He finished with 28.6 FanDuel points, which is third of all midfielders on Sunday's slate. Quintero has refocused on soccer and may be peaking at the right time. Colombia coach Jose Pekerman took criticism after the first match, so he could tinker with his lineup. If Quintero does not start, look at Juan Cuadrado at $7,000 as he should see a bigger role as long as Colombia can avoid another early red card.
Defenders to Target
Gen Shoji ($5,500) -- Shoji's five clearances were second best on the team against Colombia, and he also added four other defensive actions. He should start at center-back, attempting to thwart a two-man frontline rather than the solo lead attacker that Colombia employed to start the first group match. Some may know Shoji for his wonder goal against China, but he is in the starting lineup for his defensive play. Shoji was given an opportunity to start in the backline on the road to Russia, and Japan improved defensively with him back there. He started three matches during qualifying, with one being the clean sheet against Australia that clinched Japan's spot in the World Cup.
Oscar Murillo ($5,500) -- Colombia went down to 10 men early against Japan, and Murillo stepped up to try to fill the defensive void. The 30-year-old defender finished with 10 clearances, which was 4 more than any other player on the field. Murillo played a pivotal role at Pachuca last season, where he had one goal while focusing on his defensive duties. He will have the chore of tracking Lewandowski around the field, giving him plenty of chances to rack up defensive action points. Colombia have never lost their first two games of the group stage in the World Cup, and if they keep that streak going, Murillo will have to put his stamp on the match.
Michal Pazdan ($5,000) -- Pazdan will be on the left of a three-man backline for Poland. He finished the first match of the group with seven defensive actions. He plays behind Maciej Rybus, who is a converted left-back playing further up on the wing and someone who is becoming a big part of the Polish offensive attack. Rybus also presents good value, but Poland is unlikely control the possession in this match like they did in the opener. Regardless, Pazdan will have to stay home and be one of the defenders to track Radamel Falcao.
Keeper to Target
Khadim N’Diaye ($4,500) -- N’Diaye is clearly Senegal’s top-choice keeper, and he has allowed only the goal to Poland over his last three matches. He made a glorious save on a Lewandowski free kick and showed good command of his area with an assertive punch near the end of the match against Poland. N’Diaye was great during Senegal’s qualifying run, totaling four clean sheets, and he has been praised for his relationship with his teammates. As mentioned, our projections have the match with Japan very tight and fairly low scoring, so N’Diaye should have a good shot at saves and a win. These teams also do not necessarily need to play with as much desperation as Colombia and Poland, which means less risk of a wide-open match.
Douglas Smith is not a FanDuel employee. In addition to providing DFS gameplay advice, Douglas Smith also participates in DFS contests on FanDuel using his personal account, username aquemini03. 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.