World Cup Daily Fantasy Helper: Sunday 7/1/18

Diego Costa is in a great spot as Spain battle Russia. Which other players can help your FanDuel lineup on the second day of the knockout round?

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.

With the knockout stage upon us it is important to note that extra time goals and points accrued will count toward a player's total and goals allowed will negate a clean sheet while penalty shootouts will not count toward a player’s fantasy production. As always, be sure to check the starting XIs prior to game time.

This primer will focus on matchday two of the knockout rounds as Spain faces host nation Russia. Croatia and Denmark will also face off for a place in the quarterfinals.

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

Forwards to Target

Diego Costa ($13,000) -- Spain have not hit their stride in this World Cup despite getting through the group. Costa led the team with three goals in the group stage, showing the ability to create just enough space. Despite the turmoil with the Spanish National Team before the start of the competition, they stuck with Costa and his form has carried over to Russia. Costa has held up play well and made scoring opportunities out of nothing. He is averaging over two shots per match and has been willing to go at defenders if he does not have help on a break. In non-league competitions this season, Costa has scored 7 goals in just 11 appearances. He is the odds-on anytime goal scorer, and he's on a side expected to score over two goals, according to our predictions.

Ante Rebic ($9,000) -- There is risk playing Rebic, as he has been subbed off in both matches he played in the group stage. However, they were both shutout victories for Croatia, and Rebic scored against Argentina. The young attacker is in great form, winning aerial duels, and finding space to shoot every match. His odds of scoring are 3/1, and he is coming off his best offensive season in his career, posting six goals for Eintracht Frankfurt. Rebic is also averaging 2.5 successful dribbles per match, so he is getting around his defenders. The attacking player is also averaging over three defensive actions a game for one of the most impressive sides of the group stage.

Midfielders to Target

Ivan Rakitic ($9,000) -- Rakitic is the highest rated player in the game and that should come as no surprise for anyone that watched Croatia's group matches. He bossed the midfield and never looked uncomfortable while scoring a goal, ultimately being named man of the match against Argentina. Rakitic is also averaging close to four defensive actions per match as he gets box to box to aid his team. Offensively, he is shooting at least twice per game while getting fouled almost three times a game. While Rakitic has said that Luka Modric is the best Croatian player ever, he seems determined to be a part of a true golden generation that could potentially retire from international play after hoisting the trophy. It would be hard to come up with any greater motivation.

Lasse Schone ($6,000) -- Schone is filling in for the injured William Kvist in defensive midfield. He will be tasked with shutting down Rakitic and Modric, the engine of the Croatian side. Andreas Christensen played in the midfield against France, but he is likely to move back to his more natural center back position. Denmark are the underdog here and will likely have to play defensively behind the ball. They did hold France to a draw and there have been under 2.5 goals in six of their last seven matches. Schone must play a big role if Denmark wants to keep up the defensive pressure as the Ajax player is averaging six defensive actions in the World Cup, right on par with his productive season in the Eredivisie.

Saul Niguez ($6,000) -- Niguez is likely to be the budget midfielder in the heavily-favored Spain lineup, although Nacho has a chance to take the spot. He has not played in the World Cup, but the Atletico Madrid man showcased his versatility during the La Liga season. Even at 23 years old, one site has called Niguez the most complete midfielder in Europe. He scored six goals and tallied three assists across all competitions this season. He also averaged over 7.5 defensive actions per match. If he does start alongside Sergio Busquets, expect the young player to get forward more than his counterpart.

Defenders to Target

Sime Vrsaljko ($5,000) -- Vrsaljko's club career is in limbo with much interest coming from Europe's top leagues, but his focus will be on the biggest game of his career thus far. Outside of the two star midfielders, Vrsaljko is Croatia's highest rated player. While the right back likes to shoot from distance, he is not a marauding defender that gets forward at all costs. He is averaging seven defensive actions per match in the World Cup and has shown off his ability in aerial duels by winning three per match. So he should also be involved in set pieces in the opponent's area. However, look for Vrsaljko to be in charge of locking down Pione Sisto and Christian Eriksen. Our projections have this match as a gritty, defensive affair, and that suits Vrsaljko.

Mario Fernandes ($4,500) -- Igor Smolnikov's suspension paves the way for Fernandes to start at right back. Fernandes has logged plenty of minutes for Russia so far and even recorded an assist. He is averaging six defensive actions per match in the World Cup. Fernandes is very much a defensive minded player, so transitioning to right back from his more natural defensive midfielder role does not present a problem. Fernandes has been on a long and windy road to get to this point, but he should be up for the challenge with Spain owning possession.

Keeper to Target

David De Gea ($5,500) -- There have been rumors that the blunders of De Gea in group play have cost him his starting spot, but his teammates have his back. Our projections have Russia with the lowest goal total on the day and the oddsmakers have a shutout for Spain as a likely outcome. De Gea was rightfully called one of the best keepers in the world, and he needs to put the blunders from the group stage behind him. He is no longer the most expensive keeper on the slate, but that makes him all the more appealing here.

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.