World Cup Daily Fantasy Helper: Semifinals
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.
The main slate includes both semi-finals and kicks off with France against Belgium at 2 pm EST on Tuesday.
Let's go through the four positions and look at some players to target at various price points.
Forwards to Target
Harry Kane ($13,000) and Raheem Sterling ($8,500) -- Our numbers have England as the largest favorites on the slate by a slight margin. Their implied goal total of 1.01 is the third-highest on the slate, but they should see more of the ball than any other team. In the quarterfinals, Harry Kane finally went an entire game without scoring, but he is still in an excellent spot against a tired Croatian defense that has played extra time in both of their previous knockout matches. Sterling is a pivot off of Kane's expected high ownership. It hasn't shown up on the scoresheet yet, but Sterling's movement has been important for England so far in Russia. Due to his lack of goals, he should be under-owned in this spot despite being a starting striker on the largest favorite on the slate.
Romelu Lukaku ($11,000) -- Lukaku is having an excellent summer, quickly dispelling any remaining doubts people had about his ability. His performance against Brazil was man-of-the-match worthy, and Belgium will need a repeat to see off France and advance to their first ever World Cup Final. With a slate-high implied total of 1.77 goals, our metrics expect Belgium to have more than their fair share of chances in the final third. That bodes well for Lukaku, whose four goals to this point have him in second place in the Golden Boot race, two goals behind Kane. France's defense performed well against a Uruguay side missing Edison Cavani, but they are only two games removed from allowing a struggling Argentina to score three times. Belgium will be the most explosive attack France has faced to this point, and they should come closer to Argentina's total than Uruguay's.
Kylian Mbappe ($10,500) -- With an implied total of 1.56 goals, France are underdogs to Belgium, but our numbers expect it to be a high-scoring affair. After his two-goal performance against Argentina, Mbappe was on top of the world. Against Uruguay, the spotlight shifted to this teammate Antoine Griezmann ($11,500), which may slightly lower Mbappe's ownership on this slate. Mbappe will face a Belgian defense missing Thomas Meunier, and he'll operate on the right side, primarily against Jan Vertonghen ($5,000) and Vincent Kompany ($5,000). While holding Brazil to a single goal was impressive, Belgium's defense hasn't been great this tournament, allowing two goals to both Tunisia and Japan. If Mbappe is up to the task, he should be able to produce on Tuesday.
Midfielders to Target
Ivan Rakitic ($9,000) -- While most of the attention has been on his teammate, Luka Modric ($9,500), Ivan Rakitic is also having an excellent World Cup. He lacks the offensive prowess that Modric possesses, but against England, his defensive abilities give him more value. His best FanDuel performances this summer have come in matches in which Croatia saw less of the ball -- against Nigeria (15.5 FanDuel points), Argentina (35.8) and Denmark (23.8). In the two matches Croatia has controlled -- versus Russia and Iceland -- Rakitic has averaged just 4.75 FanDuel points. As an underdog against England, Croatia should be forced to defend more often, which benefits Rakitic more than any other Croatian midfielder.
Kevin De Bruyne ($8,500) -- Not that he needed it, but De Bruyne finally had his breakout game of the summer against Brazil. In that match, manager Roberto Martinez shifted Belgium's formation, placing De Bruyne up top and allowing him to play a vital role in the counter-attack. The decision paid off, and a similar strategy against France could allow De Bruyne to thrive again. However, KDB will face his stiffest competition yet as France's N'Golo Kante ($6,000) is the closest thing the world has to a shutdown defensive midfielder. If De Bruyne's position up top allows him to largely avoid Kante, that bodes well for his DFS outlook. If he has to deal with Kante consistently, he can still produce, but expectations should be lowered.
Jesse Lingard ($8,000) -- Jesse Lingard continues to be the unsung hero, alongside Jordan Henderson ($6,500), of this England side. His distribution has been excellent, with an average pass success percentage of 93.67% in his four matches played. While Dele Alli ($8,500) will receive more attention for scoring the goal against Sweden, it was a pinpoint pass from Lingard that allowed Alli to easily score. With his combination of vision and longshot ability, Lingard's breakout DFS performance is coming, and when it does, he will likely be under-owned relative to his fellow countrymen.
Defenders to Target
Kieran Trippier ($6,500) and Ashley Young ($5,500) -- If it's not broke, don't fix it. Trippier has been the most consistent defender in the tournament from a DFS perspective, with more than 14 points scored in each of his four matches played. Against Croatia, England should once again be able to control the game, allowing Trippier the time and space to get into the final third. Ashley Young has also been performing well, and he set up the opening goal for England against Sweden. He should be lower owned than Trippier is and makes for an interesting option in large-field tournaments.
Benjamin Pavard ($5,500) -- While he will be remembered for his absolute wonder strike against Argentina, Pavard has actually had a great tournament in all aspects. He has been sound defensively and dangerous when he does get forward. He isn't as involved as England's wingbacks, but against Belgium, he should have the opportunity to accumulate more points through defensive actions. Pavard has been a clearance machine in Russia, with an average of 4.25 clearances per match, and he will be tasked with keeping Eden Hazard ($10,000) in check. That's no easy task, but it is crucial to France's chances of success on Tuesday. Regardless of the outcome, Pavard should be incredibly busy against Belgium.
Goalies to Target
Thibaut Courtois ($4,500) -- Given the choice between Hugo Lloris ($5,500) and Courtois in this match, I'll take the one who held Brazil to a single goal, and not the one who gave up three to Argentina. Our numbers project this to be a high-scoring affair and give Courtois and Belgium a slight edge over France. A clean sheet is unlikely for either goalie, but after the victory over Brazil, our numbers give Courtois the better chance of the two to get the win bonus
Jordan Pickford ($4,500) -- It's coming home? Until Pickford's performance against Sweden, the famous English song still had a question mark at the end of it for many. However, with Pickford in form and feeling confident, that question mark has been replaced by a period. Pickford's penalty shootout heroics versus Colombia and clean sheet against Sweden, give England something they haven't had in years: confidence in goal. As the largest favorites on the slate against a tired Croatian side, Pickford has the best odds of both a clean sheet and win of any goalie on the slate.
Zack Bussiere is not a FanDuel employee. In addition to providing DFS gameplay advice, Zack Bussiere also participates in DFS contests on FanDuel using his personal account, username zbuss1. 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.