DraftKings UCL Daily Fantasy Soccer Helper for 2/16/21

The Champions League knockout stage kicks off on Tuesday. It's just the two games from Tuesday on this slate, so let's look at the odds from FanDuel Sportsbook:

RB Leipzig (+200)+250Liverpool (+130)
Barcelona (-110)+280Paris St. Germain (+270)

Forwards to Target

Lionel Messi ($12,300): With Neymar out for PSG, Messi is the elite option on the slate. He's still the same Messi at age 33 that we've all known, sitting second in La Liga in goals with 15. He's also shooting more than ever, averaging 6.08 shots per 90 minutes, according to Rotowire. That's his most since data became available in 2015. He also has his best rates of crosses and fouls drawn, so his floor is higher than ever. This just adds to his goal-scoring upside, which is obviously the best on the slate. He's the only player who is an odds-on favorite to score at any time, according to FanDuel Sportsbook. He's worth the high salary regardless of the format. It's going to be hard for any other player to match the fantasy point output he is likely to put up in this game.

Christopher Nkunku ($8,700): There are a couple of points to be made about this matchup between RB Leipzig and Liverpool. The first is that it's actually being played in Budapest, as COVID restrictions prevented Liverpool from traveling to Germany. So it's a neutral-site match, but how much it affects a game that wouldn't have a crowd anyway is up in the air. The second point is that while Liverpool are favored, the recent form of these two clubs is going in the opposite direction. Liverpool have lost five games out of seven in all competitions, struggling to find their form from last season due to injuries. Leipzig, meanwhile, have won five of their last six matches.

So we have an interesting dynamic in this game that goes beyond the odds. We can feel good about playing Leipzig players, and Nkunku is one of them we want to target. He gets a lot of Leipzig's set pieces and averages 6.81 crosses per 90 minutes. He had 13 assists in the Bundesliga last season, and even though he only has 2 this season, he is creating chances at a higher rate this campaign. On this small of a slate, a player with high floor can produce enough points through only crosses to be worth using, and Nkunku is probably the most likely player at forward to do that.

Moise Kean ($5,900): Kean should get the start with Neymar and Ángel Di María unavailable in this game. He is PSG's second leading goal scoring in Ligue 1 this season, scoring 10 goals in 17 appearances. Kean has been a highly thought of prospect for years, is still only 20 years old, and is having a breakout season. His salary is depressed due to lack of playing time in the group stage, but he will be called upon here. He is a standout value on the slate.

Also consider: Kylian Mbappé ($9,900), Antoine Griezmann ($6,900), Mauro Icardi ($6,300)

Midfielders to Target

Ousmane Dembélé ($8,100): There aren't a ton of great options who play only midfield, so keep in mind that some of the forwards mentioned above can also be played at midfield. One of those with dual eligibility is Ousmane Dembélé for Barcelona. It hasn't always been easy for him at the club, but he's starting to round into form. He's produced at least 10 DraftKings points in six of the last seven games in which he's played at least 45 minutes. He gets some corner kicks for Barcelona of late, sharing them with Messi. Playing Dembélé with Messi in tournaments for correlation is a strategy that could definitely be employed on Tuesday.

Roberto Firmino ($6,200): Firmino doesn't score as often as we would like for a forward, but that is baked into this relatively low salary. He still has six goals and five assists in the Premier League, so he does contribute to goals. He also averages more than two shots per game. His +250 goal-scoring odds are decent compared to others around this salary range. With fellow members of Liverpool's attacking trio -- Mo Salah and Sadio Mane -- having much higher salaries, if you want exposure to the Reds, Firmino is an economical way to get it.

Tyler Adams ($3,100): If you need a punt, you can play Tyler Adams. Leipzig's projected lineup on shows him playing right wing, which gives him chances to cross. He's the only playable option of the super cheap midfielders.

Also consider: Pablo Sarabia ($7,000), Marcel Sabitzer ($5,900), Miralem Pjanić ($4,100)

Defenders to Target

Angeliño ($6,400): Angeliño was a beast in the group stage, scoring three goals and adding three assists in the six matches. His numbers on the season resemble totals from more of a playmaking midfielder than a defender, as he is averaging nearly seven crosses per 90 minutes and better than two chances created per 90. He shares set pieces with Nkunku, so he should be able to get in those crosses. Angeliño gets forward more often than other defenders, as shown by his seven goals this season. With Liverpool possibly playing a makeshift center-back partnership that may consist of Jordan Henderson and newcomer Ozan Kabak, the Reds could be more vulnerable to conceding a goal from a cross. Angeliño could benefit from this perceived weakness to get at least an assist. He'll also have a chance to expose the space behind Liverpool right-back Trent Alexander-Arnold, who will likely get forward like usual. All in all, Angeliño is a standout play at defender.

Andrew Robertson ($5,900): Robertson has a salary that is $800 less than the aforementioned Alexander-Arnold's despite having a similar cross rate and taking more set pieces during league play this season. Robertson still leads the Premier League in crosses, so he's a decent value for just $5,900. If comparing him to midfielders in the same salary range, Robertson should have a higher floor than most of them, making it acceptable to play him in the utility spot if necessary.

Óscar Mingueza ($3,200): Mingueza has been playing well for Barcelona at right back, with at least six DraftKings points in four straight league games. On this slate where you need all the salary to make a solid lineup, Mingueza is a pretty easy play if he's in the lineup.

Goalkeepers to Target

Marc-André ter Stegen ($5,000): Coming at a discount for the side that is technically the biggest favorite on the slate, ter Stegen is a solid play against a PSG team that has had it's attack diluted with Neymar and Di Maria missing.

Péter Gulácsi ($4,400): Gulácsi and Leipzig have a decent chance of winning this match against Liverpool, and he is the starting keeper with the lowest salary on the slate. Liverpool's attack hasn't looked threatening of late, and now they have to go up against the team with the best defensive record in the Bundesliga.

Nicholas Vazquez is not a FanDuel employee. In addition to providing DFS gameplay advice, Nicholas Vazquez also participates in DFS contests on FanDuel using his personal account, username hbyanksman. 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.