FanDuel Champions League Single-Game Helper: PSG vs. Manchester City (4/28/21)
Two of Europe's heavyweights square off Wednesday at 3 p.m. EST as PSG take on Manchester City in Paris in a Champions League semifinal. This should be a dandy. City are slim +110 road favorites for the first leg, and the game carries a line of -144 to go over 2.5 goals.
FanDuel is offering single-game contests for the big matchup. While scoring is the same to the normal UCL offerings, roster requirements are different. You have $50 to work with and need to roster four forwards/midfielders -- one in a captain slot, where the player's points are multiplied by 1.5 -- along with a defender.
Now that we have the lay of the land, which players should you roster for Wednesday's showdown?
Neymar ($15), PSG
With Neymar, Kylian Mbappe and Kevin De Bruyne on the slate, it's hard telling who will be the most popular captain pick.
That makes this a difficult slate in my eyes because I usually like to get a little weird -- but not too weird -- at captain, and those three could all see about the same captain percentage, so there might not be much game-theory leverage to be had. You can make an easy case for any of those three, but if you really want to be contrarian, you can get your captain from outside of this trio.
For me, Neymar is the pick of the lot. A superb playmaker with good goal-scoring odds (+155 to score anytime), the Brazilian offers an elite floor/ceiling combination. He will handle some corners and could be on penalties. Over the two legs against Bayern in the last round, Neymar totaled seven shots (four on target), two assists and eight shot-creating actions, per FBRef. He was excellent in the tie, and all he was missing was a goal.
Facing a City side that keep the ball as well as anyone, PSG will likely have space on the counter. Neymar and Mbappe can cause City the same problems they caused Bayern.
Kevin De Bruyne ($14), Man City
A lot of what I just said about Neymar also fits for De Bruyne, who combines a world-class ability to create chances with nice goal-scoring odds -- giving him a stellar floor/ceiling combination. KDB usually has a monopoly on set pieces for City, taking corners, free kicks and penalties. But he might have lost his role on pens to Riyad Mahrez, which is certainly a blow.
However, the Belgian is still +210 to score and should be on the ball a ton versus PSG. De Bruyne has five goals and 11 assists this year in the Premier League, and he's got two goals with four assists in five UCL starts.
PSG has faced two top-shelf sides so far in the knockout rounds in Barcelona and Bayern, and they permitted exactly 4.3 expected goals in each tie, according to FBRef. City should be able to generate chances, and KDB will likely play a big role in that.
Kylian Mbappe ($14), PSG
Mbappe -- who is a possible injury concern -- has been immense in the knockout rounds, netting five goals over four games versus Bayern and Barca. Up against another possession-based team that plays a high line defensively, Mbappe's pace makes him a lethal threat once again. He took a penalty against Barcelona, but Neymar didn't play in that game.
Of the three players we've talked about, Mbappe is the one most reliant on goals for fantasy production, so he's got the lowest floor of the trio. His ceiling is monstrous, though, and he's showed that in the knockout rounds.
At +135 to score, the French superstar has the match's best anytime goal odds among expected starters.
Riyad Mahrez ($13), Man City
Like I said above, if you want to be different in your captain slot, choose someone outside of the aforementioned trio. Among the rest of the players on the slate, Mahrez is my favorite captain pick, and some of that is due to it looking like he's the man on penalties for City -- which may or may not actually be the case, although he took a crucial penalty at Dortmund last time out in the UCL. Heck, given Pep Guardiola's unpredictability with his starting XI, particularly in the UCL, Mahrez might not be in the lineup.
But Mahrez has started six straight games, including both matchups with Dortmund in the quarterfinals and the Carabao Cup final against Spurs this past weekend. In addition to scoring from the spot against BVB, he also had an assist. He sometimes siphons a corner or two away from KDB and is listed at +220 to score anytime.
Even if you don't want to roll the dice on Mahrez as your captain, he's well worth considering for a forward/midfield spot.
Phil Foden ($10), Man City
Foden is having his long-awaited breakout campaign for City, and it's been pretty special. In EPL play, the young English midfielder has seven assists and five goals in just 15 starts. His rate of 0.74 goals plus assists per 90 minutes is right on the heels of De Bruyne's (0.76), and Foden doesn't benefit from penalties or corners like KDB does. He scored a goal in both games versus Dortmund while taking six total shots (four on target). At this salary, Foden makes gobs of sense.
Marco Verratti ($8), PSG
Verratti is typically a much better real-life player than fantasy asset, because he tends to play in a deeper role that prevents him from racking up goal contributions. I mean, dude hasn't scored a goal in Ligue 1 play since 2017 despite being one of the best midfielders in the world. That normal role coupled with Verratti missing both Bayern games due to injury could cause him to go totally overlooked on this slate, and that would be a mistake.
The Italian has, at times, been playing a little more advanced this season, and he has generated at least two shot-creating actions in each of his past eight starts. In the Round of 16 against Barcelona, Verratti notched an assist with two shot-creating passes in each match. And against Manchester City, Verratti will likely amass some defensive stats, as well.
Raheem Sterling ($12), Man City
I have no idea if Sterling is going to start. He played a whopping three total minutes off the bench in the tie against BVB last round, but then he started in the FA Cup semifinal as well as the Carabao Cup final. If he's in there Wednesday, he's definitely in play. He carries anytime goal odds of +175 and still has nine goals with six assists in 24 EPL starts despite his dip in form.
Ilkay Gundogan ($7), Man City
Gundogan is going to draw a lot of attention at this salary. He actually leads City in goals (12) in EPL action and has been a huge beneficiary of Guardiola opting to go without a striker most of the time. He's taken at least two shots in four of his last five starts across all competitions. While the German is clearly a fine point-per-dollar play, I'll likely be light on him relative to the field. I want to fade the likely chalk, and he's just not getting forward as much as he was earlier this season when De Bruyne was out.
Idrissa Gueye ($5), PSG
Gueye is a punt play who can help you jam in the studs you want. He should be busy with defensive work against City. In a similar matchup against Bayern, Gueye averaged 4.5 tackles, 2.5 clearances and 1.0 interception per game over the two matches. While his ceiling is low, the floor isn't too bad, and he could find his way into the optimal lineup if this winds up being a low-scoring clash.
Joao Cancelo ($10), Man City
Cancelo's fantasy output has been trending in the wrong direction since his mid-season ascension to the elite salary tier on EPL slates. On top of that, Cancelo may be asked to be more conservative than usual as City try to combat PSG's counter-attacks. And it's not all that fun to commit $10 to a defender on a slate with this much attacking star power.
For those reasons, I'm probably fading Cancelo, but the masses will probably follow that same line of thinking, which gives the Portuguese full-back slate-breaking potential in tournaments if he does get an assist or goal (+700 goal odds).
Presnel Kimpembe ($6) and Abdou Diallo ($4), PSG
I want to save salary at defender, so I'll be looking to the lowest-salary starters. Kimpembe and Diallo are listed as expected starters by WhoScored. Diallo will get forward more from his full-back spot, but neither offers that much upside. Diallo has just two assists all season. Kimpembe likely has the slightly better floor as City's attack should keep him busy.
More than anything, the draw here is the salaries, so even though Diallo isn't likely to score too many fantasy points, it's the freedom to load up in my forward/midfield spots that is what I really covet, so I'll give him a long look if he starts.