World Cup Daily Plays: June 20th, 2014
Hello again, Grinders! I’m here with another edition of World Cup Daily Plays. If you’re reading for the first time, welcome! Feel free to check out my prior blog posts outlining general ideas and process for World Cup DFS.
Friday is simultaneously the easiest AND hardest day that I’ve had to analyze. The top plays are pretty straightforward, but the pricing on both Draftstreet and Statclash is VERY tricky. It’s going to be very difficult to fit all the players we want, so we’re going to have to look for value somewhere. There’s a lot of elements in play on Friday: France and Italy are the familiar, big-name teams; Switzerland are the young upstarts with plenty of talent; Ecuador is a tight-knit team of relative unknowns (other than Antonio Valencia); and Honduras and Costa Rica are the underdogs.
The over/under for all three games is 2.5. Italy is a moderate favorite over Costa Rica, Ecuador is a moderate favorite over Honduras, and France is a small favorite over Switzerland. In general we’ll try to target the favorites, but there’s value in the underdogs – and in a GPP, almost anyone is in play. On to the plays:
Whoever starts for Italy: Gianluigi Buffon (ITA $18,992 DS / $24 SC) or Salvatore Sirigu (ITA $19,201 DS / $24 SC) – Buffon missed the first game due to injury, but has returned to training. The Italian coach has stated on multiple occasions that he likes to keep opponents guessing with his lineups, so it remains to be seen which ‘keeper will start between the sticks. Since Italy-Costa Rica is the first match of the day, we will be able to see which net-minder is in. Italy has a solid defense, and I don’t believe Costa Rica can repeat their performance against Uruguay. If you’re paying up for goalkeeper, Italy is the way to go.
Noel Valladares (HON $16,012 DS / $17 SC) – As we have discussed in previous blogs/articles, on Draftstreet it seems like a cheap/“punt” goalkeeper is a perfectly viable option. Valladares is the cheapest option on the docket tomorrow, so he’s in play. He had a -1 score in the last game – it’s DEFINITELY a gamble to start him – but I don’t think Ecuador will manhandle Honduras quite as much as France did. The goalkeeper pricing is very tight on Friday. I would build the rest of your lineup first, then fit in whatever goalkeeper meets your budget.
Other Goalkeepers I like: Hugo Lloris (FRA) / Alexander Dominguez (ECU)
(Just one note before I get into defenders. As mentioned above, the Italy team is being kept under wraps until close to game-time. There’s a chance it stays the same, but there’s several viable options on the bench that could come into the squad. Check prior to kickoff. Any Italy defender in the starting lineup is in play, especially whoever will be playing at RB and LB (since they’ll be joining in attacks more often). If you see the lineup and still aren’t sure who will play where, I should have enough time to post my thoughts in the comments section tomorrow.)
Patrice Evra (FRA $7,003 DS / $18.50 SC) – Otherwise, Evra is a solid option if you have the money to pay up. He’s a cagey veteran and more than capable of contributing to attacks. Switzerland is a talented young team, capable of ruining France’s clean sheet chances, but Evra has among the most upside at D tomorrow.
Ricardo Rodriguez (SUI $5,650 DS / $17 SC) – I just have a habit of going in price order for these picks, but there is no doubt that Rodriguez is my top option at D on Friday. I’ve basically had a man-crush on him since my first Silver Bundesliga team this year on FIFA 14. He’s great in that game, and even better on the real pitch. He has a cannon of a left foot, takes many free kicks, whips in amazing crosses, and happens to play great defense as well. I don’t think Switzerland shuts out France, but Rodriguez should be able to put up points in the ballpark of his two-assist effort in his squad’s last match. He’ll be playing on a top European team VERY SOON (not that Wolfsburg is too shabby, themselves).
Cristian Gamboa (CRC $4,638 DS / $15.50 SC) – Gamboa was instrumental in the counterattacking prowess that propelled Costa Rica to a major upset of Uruguay. He motors down his right flank and whips in crosses. If Costa Rica has anywhere near the kind of match they played their last time out, Gamboa will play a part.
Other Defenders I like: Stephane Lichtsteiner (SUI) (Note: he’s a hothead so it’s always a risk that he has a few Fouls Conceded) / Mathieu Debuchy (FRA) / Anyone starting for Italy
Antonio Valencia (ECU $15,734 DS / $22 SC) – The Manchester United man won’t be pinned back defending as much as he had to in the Switzerland game; Honduras does not have anyone as dangerous as Ricardo Rodriguez (JUST remembered that’s also the name of Alberto Del Rio’s announcer – sorry for the WWE tangent) on their left flank. Valencia will be freed up to play a much more forward role in Ecuador’s offense, and is in a good position to have a very solid game. He’s a little pricey, but I think he makes a good “zag” from most people “zigging” with France and Italy midfielders.
Mathieu Valbuena (FRA $13,203 DS / $19.75 SC – listed as Forward) – Valbuena has been playing in a right wing position for France, which is probably why SC has him listed up front. He has forward upside (multiple shots/assist or even a goal) at a midfield price. Fair warning though – I think he will be very highly owned tomorrow.
Granit Xhaka (SUI $11,829 DS / $16 SC) – If I could add a third top play, it would be Xherdan Shaqiri, who is another midfielder with forward-style upside. Shaqiri will also be highly owned tomorrow though, so for value, I think Xhaka is an option. He plays in the middle of a potent Switzerland attack, in a center attacking-midfield position. He did not perform as well for the Swiss as his better known teammate in their first match, but he has the potential to.
Other Midfielders I like: Xherdan Shaqiri (SUI) / Paul Pogba & Blaise Matuidi (FRA) / Andrea Pirlo & Claudio Marchisio (ITA)
Mario Balotelli (ITA $19,827 DS / $23 SC) & Karim Benzema (FRA $21,934 DS / $22.50 SC) – Here’s where I said Friday’s plays are easy. I’m going to talk about these two together because they are going to be put together on MANY teams. I genuinely think they will both be very highly owned everywhere, and many many teams will start both. They are the two biggest names at forward tomorrow, in the two best teams playing, and both are coming off goal-scoring performances in their first match. I will be surprised if they are not the two highest owned players. Fade them at your own risk.
(Similar to my tangent on Italian defenders, if Italy is starting someone as a second striker/forward, they should provide good value as well. Ciro Immobile is probably the most likely to be used in this position, but again, I’ll try to clarify Italy’s formation as best I can in the comments before kickoff. Check back if you’re not sure.)
Antoine Griezmann (FRA $13,333 DS / $16.75 CS) – Griezmann has the unenviable task of replacing Franck Ribery at this World Cup. He’s coming off of a breakout season in La Liga for Real Sociedad. As part of a potent front attacking front three for France, he has a floor of 2-3 shots on target, with a ceiling of a goal and an assist. For those bold enough to go contrarian and fade one of the top two guns (Balo and Benz), Griezmann provides a solid chance at great value.
Other Forwards I like: Josip Drmic (SUI) / Enner Valencia & Felipe Caicedo (ECU) / Joel Campbell (CRC)