The 32 soccer clubs engaged in the UEFA Championship League this year come from seventeen countries. Selecting players for a DFS roster from many diverse teams could be intimidating, and when the list of players is overwhelmingly large, with so many unknowns, the most common–and natural–thing to do is to up familiar faces. Nothing wrong with that for owning players we know is fun as they play in games we are likely to watch, however, that certainly does not guarantee a DFS win.
So, what are the considerations and rationales for building a winning DFS roster? At least for the upcoming Matchday 5, let’s take a look.
The basic: injuries. Don’t build your roster too soon. One day prior to Matchday is the right time to work on it. Most national calendars allow teams involved in the Championship League to play local league games the previous Saturday. By Monday players’ conditions are known. Google “UEFA Championship League injuries and suspensions,” and several sites will pop up, most with helpful lists. Then eliminate players who are out, whose condition is doubtful or are red carded.
The key: pick players who are certain to play. Managers announce the 20 players called up for the UEFA several days in advance of the contest, but the identity of the 11 starters is anyone’s guess and there is always a lot of speculation regarding line-ups for days before Matchday. Once you have zeroed on a player, it would be wise to access his team’s home page to check for the most recent news. Last minute muscle tweaks cannot be predicted, and yet, this is necessary homework. While this effort appears obvious, time may come when you may want a player from an unfamiliar territory, like Turkey or Russia or Belgium or Greece. Thus checking the status of players you are eyeballing is essential.
DraftKings will feature several dozen DFS contests for both Matchday 5, and 6. The standard lineup of each contest has one goalkeeper, two defenders, two midfielders, two forwards and one utility player. We have grouped midfielders, forwards and utility into a single Attack group and ended up with three categories: Goalkeepers, Defenders, and everyone’s favorite “the Attack.”
Considerations for selecting a goalkeeper: Piece of cake during the group stage. There are plenty of choices, available, so select goalkeepers from strong teams facing weak rivals at home. Start by checking prior Matchday scores and then look up at the group tables for Goals For (GF) column of weak teams. Matchday 5 sees Manchester City at home facing Feyenoord. Ederson is then a good pickup. In the same vein, since Anderlecht has not scored yet, Neuer has a good chance of getting a clean sheet.
Considerations for selecting defenders: My preference is to select defenders from either weaker teams, or from match-ups that promise a fierce clash. Defenders from weaker teams will be under continuous attack which will give them plenty of opportunities for interceptions and tackles, the two main sources for defensive fantasy points. Note though that we do not want players from teams that are too inferior. For example, Matchday 5 offers Juventus, Atletico Madrid and Sevilla as reasonable sources of defenders.
Considerations for selecting the Attack: The first temptation is to go with top names, e.g. PSG’s Neymar. Here is the problem. These players are expensive and may present difficulties in being included under the salary cap. The real issue though is that with their teams comfortably on top of their group tables, there is no guarantee that the studs are game starters. If the stars are on the bench, there goes close to 20% of the salary allotment.
With that in mind, look for match-ups with the greatest certainty of both teams playing their best line-ups and include teams, fighting for that coveted second spot in the standings. Matchday 5 offers several like battles from which to draw: Napoli – Shahktar Donetsk, Sevilla-Liverpool, Sporting-Olympiacos and CSKA Moscow-Benfica (a must win for Sporting and CSKA Moscow). These clashes offer midfielders and forwards who are likely to be on the pitch from the first minute.
Recommendations with specific player names for your DFS roster will be published a day or so before Matchday 5 and 6.
Follow Pasko at Twitter @varnica123. His essays about sports in ancient Roman times can be found at SportsInAntiquity.com