This article is part of our Yahoo DFS Soccer series.
- Tuesday, 3:00 pm: Barcelona vs. Manchester United
- Tuesday, 3:00 pm: Juventus vs. Ajax
- Wednesday, 3:00 pm: FC Porto vs. Liverpool
- Wednesday, 3:00 pm: Manchester City vs. Tottenham Hotspur
Lionel Messi, BAR v. MUN (€33): Messi was a big disappointment in the first leg last week, but every reason that made him a good play then applies this week, except now he's an even bigger favorite while playing at home. No one is averaging more shots, shots on target or goals per 90 minutes during the Champions League than Messi, who is the top player for the team with the second-highest win odds and implied goal total. He doesn't come cheaply because of that, but he's exactly the kind of player worth his salary. Paying up for Messi will make it tougher to also have Cristiano Ronaldo (€32), as there aren't as many viable cheaper options on the four-game slate, but given their respective upsides, lineups with the two of them figure to be popular in cash games and tournaments.
Federico Bernardeschi, JUV v. AJA (€14): One way to get exposure to the Juventus attack without shelling out more than €30 for Ronaldo is with Bernardeschi, who is likely to have at least a share of set pieces unless Paulo Dybala (€25) starts in place of the injured Mario Mandzukic. Bernardeschi doesn't have the same upside as Ronaldo (few do), but his floor is closer because he still takes shots in addition to his accurate crosses. With many likely paying up for both Messi and Ronaldo, Bernardeschi makes more sense in the utility than as a Ronaldo replacement. And on the subject of a Ronaldo replacement, Sergio Aguero (€27) probably makes the most sense as a pivot from the Juve superstar, as Man City are actually the biggest favorite on the slate with the highest implied goal total despite playing a Tottenham side that beat them 1-0 in the first leg (Aguero had a penalty saved in that one). There are a number of Man City options worth considering, but the more you consider Aguero, Raheem Sterling (€24) or Leroy Sane (€24), you have to realize that you'd likely fading one of Messi or Ronaldo while closing the door on additional options like Luis Suarez (€23), Son Heung-Min (€23) and Dusan Tadic (€25), not to mention all the Liverpool attackers and those from Porto, who actually have to make up a two-goal aggregate deficit.
Marcus Rashford, MUN at BAR (€19): Manchester United are big underdogs away to Barcelona, and while the Spanish giants have an excellent attack, they are hardly a dominant defensive side (yes, I recognize they shut out United at Old Trafford in the first leg). With so many dominant forward options like Messi, Ronaldo and the Man City group, not to mention Liverpool, the Manchester United options like Rashford, Romelu Lukaku (€20) and Anthony Martial (€18) figure to be really low-owned. Are they as good as the others but just cheaper? Ha, no, they aren't nearly as good. But could they find the back of the net against Barcelona? Sure, why not?
Kevin De Bruyne, MCI v. TOT (€22): Getting exposure to the Manchester City attack may best be done through the midfield, as there aren't many high-impact players at the position on the slate. De Bruyne has regained his position as an elite fantasy option because of his majority of set pieces for Man City, a team expected by the oddsmakers to have their way with Harry Kane-less Tottenham. His goal upside isn't nearly as high as Aguero, Sterling, Sane or even Riyad Mahrez (€23), but as the best chance creator on the team, it wouldn't be surprising at all to see De Bruyne make his way on the scoresheet. Paying up for him won't be easy, and with Messi and Ronaldo taking up a lot of salary space, it may be tough paying up for two expensive midfielders.
Hakim Ziyech, AJA at JUV (€27): If there's one player who makes you think about fading Messi and Ronaldo, it's Ziyech, who does so much for Ajax that he's scored double-digit fantasy points in all but one match, the Champions League opener against AEK Athens, and that was only because he picked up a yellow card. He's taken at least five shots in three consecutive UCL matches (two against Real Madrid and one against Juventus), and he's put multiple shots on goal in all but one game this season. Ziyech's floor is higher than De Bruyne's, and he's probably the one worth taking if you only have one, but De Bruyne is the one playing for the biggest favorite on the slate.
Rodrigo Bentancur, JUV v. AJA (€14): The search for low-priced midfielders is going to be a popular trek this week because so many people are going to want to pay up for both forward spots plus at least one midfielder. That isn't to say there aren't serviceable mid-tier plays, but guys like Jesus Corona (€19), Lasse Schone (€18), Miralem Pjanic (€21) and Lucas Moura (€19) just don't fit the build of paying up elsewhere. And I don't want to say all the guys in the lower tier are the same, but there's little that differentiates Bentenacur from guys like Fred (€13), Fernandinho (€14), Moussa Sissoko (€14), Blaise Matuidi (€14), Arturo Vidal (€12), Naby Keita (€14) or Sergio Busquets (€14), not all of whom may start anyway. Bentancur had a solid five tackles won in the first leg, and with Ajax expected to attack as normal, he could be in line for similar production, which would be perfectly fine in this price range.
Daniele Rugani, JUV v. AJA (€10): Rugani wasn't overly impressive in the first leg, scoring just 3.95 fantasy points, but his minimum-priced salary is really what we're after this week. There's no denying that the Juve fullbacks, Joao Cancelo (€18) and Alex Sandro (€14), are the higher upside plays (the latter looks particularly cheap given his attacking role), but it might be tough to spend that much salary if you don't want to miss out on the elite forwards. Meanwhile, Rugani will chip in with his few defensive stats and unlikely clean sheet, but at least we can fill a spot at the minimum €10 and use the funds elsewhere.
Alex Telles, POR v. LIV (€17): There are a few high-ceiling defenders on the slate like Benjamin Mendy (€18), Trent Alexander-Arnold (€16) and the Juve full-backs, but Telles is likely to have the biggest attacking responsibility as Porto try to climb back from a two-goal aggregate deficit. He doesn't have a monopoly of set pieces, but he's still likely to be over plenty of dead balls as Porto attack early and often. However, Telles presents the same problem as Cancelo in that paying up for him likely means you need to sacrifice someone near the high-end of the salary scale, and he may not make up the difference if someone like Messi and/or Ronaldo go off for a hat trick.
Nelson Semedo, BAR v. MUN (€12): Barcelona have the second-highest clean sheet odds, and Semedo offers fairly cheap exposure to their back line, especially considering Jordi Alba is the most expensive defender at €20 while Gerard Pique and Clement Lenglet are only €2 less. It's possible Sergi Roberto (€13) gets the start at right-back, and he too would be a decent cheap alternative. Neither of them are significant attacking pieces for Barcelona, but the cheap price and clean sheet chance is worth roster consideration, for sure.
Hugo Lloris, TOT at MCI (€14): The pricing scale basically forces you to decide whether you want to focus on saves (1.5 points per) or the win (four points) and clean sheet (six points). None of the four favorites have significant clean sheet odds, though Man City will get to face a Tottenham attack without Harry Kane (ankle). If you think Kane's absence all but assures Spurs don't find the back of the net then paying up for Ederson (€18) makes sense; just know that you'll have to likely play three cheap defenders just to fit him in. The salary difference to Lloris doesn't seem that drastic, but you're going to need every last bit for the attacking players. Lloris comes in as the biggest underdog on the slate, but he's facing a side he recently defeated, one he's quite familiar with, and it's one that doesn't have Messi, who will do all he can to punish fantasy players who choose to play David de Gea (€13) instead.