Written by Sid Varanasi on March 1, 2017

Early Must-Haves:
Antonio Rukavina (DK: $3,100): The first Must-Have for the early Interleague slate is Villarreal’s Serbian defender, Antonio Rukavina. Villarreal has a favorable matchup against Osasuna, who sit dead last in La Liga. Osasuna has a grand total of 1 victory in their 24 league matches, and this likely won’t change against Villarreal. Osasuna has also scored the third fewest goals in La Liga, and seem to be a likely candidate for relegation. Villarreal sit 29 points ahead of Osasuna and are in the top half of La Liga. Villarreal, however, will likely be disappointed with their last La Liga match where they squandered a 2-0 lead over Real Madrid, ultimately losing 3-2. Rukavina will likely get the opportunity to feature in the starting eleven for Villarreal after Mario, the starting right back, picked up his fifth yellow card of the season, earning him a suspension. Rukavina primarily plays in the Europa League fixtures for the club, and picked up a respectable 8 points against Roma last week. Over his last 5 starts, the Serbian defender is averaging just over 4 crosses per match. At $3,100 Rukavina is an ideal punt play at defense, allowing you to build your lineups around the studs of the slate (from Barcelona). With possible clean sheet upside and contribution through peripherals, our research suggests the Serbian defender will easily exceed value. We recommend locking in Antonio Rukavina in your lineups as the first Must-Have.


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Neymar (DK: $10,600): Our second Must-Have for the early slate is Neymar, the star Brazilian midfielder for FC Barcelona. Neymar has earned a reputation as one of the best players in the world, and he has certainly lived up to these expectations over the past few years. The Brazilian star is an integral part of one of the most electric attacks in the world that leads La Liga in goals and is averaging almost 3 goals per match. This is typically the expected result when playing beside Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi. Barcelona has an exceptional matchup at home against Sporting Gijon, and is by far the heaviest favorite on the slate. Due to his role as the main set piece taker, Neymar has a high floor in Barcelona’s attack. Additionally, the attacker can find the back of the net and create goalscoring opportunities for his clinical teammates. While Neymar’s numbers are down from last year, he still has 8 goals and 14 assists in La Liga and the Champions League. The Brazilian has gone three matches without a goal or assist, but our research suggests that Neymar is in a prime position to find his name on the scoresheet against Gijon. Due to Neymar’s ability to gain points through a plethora of peripheral stats, including crosses and fouls drawn, paired with his attacking upside, we recommend locking in the Brazilian attacker in your lineups as a safe play that is projected to exceed value.
Late Must-Haves:
Jesus Navas (DK: $5,200): Our first Must-Have for the late Interleague slate is Jesus Navas, the Spanish midfielder for Manchester City. In the only non-La Liga match for the slate, Manchester City take on Huddersfield in a replay of their earlier FA Cup match. Huddersfield shocked City by holding their ground and forcing a scoreless draw 2 weeks ago. Though Manchester City dominated the match, they were unable to break through the Huddersfield defense. The reverse fixture played at the Etihad should have a different result, and Manchester City is one of the heaviest favorites on the late slate. The Premier League giants impressed in the attacking end in their last match by storming back from multiple deficits to AS Monaco, eventually winning the thriller, 5-3. The match featured a vintage performance by Aguero, as the Argentine striker netted a brace, ending a long goalscoring slump. With the Manchester City attack entering in good form and extended rest due to their Premier League match against Manchester United being postponed, Huddersfield is expected to have trouble stopping the multitude of threats in the City attack. Jesus Navas will likely get the start, as he did in the first leg, and the midfielder’s price is attractive at only $5,200. Navas brings a threat through his ability to send in crosses. Additionally, with no real set piece takers expected to be in the City starting eleven, Navas may inherit some responsibility with corner kicks. City’s starting eleven in the first match excluded both Kevin De Bruyne and David Silva, allowing Jesus Navas to take a third of the team’s corner kicks. Ultimately, Jesus Navas ended the match with 9 crosses and a solid 12 points. With a small price increase, Jesus Navas still offers a strong floor and remains a valuable play; we recommend locking him in your lineups to offer salary relief and safety in order to target the more expensive players on the slate from Manchester City and Real Madrid.
Gareth Bale (DK: $9,800): The second Must-Have for the slate slate is the Welsh superstar for Real Madrid, Gareth Bale. Real Madrid is the heaviest favorite on the slate as they take on Las Palmas at the Santiago Bernabeu. The Spanish giants escaped a tough task against Villarreal in their last La Liga match by netting a late goal to secure the victory and overcome a 2-0 deficit. With the victory, Real Madrid sit at the top of La Liga with a game in hand. Madrid has a favorable matchup against Las Palmas, who have lost their last 4 matches. Las Palmas has a poor away form, as the club has only managed 5 points in 11 away matches. In addition, Las Palmas has lost 6 of their last 7 away matches (La Liga). Real Madrid, on the other hand, have been stellar at home and the club is unbeaten at home in La Liga. Bale is a key part of the Real Madrid attack, and his return from injury has certainly boosted the club’s attack. The Welsh attacker has 2 goals in 3 appearances since returning from injury, bringing his tally to 9 goals for the season. Bale also has 3 assists, showing his ability to create for his teammates. Gareth Bale is not afraid to go for goal, evidenced by his average of 4 shots per match at home. His shots per match ranks second on Real Madrid, behind only Cristiano Ronaldo. Bale’s appeal lies in his cheaper price and a favorable matchup; because Bale is only $9,800, we prefer the attacking upside he offers given his price. We recommend locking in the Welsh attacker in your lineups as a building block.

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