Paying the Price for Messi for the Copa America Quarterfinals

When you select the best player in the world, sacrifices have to be made. That’s the quandary FanXT DFS players face for Sunday’s quarterfinal matchups in the Copa America as Argentina faces Venezuela in Foxborough, Massachusetts, and Chile faces Mexico in Santa Clara, California.

Messi is the most expensive player in the Copa field, and his $14,550 price tag eats up almost one-sixth of the $90,000 salary cap players are allotted. But there’s another cost, which is more obvious for this specific DFS contest _ the quality of attacking players among Chile and Mexico in what is expected to be a wide-open contest with plenty of goals means there’s not much value to be had in picking Messi’s more expensive teammates from La Albiceleste.

Instead, the key is finding value to build around the Barcelona superstar, and there is plenty to be had if you look in the right places.

These picks cover the quarterfinal matches for June 18, using a 4-4-2 formation and salary cap of $90,000 as part of Fan XT’s Daily Fantasy rules for the Copa America tournament.

Goalkeeper: Sergio Romero, Argentina ($7,310). Romero is the easy and safe play here given his low cost and the fact Chile and Mexico played to a 3-3 draw in last year’s Copa America in Santiago. Romero has allowed just one goal thus far in three matches and did post a clean sheet in his only previous match against Venezuela in 2013.

Defenders: Gabriel Mercado, Argentina ($7,280). Mercado was given the night off as La Albiceleste finished off group play by defeating Bolivia. The well-rested River Plate defender has played well thus far and is a good bet to provide bonus points for a shutout.

Gonzalo Jara, Chile ($7,060). Jara has been a low-cost value pick on the back line to provide salary cap flexibility throughout Copa America, and that’s the case again here. This game is going to provide some nervy moments given how both teams like to attack, but this is one of those “sacrifice” picks to be made to load up offensively.

Rafa Marquez, Mexico ($7,020). The ageless Marquez is a risky pick here given how La Rojo will come at him in waves, and while he is a value pick similar to Jara, Marquez provides the potential for offense when he gets forward for corner kicks.

Paul Aguilar, Mexico ($7,180). With a truly loaded front seven, a second sacrifice had to be made along the back line, and Aguilar gets the call since he’s cheaper than fellow wide back Miguel Layun. The America defender is capable of getting forward and is not afraid of the spotlight _ he blasted home Mexico’s winner in last year’s one-game playoff against the U.S. to clinch a spot in next year’s Confederations Cup in Russia.

Midfielders: Arturo Vidal, Chile ($9,310). The best midfielder among the four teams in action Sunday, Vidal is simply a must-have in the starting XI. He scored two goals in last year’s draw against Mexico in the Copa, already has two goals in this year’s Copa and has put seven of his 10 shots on target in the three matches.

Andres Guardado, Mexico ($7,500). There is plenty of talent to be had in Mexico’s midfield as well, and Guardado is a high-value, low-cost pick given how much he should see of the ball and working in tandem with Hector Herrera. The PSV Eindhoven man has yet to find a rhythm in this tournament _ he did pick up a red card during group play _ but the fast pace expected for this match should allow him attacking opportunities.

Eduardo Vargas, Chile $(7,340). Another high-value, low-cost pick, Vargas enters this contest with confidence after a two-goal performance against Panama that secured Chile’s passage into the quarterfinals. Getting the 1899 Hoffenheim forward as a midfielder in this tournament is an absolute bargain that must be taken advantage of _ Vargas has six goals and two assists in nine Copa America matches over the last two years.

Jose Fuenzalida, Chile ($7,040). Fuenzalida is a pick primarily for cap flexibility, but the Boca Juniors veteran has had a good run in limited minutes at Copa America. He scored Chile’s lone goal in its loss to Argentina as a sub to open the tournament and had an assist against Panama in his first start. Even if he comes off the bench, there is a chance Fuenzalida can provide a little bit of spark for La Rojo.

Forwards: Lionel Messi, Argentina ($14,550). Forget the largely anonymous 45-minute performance in Argentina’s final group play win over Bolivia. And to an extent, forget his electrifying 29-minute appearance in which he scored three goals against a 10-man Panama side that simply couldn’t contend with his magnificence. There is an urgency to this tournament for Argentina, which hasn’t won Copa America since 1993 and has been dealing with the pain of losses in the 2014 World Cup final and last year’s Copa Ameica final to host Chile. Messi carries that baggage into this match against Venezuela, but he did have a goal and two assists the last time the two teams met _ a 3-0 romp in World Cup qualifying in 2013. Additionally, Argentina has 20 wins and 1 loss all-time against Venezuela _ failing to advance here would be disastrous.

Javier Hernandez, Mexico ($8,380). Since Messi prices out the inclusion of Alexis Sanchez for this roster, having Chicharito is a nice consolation prize given how this match should play out with plenty of scoring chances. Hernandez scored the match-winner in a friendly between the teams in San Diego less than three weeks ago, and with 45 goals, he can match Jared Borgetti atop El Tri’s all-time scoring list with his next one. He’s played well thus far, and the Bayer Leverkusen striker should continue that form here.

By Chris Altruda

Contributing Writer