La Liga fantasy soccer picks: Gareth Bale to rebound this week?

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Lionel Messi did not score a goal last week in Barcelona's 2-0 win over Villarreal. But he had an assist, took six shots, put four of those shots on target, and had four chances created, finishing with 23.8 fantasy points.

Only one Tier 1 forward finished ahead of him: Iago Aspas, who scored both goals in Celta Vigo's 2-0 win over Huesca. Aspas now has 10 goals on the season, one more than Messi. But he still trails Messi by nearly 70 points, and he's played in two more games than Messi!

If you want to pick Aspas, or anybody else for that matter, good luck. I'm sticking with Messi as my Tier 1 forward and captain this week, playing at seventh-place Espanyol.

At Tier 1 midfielder, however, I am going to roll the dice this week. Gareth Bale has not scored a goal in his past nine league games, and normally I would steer clear of a player in such poor form.

However, Real Madrid are the biggest favorites of the weekend despite playing away from home (at Huesca). Not only are Huesca propping up the bottom of the table, but they've also conceded a league-worst 29 goals in 14 games.

Bale did take four shots, and had two chances created, despite coming off in the 63rd minute of Real Madrid's 2-0 win over Valencia last week. He has scored a goal in each of their past two Champions League games. And this is a player who scored 16 league goals last season, despite making only 26 appearances and 20 starts.

Bale's upside this week is too big to ignore. But make sure he's in the starting lineup, because there were some injury concerns about him earlier this week.

Risky business

One position I don't feel like taking a big gamble on this week is goalkeeper. I must admit, I'm still smarting from what happened to me a week ago.

I went with Real Valladolid's Jordi Masip, who was the league leader in fantasy points at his position at the time. Masip was tied for the league lead in clean sheets, had the second-most saves, and was playing at home against a struggling Leganes side.

So, what does Masip do? He concedes four goals, makes only one save, and finishes with minus-17 fantasy points. Ouch!

I wasn't the only one who thought this result was a bit odd, by the way.

Still, I'm not feeling as adventurous this week, understandably so. But goalkeeper is the most unpredictable position in the game.

Real Madrid have been far from stout defensively so far this season, conceding 19 goals in 14 games. But Huesca have only scored 12 goals, and their home form is even worse than their away form. In fact, they're the only team yet to win at home this season, and they've only scored four goals in six home games.

So I'm going to roll with Thibaut Courtois this week, and hope he delivers a clean sheet and at least a couple saves, too. After all, Huesca are tied for 10th in the league in shots, despite having the third-fewest goals.

And if Courtois finishes with minus-17 ... well, actually he did finish with minus-16 in a game at the end of October. But that was after conceding five goals to Barcelona.

If Courtois concedes five goals to Huesca, it's probably time for me to make a career change.

Other picks

Gerard Moreno, Villarreal (Tier 2 forward): Villarreal are one of the bigger favorites of the weekend, playing at home against Celta Vigo, who have conceded 22 goals in 14 games. Moreno only has three goals so far this season, but scored 16 for Espanyol last year. He also had a goal and an assist in Villarreal's 8-0 Copa del Rey annihilation of second-division Almeria on Wednesday, despite only coming on in the 67th minute. (Teammate Karl Toko Ekambi scored four goals against Almeria and is another option in this tier, but he hasn't started in Villarreal's past two league games.)

Dani Parejo, Valencia (Tier 2 midfielder): He has accumulated 15.2 and 16.0 fantasy points in his past two games, despite not having a goal or assist. Parejo had 83 passes completed against Real Valladolid two weeks ago, and 77 against Real Madrid last Saturday, so he has a solid floor. Plus, he's on penalties for Valencia.

Junior Firpo, Real Betis (Tier 3 midfielder): Real Betis are also big favorites this weekend -- at home against 19th-place Rayo Vallecano, who have conceded 28 goals in 14 games, the second-most in the league. Firpo scored a goal last week, and has now scored one in three of his past four games.

Sergio Ramos, Real Madrid (Tier 1 defender): He finished in double figures in points for the 10th time in 14 games last week, and his season-low is 8.7. Ramos is fifth overall in fantasy points per game, averaging two points more than any other defender, and remains on penalties for Real Madrid.

Bernardo Espinosa, Girona (Tier 2 defender): He had a relatively disappointing outing last week against Atletico Madrid, finishing with just 6.9 points. But Bernardo had finished with at least 9.5 points in his previous six games, including being in double figures four times. And he remains the league leader in clearances with 101, 10 more than any other player.