Fantasy La Liga: Lionel Messi finally in play

Lionel Messi is in a league of his own in La Liga, and should be in your lineup whenever he's on the pitch. SASCHA SCHUERMANN/AFP/Getty Images

Sevilla now sit atop the La Liga table, thanks to their 1-0 victory at Alaves last week, coupled with Atletico Madrid's 2-0 defeat at Real Sociedad. They've taken three wins and a draw from their first four games under new manager Julen Lopetegui.

But three other teams remain unbeaten as well. Real Madrid and Athletic Bilbao have two wins and two draws, and newly promoted Osasuna have one win and three draws.

Sevilla will host Real Madrid in the final game of Matchweek 5, the standout fixture of the round. But that's a tough match to call, so I won't be focusing on those teams fantasy-wise.

The only player from either team that will be in my lineup is Sevilla fullback Sergio Reguilon as my Tier 2 defender. Reguilon already has a goal, an assist and seven chances created this season, plus a high floor - he's averaging 49.3 passes completed in the three full games he's played thus far. And Reguilon will be up against his former team (he's on loan from Real Madrid), which could provide some extra motivation.

The biggest favorites of the weekend are Barcelona, despite the fact they're away from home. That's because their opponents are newly promoted Granada, although Granada have done well so far, with two wins and a draw from their first four games.

Barcelona are coming off a scoreless draw at Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League on Tuesday. It wasn't a good performance - in fact, Barca were pummeled in terms of xG (expected goals), with Dortmund winning by an xG scoreline of 3.51 - 0.38. But the good news, besides the fact they escaped with a point, is that Lionel Messi has recovered from his calf injury and made his season debut off the bench.

If Messi starts against Granada, he'll be my Tier 1 forward and captain. In case you need a reminder, Messi scored 36 goals last season, 15 more than any other player in La Liga, and was also tied for the league lead in assists with 13. If Messi does not start, I'll switch to teammate Luis Suarez, who returned from injury himself in last weekend's 5-2 victory over Valencia and promptly scored two goals despite coming on in the 60th minute.

Two other Barcelona players will be in my lineup as well. Arthur already has a goal and an assist in two La Liga appearances this season, is Barca's leading set-piece taker, and had a team-high 77 passes completed against Borussia Dortmund. He'll be my Tier 2 midfielder.

And Gerard Pique will be my Tier 1 defender, after teammate Jordi Alba suffered an injury on Tuesday. Pique scored a goal last week against Valencia, and is fourth in the league in passes completed, averaging 73.3 per game.

V is for victory

The other La Liga team in Champions League action on Tuesday was Valencia, who bounced back from that rout at Barcelona last weekend to beat Chelsea 1-0 at Stamford Bridge.

Dani Parejo got the assist on their goal against Chelsea, scored by Rodrigo. He also had a team-high 64 passes completed, and five of the team's eight chances created. Plus Parejo is on penalties for Valencia, and has already scored two goals in three La Liga appearances this season. He'll be my Tier 1 midfielder, with Valencia at home against Leganes, the only team in the league yet to collect a point.

Speaking of Leganes, their latest loss was a 3-0 home defeat at the hands of Villarreal last week. Gerard Moreno scored two of the three goals, and now leads the race for the Pichichi with five goals already this season, one more than Real Madrid's Karim Benzema.

Moreno has scored in each of his first four games this season, and is also fourth in the league in chances created with 10. Plus Villarreal are solid favorites this week, at home against Real Valladolid. Moreno will be my Tier 2 forward.

Other picks

Martin Odegaard, Real Sociedad (Tier 3 midfielder): Odegaard scored his second goal of the season in Real Sociedad's very impressive win over Atletico Madrid last week. He also has nine chances created in four games, and is averaging 49.5 passes completed per game. Plus Real Sociedad are favored this week despite playing away from home, at Espanyol.

Jan Oblak, Atletico Madrid (Goalkeeper): I was tempted to go with Marc-Andre ter Stegen, who was brilliant for Barcelona against Borussia Dortmund on Tuesday, including a penalty save. But Barca have conceded seven goals in four La Liga games, they're away on Saturday, and their opponents, Granada, have scored nine goals in four games. I think the better bet is Oblak, at home, against a Celta Vigo side that has scored only three goals in four games.