That was a big week for MLS Fantasy. With an average score of 66 and a high of 176, there were some huge points to be had and a lot of ground to be made up. Players who went into the week taking the most players possible from double game week teams probably had a good week. I was pleasantly surprised to find myself with 146 points and loads of green arrows. I jumped about 40 spots to 265
One thing that was not awesome was Miguel Almiron going down with a hamstring injury. In the wake of his early departure on Sunday, there’s been some talk that Tata Martino didn’t rest his players as much as he should have recently and put them at risk for getting hurt. Atlanta is playing a lot of games with little recovery time between matches and Martino kept key players on even when their opponents had little chance of coming back in the game, according to this idea.
However, Tata is right to take the track that he did. Injuries happen, they are a part of the game, they are even a part of practice. One thing that Atlanta United has shown is that they are super cautious when it comes to injuries. Josef Martinez got injured in practice, talking about practice, not a game, practice, and missed several games while recovering. Greg Garza could have played this weekend but was given extra time to recover from his injury. Based on that it seems unlikely that the players would be put in a position where they would play if there was high risk that they would suffer an overuse injury.
Squad rotation is a tricky thing with managers having to weigh the benefits of possibly losing games with resting players. So far, Tata’s strategy of playing his best 11 week in and week out barring injury or suspension is paying off. Atlanta has a chance to finish the season as high as second overall in MLS in its inaugural season and Tata has been uncompromising when it comes to trying to get results for his team. Other managers rest players, even ones that are in phenomenal form, and risk losing games for it. The New York Red Bulls might miss the playoffs because they refuse to play their best players every weekend.
Who knows if Miguel Almiron would have been injured had he been pulled earlier in games where Atlanta looked clearly in control of the result. Jozy Altidore, for example, pulled a hamstring in the first match of the 2014 World Cup after doing nothing but conditioning training in the month leading up to the tournament. Who knows if Atlanta would have gone on to actually win those games, or how they would have done if he or other players didn’t start certain matches at all. With the players not being rotated, the results speak for themselves.
Anyway onto the rekrap...
The team of the week was Atlanta United
If you had the three defenders that started for Atlanta United along with Brad Guzan, you had an excellent gameweek. If you had them plus Yamil Asad and Carlos Carmona, which you couldn’t because only four players from one team can be on a fantasy side, you had an impossibly excellent game week. So that’s more than half of the dream team being represented by the Five Stripes, who needs rotation?
Toronto Rotation Club
TFC apparently decided they’ve wrapped up the Supporter’s Shield and can make up injuries like ‘lower leg tightness’ and not start their best players. They paid for it this week though with two losses to Montreal and New England this game week. Looks like they need rotation. Their defense was a particular mess for them this past week allowing 7 goals in two games.
Ben(d) the knee Olsen
Bundesliga scouts were at the DC United match to watch Bill Hamid to take on the San Jose Earthquakes, so naturally Ben Olsen sat him. It didn’t matter and they won thanks to Patrick Mullins being good at soccer again, but what is up with that? Hamid is out of contract after this season and if Olsen was trying to send a message that the team would be fine without him this was a particularly MLS way of doing it.
This is going to be a tricky week, there are a number of teams that absolutely must win and then need some help to make the playoffs, a few who are at home both games and have interesting matchups, and then others that may rotate players (siren emoji, Atlanta United, siren emoji).
Goalkeeper: Dare to Deric, Tyler Deric has two home games against the LA Galaxy, who aren’t bad away from Carson, and Minnesota United who aren’t embarrassing anymore. I’ll level with you, I don’t think there’s a good shot at a high score for a keeper in this round and luck more than anything will probably get you the most points at keeper. Houston is decent at home this year and LA and Minnesota are both completely capable of taking an entire 90 minutes off so I’ll take my chances here.
Other options are Brad Guzan (but again, siren emoji - Guzan might start both games but the defense might get changed up) and Andrew Tarbell of San Jose, but none of those are perfect choices.
Defenders: My top three right now are Florian Jungwirth from the Quakes, Atlanta’s Leandro Gonzalez Pirez, and Yoshi Yotun from Orlando City. San Jose is going to be interesting this weekend, they have two home games and need to win them to make the post season, they face the Chicago Fire who may rest players on their trip out west and then host Portland and will probably get bossed by Diego Valeri.
LGP hosts Philly and goes to New England but he’s a bonus point machine and might just end up pushing up to attacking midfield by the time things are done against the Revolution. As for Yotun, yeah he’s a really expensive defender, but he plays in midfield so as an out of position player that can play the deep sitting playmaker role he’s ideal with two home games even if Orlando leaks goals.
Other options include Aaron Long of the NY Red Bulls who plays DC United at home Wednesday and goes to the Toronto Rotation Club for the weekend match. Leonardo could be an interesting and cheap shout for Houston and Laurent Ciman could be a good play for Montreal, but the Impact have also lost at home to Minnesota and had their defense ruined by Toronto and Atlanta in the past three games.
Midfielders: This is a tough week for midfielders, there are matches to overthink, rotation to consider, players who are inexplicably sliding out of form, and suspensions to consider.
Yamil Asad is in my team right now but will decide to keep him or not based on the lineup on Wednesday. I think Lee Nguyen is primed to have a huge game week, the trip to Orlando, who is going to be cobbling together a backline thanks again to suspensions, will be a good for him and then facing Atlanta that might be rotating players and making the Peachtree Press less effective should at least give him more of a chance than he had in their first meeting. My third must have player this week is Ignacio Piatti, the Poutine Princes host New York and should run past the dehydrated sack of spaghetti that is Andrea Pirlo all night and then go to Colorado in a pair of must win games.
Here’s where things get weird and there’s a lot of risk involved in the big names. Sacha Kljestan, Nico Lodeiro, Romain Alessandrini, and Maxi Moralez could all be good picks, but they’ve all been struggling a lot lately. In fact, it will be really hard passing up Diego Valeri for one of those guys.
Going down a step, Michael Barrios, Haris Medunjanin, Jack Harrison, Alex, and Christian Roldan can have strong games too, but are really hit or miss. Roldan has a decent floor though so if you are looking to avoid risk, he could be a good shout.
Forwards: My best picks for forward this week are Bradley Wright-Phillips, who unlike Kljestan has been scoring while the Red Bulls expose themselves as frauds, and Cubo Torres of Houston. There’s some chatter that Josef Martinez won’t start both games for Atlanta but he could put up another hat trick in his one game and still be worth playing. Meanwhile Tito Villalba might just stand 30 yards away from goal and fire rockets at Andre Blake and Cody Cropper the next two matches.
Honorable mention goes to Chris Wondolowski on two home games this week and Cyle Larin/Dom Dwyer who might have big games against New England and Dallas, but Jason Kreis might find a way to mess up again and Orlando could go 180 minutes without scoring. CJ Sapong might also catch Atlanta United sleeping on the back post again and has a struggling Seattle Sounders team to finish out the week.
For now, here is how I am rolling:
There are also some teams that are struggling and fading hard who have some seemingly ideal fantasy pieces you should stay far away from.
I’m staying away from NYCFC players, both their games are away and apparently their best player all year was Yangel Herrera because the attack has ground to a halt without him in midfield. Aside from them, I really don’t like the big name midfielders I mentioned as the they might be good and they might be bad so look out. Kljestan has fallen way off from last year and Lodeiro hasn’t been himself as Seattle looks like they’re being coached by Sigi Schmid again.
Aside from them, I think FC Dallas, Chicago, DC United, and Vancouver will have a tough time producing fantasy points and don’t really want their players either.
There you have it. This is a massive fantasy week and will go a long way deciding where you finish this year. Pick wisely.