MLS Week 7 – this week, there was no Friday game, so you have had a bit of extra time to mull your choices this week. But get your changes in now before the mid-day Montreal – Toronto game starts. With RSL playing at LA this week – let’s review how last week went for fantasy points and what to think about when picking players for this weekend.
Last week was a busy week, with a number of teams playing double games last week. The surprise of the week was Sporting KC dropping both games against Colorado and then Dallas on the weekend. Makes RSL’s win against Colorado look a bit better right? Dallas was the key winner on the week, picking up a full set of wins against lacklust Portland and then against KC. Colorado also held their own against KC and then against a surprisingly weak Red Bulls team, likewise getting full match points. The Red Bulls, like KC, also managed to end the week where they started on points, dropping games at San Jose and then at Colorado in the snow. Last year’s surprise coach success Jesse Marsch appears to be off to a bad start, but not in the hot seat just yet. Portland and San Jose split their two games, with Portland having a fairly Jeckll and Hyde week, losing 3-1 to Dallas at home, but then following up with a home win against San Jose. Most improved team of the week clearly has to go to the LA Galaxy, with a solid 4-1 win with Steven Gerrard and (more importantly) Giovanni Dos Santos finally showing up with performances. Let’s hope RSL can stop that trend before it gets started…
Around the league, the big fantasy points players were from double game teams for the most part. The exceptions were Justin Meram with two assists and goal, driving a second highest total of 17 points and brace-scoring Gio Dos Santos tied for third highest with fifteen points. Top player for the week was Chris Wondolowski thanks to two goals, a PK earned, and attacking bonuses. Seems like he’s back to his 2014 form and might be a rising choice for fantasy managers. Returning Colorado player Jermaine Jones was also a standout – having scored as many fantasy points against the Red Bulls (his first game back after disciplinary suspension) that Luis Solignac earned in two games.
This past week meant more points in the standings for RSL. A mixed performance against a motivated Vancouver Whitecaps team meant that RSL earned their three points in the standings and that leaves them with the best points/game average in the league. Let’s hope that continues. Unusually, Joao Plata wasn’t at the top of the weekly fantasy points board for RSL – Burrito Martinez, Aaron Maund and Nick Rimando all share that honor with 9 points each. Burrito’s great goal earned him the bulk of his points, while Maund and Rimando earned it from the shutout of Vancouver. Justin Glad followed behind with 8 points and Tony Beltran, Demar Phillips and Joao Plata trailed with 7 points each.
If they gave style points for fantasy – Burrito Martinez would be killing it about now. Another week and another set of opposing players got taken apart by Burrito’s ball skill. Even better – David Ousted lost fantasy points due to Burrito’s well placed strike. Defenders continue to put on a strong performance. It’s clear that the rule changes this season have made defenders more valuable – as shown by Aaron Maund and Tony Beltran sitting at second and fourth place for season fantasy points. Rimando of course is doing his normal great job and currently sits at third place, despite playing one fewer game than Plata, Maund, or Beltran. It was nice to see Demar Phillips have a good game this week. His second start of the season finally got his point total into the black – his first game red card and subsequent lack of starts kept him down. With a fast Vancouver team last week, Demar kept in position pretty well, yet provided periodic threats up the side.
For season totals, Joao Plata is still the runaway winner and will be still next week without playing, unless Maund or Rimando having record smashing fantasy weeks. Plata sits 19 points ahead of Maund on the year. Plata is still owned by over 16% of fantasy managers – despite being out injured this weekend. Hint – put him on your bench or trade him for this week. Defensive players still hold four of the top six spots in RSL fantasy performance and hopefully a solid performance this week can get points on the season total for the team and for fantasy managers. What is surprising this year is that traditional team leaders like Kyle Beckerman and Javier Morales sit well down on the fantasy points. They’ve made solid contributions when they’ve played, but the great performances by Maund, Glad, and Sunny Obayan have earned them accolades and a good number of points.
Just like last week from a points/$ perspective, Plata is still the team leader with a great 5.68 points/$ and is again trailed by Aaron Maund, Nick Rimando and Justin Glad. Tony Beltran and Burrito Martinez’s performance have bumped them over Sunny Obayan this week due to Sunny’s absence. From a points per game perspective, all of those players are also good choices – with Justin Glad the standout due to his great point totals in his four games this year. If you’re looking for bench players, John Stertzer’s good performance against Vancouver will probably lead to more playing time and his points/game number is better than Jordan Allen’s, as he’s had some good full games as opposed to Allen’s more frequent substitute appearances.
With Plata’s injury – don’t look to him for points. With a suddenly dangerous Galaxy attack appearing, RSL defenders are a more risky pick this week. If you want a better bet, Burrito Martinez is probably the best choice. He’ll be tag-teamed by LA defenders, but maybe he can make Steven Gerrard and company look as silly as the other teams this season. The big question marks are: who substitutes for Plata and will Javier Morales and Sunny Obayan be back? As Matt Montgomery suggested this week, Plata could be replaced by Allen, Luke Mulholland, or Olmes Garcia. Coach Jeff Cassar could also go to his ol’ standby of Devon Sandoval, who played a nice substitute role last week, but hasn’t had as big an impact on full games of late. I’d bet on Allen, but then I’ve had him on my fantasy bench for most of the season already. As far as midfield starters – I’d expect Javier to start this week and assuming Sunny is healthy, see him at least start as well. In the back, Justin Glad has had several great weeks. Will Cassar see that and continue to start him - or will he go with the more experienced Jamison Olave versus the veteran LA squad? I think Glad might get the nod, but it’s a risky choice either way (inexperience vs. red card history). For a dark horse pick for RSL this week – Yura Movsisyan. He’s talked it about it being an Armenian Heritage celebration this week and he’s gotten close to scoring more frequently. Hopefully he can put his shots on frame and get into the fantasy points race this week.
If you look at the rest of the league, there are no double games this week and the Chicago Fire and Portland Timbers are off this week. The only two games with clear mismatches based on recent performances – Dallas at Vancouver and Orlando at NY Red Bulls. Could be some good picks for scoring points with Dallas and Orlando on offense – particularly Max Urruti, Michael Barrios, and Tesho Akindele for Dallas, as well as Cyle Larin, Kaká, and Kevin Molino for Orlando. Most of the other games are tougher to call. Chris Wondolowski and Dom Dwyer appear to be getting hot this season – they’ve been consistent point earners over the last couple seasons. Luis Solignac has also been solid lately and might be able to take advantage of Seattle’s inconsistent defense. At midfield, Crew players Justin Meram and Ethan Finlay had great weekend against NYCFC and are playing against struggling Houston. Can they come up big again? On the defender side, San Jose defenders had a great week last week, but will have a tough time keeping it scoreless against SKC. If you’re looking for a more certain scoreless game – Colorado vs. Seattle might be the matchup. Good choices are Marc Burch and Mekeil Williams. While Williams didn’t play versus RSL, he’s scored consistently good points this season. Finally in goal – it looks like a toss-up. Can fantasy league leading Bobby Shuttleworth stand on his head again? Can Tim Melia keep a clean sheet versus Chris Wondolowski? Other worthy picks might include Chris Seitz for Dallas and Andre Blake playing at home for Philadelphia. Keep in mind – check those injury lists before the transfer window closes mid-Saturday.