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MLS Fantasy with Sounder at Heart: Makeover Edition

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There are some times in life when you have to blow it all up and start over. Thankfully, there's a wildcard for that. Here's a look at how and why I remade my team and some other league notes for your MLS Fantasy needs.

Feilhaber could produce Zusi-like numbers at a discount.
Feilhaber could produce Zusi-like numbers at a discount.
JaneGPhotography

Week 2 was a bit wild in comparison to week 1, as there were only 4 shutouts across the league and 9 teams scored multiple goals. There was the Tyler Deric own goal, the craziness in Salt Lake (Jamison Olave got a defender goal and then an own goal!), David Villa showing up at home, and Alan Gordon spoiling Portland's party. Obafemi Martins and Clint Dempsey got their goals, but so did Chris Wondolowski and Innocent Emeghara. Lots to discuss going into week 2.

Call-ups are coming

Before we jump into the meat of this week's article, I want to make sure everyone is aware of all the CONCACAF call-ups that are happening. MLSsoccer.com has a running list of all the call-ups to keep everyone informed. I do not believe any players will be missing week 3, as it sounds like most players will be joining their national teams on Sunday or Monday, but pay attention if you have someone who has been called up and try and have a backup plan. Obviously the big one to watch is the USMNT roster, with Klinnsman expected to call up a "very strong roster," so guys like Dempsey, Altidore, Bradley and Gonzalez may be missing week 4. I'd strongly advise you do your best to plan ahead. Fortunately (or unfortunately), no teams are on bye during week 4, so the call-ups are all you have to plan around. Looking ahead, Columbus, NYCFC, RBNY and Montreal are all on bye in week 5! RBNY and Montreal's game still appears on the schedule, but they moved that game to October to deal with Montreal in CCL.

#DempseyWatch gets a makeover

I am proud to say that my team, #DempseyWatch, had a very decent week 2 after a kind of decent week 1. I am not proud to admit that I forgot to actually make my week 2 transfers and ended up stuck with a 0 point defender (Amadou Dia) getting switched in for my 0 point forward (Bryan Rochez). So things did not quite work out the way I wanted. If I had actually signed in when I was supposed to, I probably would have switched out Rochez when I saw that he was not even on the bench for Orlando and Emanuel Pogatetz ahead of Columbus's two bye weeks. In the end, my guys did well enough, but it left me totally unprepared for week 3.

Fortunately, we do have a get-out-of-jail-free card. I have elected to use my sole Wildcard to totally revamp my team. On the way out are Dan Kennedy ($5.0M), Brad Evans (7.5), Pogatetz (6.4), Walker Zimmerman (5.5), Dempsey (11.3), Lamar Neagle (8.5), Harrison Shipp (7.5), Kenney Walker (5.5), Jozy Altidore (9.6), Rochez (7.0) and Victor Mansaray (4.5).

I dropped Evans, Pogatetz, Dempsey and Altidore for their byes and upcoming potential USMNT call-ups. I believe in these guys though and will probably add them back as their schedules and room on my team permits. I still believe in Shipp, but I think it'll take some time before Chicago's attack is settled, and until then there are better options out there. I know Neagle kind of does this, where he just disappears from time to time, but he hasn't looked very dangerous to me lately. He'll probably score two goals against Dallas while playing up top with Martins and make me look dumb. I'd put him on my watch list. Kennedy, Zimmerman, Walker, and Rochez haven't played as much as I'd hoped they would, so I've swapped them for players who are actually playing. And finally there are simply better options out there than Mansaray.

I have since added David Bingham (5.0), Jermaine Taylor (6.6), Rafael Ramos (5.5), Benny Feilhaber (9.2), Mix Diskerud (9.1), Jose Villareal (6.2), JJ Koval (5.4), Chris Wondolowski (10.7), Jairo Arrieta (6.6), and Dominique Badji (4.5).

  • I like Bingham and LOVE Wondo at home against Chicago this week, opening up SJ's new stadium. Wondo is my captain and I have a suspicion that they'll blow out Chicago. Koval is a value pick--he's priced at $5.4 and has started both of SJ's games so far. I'm not planning on starting him, but he'll probably stick around as an emergency option if I get into another hairy bye week situation, as long as he keeps starting.
  • Taylor is a cheap CB who racked up 4 bonus defense points against Orlando. If Deric keeps standing on his head and stops giving up own goals, Taylor could be a huge asset this season. Taylor started in place of David Horst in week 1, and looks to be the starter next to 27-year-old, former Espanyol player, Raul Rodriguez. One thing to note is that he could get called up to play with Jamaica, but so far it looks like he hasn't been called yet.
  • Ramos was dangerous against Houston, while also picking up the clean sheet and 2 defensive bonus points (he was one more recovery away from 3). I don't fully trust Orlando's defense yet, but I think the 20-year-old, a product of Sporting CP (yes, that Sporting), could develop into something special.
  • Feilhaber is at home against Portland, and I expect a couple of goals to be scored both ways. He has two assists already and 5 bonus points (somehow he was credited with two BCC in week 1). At 9.2 he's a much better value than Zusi and will probably score similarly. If Wondo wasn't my captain I'd go with Feilhaber.
  • Mix is really good and gets to pass to David Villa. He might not score that well on the road, at altitude, in Colorado (which is one reason I'm going with Wondo over Villa), but I think he's poised for a great season. [Note: Mix is probably going to be called in to the USMNT, and then has a bye in week 5, so he's actually probably not the best choice right now. I'm switching him out, but you may want to consider him in week 6].
  • Villareal has the most transfers in of any player in the game right now. He's a Dream Team player valued at $6.2, a starting attacking cog in LA's midfield. That's some really good value. But beware, he's yet to play more than 75 minutes in a game, so he's clearly on a short leash. His biggest danger for minutes is actually Alan Gordon, as in both LA's games so far he has left for Gordon to come on, moving Zardes back to wide mid. If Zardes struggles at forward, it could be Villareal's minutes that are axed.
  • I've already identified Arrieta as a Best Buy during Espindola's absence. He scored week 1, so he's clearly off to a good start. DCU has two rivalry games with RNBY coming up during Espindola's suspension, which promise to be hotly contested affairs. At 6.6, Arrieta is probably worth the investment for the next month or two, even if you only slot him in during particularly juicy matchups.
  • I noted Badji (along with "hoa-berry"?) last week as a guy who's priced at $4.5 and played almost 90 minutes. That's pretty great for a $4.5 bench option, especially if he can get involved with the attack. If you have a transfer to burn, getting a bench guy like this probably won't hurt you. We'll see if the rookie continues to get minutes.
  • The best part about this lineup? I have $2.4 in the bank to spend coming out of the bye week. Perhaps that's wasted money I could be spending this week, but I do believe I am putting out a very strong lineup and look forward to the flexibility this allows me in the future.

Other considerations

For awhile this week I had Cristian Maidana (8.5) instead of Mix, until I learned that he's probably out for 2-4 weeks. Why Maidana? Well he leads the league in Key Passes, racking up 8 in just 123 minutes of action so far. He's also put in 4 crosses and earned a defensive bonus point last week. He only has 7 points to his name so far, but once he is starting on the regular, feeding Aristeguieta (the finisher Philly has lacked), I fully expect his points per game to rival some of the best chance creators in the league.

Javier Morales (10.7) had an absolute insane day against Philly. Scoring 15 points, he had 5 attacking bonus points (6 crosses, 6 key passes and a big chance created) and added a goal and an assist to boot. When healthy, J. Morales has shown he is clearly one of the best chance creators this league has ever seen. He's expensive and maybe doesn't score as many goals as you'd like, but he's an excellent and reliable option (200+ fantasy points the past two years). He's on bye this week, but he's always worth a start when he's healthy and available.

Watch out for Kekuteh Manneh (7.0). He hasn't scored a goal or assist yet, but he has 7 key passes (two more than teammate Pedro Morales, who is priced 4.0 more expensive) and had a big chance created against Chicago. He was also one recovery away both games from earning a defensive bonus point. All are pretty decent numbers for a $7.0 forward. If he somehow transforms into a creator for Vancouver, getting a few goals of his own here or there, he could be a great value at forward.

There are a couple of value players with Montreal you should probably be aware of. You might have heard of Donny Toia (5.0), one of their current starting outside backs. He's one of the cheapest defenders you'll find, so he's worth a look. You've probably heard of Cameron Porter (4.5), the forward who saved Montreal's bacon against Pachuca in CCL, scoring that 94th minute stunner that sent them through. Well, you'll probably want to know that both Toia and Porter started this week against Alajuense, both looking pretty sharp. Porter in particular started over Jack McInerny and probably should have had an assist on Ignacio Piatti's opening goal (seriously, watch the highlights, it's pretty great) and a goal of his own. It's tough to say whether Porter has actually earned the starting role at F over McInerny, but his play in CCL shows he's worth a speculative add. It remains to be seen whether Montreal's CCL success translates into MLS success, but they certainly have me paying attention.

Parting Thoughts

  • As I said last week, be careful to not overreact to just the first two weeks of the season. It is a long grind and two weeks is a very small sample size, especially when 4 teams have only played one game. If your fantasy team has done poorly, don't worry. There's still a really long way to go, and every team is going to have a few off weeks.
  • It's not too late to join our Sounder at Heart league. Follow this link and enter this code: 1739-690. We'll be happy to have you.
  • I'm captaining Wondo this week, but I can see a strong argument for David Villa. He's a great player going up against a wonky Colorado defense. He should be able to tear them apart. On the other hand, this is his first game on the road at altitude, and Colorado's defense was solid in week 1. He's a high-risk, high-reward play. What do you think?