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MLS Fantasy with Sounder at Heart: DGW 2, managing unpredictability

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Well folks, DGW 2 is here, and it'll probably be just as wild as DGW 1. This week, in addition to last minute transfer advice and a couple of picks for the weeks 8 and 9, I'll be talking about managing unpredictability in as crazy of a league as MLS.

The transfer window closes soon, so make sure you've got your transfers in by 4:00pm Pacific. If you wait until sometime between 3:00-4:00, you'll get to see the lineup for tonight's game, which may or may not influence some of your decisions for the DGW.

Players I Like This Double Game Week

First of all, you can probably reference my post from last week on who looks best. David Villa ($10.3 M) and Jason Hernandez (6.6) are the still the two guys from NYCFC I'd strongly recommend. If you want a sneaky strong play, I'd take a hard look at Khiry Shelton (5.5). Shelton came on at halftime against Philly after head coach Jason Kreis felt that his team "wasted 45 minutes." With Mix Diskerud (9.1) likely unable to start (seeing as he played 80 minutes last night) (though Mix is making noise like he'll actually be available), and Sebastian Velasquez (6.4) apparently starting poorly against Philly, chances are strong that Shelton gets 120+ minutes this DGW. If he does take the starting job, Shelton should be an extremely valuable investment. If you want some cheap midfield points (say, to replace Jose Villareal's (6.3) high risk), Andrew Jacobson (6.0) should score you 8-10 points.

On Philly's side of things, Sebastian Le Toux (8.9) is the only player I can really recommend with confidence--everyone else comes with question marks. Fernando Aristeguieta (7.7) may still be injured after his absence last weekend, otherwise he'd be the best bet. He should probably be able to start this weekend even if he doesn't against NYCFC tonight, so I'd hold on to him if you have him, otherwise you can skip him. Andrew Wenger (7.4) will continue to start, so you should probably get at least 4 points out of him, but who knows when he'll finally score this year. I'm staying away. Two players to watch in the midfield are Cristian Maidana (8.5) and Eric Ayuk Mbu (5.0) (one of the Rainbow FC guys). We've talked about Maidana in the past--I think he's fully worth the price tag when healthy--and he might just return to the starting lineup this week. Keep an eye out. Ayuk Mbu has started both of Philly's last two games, and would have had the goal against NYCFC last weekend but for Zach Pfeiffer's butt. He might be on the bench if Maidana is back, but I'm watching with keen interest.

As for goalkeepers, Josh Saunders (5.6) should be decent, and scores high enough per game that spending a penalty transfer (with the -4 points) should be worth it to replace most keepers (Keepers are scoring 5 points per game on average, and with both games at home for NYCFC, the stats are even better). There's uncertainty in Philly as Andre Blake (5.0) should be healthy enough to start for John McCarthy (4.5). I'd stay away from that situation right now, especially with the state of Philly's defense.

Other Players I Like

Luis Robles (5.5); Ronald Zubar (7.5); Lloyd Sam (8.9), Sasha Kleijstan (8.9), Felipe Martins (8.1); and Bradley Wright-Phillips (10.9) all look good for the next four weeks as NYRB have an extremely favorable schedule: four home games and a DGW. Zubar should be back from injury (replacing Matt Miazga (5.5)), Sam and BWP have been huge goal threats in Henry's absence, and Kleijstan and Martins should have great bonus point numbers in the midfield. I'd highly recommend investing in 2-3 of these guys over the next few weeks.

I think the team most likely to earn a shutout this week is DCU at home against Houston. I don't believe in Houston's attack (beating Montreal 3-0 at home isn't that huge of an accomplishment) and DCU have given up the third-least amount of goals in the league. Kofi Opare (5.0) should be a strong choice, or any other DCU defender you can grab.

I like Benny Feilhaber (9.1) to run SKC's offense against LAG, even if Graham Zusi (10.5) returns from injury.

I think Justin Meram (7.7) will continue to be great for Columbus, including against Orlando at home.

I also think Columbus's midfield is strong enough to funnel a lot of chances to Kei Kamara (8.2), as we saw last week. He's a solid play at that price (yes, I know I said I didn't believe in him last week. I've changed my mind).

Blas Perez (9.3), Tesho Akindele (8.2) and the rest of FCD's offense gets to play Toronto at home, a team giving up 2 goals per game so far. I know they laid a dud against Colorado, but it looks like Colorado's defense is legitimately great.

Managing Unpredictability

Last week we saw a whole bunch of wild things: Colorado somehow scoring 4 goals on the road after scoring none previously, Clint Dempsey absent again (ugh), Columbus being the better DGW team, Porales's crazy red card against SJ, Orlando shutting out Portland on the road (hehehe), and another two 0-0 draws. My team took a big hit from one of the 0-0 draws as I have both Feilhaber and Jorales, plus I captained Dempsey (ugh again). I'm sure some of you are feeling a bit frustrated by some of the wild events of the course of the last few weeks. I've got four things you can do to try and minimize the impact of crazy unpredictable outcomes on your fantasy team.

  1. Find bonus points. Bonus points give your players a "floor," so that even if their team does poorly, or they don't contribute to any goals, they still score you points. CBs, attacking mids, and forwards who get involved in the buildup are who you want to find. It also doesn't hurt to have a guy like Victor Ulloa (6.5), who doesn't have a high ceiling (he hasn't score more than 5 points in any week), but his defensive bonuses as a CDM have meant he's scored 4 or 5 in every game but one (where he scored 3). His points per game (4.2) is the same as Michel (9.1)!
  2. Prepare three weeks ahead. It is extremely helpful to at least strategize who you would like to transfer in and out over the next few weeks. Look at DGWs, schedules, and players' forms to see who you might want. If you plan ahead, and expect to be flexible about it, you should find it a lot easier to adapt to injuries, suspensions, or other absences you could not prepare for.
  3. Have a bench. This year, more than ever, it has helped to have 2-3 players on the bench who can step in at will to replace surprise absences. Ideally you should have at least 4 solid defenders playing every week, and then probably two bench options who you can count on to play 60-90 minutes. A great way to find these guys is to sort by minutes played and set the max price to maybe $5.9 or so. Among defenders Rafael Ramos (5.4) and Michael Harrington (5.4) are good. At mid Fatai Alashe (5.1) and Ryan Hollingshead (5.4) will do you solid. And at forward the three to invest in are Dominique Badji (4.5), Cyle Larin (5.6) and Shelton. Keep in mind that you can't play less than three defenders or mids, and you can't play more than 3 forwards.
  4. Be liberal with transfers. It is a difficult thing to immediately start the round down a number of points, but spending more than the free transfers can set you up for success for weeks so it is often worth it. Don't be afraid to make 3 or 4 transfers, sometimes even 5 if you really need to. On the other side of things, keep in mind that you can save one of your free transfers to roll it forward to another week. If you just make one transfer, the second one gets saved and you can use it down the line. You can only have one transfer saved at a time, so you can't stockpile, but this can be useful for planning ahead.

Good luck everyone this week. May your DGWs be as bright as Jordan Morris's future.

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