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MLS Fantasy with Sounder at Heart: Differential plays and phone-a-friend

Can he help save your fantasy team?
Can he help save your fantasy team?
Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports

Hello friends, this is your reminder that you need to have your transfers in by 4:00 pm Pacific this afternoon as that is the kickoff for ORL-DC on UniMas this evening. This week I'm going to talk about the meta-game concept of Differential Plays and try out one of the tried and true fantasy staples where I give advice to a friend (whom you may know) on their team. If you need any last minute advice, ask away in the comments and I'll do my best to steer you on the right path.

Differential Plays

If you really want to move up the leader boards, you are going to have to find some players that will differentiate your team from those around you. If you have the same players as everyone else, your team isn't going to move up or down the ranks regardless of how well your team does. A valuable strategy is to find those overlooked players who aren't owned by many others and use their good performances to rise in the ranks. This is not to say that you should avoid popular players -- they're popular for a reason -- just that you shouldn't stack your team with popular players if you want to improve your ranking.

There are currently 9 players (who actually play) that are owned by more than 20% of teams. Some of them are well worth it. There's a reason Jose Villareal ($6.3M) is owned by nearly 50% of all players. Some of them might not be. I don't expect Chris Seitz (5.1) to continue to be the top scoring GK as he's benefitted from a favorable schedule and no byes so far (I actually think Dallas may only have one bye the whole year and one DGW the second to last week of the season).

So, instead of Kaka (11.3, 28.3% selected), why not try Javier Morales (10.9, 11.4%) or Pedro Morales (11.2, 9.4%)? Instead of Jozy Altidore (9.6, 21.2%), try Blas Perez (9.3, 8.0%), Fanendo Adi (9.3, 5.4%) or Kei Kamara (8.0, 5.0%). Instead of Seitz (20.9%) try Clint Irwin (5.1, 4.0%).

I'm not saying these replacements will do better, but you are giving yourself the opportunity to move up in the ranks by playing the soon to be popular players rather than the already popular ones.


This week's phone-a-friend is none other than Constant Reader #1, Dave Clark. His team, Aslan FC, is not doing very well. After a fantastic week 1 and a better than average week 2, Aslan has run into serious roster issues the past few weeks. Week 4 would have been good, except none of Marshall, Dia, Fagundez and Martins played, and no one was on the bench to help out. As such, he has called me in to try and help save his team without using the wildcard. He has $0.1 in the bank, and here is how it stands right now:

It's not pretty. Working from the back to the front, we'll leave Bingham alone as he'll be playing and we have priorities elsewhere. The defense is Jewsbury, Marshall, Dia, Shea, Peay and Morrow. That's a pretty expensive defense, especially for one that hasn't done much at all the past few weeks. Dia is no longer a starter, Jewsbury is questionable this week, Peay isn't even available for selection anymore and I trust Morrow about as far as I can throw Jozy Altidore (which isn't very far).

For our first change, we're going to swap out Jewsbury for the youngster from our other Cascadia rival, Sam Adekugbe (6.1). This will give Dave an in on Vancouver's upcoming DGW. I think it is a player Dave will like. We'll put in Shea, Marshall and Adekugbe as defense starters, keeping Morrow in the bench for insurance in case Marshall doesn't play.

There is some great talent in midfield, with Kaka leading the way. Unfortunately, Le Toux and Villareal are the only other real sure fire things this week. Fagundez got zero minutes last week with Agudelo moving back to a winger spot, Kovar isn't going to start and Trapp is on bye. Our first change here is to switch Fagundez for Pedro Ribeiro (6.2) who has earned a starting spot in Orlando playing in front of Kaka. He had a fantastic game last week and could provide huge value if he continues to start. Not a bad idea to get in early. It also gives us 0.8 to work with for our final transfer.

At forward we have Martins, Agudelo, Fucito and Catic. Martins and Agudelo are locked in, and Fucito and Catic aren't getting minutes. Unfortunately, with our limited budget, there is no one we can reach from Fucito or Catic that is all that attractive, so we'll have to go back to the midfield for a final change. This will indeed incur a 4 point penalty, but Aslan FC should recover those 4 points through these changes.

We'll move Trapp. This is unfortunate as he's got a DGW after this bye, but he's also got a right calf strain which could prevent him from taking advantage of it. With Trapp out, and the 0.8 we saved, we'll upgrade to Harrison Shipp (7.8). He had a great week last week and is facing Toronto at home this week. He's on bye next week, which may cause some small issues, but I believe Shipp will be a very valuable player going forward.

With those changes, I'd roll out this lineup: Bingham; Marshall, Shea, Adekugbe; Kaka, Le Toux, Shipp, Villareal, Ribeiro; Martins, Agudelo. I'd put Morrow as the first sub and Kovar as the second. Order doesn't matter after that.

Oh, and Captain? I'll leave that up to Dave between Marshall and Martins. I think the Sounders are more or less a lock to shut out Houston's awful offense, but Martins has the potential to score two goals any game he participates in, so there's a gamble worth taking some weeks right there.

It's been a pleasure as always. Shoot me any questions and I'll do my best to answer in the comments.

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