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MLS Fantasy Week 3: CCC Fatigue

Concacaf Champions Cup throws a bit of a wrench into prognosticating on this weekend's best performers.

Last Updated
6 min read

Hi all, I hope you’re having a great week! We’re entering one of the trickiest weekends of MLS Fantasy of the year, with possibly seven teams using heavily rotated lineups this weekend to try and stave off elimination from the Concacaf Champions Cup next week. And since the teams involved are some of the best in the league, we could see plenty of matchups flipped on their heads this weekend. It will be tricky, but there will be plenty of points for the taking if you can read your crystal ball properly.

Teams playing in CCC midweek: PHI, ORL, NE, HOU, CLB, CIN, NSH, MIA
DGW: None

Week 2 Recap

Week 2 had a lot of surprises, as road teams went 5-3-5 (W-L-D). One of those road losses was LAFC falling in a snowdrift, another was Orlando getting absolutely pantsed by Miami (turns out Suárez is not cooked after all), and the last was hapless NYCFC lacking any danger in St. Louis. I very much missed on my calls of Dallas handling Montreal and Seattle dispatching Austin last week, but I think my Colorado wildcard call would have hit if not for the second-worst handball given up last week (fast forward to 5:05). Portland showed attacking power alongside defensive vulnerability, it’s just too bad Christian Benteke was a late scratch for DC. And hopefully you were a Galaxy believer (Puig especially) while I held my reservations.

Week 3 CCC teams

This week’s big story will be whatever happens with the CCC teams. Houston has the week off, so we can ignore them. New England rolled over Alajuelense at home, but have the farthest to travel next week and have not had a good start to their MLS season. They visit Atlanta before flying down to Costa Rica. Sam Minton, Managing Editor of The Blazing Musket, in a 3Q with Five Stripes Final predicted a full-strength lineup from NE, but warned that Caleb Porter foreshadowed some rotation. I am betting that Atlanta is going to have a good time at home, rotation or not, so I’m going with Giakoumakis (FWD $7.7M), Almada (MID $8.9M) and a defender (penciling in Derrick Williams at $5.2M, for now). My main question is whether Giakoumakis or Almada gets the captain nod.

Philly and Orlando hosted scoreless draws with Pachuca and Tigres, respectively, and they host Seattle and Minnesota. Though they did not give up a road goal, both of them are going to have a tough job in Mexico. I could easily see some rotation against inter-conference opponents given their jam-packed schedule thus far. Philly did not deserve a draw against SKC last week due to a ref error that give them a bit of extra possession at the end of the match when they scored their equalizer, and I could see Seattle getting their first win of the season on the road as Philly focuses on their next game. I am less confident in Minnesota, but Orlando has also struggled. I’m staying away from both games for fantasy purposes.

Of course, if you want to run out some Sounders players (understandable, as I’d bet 99% of readers here are Sounders fans), your options are limited with Frei, Rusnák and João Paulo all once again unavailable. The four I’d recommend are (1) Thomas (GK $5.4M) is great value, (2) Alex Roldan (DEF $6.1M) earns good bonus points, (3) Atencio (MID $7.0M) will be active and had a great week without a goal or assist, and (4) Ruidíaz (FWD $6.6M) is crazy cheap given his potential as a top scorer if he can rekindle his form.

As for the other CCC teams, Columbus rotated their lineup in Houston and earned a road win. Columbus is entering CCC this round, so I’d expect a first-choice lineup this weekend. Cucho (FWD $10.0M) comes into the weekend rested and gets to face Chicago’s defense at home. He’s staying in my lineup.

The next three, Cincinnati, Nashville and Miami, all host their games on Sunday. Miami is entering CCC this round but already had an MLS double-game week. Cincy got to rest some starters in the last round of CCC against Cavalier FC, but just lost 1-0 at home to a goal from Brandon Vazquez (that’s a big oof), who’s now with Monterrey. Meanwhile, Nashville has to be deflated from giving up a late goal to Luis Suárez and only getting a draw at home against Miami in CCC. Cincy hosts DC, Nashville hosts the Galaxy, and Miami hosts Montreal this weekend.

These games are all hard to predict. I’ve still got a full Miami squad of Messi (FWD $11.0M), Gómez (MID $5.9M) and Gressel (DEF $8.0M), but I am very worried that they’ll all sit and I’ll be stuck with dead spots, given it’s the last game of the week. I may end up swapping those spots for other Miami players or grab Josef Martinez (FWD $7.4M) if he’s starting for Montreal. I currently have Acosta (CIN MID $9.9M), but it may be smarter to run out Puig (MID $9.2M) and/or Paintsil (MID $9.0M) for the Galaxy against Nashville’s tired legs. These Sunday games will be risky.

Best of the Rest

As for the remainder of the games, I like the Red Bulls hosting FC Dallas. I’m running Emil Forsberg (MID $8.6M) again, even though he wasn’t as great last week. Lewis Morgan (MID $7.2M) scored a goal last week and could be the beneficiary of the Red Bulls’ home debut. I also like RSL hosting Colorado. I’m betting on a clean sheet and would not fault anyone for taking some of their offensive options, particularly Arango (FWD $9.5M).

I’m staying away from NYC vs. Portland – I think the Timbers are due for a(nother) letdown, but no one on NYC has been any good for fantasy purposes. I assume they’ll score goals eventually, but I don’t know who gets them going. Talles Magno? Keaton Parks? We’ll see.

Toronto might be decent, they now get a home game against Charlotte to prove it. St. Louis is possibly a favorite visiting Austin, but they lost 0-1 in Houston in CCC last week and were eliminated on away goals. I am worried Austin will take lessons from their visit to Seattle and grind this out to a 1-1 or 0-0 draw. I want no part of it. For San Jose hosting Vancouver, I am neither excited nor confident in anyone on either team, so I’m also passing on that matchup. I think LAFC are good enough to beat SKC at home, but SKC smashed their way to a 1-1 draw in LA last year and I think more of the same is on the table. If you want to roll with Bouanga (FWD $9.5M) though, he is probably matchup-proof (last week’s conditions aside) and the safest bet of the game.

That about wraps up my thoughts on MLS this week, let me know if you have any questions in the comments here or over on Discord. I’m always happy to discuss specific players, teams or strategies.

2024 NWSL Fantasy

I’ll be putting up a separate post on this, but I’m happy to say that 2024 NWSL Fantasy has launched over at ShePlays:

If you’d like to double-dip on fantasy this year, we’d love to have you. You’ll have to set up your team first, then you can use the code: "rovalks" to join our official Ride of the Valkyries league! You can do so from your profile menu or follow the link here:

Once you’re logged in, you can set up your team. The UI for selecting your team has some... quirks (it’s essentially an interactive spreadsheet) so take your time figuring out how to add who you want. Note that you can sort columns by clicking the heading and search names or filter teams using the boxes at the top of the columns. Your team will consist of 2 GKs, 2 FWD, 4 MID, 4 DEF and 2 additional players at any position. You start 11 players, with formations of 1 GK, 3-5 DEF, 3-5 MID, and 1-3 FWD, however you want to align them adding up to 11.

You’ll probably want to read their recent post on some of the tips and tricks for their version of fantasy. Also, keep in mind you get only one free transfer every week, with each additional transfer costing your team a 5-point deduction for the week. So, be careful selecting your team, keeping an eye on long-term value instead of week-to-week matchup-based lineups.