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MLS Fantasy Week 4: Early points can pay dividends

Praise the Greek God of Goals.

Last Updated
5 min read

Hello everyone, I hope your teams are doing well! Mine is flying high at the moment, as I struck gold last week captaining Giorgos Giakoumakis (ATL FWD, $8.2M). He had a hat trick and earned a PK (he did not take the one he earned, but did score on a different PK), for 21 points as Atlanta ran over New England. He was the main reason my team did incredible last week, as I earned the 2nd highest score across all teams playing and shot up to No. 16 overall. I doubt I'll be able to keep up that torrid pace, but I’ll do my best to try and will share advice on how to push your own teams higher.

Early Points

Though GG was the main reason my team did so well, another big reason was that I hit on a couple of early speculative low-risk plays. Saturday morning a fellow Discord user pointed out that Toronto (playing their home opener against Charlotte) was missing Sean Johnson, so backup goalkeeper Luka Gavran (at that time $4.5M) was starting, and defender Kobe Franklin (also $4.5M at that time) was starting as a midfielder.

I had already identified Toronto as a team that might have a strong week, so I decided to speculate on Gavran and Franklin by setting them up for "switcheroos." This meant putting Gavran and Franklin in two bench slots. By parking them on the bench, I was able to wait and see whether Toronto held a shutout and their final score. They did! Gavran scored 8 and Franklin scored 7. Nothing incredible, but I was happy with those scores.

I left cheap players from Houston on a bye in my starting GK and DEF slots, which meant that Gavran and Franklin would automatically swap into my lineup. If Gavran or Franklin had done poorly, I would have been able to switch those Houston players for someone playing in later games to keep the Toronto players on the bench.

This week we have three early Saturday games that could yield similar dividends: Chicago hosting Montreal, DC hosting Miami, and Seattle hosting Colorado. Chicago has scored four and allowed six goals in three games. Montreal, starting the season on an extended road trip, has earned two wins and a draw. I am not willing to bet on Montreal keeping up this pace, but I also have little confidence in Chicago. I am skipping this matchup.

Miami lost at home last weekend to Montreal, but they tied Nashville on the road and beat them at home midweek to advance in CCC. Messi is out for this matchup, and I am fading the rest of Miami on tired legs. Christian Benteke (FWD $8.5M) has been training and their coach is "optimistic" he will be playing. I like him a lot if he is starting, and you might also consider Mateusz Klich (MID $8.2M).

And of course, Seattle is where the bluest skies are this week. Stefan Frei being out again is bad for Seattle, but playing Andrew Thomas ($5.4M) in fantasy is a small silver lining. I like the Seattle defense, and I'd rank Alex Roldan ($6.1M) first and Jackson Ragen ($6.6M) second. I'm going with those three this week as I'm not fully confident in where Seattle's goals will come from (surely they're coming?). If Colorado is bunkering – an effective strategy against us – Seattle CBs won't have much opportunity for bonus points through clearances and the like, while Alex will be involved in the attack. However, Ragen has looked dangerous on set pieces. I am also worried about Nouhou/Arreaga taking yellows and neither of them are as dangerous on offense. Plus, Schmetzer will want to get Yeimar on the field and I would expect Arreaga is taken off at some point, and if it is before the 60th that takes away the minutes-played and potential clean-sheet bonuses.

And if you want to take a risk on Seattle's offense, depending on who is starting I think Raul Ruidiaz ($6.6M) has the highest ceiling. He has looked dangerous in his minutes and I think he's most likely to score this week. It is a bit of a dart throw, I'll admit, as he was not great last year. I am hoping for a comeback season though. On the other hand, it's possible Albert Rusnak (MID $7.5M) is healthy enough to start and I would be in his camp if he does. Otherwise, Cristian Roldan and Josh Atencio provide reasonable bonus point floors on top of potential scoring contributions while Jordan Morris is a potential 10G/10A candidate if the Sounders can get their attack working.

Best of the Rest

A lot of the most popular options for mids and forwards are popular for good reason, and I am putting them in my lineup: Giakoumakis, Cucho Hernandez (CLB FWD $10.5M), Thigao Almada (ATL MID $9.4M), Riqui Puig (LAG MID $9.7M), Emil Forsberg (NYRB MID $9.1M), and Carles Gil (NE MID $10.5M). Almada is my captain with Atlanta playing a weak and tired Orlando team at home (coming off a 4-2 loss to Tigres in Mexico). Hopefully I don't regret stepping away from GG as my captain. Cucho, Puig, Forsberg, and Gil are all reliable options as they earn big bonus points even if they don't score or assist, but they are plenty goal-dangerous too. Gil did not travel to Costa Rica with NE midweek so he should be rested and eager to earn New England's first regular-season points.

Players I like under 5% ownership:

  • LAG defenders Miki Yamane ($6.0M) and Maya Yoshida ($6.5M) both earn quality bonus points and are at home this week facing St. Louis. STL is without Eduard Loewen, who has been their attacking engine this year, and I am betting LAG are likely to earn their first clean sheet.
  • I had a note about him earlier but Mateusz Klich (DC MID $8.2M) is under 2% owned. He has played 90 minutes and scored bonus points every week with a goal against Portland and I think DC will be on the front foot against Miami.
  • As distasteful as I find it, if Thomas does not work out I am looking to Tim Melia (SKC GK $6.4M) to hold a shutout against San Jose. SJ has been dreadful this year, and I don't think they will turn it around on the road. That's all there is to it.
  • Teemu Pukki (MIN FWD $8.2M) has had a strong start to the year on the road, and now Minnesota has their home opener against LAFC. While I expect LAFC will be a good team in the long run, Minnesota have started strong and LAFC will be looking for their first goals since week 1.

That's about all I have this week, feel free to send me any questions about lineups or players in the comments here or find me on Discord. Best of luck!