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MLS Fantasy Week 10: New Perspectives

We've got enough of a sample size now to revise some prior assumptions.

Last Updated
6 min read
Sounder at Heart Fantasy Soccer logo.

I have been reading a series of books from sci-fi author Alastair Reynolds about two sisters who go on adventures as space pirates (not exactly what they set out to be, but must). Without really spoiling anything, the first in the series, Revenger, is about Arafura Ness’s journey to become who she needs to be to save her sister. She has to shed her past and become a new version of herself (quite literally in some ways) to complete her journey.

Sometimes, that kind of journey is what is necessary in fantasy sports. You have to shed old prejudices and see what is actually happening and what is necessary for your squad. Earlier this season, I was biased against NYC as they were not scoring goals and their underlying numbers suggested few goals were coming. Lately, however, the script has flipped. They have had more than 2.4 xG in each of their past three games, though they have "only" 5 goals in that time span. That is by far the best underlying numbers in the past three weeks in the East. It may be time to cast off any biases and take them seriously as one of the better offenses in the league.

Week 10 schedule

Bye: St. Louis

This week's schedule is not particularly kind for fantasy purposes. We have one early match (LAG visiting Austin), then a slate of 4:30 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. games, and LAFC hosting Portland as the only "late" match. A good way to approach this week is to take a bet on LAG or Austin players early, play your "midday" players, and probably have a couple of LAFC/Portland options late that you can rely on if your bench misses or can scrub if it doesn't.

Those LA games are both intriguing, seeing as Austin and Portland have two of the worst defenses in the West by advanced stats, and LAG's defense is similarly bad (with actual great goalscoring to prop them up). I expect both LA teams to put up multiple goals, and Austin probably has a good chance to do the same. LAFC's defense is probably also a good pick, considering that the Timbers have somehow managed 18 goals on an xG of 10.6 (Sounders have 9 goals on xG of 12.5 🙁), and LAFC's home defense is the best in the West on a per-game xGA basis.

Columbus hosts Montreal in a game that should favor the Crew, but could be more of a toss-up if they rotate ahead of their away leg at Monterrey. Columbus has a lead in CCC and a bye next weekend, so I wouldn't bet on too much rotation.

One of the biggest mismatches of the week is New England hosting Miami. If Messi and Suarez play on the turf, we could easily see a 4-1 victory for Miami. If Suarez doesn't start, I still think Miami wins, but it'll be closer. If Messi and Suarez don't start, all bets are off. We could see another match where Miami goes into half down and then comes back to win with their stars in the second half. It could be a good week to buy Carles Gil stock, though I'm not willing to trust him again just yet.

Another potential mismatch is DC United hosting the Sounders, who will be down two starting defenders against what is, on paper, the best attack in the East with 1.84 xG per 90 and 2.4 xG per 90 at home. DC is off that mark somewhat in actual scoring, but it could be a very tough game for the Sounders' makeshift back line.

Most of the other matchups seem pretty even to me, though I am looking at Orlando potentially blanking Toronto at home. Orlando have been underperforming their xG stats, while Toronto has not been good on the road and are still missing Insigne with Bernardeschi coming off injury (if he even plays). I am starting Dagur Thorhallsson (ORL DEF $8.1M) and am using Pedro Gallese (ORL GK $5.2M) in my keeperoo.

Captain Considerations

  • Leo Messi (MIA FWD $12.5M). Messi is not as obvious and easy a choice this week since Miami is on the road and playing on turf, but I still think he is pretty much the best option in the game.
  • Denis Bouanga (LAFC FWD $11.9M). He's been on fire at home and gets to play Portland's defense. If Messi is an A+ option I think Bouanga is an A.
  • Santiago Rodriguez (NYC MID $10.5M). After a relatively slow start to the season, "Santi" has been a great play for NYCFC's home matches. Points in his last four home matches: 10, 13, 7, 15. This week is NYCFC's fourth home game in a 5-match home stand, playing a Charlotte FC side who might still be missing their best defender in Malanda. Santi's "last 3 avg" is second highest in the league behind Messi. He should be a very strong choice if you don't like Messi or Bouanga.

Bargain Bin

  • Pedro Gallese (ORL GK $5.2M). As noted above, Orlando have a decent chance of a home clean sheet against Toronto and Gallese is about as cheap as starters come these days.
  • Maxime Chanot (LAFC DEF $5.5M). LAFC picked him back up to bolster their defense and he has slotted into the starting lineup with gusto. Evander also reportedly took a knock in training for the Timbers, though it's unclear if it's serious enough to keep him out of this game. If he's out, I think LAFC have one of the best clean sheet chances this week.
  • Birk Risa (NYC DEF $5.6M). NYCFC have now had two clean sheets in a row, and this week host Charlotte, whose offense is nothing to be afraid of. If you want a cheap CS flier, Risa is a good option, though I'd prefer paying the premium for Thiago Martins (NYC DEF $7.7M) as he is averaging just under two BP a game while Risa has three total on the season. And while you're at it, Matt Freese (NYC GK $6.8M) is one of the better GK choices this week.
  • Nacho Gil (NE MID $5.7M). Gil has not exactly lit up the fantasy scoreboard since earning a starting role, besides a goal in his first start against Chicago. But I am willing to bet there are goals both ways in this match against Miami and he's a fairly cheap bet for the match. Plus, Nacho still has the best per-minute underlying npxG+xA for anyone on NE with more than 40 minutes in league play.
  • Hannes Wolf (NYC MID $6.8M). I called him out two weeks ago, and he put up 3 points. Apparently I was a week early, as this past week he had 9 points, with an assist, 3 BP and a CS bonus. Similar to Nacho in NE, Wolf has the best npxG+xA for NYC on a per-minute basis. I wouldn't be surprised if he gets on the score sheet soon.
  • Diego Rubio (ATX FWD $6.6M). Though Rubio has just two goals and no assists on the season, we know LAG leak goals (while scoring plenty). Rubio is not how I'd use a forward slot, but if you need someone cheap, you could stick him on your bench and scrub someone else if he scores against LAG in the early game.
  • Tanitoluwa Oluwaseyi (MIN FWD $5.8M). Oluwaseyi has typically been a supersub this season, with two goals and two assists in his appearances off the bench, but last week he got the start and a goal on the road against Charlotte. Minnesota may deem Teemu Pukki healthy enough to start this week, but Oluwaseyi would be a very reasonable option if he is starting again as his per-minute numbers are very good (small sample size caveat of course).

Odds and Ends

  • I am taking a chance with Thiago Almada (ATL MID $11.4M) and Riqui Puig (LAG MID $12.5M) as expensive bench mids on the road. Atlanta has struggled on the road (this season and historically) but Chicago is about as fantasy-friendly an environment as you will get. I am trusting Almada, especially if Giakoumakis is back starting. Puig is a low-risk play since he is in the early game and Austin is averaging two goals conceded per game at home (both actually and by xGA). I am sticking with Puig over Paintsil as Puig still has great bonus point generation even though Paintsil has had a goal and assist in each of his past two matches.
  • Hopefully you haven't been listening too closely to me, my week rank last week was 4,852 and my team has stumbled the past few weeks and is now outside of the top 200 overall. My smaller league rankings have similarly suffered. Last week would have been an abject disaster if Messi as captain had turned out to be a bad play.
  • Two games I'm very interested in for soccer purposes but am staying away from for fantasy purposes are Cincinnati hosting the Rapids and Philadelphia hosting RSL. Cincy and Philly have been good at home recently, but the Rapids and RSL have been strong on the road this year (both have positive road GD and xGD). It will be a tough test in both matchups and could be a sign of whether the East is truly as much better than the West as many people seem to think.

Good luck everyone, and may your stumbles be ever forward.