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MLS Fantasy Week 8: Christian Week

This could be an excellent week to shop the bargain bin.

Last Updated
5 min read

We are truly deep into the thicket this week, with a lot of important injuries, suspensions, and CCC hangover to assess. Columbus got the job done in Mexico, taking a full 120 minutes and PKs to escape with a thin victory, while Miami and New England were played out of the park. Do Miami and the Revolution attack the regular season with renewed vigor, or does the hangover linger? Does Columbus punt their next few league matches to ensure their most important players have fresh legs for Monterrey and then the winner of America vs. Pachuca? Will some of the questionable and important players return for their teams this weekend? Lots of questions to be answered.


This week we have one early game, Timbers hosting LAFC (1:45 p.m. PT), the usual slate of 4:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. kickoffs, and then two Sunday games: Atlanta hosting Philly and St. Louis hosting Austin. Miami, Crew and Revs are coming off midweek CCC road matches.
Bye: Nashville

Captain Considerations

  • This week my number 1 pick for captain is Christian Arango (RSL FWD $11.2M). RSL hosts a tired Columbus team coming off of 120 minutes midweek. Cucho is suspended due to his red card last week, so CLB can't put out a top-shelf lineup anyway. Chicho has 6 goals for RSL and is averaging over 2 BP a match. He's not a sure bet, but I like the matchup given the circumstances.
  • Close behind Arango is Christian Benteke (DCU FWD $10.5M). DC United have the highest non-penalty expected goals in the league at 13.6, but have been underperforming slightly, scoring 9 non-penalty goals. Despite playing a whole 180 minutes fewer than Denis Bouanga, Benteke's total xG is higher than Bouanga, even adding Bouanga's penalty xG of 1.6. Though his massive hat trick against New England did help pad these stats, with 2.1 npxG in that game, in the games since his npxG has been: 0.6, 0.8, 1.2, 1.1. Though home versus Orlando isn't as easy a matchup as most, I expect Benteke to get plenty of chances to score.
  • The third I like this week is Denis Bouanga (LAFC FWC $10.9M). Though some of his stats are behind Benteke's numbers, Bouanga faces a Portland defense that has been completely hapless this season. The Timbers have allowed 14 goals, second-worst in the league, and their expected goals against agrees: they are tied for third-worst. With no particular help on the horizon, I expect Portland to keep trying to just outscore their opponents. LAFC have the best expected goals in the league, though they're underperforming their goals scored by 3.7 goals. Bouanga is a risky play on the road, but he's the best bet for points in a game that is unlikely to end with a clean sheet for Portland.
  • Two others I like are Emil Forsberg (RBNY MID $9.8M) and Santiago Rodriguez (NYC MID $9.5M). These are the two most creative players for their respective New York teams, and they are both hosting bad defenses (Chicago for NYRB, New England for NYC). New England got a result this past weekend against Charlotte, but they will likely be a little tired after midweek travel despite resting most of their best players. Chicago can score goals but they also leak them.

Clean Sheets?

Among all the home teams, the ones with the best defenses are NYRB, Charlotte, Vancouver, Atlanta, and RSL. The worst offenses on the road are Dynamo, New England, Toronto, and Austin. We have one good matchup here – Charlotte vs. Toronto. That's one I'm targeting with Kristijan Kahlina (CLT GK $6.9M) and Andrew Privett (CLT DEF $6.7M). I would take Malanda but he is doubtful for the match.

You could add Minnesota hosting Houston, but Minnesota has vastly overperformed their xGA this season, allowing just 7 goals on an expected 11.3. It also sounds doubtful that their best CB, Miguel Tapias, is back and healthy for this match. Houston are close to the bottom in terms of creating goal chances, but they may be getting healthier. Be careful here.

One wildcard option is Seattle's defense on the road. Dallas has one of the worst offenses in the league and Seattle will be healthier than ever. If Joao Paulo starts, and Dallas stars like David Ferreira are still too injured to play, then a road clean sheet seems like a reasonable, if risky, bet.

Bargain Bin

  • William Yarbrough (SJ GK $4.7M). San Jose's defense is much better by xGA than they have actually performed, allowing almost exactly twice as many goals as expected. They will regress to the mean somewhat, so taking this cheap of a keeper at home is a reasonable risk. Their main starting keeper, Daniel De Sousa Brito ($5.2M), may be healthy though so check lineups.
  • Anthony Markanich (STL DEF $4.9M). A weekly starter for St. Louis, if you want a cheap entry on their defense to potentially shut out Austin, he's a good bet. He had a great game against Dallas (1o points, including 3 BP), so he'll likely be on for a price rise even if the match isn't ideal for Markanich.
  • Kevin O'Toole (NYC DEF $5.8M). If you want to chase an NYC clean sheet and want to spend under $6M to do so, O'Toole is your guy.
  • Two players to watch: our own Cody Baker ($4.7M) and Sam Adekugbe (VAN DEF $5.3M). Baker played well last week and could get another run out if Schmetzer thinks he earned the opportunity and/or if Nouhou is not quite well enough to start. Adekugbe is expected to be a starter when healthy, and has made two short substitute appearances in the past two weeks (tanking his value). If he's starting he's a great entry to the Vancouver defense (if you think they can stop LAG from scoring).
  • Hannes Wolf (NYC MID $6.3M). Wolf is the guy making the last pass for NYC, responsible for the highest xA and npxG+xA on the team. It just so happens that Mosef Bakrar has been snakebit, with an xG of 2.4 and no goals to show for it yet. If Bakrar can finish, and this seems like a good week for him to do so, then Wolf is a prime beneficiary.
  • Owen Wolff (ATX MID $4.9M). Wolff seems to have displaced Austin's DP, Emiliano Rigoni, in the starting lineup. Wolff is on set pieces now, and last week he had 10 Key Plays for 2 BP and another 2 BP for crosses and passes. This may not be the best week to take him, but keep an eye on him.
  • Jeremy Ebobisse (SJ FWD $7M). Ebobisse went 89 minutes last week with a goal against Austin. If he is starting back at home, I am betting that SJ will score at least two goals against Colorado, and Ebobisse is a good play there.
  • Willy Agada (SKC FWD $7.6M). This man has been blazing hot lately – a goal against the Galaxy, an assist against Toronto, and two goals against the Timbers (with a penalty miss, while on a hat trick, that would have put SKC up 4-0 and they ended up tying 3-3, oof) – with 3 BP in each of those starts. I think SKC has to keep him on the field, and starting against a spent Miami team is a great matchup.

Once MLS player availability is made official today for Saturday's matches, I'll post a link in the comments and highlight important injuries. Unfortunately, the availability for the Sunday matches is not due until tomorrow afternoon. The biggest thing to keep an eye on there is ATL, who are dealing with some injuries to their forwards and CBs (one reason I didn't highlight Giakoumakis earlier, not sure if he'll be back). You'll have to check back later to see who is out for that match.

One final note: for any of you NWSL enjoyers, matches start up again tonight, so make sure to get your rosters set. Have a great week everyone!