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MLS Fantasy Week 15: The storm before the calm

You've got 25 chances to rack up fantasy points this week.

Last Updated
10 min read
Sounder at Heart fantasy soccer logo

I hope everyone is excited for these two upcoming weeks: Week 15 is jam-packed with 25 matches from Wednesday night to Sunday afternoon, then we get Week 16 with a measly four (4!) games. Come get your points while you can!

Week 15 schedule & matchups

Single game weeks: Cincinnati, Seattle, NYCFC, San Jose, St. Louis, New England
Bye: Columbus

Five teams have a double home-game week: Miami, NYRB, Chicago, Philly and LAFC. And five teams have double road games: Dallas, Colorado, Orlando, Charlotte and Toronto. It remains a fact that MLS teams perform better at home: a road Colorado (best in the West by xGD) is roughly equal to a home Fire (bottom 5 in the league by home points and home xGD). Players should be targeted or faded accordingly.


Miami gets Atlanta United minus Brad Guzan and St. Louis, who will be rested but still have just three wins on the season and none on the road. Miami will miss Martino, who was red carded their last outing, but I doubt that will impact them much this week. They showed last week they did not need their superstars to put in a big showing, relying on Robert Taylor to run the show with a goal and assist (to Leo Campana). I expect Miami will go back to more-or-less the same lineup as the DC match, with Rojas, Suarez and Messi up from and a midfield of Cremaschi, Busquets and Gressel. However, with how injury-bitten Miami has been and how well some of the bench players have stepped up, I would not be surprised if there is some rotation in Saturday's match. Note that their RB Weigandt is on Yellow Card Warning so he might not be the best investment this week.

The five Miami players I'm willing to consider for fantasy: Messi, Suarez, Kryvtsov, Alba and Callendar. Messi and Suarez should be obvious. I think Miami have a good shot for at least one clean sheet this week, so their defense is playable. Alba has the best attacking potential of the Miami defensive options. In his past 13 matches, Gressel has one assist and six BPs, while Alba has a goal and an assist and 9 BPs despite starting less than half as many matches as Gressel in that span. With Friere out for the season, Kryvtsov stepped back into the CB role and was again the fulcrum of Miami's possession around the back. He is likely set for 70+ passes on a weekly basis, giving a floor of 2 BPs in most of his outings. And Callendar is there for clean sheet duty.

Red Bulls

For the Red Bulls, you have two obvious players, Emil Forsberg ($11.1m) and Lewis Morgan ($11.0m), as strong midfield contenders. Forsberg is healthy again after an illness and is expected to start tonight, and I expect him to start on Saturday (he will join Sweden for their midweek fixture against Denmark, but it is just a friendly). That moves Morgan back to striker and one of Elias Manoel or Dante Vanezir to the bench. I don't recommend either of those forward options as there are much better options elsewhere, but if you need to save budget then Manoel is interesting at $5.7m, having scored 6 goals in 4 matches against Charlotte. If he's starting, he could be a speculative pick for your bench.

For other Red Bull options, Sean Nealis (not Dylan) is out with a red card and Cameron Harper (playing midfield and scored in three straight matches) has a hamstring injury. Your best defender option is probably Noah Elie ($6.2m), as he has some bonus point production on the year, and Carlos Coronel ($5.9m) in goal.


Philly has a Canada week, hosting Toronto and Montreal. They've inexplicably lost four of six matches at home with a -2 GD, despite having a +5.7 xGD at home. I would not let their home form scare you off from taking their players, especially with a very enticing match up against Montreal. Kai Wagner ($10.2m) remains a top defender option, Oliver Semmle ($4.8m) remains in goal with Blake out for some weeks, and the attacking duo of Daniel Gazdag ($11.4m) and Julien Carranza ($10.0m) is elite.


LAFC hosts Minnesota and Dallas this week. The Minnesota match will be a tough one between two top contenders in the West, but the Dallas one will likely be much more comfortable. Denis Bouanga ($14.4m) is a top-tier option this week, despite being shut down in Atlanta last week even while playing 30 minutes up a man. Bouanga is averaging 12 points per match at home and 5.3 points per match on the road. LAFC will be without Atuesta on Wednesday due to a red card, but Bouanga will get plenty of game changing opportunities. For midfield options, your two good choices are Mateusz Bogusz ($10.7m) or Cristian Olivera ($9.8m) (Tillman has cooled lately). Bogusz has had a good stretch of three matches, while Olivera has been on a heater in his past five. I don't have a good read on the situation between Bogusz or Olivera or the effect of Atuesta's absence, so I don't have a strong opinion on either option. I'd probably lean towards Olivera based solely on price.

In defense, LAFC has had a strong stretch of games, with three clean sheets in a row and 2/3 on the road. That stretch has coincided with Omar Campos ($6.1m) and Aaron Long ($8.1m) returning to the starting lineup over Hollingshead and Murillo (who did get a start against St. Louis while Chanot came off the bench). Palencia is probably another 90-minute defender for LAFC in this stretch but does not find the BPs that Campos or Long are able to. Long is the best option if you have the budget since he's probably guaranteed to start both matches. Campos has the highest ceiling of the defenders, but he may not start both with Hollingshead healthy again (some more below in the bargain bin section). And Hugo Lloris ($7.2m) has been huge in this stretch, my pick for the top half of my keeperoo this week.

Some of the rest

On the other side of town, LAG has a home match against Dallas on Wednesday (I guess Dallas just stays in town the whole week?) and then travels to face Chicago. That is pretty close to a home/home matchup, so all the usual Galaxy options are in play (Paintsil is still injured).

Nashville are on the road against Cincy and then home against NE. That is basically as tough as a road match as you'll find this year and the easiest home game they'll have. I think Hany Mukhtar ($11.1m) is a very enticing option just for the NE match. Nashville didn't score in Montreal but Mukhtar had 4 BPs plus a clean sheet bonus. His other road performances have been lackluster (4, 4, 3), but Mukhtar destroyed Montreal when they visited earlier this year (2 assists, 6 BPs) and could have a similar game against the Revs, an even worse road team.

DC United also has a Canada week, playing in Montreal and home to Toronto. Based on these matchups, I am again stubbornly including Christian Benteke ($12.1m) in my lineup, though coming off the bench this week. I can't imagine he has forgotten how to score, he's just had a stretch of three poor matches. I believe he will jump right back into the golden boot race.

Speaking of which, RSL are here in Seattle tonight and then host Austin. Seattle have had the best home defense in the league despite a frankly baffling 5 red cards at home (two before the 60th minute). Seattle have not conceded a home goal in MLS while playing 11v11. All four goals conceded have come after a red card, one of them a direct result of the red card. RSL also have an issue brewing: five of their starters are on YCW. If Arango, Gomez, Crooks, Eneli or Katranis get a yellow against the Sounders, they are out against Austin. And Austin continue to defy reason. They should have been crushed by San Jose after conceding 3.3 xG, but Austin's own 0.6 xG was enough for a goal and San Jose could only put in one of their own, so Austin escaped with a draw. RSL should be able to win that match, but Austin seem blessed this year. I am skipping RSL's players for all these reasons.

Speaking of Austin, they get Portland at home tomorrow night. Portland are one of the most giving teams on the road, so it may be the kind of week where Sebastian Driussi ($9.4m) takes precedence over other options more stable week-to-week. Portland then host Houston this weekend, not a particularly easy matchup. Evander ($13m) will probably still do just fine, but I am skipping him and the rest of Portland's options this week. And speaking of Houston, they have Colorado at home on Wednesday. I have seen plenty of people taking Amine Bassi ($11.1m) to take advantage of the matchups, but I am not as excited about him.


A DGW is the kind of week where I believe the "5-3-2+2" formation works best. Start three actual defenders plus two scrubs, then put three attackers on the bench. Since a DGW is not great for doing a switcheroo, this formation lets you put three options on your bench and bring in two of the three best bench scores at the end of the week.

You can put early players or players on yellow card warning on the bench to see if maybe disaster strikes and they get a red, or are suspended for the weekend, or end up with an early injury. Then if you set up your scrubs right, you can maybe take a different DGW defender from the evening or, if necessary, a good player from the teams just playing Friday/Saturday.

Speaking of scrubs, I'd recommend taking Columbus scrubs for now. They don't have any defenders that are minimum cost, so hopefully you have enough budget that you can just put in Hughest ($4.5m) and Hinestroza ($5.4m). This avoids a Nolan Norris situation where a player who hasn't played all year suddenly makes his way into the lineup. If not, you'll want to watch the lineups on Saturday and plan to use St. Louis or New England scrubs.

Captain Considerations

  • Leo Messi ($14.5m) - Yes, we are right back here. He got to skip out on the travel to Vancouver and Miami still got the three points. He does not have to carry the team, but he probably will anyway. He may have some fitness or health issues that continue to hamper him after 20 years of pro soccer, but he seems like the captaincy bet with the highest ceiling this week.
  • Denis Bouanga ($14.4m) - As noted above, he is averaging 12 points per match at home. That is very good! Doubling that is even better! I'd be all in except that Messi has averaged 12.9 points a match over the whole season, home and away.
  • Christian Benteke ($12.1m) - The ultimate differential option this week. He has two hat tricks on the season already and had scored in every other match before the past three weeks. Montreal have a negative home GD and xGD, so it is almost like a home match for DC, whose xGD on the road is a flat zero. I am guessing a lot of people are not taking Benteke this week and far fewer will captain him, but if I really needed to move up in the ranks I'd pick Benteke and hope Messi and Bouanga have poor weeks.
  • Cristian Arango ($14.7m) - I don't recommend Arango due to the strength of Seattle's defense and the risk of a yellow putting him out for RSL's home fixture. But he has been extremely good in almost every game this year (he's now highest priced in the game for good reason) and should have a good time against Austin if xG is to be believed. He is one of a few with a ceiling high enough to challenge Messi and Bouanga as top options this week.
  • Riqui Puig ($14.4m) - He just had a 13-point game with a goal and 6 BPs against Houston. He had less than half the passes against Houston as he did against Charlotte (70/150) but more than twice as many key plays (10/4). He continues to get it done every week, scoring at least 5 points in every match and at least 7 in every week since week 8. High floor, medium-high ceiling for Puig. As dependable as they come.

Bargain Bin

  • Oliver Semmle ($4.8m) - Probably the best cheap GK this week, he's had two clean sheets in a row and should be set for a price rise. I think he's got great odds of at least one CS this week as Philly work to get back their home form. Philly defense is one I would be recommending anyway based on their matchups, so Semmle's a very strong option.
  • Sergi Palencia ($5.6m) - While I prefer Omar Campos ($6.1m) of the two, Palencia gets you under $6.0m and seems more likely a locked-in starter at this point. Campos was dropped from the lineup in week 5 as Palencia started his first match of the year. Campos came off the bench for some games then started in week 12 for Hollingshead, who was out with a neck injury, and has started each match since. Hollingshead is healthy now and may end up taking minutes this week – I'd guess for Campos if past lineup choices are an indication. Of course, Hollingshead can play both outside back positions so he could end up taking time from Palencia instead, if Cherundolo deems Campos to be in better form.
  • Sergii Kryvtsov ($4.6m) - As I noted above, Kryvtsov is taking over for Freire in Miami's defense. That means he is a pivot in their possession system, amassing 80+ passes in most of his matches where he has gone 90 minutes in their 4-3-3. That should give you +2 BPs as a base, a very nice floor if the clean sheets don't work out. He's unlikely to give you much attacking potential, so Alba or Wagner are probably better if you have the budget, but if you want to trim money in defense then Kryvtsov is there for you.
  • Diego Fagundez ($6.8m) - He should be starting some more with Paintsil still out. Only four points last week, but was just three passes short of a passing BP. Very solid option.
  • Omir Fernandez ($5.5m) - Since joining the starting lineup in Week 11 at NYCFC, Fernandez has had at least 4 key plays every match. He's also notched a goal and an assist. He was subbed between the 66th-70th minute in three of five matches, but he could be in for more extended outings if he continues to play well, going 86 minutes last weekend. I don't know if he eclipses 150 minutes this week, but if he does he could be a very solid value contributor.
  • Tanitoluwa Oluwaseyi ($7.2m) - 10 points last week with a goal and assist in a comeback against Dallas is a great way to make a statement that he needs to be a regular starter. I am not excited for Minnesota's Wednesday match against LAFC, but the home fixture against SKC looks good for the Loons scoring.

That's all from me this week, good luck to everyone playing!