MLS Fantasy Manager week 20
MLS Fantasy Manager week 20 has most teams at or just beyond the halfway mark for the season. The injuries are mounting up and there are still plenty of international absences. Two teams play each other twice this week as Columbus Crew S.C. and Chicago Fire alternate home field advantage on Wednesday and Sunday. The playoff hunt is now in full effect while some big signings near their debut. Who is going to show up this weekend to get big points?
TOP FORWARD PICKS
Kei Kamara, Columbus Crew S.C., $9.4
Kei Kamara has slowed down his scoring pace recently as Columbus have had trouble find any consistency. He’s only had two goals in the last seven games but still manages to find himself leading all forwards in fantasy points thanks to his team’s reliance on him up top. This week Columbus travels Chicago midweek then back plays them back at home on Sunday. Chicago are the cellar dwellers of the league right now with 18 points at their midway point of the season. Their defense is just what the Columbus attack needs to kick-start its push towards the end of the season and the playoffs. Look for Kamara and his teammates to have a tough game in Chicago but turn it up at home on the weekend.
C.J. Sapong, Philadelphia Union, $7.2
Philadelphia Union have relied heavily upon C.J. Sapong for goals in recent weeks. Sapong had a four game goal streak a few weeks ago and has still managed to tally points with assists along with attacking play. He’s been a bright spot for Philadelphia who have the most losses in league play. Philadelphia’s problem isn’t scoring, it’s letting goals in, so I don’t foresee the road game being an issue for Sapong getting goals. Toronto’s defense has been suspect this season as well so this could be another high scoring game for both teams. The attack for Philadelphia will continue to weigh heavily on Sapong and if he continues to get service from his midfield then he could start another multiple game scoring streak this weekend.
Chad Barrett, Seattle Sounders, $6.5
Chad Barrett does not play the beautiful game. In fact, many call his game ugly but that takes away from his scoring ability. He will never win style points but he will fight for every ball and scores when his team needs him to. He’s seen an increase in his playing time with Obafemi Martins out with an injury and both Clint Dempsey and Marco Pappa away for Gold Cup Duty. Not only does has his playing time increased but so has the team’s reliance on him to score goals. He’s always been an option for his hold-up play more than his striking ability but now he’s needed for both. Seattle had a rough June and July hasn’t looked any better but their luck will change with conference whipping boys Colorado Rapids visiting CenturyLink Field this weekend. This will definitely be low scoring game but Seattle will find a way to net at least one or two with Barrett being part of each goal. He’s also a great forward option to have in a roster with higher priced midfielders or defenders at his price.
TOP MIDFIELD PICKS
Ethan Finlay, Columbus Crew S.C., $8.8
Ethan Finlay just keeps lighting things up almost every week. This definitely isn’t the first time I’ve picked him and I doubt it will be the last. He’s been the catalyst for the Columbus attack this season and doesn’t look like he’s letting up with his amazing form any time soon. He’s also the best buy this season for anyone who has put him on their roster because he still has yet to reach the $9.0 mark but has the third highest points total among midfielders. Finlay gets a nod this week not only because of his amazing season but because of his two games against a week opponent. Playing against Chicago twice this week will work out great for Finlay’s points totals. I also recommend him as a possible captain for any squad.
Sebastian Lletget, Los Angeles Galaxy, $6.5
Sebastian Lletget is one of the best signings of the year on the field and for fantasy managers. He’s made an instant impact for the Los Angeles attack since his arrival. He’s explosive, has a great mind for the game, makes unbelievable passes, and works well with his teammates in the fast-paced Galaxy offense. He played his first full game last week so I expect him to get significant minutes this week as well even with the addition of Steven Gerrard. Los Angeles takes on heated rivals San José Earthquakes this weekend in another California Clasico. Lletget is faster and more skilled than the San José midfield so he will be more than a handful for them. Their defense is tough but it won’t have an answer for Lletget and the surging LA attack that is hitting their stride at the right time as they do every season like clockwork.
Fabian Castillo, F.C. Dallas, $10.6
Fabian Castillo and F.C. Dallas have recovered their early season form at the right time. Some of it is scheduling, some of it is luck, but it doesn’t take away from how effective their attack has been since the end of their five game road trip. I’ve picked Castillo in earlier columns because of his importance to the Dallas attack so I won’t go in to how amazing he can be for your points tally. This week F.C.D. plays at home against an injury and suspension plagued D.C. United who still happen to be on top of the league Supporters’ Shield table. D.C. would have a hard time handling Dallas at full strength but it will be almost impossible with all of their absences. Castillo and the Dallas attack could walk away with another three or four goal victory this weekend. He’s another good choice for your roster captain to double his points even with the one game.
TOP DEFENSE PICKS
Emanuel Pogatetz, Columbus Crew S.C., $6.4
Emanuel Pogatetz is having a solid season in the center for the Columbus defense. He isn’t as necessary to the attack as his outside back teammates, and isn’t as skilled on the ball as his center back teammate Michael Parkhurst. Still, he’s finding ways to rack up the points with defensive bonuses and clean sheets. He’s going to benefit from two games against a weak opponent with at least one of those games being a clean sheet thanks to his play. He’s also a great set piece target and will be a threat to a team as susceptible as Chicago is to penalties in bad field positions. His price is also perfect for a balanced roster with higher priced midfielders or forwards.
Kevin Ellis, Sporting Kansas City, $6.5
Kevein Ellis is another strong center back who has a lower price than his counterpart on the back line. He’s not as much of a target as Matt Besler, and doesn’t pass as well, but he gets some set piece goals on occasion and picks up more defending bonuses with his clearances. Montreal hasn’t been strong on the road and Sporting Park is a tough place to play for any traveling team, even one as hot as the Impact. Sporting Kansas City will find a way to quell their attack this weekend. I don’t think there will be a clean sheet for either team, but it will be a low scoring game and this benefits the Kansas City defender.
Matt Hedges, F.C. Dallas, $9.7
Matt Hedges is another repeat pick for me this week. His opponents this weekend are missing their star forward Fabian Espindola due to red card suspension so he’ll have less to worry about from the D.C. attack. This doesn’t mean that United will be a push-over but it does mean that they won’t have the killer instinct up top that they are used to. Hedges and his defense will pounce on anything that comes in the middle from a less aggressive forward (probably Jairo Arrieta, who is having a rough time in recent weeks) and slower attack. Hedges is also another center back that’s a great set piece target for one of the best set piece teams in the league. I think he’s going to get a goal this weekend on top of a probable clean sheet and multiple defending bonuses.
GOALKEEPER PICK OF THE WEEK
Steve Clark, Columbus Crew S.C., $5.6
The last time I picked Steve Clark it did not go well for him at all. This week will be different because he’s going to get two shots at one of the worst attacks in the league. He’s also going to get more help from his defense this time around for a lower scoring couple of games. Clark and his back line are capable of one clean sheet this weekend, most likely at home, but if the Chicago attack continues to be out of sorts then two clean sheets are not out of the question.
Cesar Gutierrez covers Major League Soccer for MFST, and you can follow him on Twitter @namcopunk.