MLS Fantasy Manager week 29
MLS Fantasy Manager week 29 brings with it a few high-octane matches between the teams playing twice this round. All six teams have lit up the scoreboards lately and that’s not going to stop this week. Everybody is back from international duty so all players are available this round.
TOP FORWARD PICKS
Didier Drogba, Montreal Impact, $10.2
Didier Drogba’s arrival in MLS has been heralded by many but it wasn’t until he got his feet settled that he started to make an impact for Montreal. His last game against Los Angeles was scoreless but before that he had a hat trick against Chicago Fire. Drogba is an older player without the legs he once had but he makes up for it with his knowledge of the position and the game. Montreal have two tough matches this week against San José and New England so the team will need him. I doubt he’ll play the full-90 each match but a super sub appearance in one match and start in the other are not out of the question. If the Impact want to make the playoffs, they need four points from these matches and Drogba will help with that push.
Jozy Altidore, Toronto F.C., $9.7
Jozy Altidore is finally finding his form after a rough summer filled with absences and injuries. It took the work of multiple squads and coaches but he’s back to where he was before he injured a hamstring at last year’s World Cup. Toronto faces a struggling New York City F.C. squad that cannot find its footing, even with all of its stars, and the inconsistent Colorado Rapids who are playing like they’re not sure if they want to make the playoffs or not. Altidore is more than capable of eating both teams alive especially if the T.F.C. midfield can impose their will on the older midfield of N.Y.C.F.C. and inexperienced midfield of Colorado to set him up for goals. It was a high paced, high scoring game the last time T.F.C. played N.Y.C.F.C. and that won’t change this time around especially with N.Y.C.F.C.’s horrible defense. The Colorado game will more than likely be lower scoring due to their heavily defensive tactics but I don’t foresee this game ending as a 0-0 draw.
Juan Agudelo, New England Revolution, $8.6
I’m not surprised by Juan Agudelo’s lack of playing time as a starter because he’s playing behind better strikers that better fit the system New England uses. He also lacks some of the maturity and knowledge of the game that could propel him to the next level. But, he’s still putting up great numbers for a forward who comes off the bench almost every game for a relatively inexpensive fantasy price. He’s going to see significant playing time this week with two key conference match-ups with New York Red Bulls and Montreal Impact. I’m not sure he’s going to do much damage against N.Y.R.B. only because their defense is playing amazing right now (though, I could be wrong with how unpredictable this league is). The match in Montreal, even on the road, leaves itself to being a more wide open affair with both teams trying to see who can score off the most throughballs or counters. The Montreal game will be more offensive if only because both teams are closer to the same level of style and play. Agudelo will find a way to play role in either match but how much a role he plays in the weekend match depends on how well he does in the midweek match.
TOP MIDFIELD PICKS
Michael Bradley, Toronto F.C., $10.8
Michael Bradley is quietly having a solid year. His numbers don’t show the type of year he is having only because of matches missed due to international duty. I don’t think he’d be putting up the same numbers that Sebastian Giovinco is if he was around more but I do think his absences and the pressure are reflected in the numbers. This week will be another big week for the Toronto F.C. midfield because they match up so well against both of their opponents as mentioned before in this column. Bradley and his midfield will just simply outlast the high-priced old guys of N.Y.C.F.C. (who should be starting Poku instead of Lampard but haven’t been) and will outsmart Colorado. Bradley will set up many a great play and it will show in his numbers by the end of Sunday night.
Fatai Alashe, San José Earthquakes, $4.8
Fatai Alashe is one of the best buys right now because of his output and price. He’s a U-23 prospect for the U.S. Men’s national team while also growing into a constant starter for a team that is still very much in the playoff race even if they aren’t in a playoff spot right now. He’s fast, has great control and is getting smarter every game. He’s going to see significant minutes this week with San José playing twice. The Earthquakes have been surprising a lot of people with some of their convincing road victories against strong teams. It’s further proof of how unpredictable MLS is. Alashe will continue to play a key role this week while they try to stay alive. Their games aren’t going to go through Alashe but don’t be surprised if he comes away with some key passes and goals to add up to big points.
Diego Fagundez, New England Revolution, $7.5
Diego Fagundez improves every year even if his immaturity gets in the way at times. He’s really hit his stride the past few games and I don’t see that changing with the next two. He could see some time on the bench if only to save his legs a little for the last month of the season coming up but the New England attack will still heavily rely on him. The New York match will be tough on him because of how physical their defense is but he should fare better against Montreal. He’s going to come up big either way. Don’t be surprised if he ends up with both goals and assists for a lot of points.
TOP DEFENSIVE PICKS
Justin Morrow, Toronto F.C., $6.1
Justin Morrow and the Toronto F.C. defense have their work cut out for them against the high scoring N.Y.C.F.C. attack. This match-up will test his playing and mental abilities as he fights to keep the wheels from coming off T.F.C. bus against a team that makes up for their lack of defense by trying to score as much and as quick as possible. Morrow should fare better against Colorado even with them playing so much better lately. If he can find a way to help keep the score respectable in either game then he won’t lose any points and earn plenty of defending bonuses for clearance upon clearance.
Donny Toia, Montreal Impact, $5.1
Donny Toia’s speed and passing ability are key to what will be a high point total this week. He must contribute to the attack heavily in San José to give Montreal any chance of leaving the Bay Area with any points. He won’t have a problem picking up defending bonuses in this match because he’s going to have to make plenty of clearances while marking a speedy midfield. New England is also going to come at Montreal with everything which means the Impact will have to reciprocate by sending Toia forward. This second match has the potential to be high scoring and the only way for Toia to offset the amount of points he will lose on goals scored is to continue his contribution to the attack with his passing and speed. He’s going to find away to leave his mark on each match come hell or high water.
Andrew Farrell, New England Revolution, $8.3
Farrell gets another pick this week because of how much of a key he is to the success to the New England back line. I’ve said it before in this column that New England is going to have a time this week trying to keep both Red Bulls and Impact under control. This doesn’t mean that Farrell has to keep the score low for his team to find success but he’s going to have to step up to keep his team ahead. He’ll pick up plenty of defending bonuses as well to make up for two games that could total between four and six goals each game between the two teams. Farrell’s strength and size will decide how few of those goals will be scored by his opponent.
GOALKEEPER PICK OF THE WEEK
Bobby Shuttleworth, New Enlgand Revolution, $5.4
Bobby Shuttleworth will have to stand on his head this weekend. He’s not having nearly as good as a year as he did in 2014 but that’s as much his midfield’s fault as it is his. It’s been a rough year for a team that doesn’t like to defend in the middle of the park when Jermaine Jones is out of the line-up. Shuttleworth is going to see a lot of shots come his way this week especially if his opponents continue to earn free kicks and penalty kicks at as high a rate as they have been. He could easily lose both games but he’s going to have to make a lot of saves in the process and that will make up for any clean sheet points lost if he can help keep his opponents score below three. He’s capable of big moments and I foresee him having them this week.
Cesar Gutierrez covers MLS for MFST, you can follow him on Twitter @namcopunk