It’s an early week for MLS Fantasy Manager this round with games on Wednesday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Columbus Crew SC and Vancouver Whitecaps both have two games this week while Chicago Fire and Toronto FC are both on bye. Make sure to get changes in by Wednesday 10 PM EDT and don’t forget to check the injury report.

 TOP FORWARD PICKS

Octavio Rivero, Vancouver Whitecaps, $8.8

Rivero makes another appearance on my fantasy picks list this week partly due to his form but mainly because top of the Western Conference Vancouver are playing two games this week. Coaches do like to rest starters during two-game weeks but the way he’s been playing I doubt he will sit out any game entirely. His offensive production is high, add the opportunities from two games to that form and there’s no way anyone should leave him off of their team this week.

Bradley Wright-Phillips, New York Red Bulls, $10.9

Bradley Wright-Phillips is rested this week since New York Red Bulls are coming off a bye week. He has two goals and two assists in three appearances for a team that is the only unbeaten left in the Eastern Conference. He doesn’t have Thierry Henry to set him up for goals this year but he is still finding a way to put the ball in the back of the net which means his he’s not just a fluke. Expect him to keep contributing big numbers this weekend when NYRB travel to hated rivals DC United.

David Villa, New York City FC, $10.2

David Villa is returning after two weeks off due to an injury and a bye. He’ll be lining up against a Philadelphia team that has had a shaky defense and even worse goalkeeping. Philadelphia has benched goalkeeper Rais Mbolhi but that won’t fix their other issues, I expect Villa to take full advantage of those defensive lapses and misunderstandings.

TOP MIDFIELD PICKS

Kelyn Rowe, New England Revolution, $8.8

Rowe has stepped up big for a midfield missing its top star in Jermain Jones. It’s hard to replace the leadership or ability of a World Cup star but Rowe has at least been able to replace his output with some good numbers in his appearances this season. New England welcomes Columbus Crew SC after Columbus has already played a midweek game—fatigue will factor in to this one. Rowe has already picked apart San José and Colorado, he’s going to play a big part in any goal NE scores this weekend. He’s a smart pick up especially at his current price.

Pedro Morales, Vancouver Whitecaps, $11.3

Morales is on the expensive side but he’s also produced this season. Add his production to two games this week and, just like his teammate Rivero, he’s a safe pick. Morales hasn’t scored yet but he has three assists with three clean sheets which add up in the long run. Vancouver’s first game this week is against Columbus, another team playing two games this week, but they haven’t produced offensively. Their game against San José will be tougher but I expect them to keep in form.

Darlington Nagbe, Portland Timbers, $8.5

Darlington Nagbe has been quietly returning to his 2013 form with each game. He hasn’t put up big numbers during any games this season but he also comes at a much cheaper price than those who have. This week Portland plays at home against expansion side Orlando City SC who have lost a couple of games in stoppage time at home. Nagbe is an explosive player who is capable of coming up big when his team needs him. Fantasy soccer is all about finding that one player who has a big week—I think this week will be his.

DEFENSIVE PICKS

Kendall Waston, Vancouver Whitecaps, $8.7

Kendall Waston, another Vancouver Whitecap, has come up big for a defense that is nigh impenetrable this season. He hasn’t had any goals or assists but his defending bonuses and clean sheets have made up for that. He is capable of getting forward to contribute on set pieces or crosses which I think will happen against one of his two opponents this week.

Matt Hedges, FC Dallas, $9.1

Matt Hedges had a tough game against Portland last week but goes up against the worst offense in the league this week against Colorado Rapids. The FCD captain has been a constant in an ever-changing back line finally rounding in to consistency with some key players coming back from injuries. He’s fast, big, and can clear any cross coming from the wings or score as a set-piece target. Colorado still has yet to score a goal this season and Hedges is going to help contribute to that scoreless streak.

Jamison Olave, Real Salt Lake, $8.3

Olave is another player who has quietly put together a solid run this year as one of the top five points earners for defenders. He isn’t underrated or unknown, he just isn’t as popular or high-priced as some of his defensive counterparts in the league. He has a tough task against him as RSL travels to Kansas City but that doesn’t mean SKC will play as tough as they did in the last week. This is a conference game against one of the toughest teams in the league for SKC, Olave will continue their offensive troubles.

Goalkeeper Pick of the Week

Chris Seitz, FC Dallas, $5.1

FC Dallas plays Colorado Rapids this week, should there be any other reason to pick up Seitz? No but there are plenty. His numbers are partly because of their solid defense but that doesn’t take away from his ability. He’s dependable, isn’t susceptible to blunders, and doesn’t make mistakes because of aggressive play. He is the top points earner this season for goalkeepers, for his price he’s a great pick-up to keep around beyond week six.

Bargain Picks

Any Player for Columbus Crew SC

I know this is a broad stroke but hear me out on this: Columbus Crew SC only has one player this week priced above $8.1 (Federico Higuain, $10.1, is only eligible for one game this week due to red card suspension) and they play twice in round six. Check out their fantasy roster stats and it’s in the numbers—the team is in the bottom half of the conference but they produce decent points. Most weeks they won’t win you the round but they will need to get big minutes from a shallow roster because of the quick turn-around. Kei Kamara ($8.0), Hernan Grana ($6.5), Michael Parkhurst ($7.9), and even the questionable Will Trapp ($7.1) all have the chance to come up big this week. If they don’t produce for these two games, they’re nice to have around as subs for their listed prices.

For more news, rumors, and analysis follow me on Twitter @namcopunk or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/namcopunk.

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