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MLS Fantasy Fisticuffs: Round 11

All Giovinco all the time.

Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

Fantasy Fisticuffs pits angry combatants head-to-head in an MLS Fantasy soccer showdown. Each week, Phil and Ben argue over which players will perform. The stakes are high. The competitor whose team scores the fewer amount of points through Round 27 (September 3rd) will have to endure two laps of shaming around the Toyota Stadium concourse, Cersei Lannister style (though probably not nude)! Join our league using the code 35-1619 to follow along. After 10 rounds, it's all tied at 906*- good thing it doesn't have to go to the judges.

Round 10 Review

Round 10 provided a bounty of points, and several BDS-leaguers broke the 130 mark last round. Etan Cohn and his eponymous Etan United FC topped all scorers (good job, dude) with 147 while I was able to slide into the BDS lead while reaching a season-high 3rd in the overall rankings. Oddly, I'm only 2nd in the FC Dallas division, so shout out to Wesley Moorman and trolltollcrew if you're reading.

Most of my DGW suggestions last week were good. The notable exception was Vancouver, who won twice, scored 6 goals, and placed 3 players (Ousted, Morales, Manneh) on the team of the week. Hey, nobody's perfect.

Round 11: Fight!

No jousting with Phil again this week, but I will fight at least one notion this week- namely, you can't afford to have a few decent bench options. Back in Round 7, Kaka was a scratch on the Saturday of game week, and there was an inordinate amount of crying about captaining the player and not having anyone with which to replace him. I'm not going get on my horse lecturing about captaining a player with a Sunday game. Or a player who's playing on the road. Or an older player. Or an older player with an injury history. Or, well, you get my point. Captaining Kaka in Round 7 had several elements of risk. Sorry if you were effected, but I certainly didn't recommend giving him the armband.

The thing is, with 24 hours notice, practically everyone could have gotten captain points from another player. Even if you were doing something productive or fulfilling with your weekend (yeah right), you could have been set up to have an autosub fill his place so all wouldn't have been lost. In about 5 minutes, I came up with a lineup that would have kept forlorn Ricky owners from having to take a donut that week. It looks like this:

Two GKs. $11. Bush and McMath= 10.8 Two Sheep. $9. Guillen and Polk= 8.5

Base D. $18. Campbell, Dia, Sjoberg= 16.8

Studs. 5 at avg of $10 per. $50. Giovinco, Valeri, Urruti, Plata, Barrios= 48.8

Core and Subs. 4 at avg of 8.5 per. Alonso, Fagundez, McNamara, Aird= 30.6.

This was created at valuation for a full 16 before round 8. I came in 4.5 under budget for all of my categories, and I didn't even give myself slush. That's a team with 2 functional subs that took me about 5 minutes to construct. I didn't cherrypick- it is far from the only permutation to build your roster like this.

I took it a step forward. How would this team perform? I made no transfers. I captained Giovinco every week. The base lineup every week is a 3-4-3. Aird's on the bench except for DGWs. The midfielder with the worst matchup that week is the 1st sub, and the goalies rotate based on best matchup. Here's how Ghost Ship United's peformed as of last round:

Score by round 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Goalie 5 9 5 7 8 9 2 8 7 11
Giovinco 22 26 8 8 16 18 28 24 18 40 208
D1 3 6 3 15 4 3 5 3 8 0
D2 1 4 9 6 8 3 9 10 2 9
D3 2 1 3 4 3 6 8 3 0 8
M1 13 5 8 9 7 5 1 0 4 16
M2 6 9 5 8 7 4 6 5 3 10
M3 4 4 3 15 3 14 7 14 7 3
M4 17 4 2 11 4 1 3 8 7 5
F1 8 2 8 15 3 14 2 3 1 1
F2 13 9 7 8 10 7 0 2 2 2
94 79 61 106 73 84 71 80 68 115 831
Overall Rank:245
BDS Rank: 7

Not bad, right? Ok, calling it 'Ghost Ship United' is kind of a misnomer; I did have to make some basic substitutions every week. I also had the power of hindsight available for creating this team, although I have to stress, I put this together in about 5 minutes. There's easily several combinations of players that could have been exchanged into this hypothetical team to make the results better. Here are a few takeaways from this little experiment.

1. You have to have Giovinco on your team. And you probably want to captain him every week. Ok, that's an exaggeration, and I have to say that I skipped out on him during the road trip. Through Round 8, I only ended up gaining 30 points by captaining someone other than Sebastian Giovinco every week. That was at the expense of several transfers and some squad value, so I'm really not sure it was even worth it. I might still have my wild card if I had started the season with him. It's hard to complain with where I am at this point in the season, but I'm not certain skipping out on Gio's 8 game road trip was totally worth it.

Giovinco's pricey ($12.7), and despite not being included in the initial training camp, I still think he's leaving after this weekend to join Italy for Euro 2016. Despite all of that, his ownership (currently at 70%) should be 100%. His floor as your captain this round is 16. His ceiling is around 100. You don't have to read anything beyond this; avoid Giovinco with the captain's arm band at your own peril. He's probably going to put up a 'Yuge' number this round.

2. You can have subs. No, really! Here's a sampling: Matt Lampson (G-$4.7), Jonathan Campbell (D-$5.3), RJ Allen (D-$5.3), Tsubasa Endoh (M-$5.3), Mo Babouli (F-$4.8). There's 5 for starters- they'll all probably play twice this week! They come at near sheep prices, but you can stick these guys on your bench for the next month and feel fairly safe that you've got a scoring backup plan at a low price. There's several long term options at this point that insure against disappearing acts like Kaka (M-$10.8) and Mauro Diaz (M-$10.9). One would be wise to round out there roster with some cheap insurance.

3. Ozzie Alonso is the 9th highest scoring midfielder this year. I might have to add him. If for no other reason, he's a steady switcheroo option at a reasonable price. Seattle is more prone to play late, so he can always be the 1st option off the bench. He isn't a high ceiling player, but his floor so far this season is 4 (once, the rest 5+). He hasn't been getting carded as much in previous years. He almost always gets the passing bonus has gotten at least one passing bonus point every game this year on top of whatever other bonus points he earns. He's 9th in scoring despite only notching a goal and an assist. He averages 5.8 at home. He averages 6.8 on the road. The venue doesn't matter, and he's only got one more bye this year. Ok, I'm assuming he'll get a yellow card suspension at some point so he'll likely miss another game, but if he stays healthy, you might not have to mess with any transfers managing his roster slot for the rest of the season. It's food for thought which I'll re-visit before Round19 (unlimited transfers) at the very least.

Round 11: Final Thoughts

Your DGW teams this week are New York Red Bulls, Toronto, NYCFC, and Chicago (again). Of these teams, only NYCFC plays during the massive bye week in Round 13, so keep that in mind. My toughest decision this week is whether or not to bring in Giovani Dos Santos (F-$11.4). His decision to skip the Copa America is kind of a head-scratcher especially given his current form. He's averaged a goal and an assist per game over the last 5 rounds and is the hottest player not named Giovinco. GDS and LA also play in Round 13. The question isn't can you afford him. The question is can you afford not to have him.