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MLS Fantasy Fisticuffs: Round 19

Trevor Ruszkowski-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.

It was low scores around for the one game round. The average score was 27, but Bethany McNeese's Metroplex Stars managed to double that to score high round for the week in the BigDSoccer league. Overall, I've managed to retain the lead here and in the uber competition, but I can feel the hot breath of Phil Luetchford and a dozen angry partisans singing my unkempt neck hair, so on top of needing a hair cut, I need to get my act together.

Round 18 Review:

It was a round of crap. I ended up taking a -8 to bring my team to full strength, and the combination of Aurelien Collin (D-$7.8) and Michael De Leeuw (F- $9.0) (and a punt if there ever was one) ended up netting me an extra 5 points after the penalty. The problem was that with Sacha Kjlestan (M-$12.0) sitting the whole and Mauro Diaz (M-$11.3) not playing, I still ended up short a player, and it could have been worse. For Phil, it was worse. While he was chasing a miscreant bear who ran off with his pic-in-nic basket, he took 2 zeros including one from his captain, Sebastian Giovinco (F- $13.0).

The lesson learned here is to expect some rotation and have 4 or 5 defenders ready when we repeat the one day round in Round 25. Defenders are less likely to rotate, and you should be able to count on them starting 2 games in a week (especially younger central defenders). Also, it's good to put your eggs in the basket of teams playing the early kickoffs so you'll see what kind of player rotation they're employing. You'll have an extra 2 teams to choose from this round, but you will not get unlimited transfers after that round. Montreal, Philly, Toronto, and OCSC all kick off early, as well as Columbus and DC United who will be good adds that round because of their late season schedule. File that information away for safe keeping.

Round 19: Fight!

Right off the bat, let's dig into the schedule, shall we:

Teams Games DGWs Bye Round(s) USOC CCL
CHI 17 31 0 Yes No
COL 16 32 25 No No
CMB 16 31 22 No No
DCU 16 31 32 No No
HOU 16 32 27 Yes No
LAG 16 28 32 Yes No
MON 16 28, 31 27,32 No No
OCSC 16 28, 31 27, 32 No No
SJE 16 31 27 No No
SEA 16 31 27 Yes No
TOR 16 22, 31 27, 32 No No
NER 15 0 32 Yes No
PHI 15 0 32 Yes No
RSL 15 22, 28 25, 27, 32 No No
NYCFC 14 0 25,32 No No
NYRB 14 0 25,32 No Yes
POR 14 0 25, 32 No Yes
VAN 14 0 25, 32 No Yes*
FCD 13 0 22, 25, 32 Yes Yes
SKC 13 0 25, 27, 32 No Yes*

Immediately, you'll notice that the CCL teams all have significantly fewer games left than the rest of the league. That won't stop me from having Mauro Diaz (M-$11.3) and Maxi Urruti (F- $8.5) on my team this round. Mauro is too good to miss this round, and Maxi's hit the post 5 times this year. I think those turn to goals this round against the tire fire that is the tired Fire. Speaking of the smoldering embers, I'm avoiding them this round, but David Accam (M-$9.2) and Jonathan Campbell (D-$5.1) could be good adds once the Round 22 bye hits. That's not a massive bye round, but you may be able to set and forget those players until the Wild Card Round in round 33.

Honestly, best practice starting out is going with home teams who are done with other competitions. If they're facing a team that played midweek (Hello Union!), all the better. Just be wary of the early bye in 3 rounds for Columbus and FC Dallas, be aware that RSL and TFC both have DGW's that round, be aware of the massive bye round in Round 25, and you should be ok. Rounds 25 and 27 will be tricky to navigate due to the fact only 6 teams will play both rounds (you can see the full schedule here). I'd advise setting your team up as much as possible to avoid making 2 transfers next round. If you can carry that extra transfer over into 3 free in Round 25 (or even Round 27), you will be sitting pretty while your competitors scramble and tear their hair out.

Picks to click 2nd half:

Forwards- Didier Drogba (F- $12.1) is fresh and little-owned at this point and was an absolute monster this time last year. He'll be fresh Saturday for a home date with NYCFC. Sebastian Giovinco (F- $13.0) is the only player in MLS that can generate 'concern' while still averaging almost a goal or an assist per game. With apologies to Ola Kamara (F- $8.6), Shkelzen Gashi (F- $9.3) gets you bonus points and should take penalties for Colorado in most cases. Of course there are other premium players who'll be great in the 2nd half, but I wanted to give you a more budget-friendly option.

Midfielders: In Mauro Diaz (M-$11.3) and Diego Valeri (M-$11.0), you have 2 of the 3 highest ppg producers in the game. Ignacio Piatti's (M-$11.1) the 3rd, but with an impending suspension and his dependency on goals scored, he simply isn't in the same strata. Valeri may not play this weekend due to an ankle injury, but I'm rostering him just in case.

For budget friendly options, Roland Alberg (M-$8.6)is effectively playing the '10' for Union. He's taking PKs too, so he's going to produce at that price. You love what Ozzie Alonso (M-$9.2) is doing, but for a slight drop in production at a huge reduction in price, you get Michael Azira (M-$5.5). "The poor man's Alonso" has the same floor with a lower ceiling, but is exactly the kind of budget player you can use for switcheroo or emergency sub purposes.

Defenders: All young and all gloriously cheap- you can rely on these guys to start and they've all scored reasonably well. For Daniel Steres (D-$5.4) you have to worry about an upcoming suspension if he gets carded against Houston tonight. With Axel Sjoberg (D-$6.1) you have to worry about a broken hand and 3 games before the suspension, but he's a top scorer. Walker Zimmerman (D-$6.6) is THE top scoring defender, but has a bye in Round 22. There's a plethora of other cheap options, but when it comes to consistency and reliability, I'll take Keegan Rosenberry (D-$5.7).

Goalkeepers: You might think that you'd want to take Nick Rimando (G-$6.2) or Alex Bono (G-$4.5) this round because of potential DGWs in Round 22. With Rimando likely to rest a game, and with Clint Irwin (G-$5.7) likely to return about this time, I'm going with the cheap combo of Andre Blake (G-$5.0) and Brian Rowe (G-$5.0). Neither have a DGW soon, but their home date rotation is good, they're both on good teams, and the price is right.

Final Thoughts:

You're going to want to round out your team with at least a couple of cheap players. Now, you could embrace the strategy of picking up a guy like Jordan Hamilton (F- $5.1) or Femi-Hollinger Janzen (F- $4.5) so in the event of a mystery injury, maybe you'll end up with a point or two. If you want to employ a 'Switcheroo' strategy, then it's preferable to find guys who won't play and get to the not playing part late in the week.

I'm going to use 2 sheep, and since the combination of sheep from San Jose and Seattle will give me a switcheroo option in 11 of the 13 rounds between now and Round 32, those sheep will be Kip Colvey (D-$4.3)and Andy Craven (F- $4.5). I'm using 2 so that I have an extra bench sub (never know when that will come in handy, amirite).

If you're greedy, and you're ok with just one bona fide sub, then a combination of Seattle, Houston, and Portland is your best bet. Now remember, this will keep you from fielding 5 viable midfielders; but if you choose this route, your optimal sheep are Christian Lucatero (M-$4.5), Andy Craven (F- $4.5), and Andy Thoma (D-$4.5). Sick of reading? So am I- now let's go win some gift cards!