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's the final round of the Fantasy Fisticuffs wager and it's coming down to the wire. Ben leads by a paltry 17 points! Certainly, Phil has a shot to steal the title at the buzzer, especially with Giovinco’s injury meaning that rosters will become more variable.
Congratulations are in order for our Round 26 Big D Soccer high scorer, Etan Cohn! He made the risky move of captaining Lodeiro over Gio, and Nic came through with a goal. Plus, he's a true blue (and red) FC Dallas fan by including the 2-goal scorer Barrios in his squad.
Phil: Don't tell Ben, but I'm wildcarding this round. Maybe I can sneak up from behind in the last week of our wager. I thought I had planned ahead for this big bye week. I made a minor miscalculation when I forgot that my only playable goalie, Andre Blake, would be away on international duty. But then Gerrard got injured. Kljestan was finally called up by Der Klinsy (who will probably waste him at CB or something). I was down to 6 players! At that point, I started looking into wildcarding a round earlier than planned
Ben: Dude, I know you’re wildcarding, and you won’t be alone. Injuries to Sebastian Giovinco and Steven Gerrard as well as a slew of international call ups have left many rosters shy of a full deck. I’ve got 8 if you include Ola Kamara and Robbie Keane- pretty dicey. I’m going to roll with what I’ve got since I have 3 free transfers. If Phil does manage to catch me, I’ll only have myself to blame. In Round 22, I gave the endorsement to Patrick Mullins and went Kamara instead. Had I displayed the guts I had earlier in the season, then I’d be a lot less nervous heading into this weekend. Welp- here goes!
Phil: The defender picks seem like they are the same as they are every week. Steres, Sjoberg, Rosenberry, Campbell. And stash Glad or Camara on your bench for next week’s DGW.
Rowe makes perfect sense in goal. My fantasy buddy Mike Denton (@MikeDatTiger) alerted me to the bargain pick of Andrew Tarbell (SJ’s new starter with Bingham injured), who will rotate well.
Ben: I worry about Glad getting benched at any minute. If he’s your 4th or 5th, that’s fine. I own Campbell and hope I never play him. I’ve owned him 2 weeks, and he’s only been forced in when the bench ran out of options (big fat zero there!).
FC Dallas has the next 2 at home, and Walker Zimmerman’s been a real peach. If you’ve been priced out of Zim’s services, Atiba Harris is a nice alternative. He’s cheaper, been a reasonable scorer as of late (a little over 5 a game over the last 4), and you don’t have to worry about a yellow card suspension since he just served one.
Phil: Lodeiro’s gone. Kljestan’s gone. Gerrard’s injured. Piatti’s on a bye (stash him for next round if you can). Who's left? Perhaps Fat Frank or Pinot Pirlo? Well, there's always Valeri, and he's going up against a Gruezo and Acosta-less Dallas midfield.
Speaking of Dallas midfield, should you go with Diaz or Barrios? I'd still lean Magic Mauro, since Mikey is goal-dependent, but maybe Ben sees through my Diaz super fandom and has a different opinion.
Ben: I’m tempted to take both, and I very well may double my Dallas this round. If you’re wildcarding this round, I say go for it. Since I’m thin on the roster side, I’m probably going with the sure thing on Thursday. NYCFC plays a vulnerable DC United (leaky on the road) at Yankee Stadium. I’ll be picking between Lampard, Jack Harrison, and Tommy McNamara - we’ll wait for the lineups, but they’re all stout performers at home.
Phil: At forward, I feel like everyone should want to have Villa, BWP, and Patrick Mullins. And stash Yura or Plata if possible.
Ben: I’m onboard with Villa, but I wonder how much Wright-Phillips misses Kljestan’s influence this round. Mullins may have scored a hat trick last round, but he was a much more attractive option a few weeks ago. DC’s next 3 are on the road, and I’m not at all sold on them generating enough attack for him to score regularly over that time. If you can use him as a switcheroo or afford him as a sub, go for it- Rounds 30 and 31 set up well for him if he doesn’t pull a Will Bruin after a hot streak (like he has before).
I’m keeping Keane around, and I’ll be interested to see how he comes through in his ad hoc testimonial for the Irish National Team against Oman today. He’s been disappointing lately, but I think he’s due, and the matchup against Columbus is juicy.
If you want to go off the beaten path a bit, Michael De Leeuw is intriguing as the budget striker this round. De Leeuw is locked in as the starter, and he’s definitely exhibited signs of his Eredivisie class. Philly’s D will be vulnerable with the absences of Andre Blake and Alejandro Bedoya, and Chicago won’t have a bye from here on out. Their next 3 are at home, and they’ve even got a DGW in what will be a very busy Round 31.
Lineups lock on Thursday at 6pm. Good luck!