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Ben's Fantasy (MLS Fantasy Manager Round 15)

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To Diaz or not to Diaz?

MLS: Real Salt Lake at FC Dallas Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Note: Skip the first six paragraphs to get to the soccer.

We’ll start this off with a little mini-rant that you couldn’t care less about, but it needs to see the light of day lest we see a perfectly good device go to waste via hackery. The use of the adverb literally as a compositional device has gotten out of hand. Without diving into the etymology, the proper use of literally that people are missing out on these days (frequently-I ain’t kiddin’) is a device to establish that a superlative or seemingly boastful claim isn’t mere hyperbole; no, it’s real. Crazy, I know. Here’s an example.

Got it? See how literally takes hyperbole and converts it into a reality and, thus, makes for dramatic expression. This dog is actually as big as a f**king horse! It isn’t just a big dog. It isn’t a dog that’s figuratively as big as a horse. It isn’t literally raining cats and dogs (don’t use literally with idioms). You didn’t literally drop everything in the middle of cleaning your house. You figuratively dropped your broom while cleaning the house (this is banal, inaccurate, superfluous- basically everything wrong with using literally), and you just tricked it up by interjecting the word ‘literally’. Great job!

This is bad enough when you’re just some schmo, but when you’re a PROFESSIONAL GODDAMN WRITER that uses literally like a crutch figuratively all the time, then you literally should go f**k yourself. When I say that, know that this is a fair example of using ‘literally’ when you are not using the expression to suspend disbelief of the fantastic. That’s when you’re using it to describe something absurd and highlighting the absurdity. Outside of that, you’re just wasting time, space, and energy.

I already know this is going to fall on deaf ears. I’m already dreading reading the equivalent of, ‘I literally had to get a manicure in preparation of my 5000 word think piece about this thing everyone is already keen to but only I appreciate to the fullest because they’re literally a bunch of simpletons’. I’m just waiting to hear who could care less.

It’s just so bad though. Has no one ever taken you aside and told you how poor it is? It’s one thing to slip an ill-timed literally in every now and then, but it seems like it’s now a thrice weekly occurrence. Smoking a stinky with a beer every now and again is one thing, but you’re a two pack a day man now. Wew, friendo.

Worse than making your work cliche, writing like this automatically undermines the point you were trying to make. On the bright side, it isn’t as lame as bragging about your word count with a smug tone when your writing has such profoundly embarrassing flaws, but it still seems a little inconsistent with what you probably want to project. Honestly, I can’t believe your editor hasn’t brought this up to you. As bad as it makes you look, it makes them look even worse.


If you’re not checking out r/Fantasy for the community takes, you’re doing it wrong. That’s not to say they’re all good takes. Some of them are pretty lousy. You’re smart enough to sort the wheat from the chafe, so definitely, pop your head in their from time to time to listen in. I bring the Reddit community up because they have a lot of curiosity about Mauro ‘I refuse to call him Magic Little Unicorn because I’m not a Brony’ Diaz. This seems like a good place to start.

The fact that Diaz is traveling means there’s about a 100% chance he’s going to play on Saturday, and with his first assist of the season coming last Saturday, there’s reason to hope he’ll be nearing 100% shortly.

The goal was as clinical as you would like from a 16 year old making his professional debut, and the cross from Mikey Barrios (more on him in a bit) was all but white glove. However, the play all started with a trademark Diaz through ball to find Barrios and leave the defense scrambling and out of sorts. This game was huge for Diaz in that he was given the time and ease of setting to start honing the finer points of his game. The ball control in tight spaces, setting the tempo, and the killer pass were all on display against RSL, and FC Dallas is about to prosper bigly as a result.

With all that being said, I’m going to guess that the chance that he starts in Portland is <10%. Mauro’s still regaining fitness and, despite the fact he’s been in training for over a month, he can probably still use a little more time to get to peak fitness. Also, the turf in Portland, while ‘good turf’, is still probably something to avoid mostly for a player with this kind of injury, and FC Dallas has adapted well to playing without a dedicated attacking mid in a ‘empty bucket’ 4-4-2. Frankly, that’s a good default formation for this team on the road, and I would be surprised if we see a Diaz start before the away match in Houston on the 23rd. Even as a bit of a homer, Mauro’s a huge reach this round- pick another Dallas mid if you favor them against Portland (which I do).


Byrd’s Ballers: (Round 14. 4-0-1, Season 46-19-9)

  1. Nemanja Nikolic F $10.2
  2. Ignacio Piatti M $10.6
  3. Michael Barrios- M $8.4
  4. Gerso Fernandes- M $8.2
  5. Fernando Adi - F $9.6

If you didn’t score in the 150s last round, you probably didn’t improve much. Timo SC’s 177 set the pace for the round but did little to close the gap on Phil and Geoff. It would seem like this isn’t the kind of round where you’d have much variation to make up some ground, but we’ll see.

I’m shorting some name ballers this week- Feilhaber, Valeri, and Adi come to mind instantly. Some of this is down to pure instinct. Some of it has to do with international absences. Finally, some of it has to do with people citing an obvious outlier stat as a ‘trend’. With that in mind, my prime road warriors are Montreal and FC Dallas. Piatti and Barrios will both rack up a number this round- partly due to form, partly to opponents’ absences due to national team callups. For the stretch of game without Diaz, Barrios should take free kicks and corners. Chicago is your home winner, and I expect their usual suspects to contribute.

Finally, I’d be remiss if I didn’t stump for one of the other two home teams, and I’m going to skip the obvious. Despite scoring 2 last round, Valeri has looked off his game lately and hasn’t been taking dead balls. I can see Feilhaber easily getting bundled up and bypassed against Montreal this round, so I’m going Gerso for a goal off of something wildass. Adi’s my last pick, and that’s tied up to his historical performances against Dallas; I don’t feel great about it.

Skinflint’s Specials: (Round 14 4-1-0, Season 35-35-0)

  1. Brandon Vincent D $5.1
  2. Ballou Jean-Yves Tabla M $3.8
  3. Aaron Guillen D $3.8
  4. Walker Hume D $3.9
  5. Kyle Fisher D $4.5

Julian Gressel ($4.4) is an obvious pick here, but this seems like a prime game for him to go less than 60 with a yellow. Vincent’s ceiling is high with Schweinsteiger in Chicago. When ever people say, ‘how could we have been so wrong about Schweinsteiger?’, please know I was never part of that ‘we’. I’m all in on Dallas, and they’ve got some cheap D this week. Fisher is cheap, too and, although I’m not betting on Mon to keep it clean, I’m guessing bonus points will make Fisher worthwhile this round.

Bear in mind, that my picks this round are largely based on how I think the games will play out. I think Chicago wins going away this round, while the other two home teams struggle. Handicap the games this week and choose your winners accordingly. Best of luck, gang.

Complaints, comments, suggestions, slang? Email bmlyon (at)