Last week wrapped the ‘Spring Season’ for MLS’s fantasy game. All honors and glory go to MILLERtime When WYNNE’n for finishing atop our table (although I’m sure they’re enjoying the 14th overall finish and DCU fans league championship that comes with a nice $200 gift card). 10 teams finished in the Top 100 overall, so we’ve got a pretty stout league, but that’s all meaningless now with salaries and points reset for a new season and another round of prizes to give away. The ‘clausura’ in the MLS game is only 12 weeks long, so it’s a good chance for the attention span deprived to take a shot at beating the experts, hacks, and the perpetually fortunate.
With that in mind, here’s a note to the new or newly serious; you need to start here with the season primer I wrote back in March. There you’ll find helpful links to all of the switcheroo variants, leagues to join, and I nice preseason Gyasi Zardes tout. If you want to skip all that and just familiarize yourself with the various switcheroo options (and you should do that at a minimum), then go here.
The remainder of this is for all audiences and will be key to getting out of the gate fast in the clausura. I finished last season with a budget around $150 million. With the reset back to $100 million, you can’t just load up on top shelf players out of the gate. Because of the weird valuation algorithm this year, it became clear in the early weeks of the apertura that picking players who might not necessarily rack up big points but were likely to gain salary hikes would be key. You can read about that here, or just consider these 10 value plays who I think will gain value this round.
Michael Barrios: This may seem like chasing points, but that hat trick really brought up his 3 week average (8pts) and 5 week average (5.6). He won’t get a hat trick again this week, but a home match against San Jose’s leaky defense is still pretty tasty. That and his low starting clausura salary ($7) means he could be a gainer for weeks to come. Remember this guy?
That week change was after scoring 0 points in 45 minutes. Zero. The same should apply to Barrios for at least this round. Speaking of Swiss defenders...
Philippe Senderos: Because of injuries, that 0 point game hasn’t even dropped off for him yet. It will the next time he plays though. He’s a guaranteed price rise in games he plays for the foreseeable future and is reasonable at $6 million. He is an injury concern, however, so have plan B lined up if he’s a scratch (Valentin and Glad are both decent options at that price).
Reto Ziegler: I used plural, did I not? Unlike Senderos, Ziegler isn’t quite a guarantee to rise the full max this week. That said, he’s reasonable at $6, has a good shot at a clean sheet, and also takes some free kicks and (now that Lamah tanked his chance) probably all of Dallas’s penalty kicks for the foreseeable future. If he hits his double digit potential this weekend, he’ll be a fast riser.
Kellyn Acosta: Ziegler’s former teammate has 2 goals in his last 3 matches and seems like he’ll be in a more offensive role with Crapids. You might not see him taking all the penalty kicks after last weekend’s doink, but you’ll definitely see him taking free kicks and corners for his new team and LA’s defense has been far from stingy. The $7.5 salary charge makes this under the radar play tempting.
Jonathan Lewis: Let’s say you decide to go for a cheap cleansheet (Miles Robinson- $4.5) or a non-Martinez/Almiron goal/assist (Julian Gressel- $8.5). You’ll need a cheap fallback option if those switcheroos don’t pan out. Lewis has a goal or an assist in 4 of his last 5 matches. The problem is that those are all substitute appearances. Will this be the week he breaks into NYCFC’s XI? If so, you’re almost certain to bank a price rise with great upside (home match against the 2nd worst defense in the league) for the price.
Saphir Taider: Taider is a higher priced, low floor option with a nice home matchup against a team with a bad defense (DC United). If he produces an average home performance (6 points), he’ll qualify as a decent start, be relatively good value for the price, and get you a price rise to pad that bank. In my estimation, he’s the best play in this price range ($9-9.5) this weekend.
Mark Rzatkowski: A poor man’s Taider ($7m) with good weekly averages, this Polish plug in will also have a donut drop off this round and has the added value of being a late week player you can use if your switcheroos don’t score. He’s likely to gain value regardless of whether he starts or not, and he takes corners and free kicks when he’s in the lineup. If you end up cleaning up on your switcheroos, then you can plan to buy up for Kaku ($11m) who also seems likely for a rise after this weekend.
Julio Cascante: Cascante is the cheapest Portland defender, does a reasonable job of collecting bonus points, will probably get a healthy price rise after this week, and is the 2nd to last game on the schedule (optimal for switcheroo purposes)- pretty straight forward.
Mohammed El-Munir: More like Mohammed El-Medranda, amirite? New Orlando coach James O’Connor played El-Munir in an attacking role against LA last weekend, and you know what, it looked pretty good. An Orlando defender seems like a disaster waiting to happen, but if he’s playing in an advanced role shooting up the joint like Carlos Rivas again; 60 minutes, a defender goal, and a natural Medranda would be worth 13 points out of a $5 mill player. Hmm....
Josef Martinez/Darwin Quintero: Ok, it’s 11 players, and they’re not all cheapies. They’re both the same price, and they’re both similar levels of torrid. You’ll get the full $500k rise out of either even if they lay an egg. You could afford both if you go really bare bones everywhere else, but then you’ll miss out on potential bank gains, and that’s kind of the whole point of this write up. Hopefully, you pick the one that doesn’t tank and make the bank you need to make in the next 2-3 weeks not to worry about it.
Oh, and before I forget- Gambling*!
FCD -1 -155
MNU Pick -150
COL Pick Even (+100)
NYC/VAN O3 -145
Previous weeks’ picks: 3-2 Season: 18-12-2
Good luck, fellow degenerates.
*- Odds courtesy of Bovada. For Entertainment Purposes Only!