Some interesting variables are in place this week, with only 10 teams playing, an International break and the free Wild Card. Be sure to plan for the weeks ahead when you choose your players.
Last week was the second in a row that I got the captain choice wrong and I paid the price, stumbling from 72nd overall to 121st. The good news is that there are only 16 points to get back to where I was and 30 to make up to get into the top 50. This wild card and setting our teams up for the last seven matches this season will be key. With that being said, here are my thoughts for the week:
The red hot San Jose Earthquakes have an upcoming schedule that teams dream about. Home games in 5 of their next 6 matches. Load up on their players and reap the harvest. Montreal Impact and Toronto FC also enjoy some favorable fixtures ahead, but their squads are harder to predict and their form less certain. It appears that Sebastian Giovinco might sit this week's match at Seattle out with a calf injury. Keep an eye on his status and by all means be sure to leave a plan to incorporate him into your side, salary wise, when he is ready.
Also, be careful not to select any players on International duty this week. It's a good idea to make sure you have 11 certain starters as you utilize your wild card. Reddit MLS Fantasy offers an excellent ongoing and updated discussion here.
With that as a preface, let's take a look at this week's selections, with an eye heading forward.
David Bingham would be the top overall player I would recommend to get on your team. He leads all goalkeepers with 142 total points, tied for 4th overall. As mentioned above, there are many attractive fixtures approaching for San Jose.
Bobby Shuttleworth is also a great option. New England has been on a roll recently and has a great fixture at home against Orlando City, missing their key attacking options, Cyle Larin and Kaka.
Jesse Gonzalez has stepped in for Dallas and delivered 12 points in his last two matches. Priced at 4.1, he will be my second goalkeeper heading forth. This will free up cash for other areas.
Clarence Goodson, Victor Bernardez and Shaun Francis each would be an excellent selection for the matches ahead, each with budgetary considerations.
Donny Toia, of Montreal, is a bargain at 5.0 and has two double game weeks approaching. It will be hard to determine the impact (no pun intended) of the recent coaching change in Montreal, but he will be on my side.
Eric Gehrig remains an attractive option, priced at only 5.1. Matt Polster is also, but remember he will not start this upcoming weekend having duty with the USA Under 23 team.
Jose Goncalves, Chris Tierney, Andrew Farrell or Jeremy Hall would each be an attractive addition this week. Although they have been on a roll and have some value in their schedule, their schedule may not quite be as favorable as some others.
Shea Salinas has been stepping up his production for San Jose and is on set piece duty for the Quakes. He is my first choice, not only for this week but heading forward. His value as related to recent form has been outstanding and the fixtures appear juicy.
Ethan Finlay and Tony Tchani are solid options for Columbus makes its playoff push. Remember, Kei Kamara is headed for International duty with Sierra Leone.
Michael Bradley will have to be the option for Toronto without Jozy Altidore and apparently Sebastian Giovinco this week visiting in Seattle. Remember to keep a late watch to see if Giovinco's status changes. This is the perfect week to make late changes with the wild card working.
Obafemi Martins is my top choice here, playing at home against a decimated (due primarily to International duty) Toronto side. He may also be the best choice at captain. Unfortunately, he is at his best when playing off Clint Dempsey who is unavailable, playing for the USA.
Quincy Amarikwa and Chris Wondolowski are great options. San Jose has the schedule working as mentioned previously. Typically, I prefer, however, to select forwards where they are clearly the primary scoring option as opposed to sharing it.
Federico Higuain will be in the middle of things for Columbus and is a strong pick this week.
Charlie Davies has become the forward to get the job done in New England.
One final thought. It is tempting to try to make some points up this week and certainly we all hope to accomplish just that. But the fixtures just get more attractive heading forward and we will all want to add Giovinco, Robbie Keane and perhaps, Bradley Wright-Phillips and Benny Felihaber. The -4 hits are looming but best to keep to a minimum. My suggestion is to have a plan for utilizing salary and the roster transfers coming for the weeks ahead. It's a bit like putting a puzzle together, I know.
My team looks like this: Bingham, Bernardez, Gehrig, Toia, Goncalves, Salinas, Nguyen, Finlay, Amerikwa, Higuain and Martins (c).
On my bench, I have managed to save Miazga and Feilhaber, Jesse Gonzalez, Taylor Peay, Badji, Doody and Steinberger are just roster fillers. In many ways, this is a big week. Remember to set yourself up from this week, heading forward.
Does anyone see any other options I've missed? Who do you like as captain? Best wishes to all!