After forcing managers to squeeze every drop of production from six teams last week, Major League Soccer presents a full slate of games spanning five days this week. With only the New York Red Bulls on a double game-week (DGW), every team in the league comes into play. The Red Bulls DGW presents us with little bit of a quandary as many of their prized assets reach into the upper echelon of pricing. Note that the Red Bulls have had a habit of rotating squads when playing two games in a single week. However, this is the first such case for new head coach Chris Armas.
All that being said, I am maxing out my NYRB roster slots for game-week 26. From a fantasy perspective, I consider the Red Bulls to be match-proof, offensively and defensively. My team has one player tabbed on each line of my squad, and none of the field players currently occupy any of my bench spots:
Luis Robles, Goalkeeper ($7.5m)
The clean sheet prospects are clearly better in their second match-up with D.C. United, but his score against New York City FC should be buoyed by save opportunities on their pint-sized pitch. They only conceded once in their last trip to NYCFC. He is starting on my bench, just in case Wednesday’s game turns into a complete disaster. But, I am not wasting a penny on my second keeper slot.
Aaron Long, Defender ($7.9m)
The same prospects that apply to Luis Robles also apply to all NYRB defenders. I settled on Long for his ability to collect clearance, block and interception points in the tiny confines of NYCFC.
Daniel Royer, Midfielder ($9.5m)
While Kaku leads the league in assists, he is on a run of poor form. Hence, I am going with Royer as my midfield play. He has scored 6 goals in his last five games, including braces in two of three. Feed the hot hand... or foot in this instance.
Bradley Wright-Phillips, Forward ($10.4m)
In each of his last six starts, BWP has contributed to a goal, 4 goals and 2 assists. If he appears in both games this week, I like his chances to be near the top of this week’s scoring leaderboard.
Following the selection of Red Bulls, we still have eleven spots to fill on our rosters. After paying for the pricey DGW players, there is little excess budget to spend on the high-end studs. So, I am digging for nice mid-priced values with good match-ups.
With midfield being the deepest position, the forward and defensive lines look to be the proper place to spend up this week.
Josef Martinez, Forward (Atlanta United, $12.5m)
It was impossible to pass on the league’s most prolific goal scorer, especially considering their dream matchup against Orlando City SC. His next goal will break the regular season goal scoring record, and this weekend looks like the prime opportunity. I expect Atlanta to run riot over OCSC and Josef is the point of that attack.
Graham Zusi, Defender (Sporting Kansas City, $9.0m)
Sporting Kansas City appear to have broken out of their defensive skid that plagued them through June and July. Zusi is the most desirable asset in a side that has held three consecutive clean sheets. His attacking prowess paired with a healthy opportunity at a clean sheet versus Minnesota United make the $9.0m price tag appealing, considering the savings for similar point scoring potential elsewhere on the pitch.
Leandro Gonzalez Pirez, Defender (Atlanta United, $6.2m)
Atlanta United have not kept a clean sheet in five games. But, in their last match against OCSC, they held firm to secure the clean sheet points. LGP has also shown a desire to move into the attack throughout the season. With a leaky back line such as Orlando’s, Gonzalez Pirez should have plenty of opportunity to add some attacking points to his score this week.
Julian Gressel, Midfielder (Atlanta United, $9.8m)
Sticking with Atlanta, Julian Gressel provides a cheap pathway into their attack. His weekly average of 5.75 points is second only to Miguel Almiron, but Gressel is $2.3m cheaper. He has managed to score 6 points in all but one of his last five matches, and he has shown the ability to pop up with an assist, having earned 9 this season.
Michael Barrios, Midfielder (FC Dallas, $8.5m)
Barrios has continued his strong attacking form following his hattrick versus Sporting Kansas City, virtually coming out of nowhere. Since that game, he has added a goal and 2 assists to his account. The Houston Dynamo have not kept a clean sheet since game-week 20.
Corey Burke, Forward (Philadelphia Union, $7.8m)
Burke has scored 4 goals in his last four starts. With the schedule spread out over five days, the Union man makes for a nice, cheap, third forward to start on your bench for a switcheroo.
Jordan Harvey, Defender (Los Angeles FC, $5.0m)
Harvey is the cheapest way into the LAFC backline. He led all defenders on his team in points during GW-25, with 19. His attacking return provides a safe floor should their staunch defense not hold a clean sheet.
As I mentioned above, I am sticking to a single goalkeeper this week, since Luis Robles will be playing two games. If you wanted to roll out a traditional keeperoo, I would look at pairing any of Tim Melia (Sporting Kansas City, $7.5m), Zach Steffen (Columbus Crew, $6.9m), Andre Blake (Philadelphia Union, $5.7m), or Brad Guzan (Atlanta United, $5.4m). If you are looking for a cheap option, I would take a chance on Andrew Punta (Real Salt Lake, $4.3m) should Nick Rimando miss this weekend’s match due to the injury he picked up last week.
The single team on a DGW throws a wrench into what is otherwise a fairly normal game-week. The amount of fantasy assets on the Red Bulls and the costs attributed to them make for a unique puzzle to solve in week 26. The big question is, how much exposure are you going to have of NYRB players? As noted above I am all in.
No more bets! What New York Red Bulls players are you counting on? And, what single-game entities do you see standing out with the opportunity of big point returns? Let us know in the comments below!