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MLS Week 27 Player Picks: Peeling Back the Curtain

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In a double game-week with stodgy Wednesday Night fixtures, the key to big returns may be found by exploiting the weekend fixtures.

MLS - Toronto FC - Sebastian Giovinco
Sebastian Giovinco charges at the Montreal Impact defense.
John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

An abbreviated slate is presented once again in game-week 27. Thankfully, there are eight teams playing during the double game-week (DGW), so we can field an entire lineup of players expected to feature twice.

On the surface, no team in the DGW has two really tasty match-ups. In fact, the Wednesday night games look like they will test the nerves of fantasy managers everywhere. F.C. Dallas versus San Jose Earthquakes is the only uneven game on the docket, and even then Dallas is going to be playing on the road.

However, the opportunities are juicier once you pull back the curtain and peek at the weekend schedule. Getting to that point, though, could be a little treacherous. Games are starting to pile up for teams as we get closer to the business-end of the schedule. New York Red Bulls are coming off of a DGW last week, and D.C. United are playing catch up, having a whole host of games-in-hand due to the opening of their new stadium. As a fantasy manager, I am hoping that the chase to get into playoff positions sees the starters continuing to get the bulk of the minutes down the stretch.

Here is how I am attacking this game-week 27:

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Goalkeeper

For a change of pace, I shall start at the back this week. I’d like to save a much cash as I can to pile into the midfield for this game-week. If you want to consider a premium option, then Luis Robles, New York Red Bulls ($8.0m) is the name that sticks out to me. New York was able to shut down the potent D.C. United attack over the weekend. And, Robles should have easily parried the David Villa attempt in their game on Wednesday. In week 27, he comes up against a struggling Houston Dynamo team and an unpredictable Montreal Impact attack. With money down on Robles, my second goalie would be a cut-price $4.0m filler.

If you wanted to go with the traditional ‘keeperoo,’ I like the idea of Andre Blake, Philadelphia Union ($6.2m) paired with whichever F.C. Dallas goalkeeper starts Wednesday: Jesse Gonzalez ($4.5m) or Jimmy Maurer ($5.4m). If you want to avoid the risk of F.C. Dallas’ possible goalkeeper rotation, Andrew Tarbell, San Jose Earthquakes ($6.1m) becomes my next favorite value option.

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Defenders

Again, with the less than ideal matchups in this DGW, I am looking for cheaper alternatives to buoy my defense, this week.

Michael Murillo, New York Red Bulls ($7.0m)

Murillo was the first name on my defensive line, as he is the cheapest member of the stout Red Bulls backfield. Due to a suspension last Wednesday, he only played one game last week, so I expect him to make both starts in week 27. He does not really fit the cut-price mold, but his clean sheet opportunity combined with his attacking potential seals the deal for me.

Meynor Figueroa, F.C. Dallas ($6.0m)

The F.C. Dallas defense has been a bit frustrating this season. They have a solid defense, which should have better clean sheet returns this season. They have returned seven clean sheets so far, along with eight games where they have allowed only a single goal. Figueroa is the cheapest option on that backline, though Ryan Hollingshead, F.C. Dallas ($5.0m) deserves a shout if he comes into the starting eleven. I would play either of these players on my bench, however has there has been some rotation from Oscar Pareja.

Jack Elliot, Philadelphia Union ($5.8m)

Again, the cheapest asset from a Union team that has been playing well lately. Their road form has been spotty at best. But, facing a D.C. United side that looked fatigued against the Red Bulls last weekend, and an Orlando City S.C. side that is missing multiple key contributors, lead me to have optimism for two strong performances. Elliot is coming off back-to-back games in which he has helped Philadelphia blank their opponent, not to mention the prior game in which he netted a brace.

Justin Morrow, Toronto F.C. ($6.5m)

The Toronto F.C. defense has been poor this season, but Morrow’s activity provides an opportunity to pile up bonus points at both ends of the field. Since returning from injury, the Reds defender has provided three assists, one coming last week, and a goal. The Toronto attack appears to be rounding into form, which can only help Justin Morrow’s scoring potential in this DGW.

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Forwards

There are only a couple forward options that intrigue me this week, further cementing this idea of loading up in the midfield.

Sebastian Giovinco, Toronto F.C. ($12.5m)

Currently, Seba is the only forward in my lineup. He is not certain to stay there, either. Dylan Butler of mlssoccer.com has Giovinco listed as questionable after limping off early over the weekend. Toronto are in desperate need of points in their pursuit of the playoffs. You will have to keep an eye on the lineups to ensure he starts in the first game of the week. You could find yourself in a real pinch, should he not make the starting eleven in the last game, Wednesday evening. I do believe he has the highest scoring potential of any forward this week, health permitting.

Bradley Wright-Phillips, New York Red Bulls ($9.9m)

BWP being under $10.0m seems criminal to me. He rewarded us with a goal last week, and he should have tallied one in their second game as well. The risk that comes with the New York striker is rotation in the midst of back-to-back game-weeks. Thankfully, unlike Giovinco, Wright-Phillips plays in the first game, which will help with the decision making from that point forward in the week. It is worth starting him on your bench if he makes the eleven for the first game Wednesday.

Wayne Rooney, D.C. United ($10.8m)

The questions that surround the two forwards above do not surround Wayne Rooney. He may be the safest of the forward options this game-week. He is doing double-duty for the D.C. attack, both scoring and providing. If D.C. United do well over this DGW, Rooney will have done so, as well.

Corey Burke, Philadelphia Union ($8.3m)

Burke is my favorite bargain striker this week. Philadelphia appears to have found a way to fit both him and C.J. Sapong into the same lineup. Burke is the better striker of the two, netting a goal last week. With the uncertainty of the other, more expensive, striker options, Burke looks to be a nice play, if you want to squeeze two forwards into your lineup.

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Midfielders

Diego Valeri, Portland Timbers ($13.0m)

Portland’s talisman should be the first name on every manager’s team sheet this week. They take on a leaky Toronto defense at home, then take on an Los Angeles F.C. side that is in transition, via Laurent Ciman’s departure from MLS. Valeri could very well have his hand in multiple scoring returns for the Timbers this week.

Daniel Royer ($10.0m) or Kaku ($9.3m), New York Red Bulls

Take your pick here. If you need the extra cash, take Kaku. If you want the goal-scoring upside, take Royer. Or, if you prefer to take the player in the center of the park, the needle points back to Kaku. Perhaps you can find room for both, I have no qualms with either, this week.

Borek Dockal, Philadelphia Union ($10.9m)

The Union’s number-ten has been a breakout star in the fantasy community, this season. His playmaking ability in the potent Philadelphia attack has yielded great, consistent, returns all season. Dockal has accrued six assists in his last six games, plus a generous haul of bonus points to accompany that. Philadelphia’s away form this season has been worrying, but I think their current form overcomes that in week 27.

Luciano Acosta, D.C. United (10.0m)

For the same reasons as Wayne Rooney above, I like Lucho this week. Acosta has a knack for seeking out the ball in the attacking third, then picking out the key pass that leads to many of United’s scoring opportunities. He is a pure playmaker who will be needed to unlock some solid defenses if D.C. United want to continue their charge for a playoff spot. If you wanted to save a little cash while exposing yourself to the D.C. games, Paul Arriola ($7.5m) has looked threatening the past couple of games; he just hasn’t put the ball in the back of the net.

Michael Barrios, F.C. Dallas (9.0m)

I do not know how he keeps doing it, but he found the scoresheet again. My only analysis is ride the hot-hand. The match-ups this week are quite appealing.

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I think the attacking half of the field is going to be the source of big moves in the standings this week. There are plenty of dilemmas at the striker position, and the varying budgets will test managers’ abilities to splash the cash for some of MLS fantasy’s best talent. Wednesday’s games could leave managers questioning their decision making, heading into a weekend where the best opportunities for large point hauls reside. We will not know until that curtain is peeled away.

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Where is the focus of your team this week? What players have you made a priority in the DGW slate? Let us know in the comments below!

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