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Week 23 MLS Fantasy Picks: Fall Season Launch (Fall Week 1)

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With an exciting Major League Soccer All-Star break in the rear-view mirror, it’s time to navigate the mid-season MLS Fantasy reset in search of maximum points and value.

Josef Martinez - Atlanta United FC - MLS
Josef Martinez celebrates during his record-setting hat trick performance.
Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

This week, Major League Soccer (MLS) closed the door to the first half of its fantasy soccer season. For what they are dubbing the “Fall Season”, manager budgets, points, and player values have been reverted back to the point of origin. MLS Fantasy curators have also reevaluated the player prices for this reset. Notable budget-friendly performers have seen an increase in cost, while many of the cheap budget-friendly players have moved up to what is better described as mid-tier values.

Gone are the days of cushy bankrolls and the freedom to choose any combination of fantasy assets we fancied for the latter half of the spring season, at least temporarily... we hope. Week 23 (Week 1 of the fall season) forces managers back to the basics of fantasy soccer tactics.

We have to fight the scarcity of premium players, find the optimal match-ups for our mid-tier selections, and scour for some fresh bargain players to increase the available options in the two categories listed prior. Never Manage Alone is here to help navigate through these choices. Here are our picks for the maiden voyage of the fall season:

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Premium Players

Josef Martinez, Forward (Atlanta United, $11.5m)

He should be the first name on every fantasy team sheet. The man simply cannot stop scoring! Martinez tallied the only goal for the MLS All-Stars against Juventus on Wednesday. He just broke the record for most hat tricks in a career... in only his second season. Oh, and he is on pace to set the single season goal scoring record.

Maxi Moralez, Midfielder (New York City FC, $11.5)

With the front line of NYCFC suffering from numerous injury issues, Moralez has become the focal point in attack. This season, he has scored or assisted in 8 of 11 home matches. Over the past five weeks, the talisman has generated 24 key passes and 22 shots, yielding 9 bonus points. Any improvement of his conversion rate, or that of his teammates, could see major points come rolling in against a leaky Vancouver side.

Ignacio Piatti, Midfielder (Montreal Impact, $11.0m)

Piatti, simply put, is Montreal’s playmaker, amassing 11 goals and 9 assists to this point in the season. He has contributed to 20 of the Impact’s 29 goals. DC United have proven they can score goals, but still have not shown that they can prevent them. Nacho should have ample opportunities to tally fantasy points if Montreal’s strong, attack-minded, home form continues.

Alexander Callens and Anton Tinnerholm, Defenders (New York City FC, $7.0m)

NYCFC have the second best opportunity for a clean sheet this week. The Vancouver attack has been a mess, aside from Alfonso Davies, who could very easily be quieted by the constraints of NYCFC’s minimalist pitch. Callens provides a stable floor of bonus points to pair with a possible shutout, while Tinnerholm offers the attacking influence that could make for a massive haul of points, if he can contribute in the attacking third. Finding room could be tough, though, as they are both priced in the top tier of defenders to begin the fall season.

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Mid-Tier Players

Ola Kamara, Forward (Los Angeles Galaxy, $9.0m)

This week the Galaxy will be taking on the Colorado Rapids, this season’s fantasy punching bag. With Zlatan sitting out through suspension for defecting from the All-Star game, Ola Kamara will lead the line in the best offensive matchup of the week.

Alberth Elis, Romell Quioto, Mauro Manotas, Forwards (Houston Dynamo, $9.5m/$8.5m)

The Sporting Kansas City defense has been leaky since suffering a myriad of injuries in July. Elis has the most upside, Quioto has been the most consistent, and Manotas has the best current form. Pick your poison.

Giovani dos Santos, Midfielder (Los Angeles Galaxy, $8.0m)

For the same reasons above, Gio has fantasy upside similar to Kamara. After notching a goal and an assist in the final game before the break, he looks to be acclimating to his playmaking role in the new L.A. formation.

Yoshimar Yotun, Midfielder (Orlando City, $9.5m)

The Orlando City attack has seen a rebirth under new head coach James O’Connor. Since returning from the World Cup, Yotun has scored at least 5 points in each start. He has 3 goals and 6 assists on the year, while having a safe floor due to his ability to accrue bonus points. He saves you $0.5m from teammate Sacha Kljestan.

Justin Glad, Defender (Real Salt Lake, $6.0m)

Last week, RSL were able to hold it down at the back and blank San Jose on the road. The Chicago Fire have only scored five more goals than San Jose and are playing on the road in Sandy, Utah. Glad and the RSL defense have held two clean sheets in their last four games.

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Bargain Picks

Daniel Salloi, Midfielder (Sporting Kansas City, $5.5m)

Unexpectedly, Daniel Salloi did not receive a price rise during the salary recalculation. His first half point total of 114 tied for first among all midfielders priced $7.9m or less. The young homegrown player has scored 3 goals and supplied 2 assists in his last five games, not to mention the 15 points he scored against Houston in his last match.

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Goalkeepers

With the constraints of the budget this week, there are four goalkeepers that catch my eye. How you fit them in depends solely on what risks you are willing to take elsewhere in you lineup. Sean Johnson ($6.0) of New York City FC is the best of the high-end options. If you are looking for value, Nick Rimando ($5.5m), against the Fire, and Jesse Gonzalez ($5.5m), versus a San Jose side who failed to score at home last week, are teasing options. And, should you elect to scrape the bottom of the barrel Earl Edwards Jr. ($4.5m) will have a moderate chance to blank the New England Revolution. However, Orlando City have kept a clean sheet only once this season.

The greatest challenge I found when crafting my initial lineup was the lack of usable bottom-tier players. The price alterations have sucked all the value out of the players who rose to prominence at various stages throughout the first half of the season. That said, I think the key factor in separating fantasy teams in the scoring will be the mid-priced options each manager chooses. With the difficulty in finding back-end players, there should be plenty of goals, as well as commensurate fantasy points, for managers to seek out.

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You only get one week to make a first impression. Who are you looking at to bolster your squad for the start of the second part of the season? Who is going to be this week’s bargain-value darling? Be sure to let us know in the comment section below!

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