For the first time in a few weeks, game-week 29 gives managers a nearly full slate, with a taste of just about everything. New York City F.C. is on a bye. The tandem of D.C. United and Minnesota United are on a double game-week (DGW). We finally get a slate of games that allows managers to choose from all 22 participating teams, after two consecutive weeks with limited resources at our disposal. And, the match-ups are JUICY.
Typically, our strategy is to maximize our exposure to any, and all, teams on a DGW. However, this week my senses are not titillated. With the internationally-friendly absence of some of their surrounding cast, D.C. United looked lackluster over the weekend. Paul Arriola, midfielder ($7.4m) and Zoltan Steiber, midfielder ($7.4m) missing, combined with the injury to Yamil Asad, midfielder ($9.7m) leave D.C. with a much less potent attack, allowing opposing defenders to key on the primary playmakers: Luciano Acosta, midfielder ($11.0m) and Wayne Rooney, forward ($11.6m). This concern has me taking the contrarian play and fading the D.C. United attack this week. However, I will take my chances on a Wednesday night clean sheet, selecting Bill Hamid, goalkeeper ($8.0m), and starting Steve Birnbaum, defender ($7.3m) on my bench.
Minnesota United ask the same questions of fantasy managers, having a DGW themselves. Because both games are on the road, I am not fussing with their cheap defensive options. The only player finding their way on to my team, as a bench player, is Darwin Quintero, forward ($12.5m). He does, however, come with some risk as he is returning from his latest injury. If he is not in the lineup on Wednesday, he is an immediate drop so I can go after a premium single game-week player with a friendly matchup.
Having said all that, here are my picks I see bearing the most fruit this week:
With the way the match-ups have fallen, there are WAY too many appealing options. And, without knowing the extent of everyone’s budgetary limitations, I am going to make this section short and sweet, ranking my favorite single game-week players, $10.0 or higher, position-by-position, for week 29.
1. Josef Martinez, Atlanta United ($13.5m)
The league’s single season goal scoring record holder, need I say more?
2. Giovinco, Toronto F.C. (13.0m)
Toronto need three points in their push for the playoffs. Giovinco will be at the center of the attack at home against a leaky L.A. Galaxy defense.
3. Carlos Vela, Los Angeles F.C. (10.6m)
Vela is the playmaker for a potent L.A.F.C. attack. New England should provide minimal resistance for the black and gold’s talisman.
4. Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Los Angeles Galaxy ($13.0m)
Zlatan has had some time to rest, and the Toronto defense has been uninspiring this season. It will be interesting to see how the Galaxy look under their interim manager.
1. Nico Lodiero, Seattle Sounders ($14.0m)
The most consistent player in the fantasy M.L.S. universe.
2. Diego Valeri, Portland Timbers ($13.0m)
Last week’s goal could be the start of the next vintage Valeri goal contribution streak as Portland push for the playoffs.
3. Miguel Almiron, Atlanta United ($11.0m)
He is the number-ten for the league’s most potent attacking side.
4. Roman Alessandrini, Los Angeles Galaxy ($11.5m)
See Zlatan, above
5. Borek Dockal, Philadelphia Union ($11.4m)
If his injury subsides, he pulls all the strings for the Union attack, who are exceptionally better at home.
6. Daniel Royer, New York Red Bulls (10.4m)
He has been playing in a more attacking role, alongside Bradley Wright-Philips. Royer has looked the much more threatening player of that duo lately.
7. Albert Rusnak ($10.8m) or Daniel Kreilach ($10.5m), Real Salt Lake
A little bit of a risk, but R.S.L. are pouring in the goals at Rio Tinto lately. They will have the pleasure of playing a fatigued Minnesota United on Saturday.
8. Yoshimar Yotun, Orlando City ($10.5m)
Finally returning from suspension, Yotun has been pivotal in the creation of Orlando’s goals, all season.
1. Graham Zusi, Sporting Kansas City ($10.5m)
2. Matt Besler, Sporting Kansas City ($10.0m)
Sporting K.C. have held four clean sheets in their last five games. I would expect San Jose to bunker in during their visit to Children’s Mercy Park.
Raul Ruidiaz, Forward (Seattle Sounders, $9.0m)
Ruidiaz has looked threatening in every game he has played since arriving in Seattle. However, the results have not reflected the impact he has had for the Sounders, in the final third. With two goals in his last three games, the Rave Green striker could be finding his form for another classic Seattle second-half surge.
Jozy Altidore, Forward (Toronto F.C., $9.4m)
Much like Giovinco above, Altidore will need to score some goals to for Toronto to streak into the playoffs. The match-up with the Galaxy could not be a better starting point for that.
Nemanja Nikolic, Forward (Chicago Fire, $9.3m)
A well rested Chicago Fire at home take on the league’s worst defense. Having scored in two consecutive games, he is in form at the right time for fantasy managers. He was the 2017 M.L.S. Golden Boot winner, afterall.
Jefferson Savarino, Midfielder (Real Salt Lake, $9.7m)
Much like the the premium options of Rusnak and Kreilach above, Savarino allows for some savings in exchange for some exposure to the red-hot R.S.L. attack.
Lee Nguyen, Midfielder ($9.0m) or Benny Feilhaber, Midfielder ($8.0m), Los Angeles F.C.
Nguyen and Feilhaber are the two most irreplaceable cornerstones for L.A.F.C. Both players provide defensive bonus point opportunity plus the ability to turn provider in attack. The midfield combo also find themselves taking the occasional set piece. With New England likely to bunker in, their attacking opportunities should see a bit of a boost this weekend.
Chad Marshall, Defender ($8.3m) and Kim Kee-Hee, Defender ($8.5m), Seattle Sounders
The Sounders have kept clean sheets in two of their last three games, both of those opponents having much more potent attacks than Vancouver. Marshall and Kee-Hee have the trifecta you are looking for in your defender match-ups: clean sheet, bonus point, and goal scoring potential.
Larrys Mabiala, Defender (Portland Timbers, $8.4m)
On the road, the Mabiala pick is a bit more risky, but the Houston attack has lost its sting during their recent stretch of games. His recent pairing with Liam Ridgewell has paid dividends for the Timbers’ back line. Houston should eventually find their form again, but I don’t see that happening against a steely Portland defense this weekend.
Maxi Urruti, Forward (F.C. Dallas, $7.3m)
Playing underneath Dominque Badji on the front line unlocked the F.C. Dallas attack and led to a massive haul for Urruti in week 27. His ability to provide as well as finish make for a high upside value play in week 29.
Justin Meram, Midfielder (Columbus Crew, $5.5m)
Last game he popped up with his first goal since returning to the Crew. Despite their best efforts, F.C. Dallas always seem to concede one goal. Meram could be instrumental in that.
Jordan Harvey, Defender (Los Angeles F.C., $6.0m)
For $6.0m, you cannot pass on the combination of Harvey’s clean sheet and attacking potential.
Differentiation will be the name of the game in week 29. With so many appetizing match-ups, putting together the right combination will be key to making a charge up the rankings.
With so much low-hanging fruit this week, what players are you including in your squad? What match-ups do you think are most ripe for exploiting? Let us know in the comments below!