Fantasy Forecast: Who to start and who to sit in Week 18

Conor Casey

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If fantasy soccer were the stock market, I’d urge you to buy now on the Red Bulls. Even though they’re coming off a shutout loss against D.C. United, don’t forget the sparks we saw in that 5-0 romp over Toronto FC on July 7. I like their Chivas USA matchup even more after Hans Backe sent out the junior varsity in their midweek US Open Cup game.

On the other coast, the Seattle Sounders are the league’s hottest team and face a solid matchup against the Colorado Rapids. Sigi Schmid’s team is showing signs of breaking out, scoring nine goals in their past four league matches.

No team plays two league games this week, but Chicago, FC Dallas, LA, New York (kinda), Real Salt Lake, Seattle and Sporting Kansas City had midweek Open Cup matches. The Galaxy and Toronto FC take the weekend off from MLS play entirely, nullifying the “pick players playing against Toronto FC” strategy for at least a week.

Let’s get to the picks.

Start 'em

Fredy Montero, F, Seattle Sounders: The Colombian DP had earned criticism this season for an uneven scoring record. But then he went ahead and scored twice against the club’s biggest rival, and at least for now, all is forgiven. Montero’s status as the team’s primary free-kick taker could net him one or two more over the course of the season, making Montero a great asset going forward.

Joel Lindpere, MF, New York Red Bulls: Four goals and three assists from a midfield position? Any fantasy player will take that in a heartbeat, especially with a full week’s rest. And with teammate Luke Rodgers ruled out for this one, more of the scoring burden falls on on Lindpere & Co.

WATCH: Lindpere for All-Star?
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Conor Casey, F, Colorado Rapids: To a certain extent, fantasy soccer is all about riding out hot streaks. There’s no hotter player than Casey, who’s been scoring regularly for Colorado. Even against a Seattle defense that’s ranked sixth in the league in goals against and has been strong in set piece defense, Casey makes a strong play with Jhon Kennedy Hurtado out injured.

Dominic Oduro, F, Chicago: Portland’s defense couldn’t keep Seattle in front of it late in Sunday’s match, to its detriment. A speed-to-burn striker like Oduro is tailor-made for this Timbers defense, even with teammate Diego Chaves suspended.  

Nick Rimando, GK, RSL: Even on the road at Vancouver, I like RSL to keep the clean sheet. Jason Kreis’ team should have plenty of confidence after shutting out a very good FC Dallas squad. Plus, Nat Borchers comes back after a one-game suspension. Check Rimando’s status closely: He’s currently listed as questionable with a right ankle sprain.

Nat Borchers, D, RSL: Speaking of Borchers, I’ve got a hunch he’ll score a goal this week. He’s one of the league’s best headers of the ball on corner kicks and set pieces. Either he or Jámison Olave make good bets in the center of the RSL defense.

Sebastián Miranda, D, Columbus Crew: I like the defender at home against a San Jose team that’s been unable to score with any consistency. The Crew back line has been reasonably solid and the team comes into its home game with the Earthquake on 10 days’ rest.

Sit 'em

Carlos Ruiz, F, Philadelphia: Multiple-goal games against Chivas USA and D.C. United, goal-less draws against San Jose and Sporting Kansas City. This Union offense is too unpredictable for my taste, even with a reasonably good matchup at New England. 

Will Bruin, F, Houston Dynamo: The rookie forward has only scored in two games this season and hasn’t hit the net since April 29. I’ll pass. If you want points from a Houston player, look to Brad Davis, Geoff Cameron or even Brian Ching, who has started and played substantial minutes in the past three games.

Graham Zusi, MF, Sporting Kansas City: Zusi’s listed as doubtful with a left ankle sprain. Investigate other options if you can.

Alejandro Moreno, F, Chivas USA, and Fabián Castillo, F, FC Dallas: Just in case you weren’t aware, both players are currently away from their teams (Moreno with the Venezuelan national team, Castillo with Colombia’s U-20s).

Diego Chaves, F, Chicago Fire: The talented attacker picked up a midweek suspension and won’t be available against Portland. Without Chaves, the entire Fire offense gets a slight downgrade.

Accountability:  

Those of you who took the Forecast’s advice started Joel Lindpere last week were richly rewarded. Those of you who ignored our advice and started Luke Rodgers also collected dividends.

All in all, it was a strong week for predictions. Nick LaBrocca panned out to the tune of two goals from midfield, while Eric Hassli’s injury kept him out of the action. C.J. Sapong triggered SKC’s offense in the midweek game and came oh-so-close to tallying himself.

Montero rose to the challenge of the rivalry game and looked unstoppable against the Portland Timbers, accounting for two of Seattle’s three goals. Our bad on that one.