Fantasy Forecast: Who to start and who to sit in Wk. 21

Let’s get back to basics.  

With many salary cap fantasy leagues starting a new segment this week, it’s an opportune time to look at the seven players who should be on every fantasy roster for the rest of the regular season.

The Fantasy Forecast generally likes to dig deeper and uncover those diamonds in the rough, but avoid these fantasy studs at your own peril. Let’s get to it, starting from the back.   

Start ‘em

Nick Rimando, GK, Real Salt Lake: We’ll start with some simple arithmetic: more games played equals more points. Thanks to the CONCACAF Champions League, RSL have played only 19 games so far, meaning they get 15 more before the end of the season. Nabbing the backstop for the league’s stingiest defense (14 goals allowed) is an easy decision.

Sean Franklin, D, LA Galaxy: Personally, I like to diversify my back line with players from a few different teams. A Galaxy defender is a must-have, and Franklin’s ability to go forward puts him a half-step above Omar Gonzalez and Todd Dunivant.

George John, D, FC Dallas: Like the Galaxy, FC Dallas boasts an embarrassment of riches in the back. John, Ugo Ihemulu and Jackson have all scored twice from the back in 2011. I find John’s ability on set-pieces (he hit the post with a header last week) the most enticing, but grab any of them with confidence.

Brek Shea, MF, FC Dallas: Shea has been a joy to watch, with a handful of stunners in his eight-goal haul. Ideally you’d like to see Shea’s assist total (one) a bit higher, but that’s pretty nitpicky.

Landon Donovan, MF, LA Galaxy: All respect due to Shea, but Landon should be your captain every single week. He’s the best player in the league. Don’t overthink it.

Álvaro Saborío, F, Real Salt Lake: Again, 15 games left to play means plenty of chances for Sabo. I ultimately see him being in the running for the Golden Boot despite having only scored five goals in 10 games. His suspension for diving could see him return with a mean streak, which would be wonderful for fantasy owners.  

Thierry Henry, F, New York Red Bulls: 11 goals and four assists in 18 games. Need we say more? The Frenchman still makes the game look astonishingly easy. Watch your roster closely: Henry turns 34 in a couple weeks and misses the odd game because of injury.

Sit ‘em

Matt Pickens, GK, Colorado Rapids: Pickens is one of a few players I predict to cool off over the rest of the season.  With Colorado having allowed 34 goals over the first 24 games, the Rapids only get 10 more chances to improve that number. Recent defensive efforts (no shutouts in the past six matches) make that look unlikely.

Jeff Parke, D, Seattle Sounders: Teammate Jhon Kennedy Hurtado’s knee injury couldn’t have come at a worse time. With Seattle set to embark on its busiest time of the year, Parke’s partnership with Ianni hasn’t been convincing (six goals allowed in the past two matches).

Juninho, MF, LA Galaxy: The fantasy stallion of the early season with some long-range golazos, Juninho (three goals, two assists) has cooled off markedly. Blame Donovan and David Beckham for hogging all the goals and assists.  

Chris Wondolowski, F, San Jose Earthquakes: This is not to say that Wondo won’t bag a few more over the course of the season — he will. But San Jose’s inconsistent offense and inability to keep possession leads me to look elsewhere for goals.

Accountability:

Not a great week for the Forecast. Patrick Ianni (Seattle) was part of a defensive unit that got shelled in Houston, while Justin Braun (Chivas USA) and Fredy Montero (Seattle) couldn’t keep up their hot streaks. Sporting Kansas City’s Omar Bravo played a substitute’s role after his 81 minutes in the All Star Game, recording only one shot.

Todd Dunivant was the wrong LA marking back to choose (Franklin had the big game) while Kalif Alhassan (Portland) came close with four shots but ultimately finished with no goals or assists.

Let’s just all pretend that last week didn’t happen. Deal? Deal.

Andrew Winner writes about Fantasy Soccer for MLSsoccer.com. Follow him on Twitter @AndrewWinnerMLS