MLS Fantasy expert Ben Jata spoke with New England Revolution goalkeeper Brad Knighton about the advantages of being a MLS player and a MLS Fantasy Manager. Knighton is currently ranked 608 overall and plans on finishing the season better than Chicago Fire striker and MLS Fantasy enthusiast, Quincy Amarikwa.
JATA: A lot of people had you pinned as the starting goalkeeper to start the season. Did you feel the same way?
KNIGHTON: Yeah, I did. I thought I had a really good preseason. I felt like I did well in the games that I played. But, [the organization] felt like Bobby Shuttleworth deserved to start the season, and I’m totally cool with that. Bobby and I are in this together.
JATA: As far as fantasy goes, do you normally go with two goalkeepers that you can rotate out and start at any time or do you focus on one?
KNIGHTON: Just one. I had two before I used my wildcard, but now I just have one. I’ve got Steve Clark in net right now. I thought about picking up Zac MacMath because of the DGW, but I didn’t feel like taking another hit. I’m going to change it next week for Luis Robles or Tally Hall so it didn’t make sense.
JATA: Starting out the season did you have any Revs players on your team?
KNIGHTON: No. I wanted to pick up Andrew Farrell, but I didn’t have enough transfers this week. I think he’s going to be huge for us going forward. I feel like a lot of people are going to jump on board with him soon. He’s a good steal at $6.9m.
I feel like he’s going to be a big asset for us going forward, especially if José Gonçalves is out for a while. I might pick him up in Round 8 because I already took a four-point hit to field my team this week.
JATA: What’s your starting lineup for Round 7?
KNIGHTON: Steve Clark, Amobi Okugo, David Horst, Eric Miller, Mauro Diaz, Sebastien Le Toux, Leo Fernandes, Clint Dempsey, Andrew Wenger, Thiery Henry and Federico Higuain. My captain is Okugo. I’ve been going back and forth with it the last couple days, but I’m sticking with it. I think he’s going get a shutout at home.
JATA: You think the Donovan/Dempsey swap is worth it?
KNIGHTON: Yeah, I do. I think the way Clint’s been going right now it’s hard to get off the Dempsey train. The five goals in six games is pretty remarkable and he could’ve had another hat trick against Dallas from what I saw. I feel like everyone’s on the 135 train. I’m not going to lie, I’ve been on it too. At times you see glimpses of it, but he hasn’t been as effective as years past [as of late].
I had Robbie Keane as well, but I swapped him out for Henry in preparation for the double-game week next round. That’s where I took my minus four this week.
JATA: What’s your team value and overall rank right now?
KNIGHTON: $121.8m and 608 overall.
JATA: Have you already used your Wildcard?
KNIGHTON: Yeah, I used it in Round 5. (view his transfer history)
JATA: It seems like a lot of fantasy owners are going with similar guys at the back: Acosta, Horst, Jack Jewsbury, Miller, Kofi Sarkodie. There isn’t much differential there.
KNIGHTON: Yeah. I had Andy O’Brien the other week, but I sold him because I didn’t think they would do well against LA. There are a couple guys that I’m going to pick up that people don’t have in their backline. I’ll probably get one or two guys on our team, [like Farrell], because I feel like [New England are] on the rise. It’s all about finding the diamonds in the rough that people don’t have.
JATA: Is it better to invest in reliable players who will likely feature 90 minutes each week?
KNIGHTON: It’s kind of a give and take. You want those players who are going to play the full 90, but there are players who can change a game and increase the point totals for your team. It’s a thin line.
I’d probably go with the guy who’s capable of producing a bigger week that some people might not pick up, hoping that he gives you that extra boost. I take more gambles in [MLS] fantasy, which it makes it much more enjoyable.
In the long run, the safer bet is probably the best bet, but I like picking players that people don’t have and reaping the rewards in the end.
JATA: Do you think MLS Fantasy is harder to play because of how injuries are reported and not reported?
KNIGHTON: I do. I have a little more of an advantage being a player compared to someone in the media or who's watching from their TV. We have a pretty good idea who’s going to travel with us and who’s going to feature against us.
But in fantasy, it’s pretty much your best guess. You should look for guys who consistently play the full 90 minutes each game and go off that.
JATA: When do you usually check your team and make your transfers for the week?
KNIGHTON: It depends on the week. I usually look at it Saturday night and check the matchups for the following week. Then on Monday or Tuesday I go ahead and make my transfers because player values start to go up.
JATA: How do you make your picks?
KNIGHTON: I watch all the highlights of every game on Sunday night and then I look at the stats on everyone. I love seeing the numbers and looking at statistics. I also think form and matchups are huge. From a players perspective, you know matchups better than anyone.
JATA: Are any other Revs players involved in MLS Fantasy?
KNIGHTON: Farrell is. Me and him talk about who we picked up for the week. He just does it for fun. He might not even tell anyone he does it.
JATA: If you had to pick one guy from the Revs to focus on this week at Chicago who would it be and why?
JATA: Speaking of Quincy Amarikwa, he's been pretty impressive to start the season. Have you thought about picking him up?
KNIGHTON: It was between him and Shipp a couple weeks ago, and I ended up taking Shipp. Then Quincy got an assist against Philly and I was like, “Son of a gun. I should’ve picked him up.” He’s been hot, and I kind of shot myself in the foot a little bit because I could’ve gained some value for my team, but I knew we were playing them in a couple weeks so I wasn’t going to pick him up.
JATA: Quincy's been pretty vocal about playing MLS Fantasy this year. What do you think about him and other players participating in fantasy?
KNIGHTON: It’s cool to see players doing it. It’d be nice to have a weekly chat and go back and forth [with other players]. I think the fans would enjoy it. I’m probably going to be tweeting out my tips of the week [each round]. I think the fans like seeing it from a player’s perspective.
JATA: Quincy's also been pretty vocal about captaining himself. Do you think that’s a bold move on his part?
KNIGHTON: I think it’s great that he put the monkey on his back and said, “Hey, hop on board.” When I was playing in Vancouver, I captained myself and ended up getting MLS Player of the Week. It gives you a little extra motivation to go out there and perform. We played against him in preseason and he looked really sharp. It’s nice to see him doing really well under Frank [Yallop] again.
JATA: If you end up starting this season, are you going to select yourself?
KNIGHTON: Oh yeah. I'd take a four- or eight-point hit [to bring myself in].
JATA: Would you play yourself every week?
KNIGHTON: Yeah. No doubt about it.
JATA: What do you like about the changes in MLS Fantasy this year?
KNIGHTON: I like how you can change your players up until kickoff.
JATA: Anything you don't like?
KNIGHTON: I don't like vice-captains. I'd rather you pick your guy and stick with it. So I'm glad they took that away.
JATA: Have you used the mobile site at all (m.fantasy.mlssoccer.com)?
KNIGHTON: Yeah. A couple weeks ago we were on the road in San Jose and I made a switch on the bus. I was watching the games on my iPad and wanted to make a switch. I think an app would be awesome [though].
JAT:: Do you play any other fantasy sports?
KNIGHTON: I play them all – football, baseball, basketball and EPL Fantasy. The only one I don't play is hockey.
We have a [Vancouver] Whitecaps [EPL Fantasy] league that rolled over from last year with 15-20 guys in it. Carl Robinson is in it. Paul Ritchie was in it. Martin [Rennie] has a team, I think. Kenny Miller is running away with it.
JATA: Lastly, if you had to pick one goalkeeper, defender, midfielder and forward for the rest of the season (other than anyone on New England) who would it be?