On this week's MLS Fantasy Insider podcast, Reid Connelly invites MLSsoccer.com's Ben Baer on the show to discuss the changes to MLS Fantasy for this season and the reasons behind them. Then Jason, Mike, and Andrew preview how the new game changes will affect your decisions this year in MLS Fantasy!
If you’re going to be a successful MLS Fantasy manager, you’re going to need to call your own shots, based on an accumulation of data. Everyone knows it.
So what’s the most important stat to understand? If you ask me, it’s value.
Most managers know about the big-name players like Sebastian Giovinco ($12.0m) and Nicolas Lodeiro ($11.0m), but it’s the high-impact guys towards the bottom of the salary scale who can really turn your fortunes. Last season, fantasy managers leaned heavily on players like Walker Zimmerman ($6.5m), Marlon Hairston ($7.0m), and Axel Sjöberg ($6.5m) -- defenders who far outperformed their salaries.
So who will be the value stars of the 2017 season? Here are some players at each position that are worth checking out.
Alec Kann, Atlanta United FC, $4.5m: As of now, it looks like Mr. Kann will be holding things down until Brad Guzan arrives in the summertime. Atlanta’s defense looks solid on paper, with a handful of MLS veterans alongside exciting newcomers like Greg Garza ($5.5m) and Leandro Gonzalez Pirez ($6.0m). If you’re liking Atlanta’s chances in their inaugural season--and I definitely do--why not try him out in the Opening Weekend Challenge and see how he does?
Ambroise Oyongo, Montreal Impact, $5m: You could spend $6.5m for the Zimmermans of the world, but there’s also good value down at the $5m price point. Oyongo won this year’s African Cup of Nations with Cameroon and was a steady contributor for the Impact last season. With 26 starts and five assists to his name in 2016, Oyongo looks poised for another solid year in the blue and black.
Joevin Jones, Seattle Sounders, $5m: Ditto Joevin Jones. He’s the best value in a strong Seattle back five that returns goalkeeper Stefan Frei ($6.0m) and center back tandem Roman Torres ($6.0m) and Chad Marshall ($6.0m). Seattle’s likely to pick up some shutouts and Jones, who been known to play as an attacker for his country, will pick up the odd goal or assist.
Alphonso Davies, Vancouver Whitecaps FC, $4.5m: The Whitecaps teenager played 8 games as a 15-year-old last season and showed some real promise. He’s listed as a defender, but generally plays in midfield and it worth keeping an eye on if he gets some starting nods.
- Keegan Rosenberry, Philadelphia Union, $5.0m
- Steven Beitashour, Toronto FC, $5.0m
- Alexander Callens, New York City FC, $4.5m
- Justin Davis/Kevin Venegas, Minnesota United FC, $4.5m
Sam Cronin, Colorado Rapids, $6.5m: Currently selected by 21 percent of managers, Cronin is well-positioned to rack up the defensive bonus points and average a good 4-6 points per game – not bad, considering the price tag. And you shouldn’t think that defensive midfielders aren’t worth selecting in MLS Fantasy -- in 2016, Seattle’s Osvaldo Alonso ($9.5m) racked up the bonus points to finish fourth in midfield scoring.
David Guzman, Portland Timbers, $7.5m: Speaking of defensive midfielders, people the Pacific Northwest are starting to get exciting about Guzman, Portland’s new Costa Rican defensive midfielder. He showed well in a preseason friendly against Seattle, earning kudos from Stumptown Footy. He’s also much more affordable than similar players like Alonso ($9.5m) and Dax McCarty ($9.0m).
Sebastian Lletget, LA Galaxy, $7.5m: How high has Lletget’s star risen? Many have him in contention to start in the USMNT’s crucial upcoming World Cup qualifiers. That’s quite the vote of confidence for the 24-year-old. Lletget performed admirably after moving to central midfield, completing 88 percent of his passes in 2016 and setting himself up for some bonus point production. When setting your first lineup of 2017, don’t forget about Da Boy.
- Anibal Godoy, San Jose Earthquakes, $7.0m
- Sean Davis, New York Red Bulls, $6.5m
- Tommy Thompson, San Jose Earthquakes, $5.5m
Yura Movsisyan, Real Salt Lake, $7.5m: There aren’t as many "bargains" in the forward line, so a starter at $7.5m will catch your eye. If RSL’s new attacking pieces fit in quickly, Movsisyan has a chance to better his 2016 season totals of nine goals and three assists.
Jozy Altidore, Toronto FC, $9.5m: Just like Lletget, Altidore found a rich vein of form down the stretch last season, scoring in five consecutive MLS Cup Playoff games to lead his team to the final. If the nagging injury that kept him out against Jamaica is healed, he’s a great value pick even at $9.5m--a full $2.5m cheaper than his better-known strike partner.
Cristian Colman, FC Dallas, $8.5m: FC Dallas shelled out the largest transfer fee in its history for Colman, who they believe can be the answer at center forward. At 6-foot-1 and strong, the Paraguayan will have every opportunity to be Oscar Pareja’s attacking focal point.
- Patrick Mullins, D.C. United, $8.5m
- Dominic Oduro, Montreal Impact, $7.0m
- Abu Danladi, Minnesota United, $5.5m
Those are my selections for the best value players in MLS Fantasy. Who do you think will outperform their price tag in 2017? Let us know in the comments below.
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