On the first 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!
With 22 teams set to take the field in 2017, there are plenty of options out there for eager MLS Fantasy managers. With opening day less than two weeks away, you might be starting to coalesce around a final opening day lineup.
So far our experts have given a lot of advice on who to select in MLS Fantasy, but we haven’t spent any time on who to sidestep. Here’s my take on 10 players you could probably do without, at least on day one.
Josh Saunders, Orlando City, $4.5m: He’s currently the most-selected goalkeeper in MLS Fantasy, which means that many fantasy managers will be set for disappointment in Round 1. A January trade sent the three-time MLS Cup winner to Orlando, where the Armchair Analyst is predicting Joe Bendik will be the starter. If you’re looking for $4.5m goalkeepers who will play on opening day, Columbus’ Zack Steffen (who opens the season at home) and Atlanta’s Alec Kann both fit that bill, while Cody Cropper ($4m) looks likely to wear the gloves for the Revs.
Tim Howard, Colorado Rapids, $6m: Timmy had groin surgery on Nov. 17 of last year and is currently in a race to full fitness. There’s a question as to whether he’ll start Colorado’s opener; Bruce Arena says he might. Once he gets back to full strength, Howard’s a solid pick behind the formidable Rapids defense. In the meantime, it might be better to pick a goalkeeper without injury concerns.
Jalil Anibaba, Houston Dynamo, $4.5m: This is another case of fantasy managers being wooed by great 2016 stats alongside a reasonable price tag. While Anibaba performed admirably from a fantasy standpoint last season, the Dynamo restocked their back line by bringing in MLS veterans A.J. DeLaGarza and Leonardo, along with Panamanian veteran Adolfo Machado. Anibaba’s spot in the starting lineup is anything but certain.
Jonathan Spector, Orlando City, $5.5m: There’s no bigger Jonathan Spector fan out there than me--I profiled him way back in 2005 when he was playing with Charlton Athletic. But Orlando gave up a league-worst 60 goals in 2016; it will take a while for the back line to find rhythm and start posting shutouts. While Spector should be a good bet for bonus points, there are better options in that price range.
Any New England defender: A dismal 54 goals allowed and a dreadful away record kept New England out of the postseason last season. With two new center backs in Benjamin Angoua and Antonio Mlinar Delamea as well as a defensive midfielder (Xavier Kouassi) recovering from an ACL injury, it’s prudent to adopt a wait-and-see approach with the Revs backline.
Dax McCarty, Chicago Fire, $9m: This is a case of a player being priced based on his 2016 exploits. Dax was a foundational piece of the well-oiled RBNY midfield, but $9m is too much to pay for a non-goal-scoring midfielder adjusting to a new team. If you’ve got $9m knocking around, consider adding an impact newcomer like Portland’s Sebastián Blanco or Atlanta’s Miguel Almirón.
Chris Pontius, Philadelphia Union, $8.5m: No one can take away the Union player’s amazing 2016 season, where he broke through for 12 goals and six assists. But he managed only six goals and four assists in the previous three years combined; that leads me to believe he may regress in 2017. Consider adding NYCFC’s goal-dangerous youngster Jack Harrison or LA’s Sebastian Lletget (both at $7.5m) instead.
Jeff Larentowicz, Atlanta United, $5.5m: This is another case of a popular player (selected by 9.2 percent of teams) who likely won’t start; Matt Doyle has him out of the XI in Atlanta. At that price range, consider the Galaxy’s Rafael Garcia ($5.0m) who looks to be the starter at right back. Other options include Chicago’s Matt Polster ($5.5m) and San Jose’s Tommy Thompson ($5.5m).
Fredy Montero, Vancouver Whitecaps, $9m: The Whitecaps made waves in Cascadia when they retrieved the former Seattle star from the Chinese Super League. However, coach Carl Robinson still has to find a way to fit all of Vancouver’s attacking pieces into a consistent goal-scoring formation. Montero’s another player to add to your watchlist, but he seems risky as an Opening Weekend Challenge option.
Giovani Dos Santos, LA Galaxy, $10m: No one is doubting Gio’s ability -- with Robbie Keane gone, it’s GDS’s team to control. However, the Galaxy may start 2017 down three starters -- Robbie Rogers (complications from surgery), Romain Allesandrini (late arrival), and Gyasi Zardes (broken foot, minor knee surgery). NYCFC’s David Villa is a much safer option at $10m, and I really like Jozy Altidore at $9.5m.
Those are my thoughts. Who are you looking to avoid in 2017? Let us know in the comments below or tweet us at the @MLSFantasy handle.
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