Fantasy Fixes: Kobayashi
Courtesy of Vancouver Whitecaps

Fantasy Fixes: The five best newcomers to help your team

There’s been quite a few notable signings quietly taking shape this offseason, so if you haven’t been paying attention, here’s how they impact your fantasy team. If you see a player on your favorite team listed below, you’re in for a treat. All of them offer something new and exciting, so go ahead and get your popcorn ready – Fantasy Soccer: Manager is back!

1. Diego Valeri, $8.0m, Portland Timbers ­– If he can back up all the hype, Portland fans should be in for a much more enjoyable season. He’s played nine seasons in Argentina’s Primera División, and at 26 years old, there’s still a lot left for him to accomplish. Valeri has the skill and burst of speed to blow by his opponents. He’s also got the ability to disguise himself in the final third – he can shoot and pass. I’m intrigued and you should be, too – all I see is points. (More on the Valeri signing)

2. Claudio Bieler, $9.0m, Sporting KC – Scored 20 goals in 36 matches last season for LDU Quito of the Ecuador Serie A, and with Kei Kamara on loan to Norwich City until May, he should be expected to contribute immediately. Bieler is a precise finisher with both feet. He also knows how to make runs off the ball and get behind opposing defenders. He could be a Golden Boot sleeper, just as long as his new teammates can get him the ball in space. (More on the Bieler signing)

3. Daigo Kobayashi, $7.5m, Vancouver Whitecaps – Very solid signing that will replace a void left by the departure of Barry Robson. “Everyone should be excited to see him play,” teammate Jun Marques Davidson said in a recent interview. He’s got good technical ability and can strike the ball from distance. Don’t be surprised if he ends the season as a top 15 midfielder. (More on the Kobayashi signing)

4. Rafael, $8.0m, D.C. United – At 20 years old, he’s one of the youngest DPs in league history. D.C. United have high hopes for him, but I’d still like to see how he plays with his teammates – mainly Chris Pontius and Dwayne De Rosario. Similar to Bieler, he could end the season as his team’s top scorer. (More on the Rafael signing)

5. Juninho, $8.0m, New York Red Bulls – Inserted into an already potent office, and according to teammate Dax McCarty, he seems to have taken the reins from Thierry Henry when it comes to set-pieces around the box. He just turned 38 years old, but still managed to score 13 goals in 49 appearances across all competitions in 2012. Depending on how much he plays, his upside looks really good. (More on the Juninho Signing and his amazing free kicks)

Honorable mentions

Kevin Harbottle, $6.5m, Colorado Rapids – Came to terms with the Rapids earlier this month. The 22-year old Chilean has incredible ball control and is able to push the attack. He has 1-v-1 capability, but sometimes plays with his head down. He has a great left foot, but I’d like to see him play with his right more often. If he can learn to make key passes in the final third instead of going for goal, he could rack up some BCCs (Big chances created) and assists. (More on the Harbottle signing)

Raúl Fernández, $5.5m, FC Dallas­ – Kevin Hartman is out, but Schellas Hyndman seems very confident with what they’re bringing in. The Peruvian International goalkeeper played for one of the top teams in Peru before moving on to first-division French team Nice in 2011. He should nail down the starting spot in Dallas, but even If he does, a lot will still ride on how his defense performs. Dallas could benefit from an increase in clean sheets. This move could help it happen. (More on the Fernandez signing)

Diego Calderón, $5.5m, Colorado Rapids – If anyone needed a defender it was Colorado, who parted ways with practically their entire backline. Matt Pickens faced a lot of pressure in 2012, so helpfully this move does something to change that. CBIs – Clearances, blocks and interceptions – only get you so many points. We need clean sheets, Colorado! (More on the Calderón signing)

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