Diego Valeri in preseason action
Craig Mitchelldyer/Portland Timbers

MLS Fantasy: Western Conference team-by-team breakdown

Fantasy sports can be a tricky thing sometimes. If you’re like me, you tend to select players on the teams you enjoy watching. Since I don’t have a favorite team, I focus primarily on production when choosing players for my squad . It’s easy to roll with the big name players, but not all of us are programmed that way. We want to own players we cheer for, who we care about and who we want to see succeed.

On Tuesday, we’re going to take a closer look at the Eastern Conference, but for now I’m giving you the inside scoop on every team in the Western Conference. I’ve mapped out who you want to own on both the offensive and defensive side of the ball, so sit back and absorb as much as you can before finalizing your starting XI.

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Chivas USA

With the departures of Shalrie Joseph and James Riley, Bolaños finds himself as one of the highest remaining point-getters from the 2012 season. Coach José Luis "Chelís" Sánchez Solá thinks very highly of him and you should too. “Bolaños is spectacular,” said the new head coach in a recent interview. If there’s an offensive player you want on your team from Chivas USA right now, it's him. I’d keep an eye on the rest before buying.

Colorado Rapids

With Martín Rivero and Jaime Castrillón out with injuries, the Rapids will have to rely on several newcomers to bolster their attack. LaBrocca ($6.0m) should find himself on the starting XI, but Harbottle ($6.5m) is the guy you want to keep your eye on. Where he fits in hasn’t been determined just yet, however, Oscar Pareja believes his versatility and quickness is something the fans will appreciate. Defensively, Moor ($5.5m) has proven track record, notching the ninth-most CBIs last season (305).

FC Dallas

FCD’s offensive firepower is a little intimidating on paper and that’s exactly why I’m eager to see them take the field this weekend. With Ferreira ($9.0m) healthy, Cooper ($9.5m) should see plenty of looks at goal. He found the net 40 times for FC Dallas from 2006-09 and I expect him to add to that immediately. Defensive midfield is a concern, but this offense should shine right from the get-go – maybe a little something like this? Ferreira is in my lineup already, but I’m itching to add another Dallas player before Saturday.

LA Galaxy

David Beckham is gone for good and Landon Donovan isn’t expected back until late March. Does this spell the end of Keane’s success in LA? Not a chance. His asking price ($10.5m) is amongst the highest in the league, but he earned it by scoring the second-most points of any forward last season (204 – including the playoffs). I recommend grabbing at least one defender priced at $6.0m and Gonzalez is worth it. However, try to avoid stocking up on LA talent early on because they have a bye in Week 2 due to midweek CCL action.

Portland Timbers

Valeri ($8.0m) is the 19th-most selected midfielder in FS:M. In my opinion, he should be higher, much higher. Even more shocking is the fact that a higher percentage own Osvaldo Alonso ($8.0m). Valeri will be taking most of the set pieces and he’s going to accumulate both goals and assists – how many is the real question. A colleague of mine at MLS compared him to this guy. If you’re still not convinced, watch Caleb Porter talk about his preseason debut. Portland has potential this year, so get your chainsaw ready Timber Joey.

Real Salt Lake

Plata ($7.0m) and Findley ($7.5m) could turn out to be very profitable pickups this year. Findley will likely be paired up top with Saborío, who should be atop the leaderboard in goals once again. Plata will likely occupy more of a winger role when he comes on. Regardless, with five of their first seven games on the road, I’m holding off on any defensive players for now – especially with Nat Borchers and Chris Wingert still nursing injuries. (See what Findley and Wingert are expecting this season)

San Jose Earthquakes

The Earthquakes are dealing with a lot of injuries concerns. One thing for certain is the health of the 2012 MLS MVP and Golden Boot winner, Chris Wondolowski ($10.5m). He’s the highest-priced player in the game, along with the likes of Keane and Thierry Henry. Only two players have been selected by more than 30 percent of FS:M managers – Keane (33 percent) and Wondo (40 percent). Steven Beitashour’s recent surgery to repair a sports hernia injury will likely move Dan Gargan ($4.5m) into a starting role.

Seattle Sounders

With Fredy Montero on loan to Millonarios FC for the 2013 season, Seattle will have to rely heavily on the finishing ability of their lone striker, Eddie Johnson ($10.0m). Even with all the time Rosales ($9.0) missed last year, he still managed to finish with the fifth-most points (156) of any midfielder. And with Designated Player Christian Tiffert possibly on the move, Martínez ($7.5m) could become a regular starter. He’s definitely someone you want to keep your eye on, especially if he can keep scoring goals like this!

Vancouver Whitecaps

If Mattocks can get consistent time on the pitch, which I expect him to do, he’s poised for a breakout year. Is he the fastest player in MLS? Coaches, players and even Mattocks himself, weighs in. Both Kobayashi and Manneh have looked marvelous this preseason as well. I’m excited about this offense and you should be too. Don’t believe me? Whitecaps insider Christopher Bromley tells you everything you need to know (video highlights included).

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