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Fantasy Boss: Making the right plays with no double game weeks

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After several back-to-back double game weeks, we all finally had the opportunity to take a step back and breathe before Friday night’s kickoff. But don’t think that makes this round easy. With the Open Cup final just a couple of days ago, looming free wild cards, and several players on suspension, this week presents several tough decisions. If you’re still looking for the perfect player to round out your team, take a look at my list of top picks for Round 31.

Keepers

Backup Power: Over the past six weeks, Jesse Gonzalez (DAL, $4.2m) has been filling in for the injured Dan Kennedy and has racked up two clean sheets in this time. While not All-Star numbers, Houston has one of the poorest away offenses in the league. So if Gonzalez continues to start, this week gives him his best shot for a third shutout.

Returning Form: If you are planning to stick with one of the top owned keepers, then my favorite is still David Bingham (SJ, $5.6m). After a four-game dry spell, the Quakes came up with another clean sheet last week and have a good chance for another against a Vancouver Whitecaps team that has been struggling to win at home and on the road.

Defenders

Road Woes: If you want to bank on Houston’s poor away scoring record, then consider picking up Atiba Harris (DAL, $6.5m) this round. In addition to the offensive performance Harris has shown over his past four games (2 goals and 1 assist) Dallas has also only allowed 13 goals over their 14 home games. Harris offers managers a shot a nice score this round at a bargain price.

Dog Tired: After playing 120 minutes on Wednesday, many are expecting the Philadelphia Union to be dragging this weekend. This is good news for Toronto’s defense and gives them a shot at a clean sheet. There’s been some rotation recently but Josh Williams ($6.3m) seems locked as a starting center back and he’s demonstrated the ability to rack up excellent clearance, block and interception numbers.

Shield Hunter: With several teams potentially saving players for the playoffs, New England is one we can expect to go all out as they vie for the Supporters' Shield and the No. 1 spot in the East. Chicago will be the easiest of their remaining games and Chris Tierney ($7.5m) will once again have an excellent chance at rewarding aggressive managers with both offensive and defensive points.

Midfielders

Open Cup Advantage: If you believe that Philly and SKC will be tired after their Open Cup match, then consider these midfielders. The first is Sebastian Giovinco (TOR $13.5m), who most managers already own, the other is Diego Valeri (POR, $10.6m). Giovinco’s previous record is proof enough about his value and Toronto’s game against Philly is the more promising of the two. At just 1.5 percent ownership, Valeri is definitely a differential, but his four assists over his past six games show that he’s not one to write off as the season winds down.

Differential Potential: While many managers, who are looking for a Dallas midfielder, are flocking to Victor Ulloa ($6.5m), I’d rather put my money on Michael Barrios ($8.1m). Overall, Barrios has provided a better point return for the minutes he has played. Houston falls in the middle of the pack when it comes to keeping clean sheets at home, but Dallas has only lost one of their last six home games, so they have the momentum and Barrios is poised for more points.

Forwards

Hot, Hot, Hot: If you want to bring in one of the most in-form forwards, then look no further than Obafemi Martins (SEA, $12.2m). Over his last five games, he’s scored five goals and earned one assist and this scoring is likely to continue against LA who average conceding almost two goals each away game.

Explosive Offense: Many players have tried to catch up to the goal scoring pace set by Kei Kamara (CLB, $10.0m), but none have succeeded. With the Red Bulls missing key center back Matt Miazga, Kamara’s chance for more goals look good. However, Columbus is not without their own defensive problems, but as the old saying goes, the best defense is a good offense, and Kamara definitely is the best.

It’s Budget Time: If you want to get a value forward who’s guaranteed to give 100 percent effort for the rest of the season, then it’s Quincy Amarikwa (SJ, $7.0m) time. San Jose’s final three games are all against Western Conference teams and they are right on the bubble of making the playoffs. This guarantees that they will be pulling out all the stops of the next several weeks and Amarikwa is sure to be a part of any future success.

These are the players I like for Round 31. Who do you think will shine during this very balanced game round? Post your thoughts in the comments below and don’t forget to stop by MLS Fantasy Boss for all of our latest charts, articles, and live chat. Good Luck!