MLS Fantasy has launched. Listen as Reid, Mike, Blayne and our special guest, Phil Luetchford quickly go over some of their favorite changes to the 2018 version of the Fantasy game. After the dust settles, stay around for the main event… Our Western Conference Preview! Phil and Blayne go back and forth talking about each team and highlighting their standout Fantasy options. It’s a must-listen as you build your first team.
Fortune favors the brave. And there’s nothing braver than shooting for the moon in the first week of the MLS Fantasy season.
In that spirit, here’s a list of seven players who could be looking at big returns in the upcoming season. A few are league newcomers; others have just changed colors within the league. All are 100-percent guaranteed Fantasy studs as you select your Week 1 squad.
Ezequiel Barco, M, Atlanta United ($9.5): What a situation the record MLS acquisition finds himself in! The 18-year-old will line up alongside arguably the most lethal finisher in MLS (Josef Martinez), the best chance creator (Miguel Almiron) and the best possession midfielder (Darlington Nagbe) in the entire league. Should Barco be in the lineup, he’s a bargain at $9.5 million.
Walker Zimmerman, D, LAFC ($5.5): Save Kendall Waston, I have the Georgia native as one the league’s most dangerous attacking center backs. The athletically-gifted 24-year-old contributed four goals to FC Dallas in an excellent 2016 season; with Bob Bradley at the reins in the City of Angels, Zimmerman’s a good bet for clean sheets and a handful of goals going forward on set pieces.
Giovani dos Santos, M, LA Galaxy ($9.0): With Mexico heading to the World Cup this summer, Gio will be well-motivated to find his form domestically. Sigi Schmid has gotten him a bona fide in-the-box finisher (Ola Kamara) and defensive cover in the midfield (Perry Kitchen). It’s all there for Giovani – now he just has to bounce back after a disappointing 2017 campaign (6 G, 3 A).
Dom Dwyer, F, Orlando City SC ($9.0): Like dos Santos, Dwyer finds himself in a situation where he needs to be the man. Cyle Larin is gone; the goal-scoring load now falls squarely on Dwyer’s shoulders. Orlando added one of the league’s better wide players in Justin Meram and two additional creative players in Sacha Kljestan and Josue Colman. It should all add up to plenty of chances for Dwyer, who needs to hone his in-the-box instincts and improve his conversion percentage to hit 20 goals.
Jonathan Lewis, F, New York City FC ($6.0): We know that New York City scores goals; they’re averaging nearly 56 goals a season after three years in MLS. But this will be the NYCFC's first season without Jack Harrison on the right wing since 2015. Patrick Vieira gave Lewis a handful of chances down the stretch last season and the youngster impressed, notching two goals and an assist in just 342 minutes. If he can grab more time, he could be a bargain at just $6 million.
Gregory van der Wiel, D, Toronto FC ($5.5): Van der Wiel has chosen his new club wisely. Not only has he found himself a spot on the defending MLS champs, but he’ll be playing opposite the league’s premier attacking fullback in Justin Morrow. The Dutchman started opposite Morrow in Toronto FC’s recent tune-up against Club América. Should he keep that spot, the 29-year-old could be looking at 30 starts in one of the league’s best defensive units.
Zack Steffen, GK, Columbus Crew SC ($5.5): Two attacking pieces may have departed central Ohio, but the backline and central midfield remains intact. Steffen looks like he's ready to take Bill Hamid’s place as the best domestic goalkeeper in MLS; with all the changes, it’s worth remembering that this Crew SC unit made it to the Conference Championship with this defensive group. Steffen should be in for another great season in 2018.
Which player do you think will star in Week 1? Let us know in the comments below.