Fantasy: Here are your top options for Week 1 of the 2018 season

Reid, Mike and Blayne sit down with Matt Pollard from Last Word on Soccer to talk about which players are the ones to target as we get ready for Round 1. They give out the info for joining leagues, talk about the Auto and Switcheroo, likely CCL impacts on fantasy player choice, and Mike's famous (but not legendary) injury report. They wrap up with a preview of each game for Round 1 and they shed light on how they make their final team sections between recording the show and kickoff. It's a must listen for every players before the season starts.


The wait is almost over! The 2018 MLS season kicks off Saturday when Toronto FC welcome Columbus Crew SC at 1 pm ET (TSN 1/4/5in Canada, MLS LIVE in US) and so does MLS Fantasy.

You’ve read about the changes to the game, reviewed the top players and sought out the best values. Now it’s time to make the hard decisions and finalize your team. If lineups don’t come out as expected, don’t worry, you can always use the new rolling transfer system to make adjustments.

Below is a list of some of my favorite players who I think will hit the ground running in Round 1. If you want more tips, be sure to listen to the latest episode of the MLS Fantasy Insider podcast at the top of the page.

Goalkeepers

Early Value

If you’re looking for a low-cost ‘keeper with a shot at a clean sheet, then consider Orlando’s Joe Bendik. A lot of mystery surrounds the Lions as their preseason played out mostly behind closed doors, but Bendik is an experienced shot stopper who averaged over five points per game in 2017. Short on dangerous forwards, D.C. United (7:30 pm ET; MLS LIVE in US | MLS LIVE on DAZN in Canada) should be one of the easier teams to face on opening weekend, and that could pay off big for Bendik.

Big Money

Stefan Frei | USA Today Sports Images

Some fantasy managers may find $6 million too much for a top ‘keeper, but Stefan Frei is worth every penny. He was the co-highest point earning keeper of 2017 and racked up 13 clean sheets. Not much has changed in the Seattle lineup, but does it need to after consecutive appearances in the MLS Cup final? The Sounders open the season hosting LAFC (5 pm ET; ESPN, ESPN Deportes in US | MLS LIVE on DAZN in Canada) and their experienced backline is likely to frustrate the expansion side.

Defenders

Wingback Option

Last year, “pick the team playing Minnesota” was a common strategy, and it looks like it may carry through to 2018 as well. This makes San Jose players a great option and one of my favorites is Nick Lima. In 2017, Lima had a great start before being sidelined by injuries. I particularly like the number of crosses he sends into the box and think that skill could help break down Minnesota (10:30pm ET; MLS LIVE in US | MLS LIVE on DAZN in Canada).

Big Centerback

Center backs have long been the go-to picks for fantasy defenders, mostly due to bonus point potential. Many of the best are at home this week, but Chad Marshall is currently one of my favorites. Marshall was a top 15 player last year and averaged over 5.5 points per game. He’s already off to a great start in 2018 with a goal in Seattle’s CONCACAF Champions League win over Santa Tecla on Thursday.

Budget Pick

If you’re looking for a way to stretch your budget, then consider Toronto’s Auro. At just $4.5, he’s one of the cheapest starting defenders in the game and we already know that he has attacking potential because he earned an assist in the Reds’ first CCL game. Auro will have four days of rest before the opening game against Columbus (1 pm ET | TSN1/4/5 in Canada, MLS LIVE in US), so start him on your bench if you’re worried about rest.

Midfielders

The Replacement

I took a little heat last week from some Montreal fans for not including Saphir Taider in my top 30 midfielder picks. I just wasn’t sure all the changes to the Impact would pay off at the start of the season. However, after multiple goals and assists during preseason and a growing connection with Ignacio Piatti, I’m warming up and think he’s a great pick vs. Vancouver (6 pm ET; TSN 1/3 and TVAS in Canada | MLS LIVE in US), a team making some last-minute defensive changes.

Rising Star

Last year, LA Galaxy did not have many players that were worth adding to our fantasy teams. The one glaring exception was Romain Alessandrini. Even when the Galaxy lost, Alessandrini often found a way to earn a solid fantasy score. Portland (10 pm ET; FS1, FOX Deportes in US | TSN2 in Canada) will be a tough first game, but the Galaxy have improved and a better finish in the overall table should also equal more fantasy points for Alessandrini.

Budget Option

If you’re looking for a low-cost player on a good team, then consider Toronto’s Marky Delgado for only $7.5. He did not earn a lot of points last year, but he still scored three goals and earned five assists so you could get lucky. Toronto already have a couple of competitive games under their belt, so Delgado should be in form as the Reds kick off the MLS season against Columbus.

Forwards

Triple Threat

Houston's Elis & Co. | USA Today Sports Images

While several teams are struggling to find their forward solution, the Houston Dynamo have three. This may make it a bit hard to predict who will score each week, but my top pick is Alberth Elis. He and Mauro Manotas scored 10 goals in 2017, but Elis did it in 400 fewer minutes. They start the season against Atlanta (3:30 pm ET; Univision, UDN in US | MLS LIVE on DAZN in Canada), and with the Five Stripes showing some age in their central defense, that is something Elis could exploit.

Budget Option

If you’re looking for a low-cost forward with a great 2017 scoring record, then Will Bruin is your man. He stepped up almost every time that Seattle needed him to last year, and his 11 goals helped many Fantasy managers snag differential points. With Jordan Morris out for all of 2018, Bruin will see more starts and could have another double-digit goal season.

WHICH PLAYERS are you considering for Round 1?

FOR MORE fantasy advice, be sure to check out the articles and charts posted at MLSFantasyBoss.com.

To get all the latest Fantasy news and advice, download the MLS app and sign up for MLS Fantasy notifications. To sign up for notifications, select the main menu, choose settings. Within the settings menu, select News & Videos notifications and turn on notifications for "Fantasy Soccer."

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