If you're reading this, there's a good chance you're a fan of the Vancouver Whitecaps. If that's true, then it's very likely you believe the Western Conference is the superior conference. And if you believe that, good news - this past round's matchups appeared to prove that point. Real Salt Lake thumped D.C. United 3-0, Seattle Sounders kept the Houston Dynamo off the scoresheet with a 2-0 result and our very own 'Caps blanked Sporting KC 2-0. The west have done very well against the east this season, which has been a great help to fantasy owners when trying to decide who to field and who to bench in a given round. Unfortunately for us fantasy owners (and fortunately for Eastern Conference teams), that gravy train will be harder to latch onto as the regular season winds up. More and more teams have a schedule that leaves them squarely in their own conference with only a rare out-of-conference matchup (if any) left on the docket. If you have a chance to bet on the west over the east before the regular season ends, do it.
As we approach the playoffs and the final standings come closer to taking shape, it's time to be super-discerning about which team you're spending your transfers on. There's little point in hoping a team will reverse a bad turn of form when you could be picking the ponies that are still in form and delivering the goods. The Colorado Rapids, for example, are all but off my want list as they begin to show signs of coming apart at the seams. The lone exception is Drew Moor ($8.3m), who remains a valuable pick-up even in Colorado's current dire straits. Conversely, FC Dallas is a team possessed, currently sporting an eight-game unbeaten streak and looking like a team hungry to rip apart the contenders in the west. The Hoops are a great team to invest in and, unlike certain teams (*cough* RSL *cough*), are actually affordable to get into.
A familiar name popped up when I scanned the results from Round 22 in the official Eighty Six Forever MLS Fantasy Manager league. None other than Matt Delaney, he of the Company of Thorin, wound up with the best score in the league (and the seventh-best score in the game!) - a mighty 84 points, which looks a little something like this:
This is a masterclass of picking players from teams in form. Clean sheets for Seattle's Chad Marshall ($8.5m) and Stefan Frei ($5.1m), a goal from Dallas' Matt Hedges ($8.5m) and the usual magic from Javier Morales ($11.3m) and Diego Valeri ($10.3m) combined to give Matt more than enough to overcome weak showings from Harrison Shipp ($6.8m) and Dan Gargan ($6.9m). Welcome back to the winner's circle, Matt! Though not a super-warm welcome... you are a dirty Seattle support, after all. Blech.
There are no DGWs for Round 23 and the New York Red Bulls are on a bye. Here's how it all shakes out:
- If you haven't picked up Tesho Akindele ($4.9m) yet, good gravy, why not?! Tesho is cheap, on a team in form and eligible for the Canadian men's national team. That's a fantasy manager's dream for a bargain-priced striker. Go get him.
- Now, maybe I'm a little too hyped on the potential of young Kendall Waston ($7.0m) but, for once, I'm high on a Whitecap not named Pedro Morales ($9.0m - a steal!). That 'Cap is David Ousted ($4.9m), whose value has inexplicably dropped $0.6m below his starting value. With back-to-back clean sheets and a defense that is gelling in front of him, Ousted is primed to pick up points and fantasy value. I'm investing now; so long, Joe Bendik ($4.7m)!
- Following the theme of "bet on West against East", there are three tilts to keep an eye on this week: Portland vs. New England, Los Angeles vs. Columbus and D.C. vs Colorado. Of those combinations, Colorado is probably the outlier owing to their recent form. That leaves the Galaxy and Timbers, of which the former is a solid lock these days and the latter is a mixed bag. Go grab yourself Gyasi Zardes ($7.4m) and Stefan Ishizaki ($6.8m) and watch the points roll in.
- The third-best defender in MLS Fantasy Manager right now is Bobby Boswell ($8.8m) with 107 points. He's on a D.C. United team that is poised to do great things down the stretch, Champions League notwithstanding. Should you get him? No. D.C.'s match congestion and less-than-favourable league schedule (NYRB twice? No, thank you) make D.C. defenders unattractive for the foreseeable future.
- Remember when Clint Irwin ($4.8m) was a fantasy mainstay? Not so much these days, with Colorado's form taking a nosedive. There are better keepers at Irwin's price - keepers like, say, David Ousted, whom I mentioned earlier. Convenient, that.
- The New England Revolution are still in quarantine. Just try and convince me nine losses in ten games isn't fantasy kryptonite. Go on. Spoiler: it won't work.