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Good news for fans of fantasy defenders: after five of last round's eight matches, there were eight clean sheets. That's right - eight teams claimed clean sheets (New England Revolution, Montreal Impact, Colorado Rapids, New York City FC, FC Dallas, Vancouver Whitecaps, Sporting Kansas City and Portland Timbers). It's not the best advertisement for an exciting product but for fantasy owners, it's money in the bank if you captained or even played defenders from those teams. Sure, there are other things to consider on the negative side, such as...
- Who is going to start scoring for Orlando City SC and when? (Please be Cyle Larin ($5.5m), please be Cyle Larin, please be Cyle Larin...)
- Does Portland have a hope of surviving the west without Diego Valeri ($10.0m), Will Johnson ($8.5m) and Ben Zemanski ($6.0m)?
- Is it panic time for the Philadelphia Union?
- Without Deshorn Brown, how does Colorado make anything happen?
In order: Cyle Larin after the break (please), no, yes, and Kevin Doyle. On that latter point, Doyle isn't yet in the game (he'll be added after he plays a match) so keep an eye on where his initial price point is set. If it's $9.0m or lower, consider buying in. On a team desperate for offense, Doyle will get his chances. Considering his track record of scoring isn't bad (55 in 157 for Reading, 30 in 163 for Wolverhampton, 14 in 61 for Ireland), it stands to reason he'll do decently in Major League Soccer - not save-your-team-and-Colorado good, just decent. Keep him on your watchlist.
Speaking of scoring for your country, quite a few MLS players will be hoping to do that during this next fantasy round. Big guns like Michael Bradley ($10.0m), Robbie Keane ($11.1m) and Nick Rimando ($6.1m) will be gone, as will budget buys like Rafael Ramos ($5.5m) and Will Trapp ($7.1m). This means you'll need to find some replacements and fast, hopefully without taking too much of a hit on your overall points total. You may need to use a wildcard this round (and that's fine), but try your best to escape with only a -4 penalty if you can. For starters, if you don't already have him, rookie Rapids defender Axel Sjoberg ($4.7m) is a no-brainer. Yes, Colorado have been the beneficiaries of some perhaps undeserved clean sheets but the point is the kid is cheap and playing - in other words, he's mandatory bench depth for rounds just such as this. Next, Jose Villareal ($6.3m) has put up 22 points in three matches in the Los Angeles Galaxy midfield, which is amazing and certainly buy-worthy. Heck, he's one of my starters alongside Fabian Castillo ($9.8m). Up front, Tesho Akindele ($8.1m) was called into neither of his country's camps and is thus available for FC Dallas when they take on the Seattle Sounders. That's an easy buy for a forward averaging five points a match. Finally, in goal, you may be familiar with Houston's Tyler Deric ($4.9m). He's the cheapest starting goalkeeper in the game and, while the Houston Dynamo may not exactly be lights-out good this season, they are at home to Colorado. That's as good a chance at a clean sheet as any.
Round 3 Top Score
We have a new top dog in the Eighty Six Forever league - Calum M of 'Caps it off. now sits in pole position with 218 points, as he and Todd Paulhus (70pts, 213 total) leaped past AT Dad following an average 55-point week. As for the best score in the round? That honour went to a participant all the way on the back page of the league standings; yes, with a mighty 78 (before taking a -20 transfer penalty), it was Rob Ladi of Joe Vinco's REDS with the 45th-best score in the game, catapulting him into 119th place in our league. Ladies and gentlemen, your proof that you're never out of it in fantasy sports is right here:
Remember when the 'Caps scored that 96th-minute goal to steal three points and save many fantasy teams? Remember when I called it? Good times.
Matchups To Watch
3. Columbus Crew SC vs. New York Red Bulls
Bradley Wright-Phillips ($10.7m) is still doing his thing, which is good news for fantasy owners. Normally I'm hesitant to bet against the Crew as they quietly put together a complete team out east; this time, with key players missing due to call-ups, it's either going to be the BWP show or the Kei Kamara ($8.0m) heart-shaped party. Either way, points.
2. Vancouver Whitecaps vs. Portland Timbers
So, this Octavio Rivero ($8.7m) fella's kinda good. And this Portland team is missing chunks out of their midfield. Yeah, I like this match, if for no other reason than to see the Timbers Army shut up once and for all with the "Our House / In The Middle Of BC" chant.
1. FC Dallas vs. Seattle Sounders
Get a comfy seat on the FC Dallas fantasy bandwagon. Barring a cataclysm of injuries, this team is poised to dominate the west until (and perhaps even after) Steven Gerrard arrives in LA. That means goals from the forwards, assists from the midfield, clean sheets from the defense and, why not, saves from Chris Seitz ($5.1m). In Frisco, I don't fancy anyone's chances unless they're the home team.