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MLS Fantasy Roundup 2015 - Round 4

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In which we attempt to avoid a rash of team-ruining injuries and look to find the next big bargain.

Seeing Axel Sjoberg (R) on the ground brings chills to the spines of fantasy owners everywhere.
Seeing Axel Sjoberg (R) on the ground brings chills to the spines of fantasy owners everywhere.
Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

(Psst! Join our MLS Fantasy Manager league! The code is 245-361.)

Where art thou, Axel Sjoberg ($4.7m)? The budget-priced Colorado Rapids defender was missing last round with a foot injury of no lengthy description. It's not like your team will fall to pieces without Sjoberg - $4.7m is practically throwaway bench depth, with the distinction in Sjoberg's case that he's actually starting and playing - but it's tough to see that kind of value out for an indeterminate length of time. Yes, it's that time of year where injuries abound and fantasy owners scramble to find replacements. If you aren't already familiar with the MLS Injury Report, I suggest you become so; this will be the go-to place to determine whether you should hold onto an injured player or drop them.

For starters, get rid of D.C. United defender Steve Birnbaum ($7.5m). While he's one of DC's top points-earners with 13 through three games, he'll be gone for 4-6 weeks with a sprained ankle. Further north, Toronto FC are down both of their starting defenders, Steven Caldwell ($7.4m) to an achilles injury and Damien Perquis ($7.5m) to a soleus strain. (Incidentally, Wikipedia tells me a "soleus" is a calf muscle running from the knee to the heel. The more you know!) That said, if you were investing in TFC defenders hoping for clean sheets, you may be overestimating the Reds' defensive prowess. Finally, be very cautious hanging onto Sporting Kansas City's midfielder (and 2013 "Captain Fantasy") Graham Zusi ($10.5m), who is out with a hamstring injury. Of all the players I've listed here, Zusi is the one to pull the trigger on if you have him. There's no need to gamble with that kind of player value on the off-chance he might play and get you points. Oh, and if you're one of the 19.4% of people who currently own injured Seattle Sounders midfielder Clint Dempsey ($11.3m), please, by all means, continuing hanging onto Deuce. I swear this is not an April Fool's trick. (Surprise! It totally was.)

So, where can you go for players instead? For starters, if you haven't already jumped onto the Jose Villarreal ($6.3m) bandwagon, it might be mandatory at this point. The Los Angeles Galaxy midfielder is owned by 45.2%(!) of all managers in the game, which makes perfect sense considering (a) he plays for LA; and (b) he's a steal at any price under $7.0m. Similarly, Harry Shipp ($7.8m) is in charge of the Chicago Fire midfield and looks a solid lock to play week in, week out. Yes, he plays for Chicago which is not exactly a team in form, but Shipp is sitting on 25 points - an average of 6.3/game. Oh my, yes, please. On defense, be careful picking up Ike Opara ($7.4m). Yes, he's good value but his seasonal points total is heavily inflated by a 17(?!)-point round in which he scored and earned a clean sheet. Don't expect that from week to week. Instead, consider New York City FC (Nick-Fick!)'s Jason Hernandez ($6.6m), whose solid 23 points (5.8/game) make him a tantalizing option. Yes, he's on a bye this week but NYCFC have a double-game week (DGW) in Round 7. Points bonanza, ho!

Round 4 Top Score

Oh, Calum M, we hardly knew ye. The top spot of the Eighty Six Forever league now belongs to Cameron Miller of Soulpatch828. (Seriously? That's the team name? Come on, Cameron...) That said, his place might not be secure if our top scorer from the past round has another phenomenal week. A familiar name, a familiar result: Derrick Freedman of Rino's Vancouver SC is the man of the hour with a jaw-dropping 92 points, good for 11th overall:

Round 4 86F Top Score

Apparently, the math goes something like this: double your double-Morales build, double your pleasure. Who cares if your forwards have an off-week if your midfield and defense are going full beast-mode?

Matchups To Watch

3. Chicago Fire vs. Toronto FC
This match could have interesting ramifications for the next few weeks. If the Fire have truly rounded a corner with Shipp leading the way, beating up on a less-than-full-strength TFC should be a fait accompli. However, with TFC's big international stars returning from their call-ups, there may very well be goals on both sides. If that's true, keep at least one roster spot open to pounce on Chicago and Toronto players before their prices rise.

2. Portland Timbers vs. FC Dallas
The Timbers still haven't won a game. Will that change at home? Unlikely. Sure, FC Dallas will be without Kellyn Acosta ($5.8m) but that hardly matters since nobody cares about Acosta (-2 points after four games? Ew). The Hoops are one of the last undefeated teams in Major League Soccer and I like their odds of lighting up a disorganized and desperate Portland side. Fair warning: the Caleb Porter Death Clock™ has been started and bets are now being accepted.

1. Orlando City SC vs. D.C. United
Hey, remember when Kaká ($11.3m) joined MLS? Remember when I was all, "Durrr, he's a washed up European player!"? I humbly accept this stew made of my words, which I will eat after finishing this article. 27 points (6.8/game) is the kind of return you want from your high-priced players and Kaká is bringing the goods to every match. Against a D.C. defense that now lacks Birnbaum, perhaps this is the match where the Brazilian legend inspires the rest of his teammates to start picking up the scoring slack (cough Cyle Larin ($5.5m) cough).