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Oh me, oh my, that Houston Dynamo versus Sporting Kansas City match was exactly what the fantasy doctor ordered. Forget the fact both teams have been struggling to score goals (both teams only have one multi-goal win this season and Houston's was a gimme against a tired Montreal Impact); this was a red letter day for getting fantasy points out of two teams' underwhelming attacking corps. Suddenly, Will Bruin ($7.8m) and Dom Dwyer ($10.5m) have woken up and Benny Feilhaber ($9.7m) is poised to be the next SKC player take the mantle of "Captain Fantasy", assuming his production continue at this pace. Heck, even Brad Davis ($9.8m) is rounding into form - a good sign for Houston in general and fantasy owners overall hoping Davis can rake in the assists once Erick Torres returns to Major League Soccer. Now, as fun as that was, let's not get carried away; mediocre teams playing one another can result in crazy, forget-about-defense results that serve as outliers, not the norm. If we look at the fantasy game long-term, Houston's next four opponents are FC Dallas, the San Jose Earthquakes, Toronto FC and the Portland Timbers - about 50-50 good/bad matchups. SKC's not much better, seeing as their next four matchups are with the Chicago Fire, D.C. United, the Colorado Rapids and the New England Revolution. There very well may be attacking points going forward, though I would suspect not nearly as many as this past round's bonanza.
If you're also looking forward on the schedule as I am, you probably saw the pile of DGW teams on the horizon. This week sees Colorado and the New York Red Bulls doubling up, Round 10 has the quartet of Houston, LA Galaxy, Real Salt Lake and San Jose, and Round 13 has the mother of all DGWs with Colorado, D.C., LA, Portland, RSL and the Seattle Sounders all doubling up. If you were thinking of using your wildcard, I would strongly suggest either of those two rounds - 10 and 13 - would be ideal times to remake the squad with as many DGW players as possible. Naturally, you'll want to focus on teams performing well, so, maybe ease up on the likes of San Jose and load up on, say, D.C. United. The Black and Red in particular are a fantasy gold mine as they have three - three! - DGWs between now and Round 14. They're even one of the lucky teams playing on the mega-bye-week that is Round 15... but we'll get to that at a later date.
For now, let's focus on the golden rule of DGWs - you need players who are likely to play in both matches to maximize your points gain. Combine that with a focus on good players and you should be raking in fantasy points. Pay close attention to the injury reports and team news as DGWs approach; for example, the scuttlebutt has it that NYRB's Lloyd Sam ($8.9m) is dealing with hamstring knock, which explains his early exit from last week's draw with LA. As a high-fantasy-scoring midfielder on his team, Sam's loss will be felt by fantasy owners if he only plays one of the two matches. This might be the ideal time to switch horses and invest in Felipe ($8.4m), who is tied with Sam on 40 points and $0.5m cheaper. Other reports suggest that NYRB head coach Jesse Marsch will be rotating his squad everywhere but in centre-back - this means Damien Perrinelle ($6.7m) and Matt Miazga ($5.6m) could have two cracks at a clean sheet along with obvious goalkeeper Luis Robles ($5.6m). Home against Colorado, I like their chances; away against a resurgent New England offence, not so much.
Round 8 Top Score
Despite a rough week, Tony O'Donoghue and the Have A Go Heroes kept their top spot in the Eighty Six Forever leaderboard thanks to, well, everyone else up top also having a rough week. That slump did allow some upstarts to come roaring into contention, including the generically named Columbus Crew SC coached by Crew Fan who now sits two back of Tony in 2nd place thanks to an impressive 67 points in Round 8. The top score of the round, though, went to Edward Pichette's Maine Machine who clocked in with an amazing 89, the 9th-best score in the entire game:
Ethan Finlay ($8.3m), you are wonderful. Kei Kamara ($8.6m), you're not half-bad yourself.
Matchups To Watch
3. Philadelphia Union vs. Toronto FC
At this point, betting against Philly is so reliable it's almost sad. Yes, they'll have a slight home advantage but against Jozy Altidore ($9.8m) & Co., will that even matter? I'd wager no. Expect misery for the Sons of Ben.
2. New York Red Bulls vs. Colorado Rapids
Not only does the DGW aspect of this game and NYRB's great start to the season make this one to watch, Colorado is showing signs of growing a spine. The Rapids drew 1-1 against FC Dallas over the weekend to go with their 4-0 stomping of the Hoops earlier. Even the 3-1 loss to Seattle was a good distance apart performance-wise from the three 0-0 draws to start the season. That said, this is a solid NYRB team at home - a team I expect will be too much for the Rapids.
1. D.C. United vs. Columbus Crew SC
That Fabian Espindola ($10.0m) guy sure looks to be the piece D.C.'s been missing, doesn't he? That six-game suspension clearly couldn't have ended fast enough for Ben Olsen's side. Now they get to test themselves against a Crew side that is undefeated in four games (2W-2D) and has outscored their opponents 9-3 during that stretch. Finlay in particular is bossing midfields in the absence of Will Trapp ($7.0m), which has to make Columbus (cough and CanMNT cough) fans happy and fantasy managers giddy.