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Those of you who've been paying close attention to my fantasy articles over the last two seasons may have noticed an interesting trend: I take great pains to not talk about the Vancouver Whitecaps. The reason is simple - homerism. The toughest part of being both an ardent supporter of a team and a fan of fantasy sports is separating emotion from logic. Our emotional sides hope that a player turns a bad run of form around or keeps a good run of form going indefinitely. Our logical sides know we'd like to win, please and thank you, so it's time to start dropping duds and picking up studs. In my case, I'm so enthralled with the Whitecaps' run up the table both in fantasy and the real world that I'm finding it tough not to charge to the front of the parade, waving a blue and white banner and proclaiming the 'Caps to be the money team that cures fantasy woes after five weeks. So, for once, let's indulge that side and see if going full homer is worth the investment.
Oh, what's that? Octavio Rivero ($8.8m) is averaging 6.0 points a game and is the top fantasy forward with 31 points? David Ousted ($5.5m) is doing even better averaging 6.8/game? Hm. Very tempting. Next question: is that sustainable?
In Rivero's case, his four goals on 17 shots (9 on target) is good for a 23.5% finishing rate and 0.81 goals-per-90-minutes, which is downright decent. Neither of those stats seem exceptionally inflated, especially when compared to the likes of Clint Dempsey ($11.3m) who boasts a 42.9% finishing rate and 1.01 G/90. We have a word for streaks like Deuce's:
skidmarks unsustainable. Last year's golden boot winner, Bradley Wright-Phillips ($10.9m) finished with a 24.8% finishing rate for his 27 goals, which is well within the realms of sustainability and worth investing in. Rivero's in that ballpark, which backs up the claim of consistency that comes with scoring four goals in five matches. Dempsey is not and I'd expect that number to regress to the mean sooner rather than later.
On the backline, Vancouver's three clean sheets are matched by D.C. United, FC Dallas, the Seattle Sounders and the Colorado Rapids. Colorado is the outlier there, being incapable of scoring and having been given favourable, goal-starved opposition in the Philadelphia Union, New York City FC and the Houston Dynamo. (A brief aside on the Rapids - this team is all kinds of hot mess. Maybe it's better Deshorn Brown got out of town when he did. Not even the goalkeeping heroics of Clint Irwin ($5.0m) are worth the fantasy investment.) Among the remaining four 'keepers, Ousted is actually the worst of the lot, with the lowest save percentage (75%) and tied with the worst goals-against average (0.80). Heck, even Houston's Tyler Deric ($5.0m), who has one fewer clean sheet, has a better GAA (0.60) and Sv% (89%). And yet, despite all that, Ousted is tied with D.C.'s Bill Hamid ($6.3m) for the second-best fantasy score (29) among all goalkeepers. (Dallas' Chris Seitz ($5.1m) is the current champion with 35 points.) So, what do we take away from this? In short - if you have Ousted, keep him. If you don't, it actually makes more sense to not pick up Ousted after this double-game week (DGW) is over. Seitz and Deric are cheaper and boast better underlying stats, though Deric comes with the catch of playing for Houston and Seitz has Oscar Pareja for a head coach, so, caveat emptor.
Round 5 Top Score
The jostling atop the Eighty Six Forever leaderboard continues undeterred, with our newest king being Ben LeFevre and his Harlem End Hooligans. Despite being a Chicago Fire supporter, Ben hasn't let emotion rule his team and rode the heroics of Ousted, Waston, Rivero and Pedro Morales ($11.3m) to victory. His 69 points wasn't the best score of the round in our league, though. That honour goes to John-Luca Ciaccia of Impero Calcio, who posted an 86 en route to the 7th best score in the game:
Looks like a trend is emerging: double your double-Morales build for great results. John-Luca also followed the now-standard build of Ousted, Waston, Morales and Rivero - a build so potent it overcame the last-minute scratching of LA Galaxy midfielder Jose Villareal ($6.3m)
Matchups To Watch
3. New England Revolution vs. Columbus Crew SC
Has the dumpster fire truly been put out in Massachusetts? The Revs have conceded one goal in three matches, during which they've gone 2W-0L-1D. Now, yes, those wins were against Colorado and the San Jose Earthquakes, and yes, that draw was against the Montreal Impact. That's not exactly a powerful body of work. Still, winning easy matches is something you should be doing. Against a Crew side returning from a mid-week match on the other coast, the Revs should be able to rack up the points and perhaps post another clean sheet. Then again, Federico Higuain ($10.1m) will be back from his suspension and it's tough to bet against the Crew's talismanic playmaker on full rest.
2. San Jose Earthquakes vs. Vancouver Whitecaps
Fact: Dom Kinner-coached teams find ways to get the job done. They just do. Evidence: all those Houston Dynamo teams that fought, scratched and clawed their way into the playoffs, then beat more than a few people up once they arrived. While they do get a tired Vancouver side at home, which should be an advantage, San Jose will be without Innocent Emeghara ($9.0m) after the MLS Disciplinary Committee suspended him for one game. Couple that what we as 'Caps supporters know about Carl Robinson's depth and this might be fun in the California sun.
1. Vancouver Whitecaps vs. Columbus Crew SC
You did remember to load up on Vancouver and Columbus players for the DGW, right? If you're reading this before 7pm, you still have time! Go! Get those players! There will be points! Just watch out for squad rotation and try not to get caught fielding only players that play in one fixture. We know the usual suspects for Vancouver; for Columbus, the safest bets are goalkeeper Steve Clark ($5.6m) and CanMNT-eligible (just sayin') midfielder Ethan Finlay ($8.1m).