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MLS Fantasy Roundup 2015 - Round 12

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In which we offer overtures to our new fantasy deity, Benny Feilhaber, investigate the Chicago midfield and lick our chops in anticipation of a Round 13 bonanza.

"There he is! It's Captain Fantasy! Get him!"
"There he is! It's Captain Fantasy! Get him!"
Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

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

Benny, Benny, Benny, can't you see /
Sometimes your points just hypnotize me /
And I just love your scoring ways /
SKC my love is here to stay
--probably not Slick Rick

I'm calling it now - the mantle of "Captain Fantasy" (for Sporting Kansas City, at least) has been passed from Graham Zusi ($10.6m) to Benny Feilhaber ($9.9m). Feilhaber cashed in on SKC's demolition of the New England Revolution (a result I correctly predicted in my "Matches to Watch", just sayin', no big deal) to the tune of 15 points, then added on another 5 from the clean sheet against the Seattle Sounders, for a grand total of 20. That's an absurdly solid haul for a DGW player, one that I'm very glad I captained. Thing is, Benny's not getting these results as outliers. He's dipped below 5 points only twice (Round 3 vs. Portland Timbers, Round 10 vs. D.C. United) and has four(!) rounds of 10+ points. His season-to-date total of 91 points is 13 better than his nearest competitor, Kei Kamara ($9.0m). If that's not a compelling "Captain Fantasy" case, I just don't know what is. Here's the crazy part - there are actually players with better form, according to the MLS Fantasy charts. Clint Dempsey ($11.8m) and Mauro Diaz ($9.5m) are boasting a form rating of 8.3 and 8.0 respectively. Those are obscene, crazy numbers that reek of unsustainability - so, naturally, I'm buying into the Deuce hype for the Round 13 DGW. Hey, it's my wildcard round, so, why not?

A quick note about wildcards - since I'm an idiot, I implied Round 15 would be a potential transfer hazard worthy of a wildcard. Nope! Round 15, thanks to all the Gold Cup shenanigans (not to be confused with last night's CONCACAF shenanigans), is an "Unlimited Transfers" round, which is just what the name suggests. Retool your squad as you see fit to avoid all the bye-week teams, though be careful - Round 16 is not afforded the same luxury. Don't shoot yourself in the foot for future rounds.

Going back to Round 12, there are two important things to note: one, lower-table teams are making waves that will raise their fantasy values; and two, abandon ship on Shipp. First, the lower-table teams. While there are no guarantees that the Philadelphia Union and Colorado Rapids will keep their winning ways alive - so if you're going to try and turn a profit, do it now - I'm starting to think the Montreal Impact may have recovered from their CONCACAF Champions League all-in strategy to put on a competent Major League Soccer campaign. Now, should you go hog-wild and load up on four L'Impact players? Of course not. A spot investment in Laurent Ciman ($7.6m), Andres Romero ($7.7m) or Jack McInerney ($7.6m), however, would be a very good piece of business if you can get (a) points and (b) profit out of the deal. Now, onto Harrison Shipp ($7.9m), who I mentioned previously was not a good buy compared to teammate Jeff Larentowicz ($7.8m). Sadly, that's still true and it's getting worse. Shipp's form has dropped to 2.5, his point total is stagnating and his position on the team is being contested by Shaun Maloney ($9.3m). Maloney, incidentally, has the same form rating as Larentowicz: 5.8. What makes Maloney a poor pick even over Shipp is the price - $9.3m isn't a "maybe he'll get a good run of form with some starts" price point. Stick with Larentowicz and take a "wait and see" approach to the rest of the roster.

Have you taken a look at the DGW teams for Round 13? You really should - Portland (meh), Colorado (budget players ahoy!), LA Galaxy (heating up), Real Salt Lake (yes), D.C. United (YES) and Seattle (YEEEESSSSSSS). This is why I picked Round 13 as my wildcard round - a chance to load up on hot teams with players in good form for a shot at mega points? Yes, please, and thank you. There are so many good options on the table: Axel Sjoberg ($4.8m), front-runner in the 2015 Budget Player of the Year award; Jose Villareal ($6.3m), who roughly 22% of all managers hadn't noticed was injured the past two months but is now back; Luke Mulholland ($8.3m) and Tony Beltran ($6.8m), who are bucking the trend of RSL's players being frustratingly unaffordable; Kofi Opare ($5.2m), currently second in the 2015 Budget Player of the Year award; Perry Kitchen ($7.6m), who for some reason has fewer managers invested compared to Davy Arnaud ($6.5m) for reasons I can only assume are related to price; and, well... about two-thirds of the Seattle roster. There's an absurd wealth of players here: Dempsey, Stefan Frei ($5.8m), Brad Evans ($7.8m) and Marco Pappa ($8.9m) are the obvious choices. Budget defenders like Tyrone Mears ($6.9m) and Dylan Remick ($6.0m) aren't bad, either. While it pains me to say positive things about the Flounders Sounders, I must admit they're a hot fantasy ticket right now. Hot team + DGW = buy.

Round 12 Top Score

Thanks to Feilhaber's Feil-heroics™, I'm up to 18th place in the Eighty Six Forever fantasy league. Staying in the Top 20 (my goal for every season) won't be easy, especially with the triple-point scores being thrown down with wild abandon. Leaders of old have been cast aside in favour of upstarts like Fid-The-Kid and Clavin FC (damn you, Corrigan!). As good as their triple-digit scores were, though, they weren't as good as the 111 points logged by our top score from the round and new overall leader, Barbara Red of Paisley SC, who's also the overall leader among all Houston Dynamo supporters(!) and 31st in game-wide scoring. That's not surprising when you see teams like this:

Round 12 86F Top Score

Benny, Benny, Benny, can't you see...

Matchups To Watch

3. Orlando City SC vs. Columbus Crew SC
I'm very curious to see how this match plays out. Kei Kamara and Cyle Larin ($5.9m) are two strikers who seem to know how to get the ball into the back of the net with some regularity at this moment. Will that last? For Kamara, maybe; for Larin, probably not. Depending on how this match plays out, you may want to consider cashing out on Larin and take the profit to the bank before Orlando's form tanks. Otherwise, the Canadian is still wickedly good value for a forward, even he's on your bench.

2. Seattle Sounders FC vs. Colorado Rapids
Look, Colorado, I love you and I'mma let you finish but Seattle is going to destroy you in this match. De-stroy you. Seattle even get the added bonus of a DGW entirely at home, as if their current form and roster wasn't already enough of an advantage over Pablo Mastroeni's plucky side. I wouldn't exactly bet on a Colorado clean sheet in this one. Against Portland, later in the week, in Colorado, sure. Here? No.

1. Sporting Kansas City vs. FC Dallas
The king is dead - long live the king. Maybe I wasn't too crazy to predict the demise of the Hoops' form and scoring prowess; maybe it was just premature. Is Fabian Castillo ($10.2m) still a fantasy stud? Perhaps, though he's injured right now, so, perhaps not. I'm more interested in Mauro Diaz ($9.5m), though, who is cheaper and in better form. Assuming Diaz doesn't get injured from the umpteen-bajillion fouls he suffers every game, he could be a smarter long-term pick - and he's only owned by 2% of all managers at this moment. Similarly, going down FC Dallas' roster, there are some surprisingly cheap starting options. Dan Kennedy ($5.0m), you fantasy bargain, welcome back from the dead.

With all that said, though, it doesn't change my opinion that SKC will romp in this one or at least put on a good attacking show. Even Krisztian Nemeth ($8.3m) and Jalil Anibaba ($6.5m) are in great form and reasonbly priced, though I think we all know who we can thank for being the engine that drives their current success. Benny, Benny, Benny, can't you see...