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Remember how I mentioned last week that Laurent Ciman ($7.8m) of the Montreal Impact is a fantasy must-buy? Really, I did say that - it's one of the few fantasy picks I nailed in that column (ahem). It's true, too; Ciman banked another 8 points to match his Round 15 total and is now primed for a DGW against Toronto FC and the Philadelphia Union. Yes please, yes please, yes please. Ciman is still only owned by 7.8% of owners - the same number as his price. I have a hunch neither of those numbers will stay still for long.
Ciman and Benny Feilhaber ($10.2m) were the only highlights on my dismal fantasy team, which saw me clock in with a disastrously poor 33 points. I could've had 37 had I just skipped the -4 penalty I took swapping out Clint Dempsey ($11.8m) for Pedro Morales ($11.4m). Unbeknownst to most fantasy followers (and, it turned out, most 'Caps fans), Morales is day-to-day nursing a calf strain, which for some reason does not show up as an injury in the game. Thus, I banked 0 points for starting Morales - same as Dempsey and all my substitutes - and wasted four points for nothing. Curse you, late-breaking injury news!
Pedro Morales is day-to-day with a left calf strain #VWFC— Vancouver Whitecaps (@WhitecapsFC) June 20, 2015
Consider yourself warned for future rounds.
Elsewhere, we saw the San Jose Earthquakes stun the Seattle Sounders in what was a jarring wake-up call for supporters of the rave green. How long have people been musing that all the scoring was coming from Dempsey and Obafemi Martins ($11.7m)? Well, guess what two players won't be suiting up for Seattle in the immediate future? I'm not sounding the ABANDON SHIP klaxon (yet) though I would caution you think twice about anyone not named Stefan Frei ($5.8m). Frei is still the highest-scoring fantasy goalkeeper in the game, though David Ousted ($5.7m) has closed to within two points thanks to his double-penalty-save heroics. Out east, D.C. United picked up another win though they did so with another juggled line-up. D.C.'s unfathomably hectic early season is making DGWs a risky proposition for fantasy managers. How on earth can you bank on two starts with anyone not named Bill Hamid ($6.5m)? Do any field players have enough gas in the tank for back-to-back starts? More importantly, do these grind-it-out wins mean anything good for fantasy owners? Evidently, the answer to all questions is "no". The one saving grace here is Fabian Espindola ($10.4m); if he can stay healthy - and that's a mighty big "if" - D.C.'s offense will come alive. Looking long-term, D.C. have a bye in Round 19 which will be music to their ears and legs. Round 20 vs. FC Dallas and Round 21 vs. the Philadelphia Union could be fantasy bonanzas.
Round 16 Top Score
It was an off-week in the Eighty Six Forever fantasy league, at least compared to the usual scoring hauls. The top ten only saw the 50-point mark broken by two managers and matched by one, meaning large gains were on the table for the other players. Two players in particular made those gains, both from well outside the lead group: Brandon Wilde of Gonzo Quixote posted a 70 to rise to 50th place, while our top score of the round came all the way back at now-77th-placed (and aptly-named) Blind Luck FC, coached by Paul Parsons. Here's what blind luck looks like:
A couple autosubs here, a Javier Morales ($11.5m) captaining there, Ousted working his magic... yup, that's a good week at the fantasy office.
Matchups To Watch
3. Columbus Crew SC vs. New England Revolution
Columbus had a week off to prepare for this - now we get to see if Kei Kamara ($9.1m), Federico Higuain ($10.6m) et al can bust the Crew out of their six-game winless slump. I hope for this not just as a fantasy manager who wants the Crew to become a reliable mid-price team again but as a Vancouver Whitecaps fan who wants to see the Revs beaten up midweek before they return home to play Vancouver.
2. FC Dallas vs. Houston Dynamo
Putting aside the part where the winner of this derby gets a freakin' cannon(!), this match intrigues me because of the directions both teams are going in. FC Dallas, once the hottest of hot fantasy picks, are lukewarm at best. Houston, garbage early on, are picking up results. Is this where Fabian Castillo ($10.3m) rediscovers his touch and bosses the midfield, or does Will Bruin ($8.4m) still have some mileage in his latest scoring streak?
1. Portland Timbers vs. Seattle Sounders FC
Portland is winning (four in five). Seattle is sorta-winning (three in five). Both have midweek matches. It's a tantalizing Cascadian derby in Portland, which if you're a fantasy manager (and a 'Caps supporter) you're hoping means Portland puts the boots to their fiercest rivals. Right now, the top five fantasy earners for the Timbers are all on the backline - four defenders and goalkeeper Adam Kwarasey ($5.7m). Jorge Villafana ($6.4m) is a defender in serious form (7.5), though keep an eye out for Gaston Fernandez ($8.7m) and Maximiliano Urruti ($8.7m) who are heating up.