Fantasy MLS: Saturday Cheat Sheet
Fantasy MLS: Saturday Cheat Sheet

This article is part of our Daily Fantasy Soccer Cheat Sheet series.

MATCHES (EDT)

6:00 p.m: Columbus Crew v. Vancouver Whitecaps
7:00 p.m: Philadelphia Union v. Montreal Impact
7:30 p.m: New England Revolution v. NYC FC
8:30 p.m: Chicago Fire v. Toronto FC
9:00 p.m: FC Dallas v. Colorado Rapids
10:30 p.m: Portland Timbers v. Real Salt Lake
10:30 p.m: San Jose Earthquakes v. Seattle Sounders

ODDS REPORT

On Friday, the MLS weekend kicked off with a 3-3 draw between Sporting Kansas City had Houston Dynamo, two of the least exciting attacks in the league. At a glance, this weekend looks to be more of the same. Few games look to be clean sheet guarantees based on matchups alone. Plus, as the season winds down and teams need three points rather than just a draw, expect to see some teams open up in an effort to secure a playoff berth.

EXPECTED CORNER TAKERS

Columbus Crew: Federico Higuain
Vancouver Whitecaps: Christian Bolanos
Philadelphia Union: Tranquillo Barnetta
Montreal Impact: Ambroise Oyongo, Kyle Bekker, Ignacio Piatti
New England Revolution: Chris Tierney
NYC FC: Andrea Pirlo
Chicago Fire: John Goossens
Toronto FC: Michael Bradley
FC Dallas: Mauro Diaz
Colorado Rapids: Shkelzen Gashi
Portland Timbers: Diego Valeri
Real Salt Lake: Javier Morales, Joao Plata
San Jose Earthquakes: Simon Dawkins, Alberto Quintero
Seattle Sounders: Andreas Ivanschitz, Nicolas Lodeiro

PLAYER RECOMMENDATIONS

GOALKEEPER

Stefan Frei, Seattle Sounders ($3,900): Frei has been entirely off the radar of most fantasy MLS followers this season, in large part due to the subpar defense in front of him. He has been racking up the saves, though. A few things are going his way in this matchup at San Jose. For starters, the Earthquakes are poor at scoring. They create poor chances and take low percentage shots. Also, Roman Torres is back in the mix for Seattle. He's a big, imposing, international quality centerback who could elevate Seattle to MLS Cup contenders if Dempsey returns to health and form alongside Nicolas Lodeiro. A lot of the home keepers are priced much higher than the defense in front of them suggests they should be, so Frei appears the best value on the slate in goal.

Josh Saunders, New York City FC ($3,800):
Saunders is another road keeper, but on a road team I'm very confident in this week. New England are already one of the worst teams in the league, but now with an impending US Open Cup Final match a few days later. They're sure to have their eye on that more important match, their only shot at glory this season, and may rest some key players in anticipation. Take a team with three goals for in their last six matches, and then subtract talent, and suddenly the New York City defense look to be the prettiest girl at this weekend's dance.

DEFENDER

Ronald Matarrita, New York City FC ($6,100): If I'm paying up for a defender this weekend, Tierney and his high floor / high ceiling are tempting, but Ronald Matarrita is my preferred play. As mentioned, New England will have their eyes set on their midweek match, but New York City have their eyes set on maintaining first place in the Eastern Conference. Despite missing significant time with injury and international duty, Matarrita remains near the top of most DraftKings scoring categories for defenders. Patrick Viera trusts him to join the attack at will and he has the recovery speed that allows him to take chances. If Harrison Afful was last year's defensive newcomer that became a daily fantasy lock, Matarrita is this year's. Unfortunately, with defender prices becoming prohibitive, Matarrita is really only in play if you find several values in attack.

Vytautas Adriuskevicius, Portland Timbers ($4,400):
Another newcomer, but more affordable, Vytautas has been giving fantasy owners some solid outings since breaking into the Timbers starting lineup. He fills the stat sheet in a variety of ways, and his opponent, Real Salt Lake, are a team that have been favorable to opposing fullbacks this year. They're ambitious offensively, allowing the defenders to accumulate interceptions, tackles, and blocks. They also give up a healthy number of crosses, which Portland and Vytautas both are above average at producing. This is more in my comfort zone of spending, too, and if we're loading up on the goalscoring positions, we can hope for top shelf production from this middle tier priced defender.

Roman Torres, Seattle Sounders ($2,500):
Cheap centerbacks with set piece goalscoring potential are always in play, and Roman Torres fits that bill. Seattle sit just one point behind San Jose, but have much more positive momentum in their favor. I suspect that the Sounders will still give San Jose enough opportunity to allow Torres to accrue defensive stats, but what we're really hoping for is a goal for this minimum price defender. He's as capable as almost any centerback in the league, so this pick is a bit of a no-brainer for those willing to gamble.

MIDFIELDER

Tranquillo Barnetta, Philadelphia Union ($8,300): This may be the first week ever with Diego Valeri and Mauro Diaz in play, where I'm not heavily invested in either one of them. Part of that is FC Dallas' upcoming US Open Cup Final. The other is the great values sitting below them. Tranquillo Barnetta has been providing top production for a fraction of the price since regaining the #10 role in Philadelphia. His safe floor from crossing is enhanced by the high-powered attack the Union have for the first time in years. He chips in on defense, creates glorious chances for talented scorers like CJ Sapong and Chris Pontius, and has never been afraid to take the shots himself. His upside may be lower than a Ignacio Piatti or Diego Valeri, but in this matchup against a struggling Montreal Impact team that played just a few days ago, I'm once again on board with Tranquillo.

Nicolas Lodeiro, Seattle Sounders ($8,200):
The only reason to not take Tranquillo Barnetta this week is because Nicolas Lodeiro is an even better value. He's already a top 5 attacking midfielder in Major League Soccer but his price has not risen to match the output. San Jose have a reputation for a stingy defense at home, and it's somewhat warranted, but they're not playing at as high a level as they were when they developed that identity. Lodeiro should find enough room to escape Anibal Godoy and Fatai Alashe and give Jordan Morris at least a handful of excellent scoring opportunities. With two goals of his own to add to three assists in six games with the Sounders, I'd place my chips on Lodeiro producing against any team in the league right now. You should too.

Thomas McNamara, New York City FC ($4,800):
Cult hero Tommy Mac has slowed down since his early season points barrage, but I still am keeping the faith. With his price back in a reasonable range, and against New England, I'm buying this week. If David Villa rests, you can make an argument that McNamara's value is increased. He's shown some attacking chops, including a long range shot that Papa Pirlo has passed down to the next generation. There will be value in New York's front line, so McNamara isn't necessarily the only player you should consider. He's just the one I'm confident will start. Also in this price range are Dillon Powers and Darlington Nagbe, both of whom have similar potential and valued roles in their respective attacks. Take your pick!

FORWARD

Fanendo Adi, Portland Timbers ($7,800): After its offensive explosion against Seattle, and a one-goal performance in Dallas, I'm ready to trust the Portland attack again. Since Valeri may be out of our price range (still consider him), and the forward group this week is far from the strongest offerings we've had lately, I like Fanendo Adi as forward selection. He's shown that he can be an elite goalscorer in Major League Soccer, and although he's spent much of the summer in somewhat of a slump, Real Salt Lake provide a great opportunity for him to get back in form. Portland is better rested, at home, and clinging to the last playoff spot in the Western Conference. If a team is going to step it up this weekend, I know who my bet is on.

Tesho Akindele, FC Dallas ($5,000):
With FC Dallas nearing their US Open Cup final, I suspect super sub Tesho Akindele might get an extended start while Maxi Urruti rests. Tesho would be an every week starter on many MLS sides, but since he isn't currently, his price sits in a good place for when he breaks the lineup. If Mauro Diaz is serving Tesho crosses and through balls for even 45 minutes, $5,000 could be a steal for the former MLS Rookie of the Year. FC Dallas have a commanding lead in the Supporters Shield race, but I'm certain they will take this match seriously, too. Look for Dallas to take care of business both this weekend and in the Open Cup Final, and don't be scared to invest in whatever values pop up in their attack this weekend.

Tosaint Ricketts, Toronto FC ($4,900):
Giovinco may still be out with injury, but Jozy Altidore is in form right now. Tosaint Ricketts has a good chance to complement him this week as Toronto travel to Chicago. The Fire have been improved of late, eschewing defensive focus for more open attacking play. That bodes well for TFC who may be forced to chase the game and push for a goal. Ricketts has speed to burn and while Altidore commands all of the attention, I like the Canadian's chances to threaten for a goal. With lots of valuable midfielders and few appealing elite forwards, Ricketts follows what should be the proper salary allocation this week.

The author(s) of this article may play in daily fantasy contests including – but not limited to – games that they have provided recommendations or advice on in this article. In the course of playing in these games using their personal accounts, it's possible that they will use players in their lineups or other strategies that differ from the recommendations they have provided above. The recommendations in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of RotoWire. JD Bazzo plays in daily fantasy contests using the following accounts: DraftKings: OfficerBo, Yahoo: DeNirosDinero.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
JD Bazzo
JD is a contributing soccer writer at RotoWire and was a finalist for the 2017 FSWA Soccer Writer of the Year award. JD has been writing for RotoWire since 2015. He is a proud Pittsburgh native, purveyor of fantasy sports, and likely the first Penn State Basketball fan you've ever met.
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