This article is part of our MLS Fantasy Strategies series.The end is near with just four rounds remaining in MLS Fantasy Manager. Just as MLS teams are jockeying for playoff positioning, Round 31 is prime time to make a move up the fantasy leaderboard. While eight teams play twice this round, be mindful of the Round 32 schedule too, as 14 of 20 teams will be inactive. With that being said, let's hone in on the top players at each position that could earn a bonanza of points in Round 31.
|DGW Teams||Wed, Sept 28||Sat./Sun, Oct 1-2|
|Chicago Fire*||at Seattle Sounders||at Columbus Crew SC|
|Columbus Crew SC||at D.C. United||vs. Chicago Fire|
|D.C. United||vs. Columbus Crew SC||at Toronto FC|
|Montreal Impact||vs. San Jose Earthquakes||at Orlando City SC|
|Orlando City SC||at Toronto FC||vs. Montreal Impact|
|San Jose Earthquakes||at Montreal Impact||vs. Real Salt Lake|
|Seattle Sounders||vs. Chicago Fire||at Vancouver Whitecaps|
|Toronto FC**||vs. Orlando City SC||vs. D.C. United|
* only team with two road games
** only team with two home games
Highlighted teams also play in Round 32
Lodeiro has single-handedly revived the Seattle attack since entering the lineup nine games ago. He's played a part in a goal in eight straight games and has scored at least eight fantasy points in six of those eight games. The Sounders are in a good position heading into their last five games, and they'll continue to lean on their new leader as they battle for a playoff berth. Given his ability to produce fantasy points regardless of goals or assists, Lodeiro is a must-have this round and is a top candidate for the captain's armband.
Kamara has come alive with five goals and 39 fantasy points over his last three games. He's scored a brace in consecutive games, and suddenly Crew SC have renewed hope as they chase the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. Columbus kick the DGW off with a pivotal game at D.C. United on Wednesday before returning home to face the Chicago Fire. Look for Kamara to stay hot as Columbus fight for their playoff lives.
Morris has caught lightning in a bottle at just the right time for Seattle. The Rookie of the Year frontrunner has four goals in his last four games, including a two-goal, 13-point effort in Sunday's upset win at the LA Galaxy. The Sounders have positioned themselves to snatch the last playoff spot in the Western Conference, and a pair of favorable matchups beginning with the Chicago Fire on Wednesday makes Morris one of the most sought after transfers in Round 31.
Despite coming up empty handed against Philadelphia on Saturday, Altidore is in fine form with seven goals over his last eight appearances. There's a possibility Sebastian Giovinco could return in Round 31, which would only enhance Altidore's fantasy appeal.
Other forwards to consider: Patrick Mullins (D.C. United); Cyle Larin (Orlando City SC), Didier Drogba (Montreal Impact); Chris Wondolowski (San Jose Earthquakes); Luciano Acosta (D.C. United); Henok Goitom (San Jose Earthquakes)
The Impact have been fading fast and suddenly are in jeopardy of missing the playoffs. While Piatti hasn't scored or assisted in four straight games, the fact remains that he's the second-highest scoring midfielder in MLS Fantasy. Take away his three-point effort from Saturday and his totals have actually been somewhat respectable despite the lack of production. With two games this round, a double-digit total is a near guarantee, and he could very well top that on Wednesday alone by breaking out of his funk for his 15th goal of the season.
As Kaka goes, Orlando City goes. Kaka's fantasy totals have been pedestrian over Orlando City's current three-game losing skid, with just nine total points in those games. If Orlando City are to make a playoff push, production from their Brazilian DP is a must. Orlando kicks off the DGW with a tough road game at Toronto FC, but particularly enticing is Sunday's home game against the Montreal Impact, who Kaka scored a brace against in a convincing 4-1 win on the road just three weeks ago.
Other midfielders to consider: David Accam (Chicago Fire); Lloyd Sam (D.C. United); Justin Meram (Columbus Crew SC); Osvaldo Alonso (Seattle Sounders); Ethan Finlay (Columbus Crew SC); Matias Perez Garcia (Orlando City SC); Patrick Nyarko (D.C. United)
Morrow scored his fourth goal of the season against Philadelphia on Saturday, and he has factored onto the scoresheet in three straight games. The left back has piled up 20 points over the last three rounds, and with a pair of home games he's a good candidate to earn both attacking and defensive fantasy points.
Afful has a combined 15 points over the last two rounds, including a nine-point effort in Sunday's win over the Revs. He's earning bonus points on both sides of the ball, and with the Crew desperate for results, it would be no surprise to see him pop up with an assist this round.
Irwin returned in Round 30 after missing 14 games with a quad injury. He has the distinction of being the only goalkeeper with two home games in Round 31, albeit against two teams fighting for the playoffs. Toronto FC are, however, fighting for first place in the Eastern Conference, and with a game in hand on current leaders New York Red Bulls we can expect a spirited effort from the Reds this round.
The Sounders suddenly find themselves in a prime position to leapfrog rival Portland Timbers for the last playoff spot in the Western Conference. They'll be eying Wednesday's game against Chicago as a must win, and considering what's at stake, Frei looks to be the goalkeeper most likely to come away with a clean sheet in the midweek games.