This article is part of our DraftKings Fantasy Soccer series.
Week 2 is in the books, and many teams enter their third match with a break in sight as international play approaches, and DraftKings is throwing a massive seven game slate at us Saturday evening. Read on for a quick breakdown of how the teams playing Saturday evening have looked so far, how they'll match up, and what it means for various players.
While this article focuses on DraftKings contests, it should translate well to the official MLS version that now comes with unlimited weekly transfers. For a deeper dive into both formats, check out our weekly RotoWire Fantasy Soccer Podcast - MLS edition. You would also be remiss to not take a peek at Andrew Laird's MLS Cheat Sheet.
7 p.m. EDT
Columbus and DC have both had a couple lackluster results to start the year. United have yet to score a goal, and NYC FC dropped four on them last week. Columbus out-possessed Houston 60 to 40 percent in last week's 3-1 road defeat, and of the teams in this match, the Crew have shown many more signs of life offensively.
DC United are not as bad defensively as last week's scoreline shows, and they may get an attacking boost with Luciano Acosta returning to the lineup (likely as a substitute). Columbus is one of the surer bets to stick to its gameplan each and every week, for better and for worse. One notable Crew happening is that Harrison Afful was pulled at halftime last week for performance reasons. He's the league's most dangerous defender in terms of attacking talent, and also recovers extremely quickly on defense. If he's out, boost Patrick Nyarko who won't have quite as many defensive responsibilities
F Ola Kamara ($8,100): Kamara has seven shots through two matches and leads the league in expected goals, somewhat thanks to the goal he actually scored coming from "tap in" range. He's getting himself into good opportunities nonetheless thanks to the well-rounded trio of attackers underneath him in the formation. While they may not provide the most consistently dangerous attack as a team, they do create chances for their target forward routinely. If New York can bag four goals against United, Columbus on the road shouldn't cause us much pause.
M Ian Harkes ($3,500): If you have to scrape the bottom of the salary barrel, Harkes is a great option as DC United's box—to-box midfielder. He was one of the lone bright spots in their loss last week and should find more space to operate in this match. Harkes won't light up the scoreboard, but he'll fill in around the high-potential players you're able to afford should you roster him.
While all of the wingers in this match are intriguing options, I like Justin Meram ($7,000) the best thanks to his consistent production. Jukka Raitala ($4,100) didn't take long to increase in price, but is still good value considering all of the ways in which he's earned points. Bill Hamid ($5,000) disappointed on the road last week, but we'd all take a repeat performance of his five save clean sheet at home in week 1. It's certainly possible against a Columbus team that creates chances better than they finish them.
7:30 p.m. EDT
The jury is still very much out on both of these sides, but we can be sure of one thing: Orlando's crowd at its new stadium will show up in top form. The Union have been reasonably composed and could dampen Orlando's attack just as easily as NYC FC did on opening weekend, but the Lions also showed well defensively. Based on the small sample of three combined matches for these teams, I wouldn't expect a plethora of goals or even opportunities in this match.
GK Andre Blake ($4,300): Outside of a penalty kick, Andre Blake has faced just two shots and saved one through two matches. Philadelphia has been stingy on defense this year, but Orlando will find ways to put the ball on target. I'm not convinced that those shots will be of the highest quality, however, so I'm gravitating toward Andre Blake at a good price. He's one of the league's best keepers facing a team that hasn't had it's attack in order since joining MLS.
F Giles Barnes ($6,600): I haven't been incredibly confident in Giles Barnes since before Owen Coyle took the helm of Houston at the start of last season. Since then, Coyle has been fired, hired and fired again. Barnes has been dealt to Vancouver and now Orlando. Not much has changed, outside of Kaka getting injured in week one and Barnes coming on to provide the assist on Cyle Larin's game-winning goal. He's not the best creator or finisher, but Orlando will rely on him to help manufacture some offense. For $6,600, we could do much worse in a forward spot.
CJ Sapong ($5,200) is at a good price if, like me, you think Philly finds a handful of good chances on the road. Matias Perez Garcia ($6,100) could be a trap if you're expecting him to replace Kaka point for point, but he's likely over any set pieces that Orlando earns. Alejandro Bedoya ($4,200) let owners down last weekend with a missed penalty and then went on to stir up some media trouble with Jozy Altidore, but he's still a steal at this price even if we don't get points for controversies created.
8 p.m. EDT
As I see it, two scenarios play out in this match. Option A: Because of the upcoming break, FC Dallas play their starters again after a hard-fought victory Wednesday night in CONCACAF Champions League and they handily defeat the Revs. Option B: FC Dallas play their reserves against the Revs and, well, still deal with them fairly easily. These teams are on different planets at the moment, and the only benefit New England has is that its match was cancelled last week and it will be fresher. Of course, "because MLS," we'll probably see an off-the-wall New England victory by multiple goals.
D Kellyn Acosta ($4,500): Acosta can't stop scoring. I can't stop rostering him. Bruce Arena is even ready to use him at his natural position for the National Team. After his heroics gave Dallas a 2-1 victory over Pachuca in Champions League, Kellyn shouldn't have much trouble against a dysfunctional Revolution team. He won't keep up the goalscoring pace, but he is still taking set pieces, and we can play him a defender spot. I don't need to say much more, Acosta's recent performances sell themselves.
F Michael Barrios ($5,700): If Barrios slots into his usual spot on the right wing, I'll strongly consider him attacking against New England left back Chris Tierney. New England is going to have its hands full with whoever Dallas put at the center of their attack, and Barrios will be left alone to tackle the coverage of Tierney and probably Diego Fagundez. There are very few ways this matchup could go wrong for Barrios, and many scenarios where he should have success.
Cristian Colman ($5,200) and Tesho Akindele ($4,700) will have a distinct aerial advantage over the centerbacks of the Revolution and if either start, I'll be eager to use them. Kei Kamara ($5,500) and Lee Nguyen ($5,900) come in at great prices, but outside of a reserve heavy Dallas lineup, there are too many better matchups from which to mine fantasy points.
8:30 p.m. EDT
Expect Sporting to get on track in this match, while San Jose's skyrocketing expectations receive a sharp correction. Kansas City hasn't scored yet this season, but it hasn't conceded either. It sits in the middle of the pack in both expected goals for and expected goals against. San Jose has impressed, but played with an extra man for over half of its minutes this season.
F Dom Dwyer ($9,000): Dwyer is going to score a lot of goals this season, they just haven't come quite yet. With nine shots and nine fouls drawn through two matches, he's still getting a handful of points that will make for a nice foundation when he finally buries a chance. Teammates like Benny Feilhaber and Gerso Fernandes should continue to create plenty of scoring opportunities for Dwyer, who I think is well worth the high price tag this week, but remains a risky proposition in cash games.
M Benny Feilhaber ($8,300): Benny will be disappointed to have not been called into the U.S. National Team once again, particularly after a strong January camp. He's definitely a player who thrives on motivation, so I'm looking for him to respond in a strong way this weekend. Feilhaber has collected 19 points through two matches, despite just one shot on target and no goals or assists. Like Dwyer, he will be posting some great scores when things start falling his way in the near future.
Jahmir Hyka ($5,500) was subbed on at halftime last match and led the Quakes comeback with assists on both second-half goals. It's hard to get behind a $5,700 price for somebody who has played just 180 minutes of MLS action, but Nick Lima is surpassing every expectation placed upon him. You can bank on Anibal Godoy ($6,400) continuing to put up monster performances, and he's a great all-around player, but I'm not paying such a high premium for recent offensive output that he rarely flashed last season.
9 p.m. EDT
This match features an unstoppable force (Minnesota's leaky defense) vs. an immovable object (Colorado's toothless attack). Something will have to give.
M Kevin Molino ($5,500): Believe it or not, Minnesota is actually in the top half of the league in expected goals. Much of that is due to Molino's strong start to the season. With all-star caliber defender Axel Sjoberg set to miss the next month or two after hamstring surgery, Colorado might have a few more mistakes defensively than usual. Road teams in Colorado aren't generally a fantasy target, but Minnesota's offense is being written off a little too quickly for my liking.
M Marlon Hairston ($4,500): Dominique Badji will be the flavor of the week, as Colorado's likely forward going against a team that has allowed 11 goals in two games, but $6,400 for a goal dependent forward that doesn't have a history of scoring a ton of goals is ... well ... not my cup of tea. I'd much rather invest in up-and-coming Marlon Hairston. He admittedly doesn't have a single shot attempt or cross on the season, but he still managed seven points last week on the road against the Red Bulls. It's probable that any of Colorado's front four will do, but figuring out how much to invest and what roster spots to plug them into will be key on this slate.
Bobby Shuttleworth ($3,800) could be hung out to dry, but the potential for plenty of saves is there as well. He's the cheapest keeper on the slate. I don't think Shkelzen Gashi ($9,200) starts, but he's hard to overlook if he does, even considering his relative lack of fitness. If there's ever a match to play Kevin Doyle ($6,300) in, this is probably it.
9:30 p.m. EDT
Neither of these teams have scored a goal from open play in 2017. While that probably changes in this match, it's hard to pinpoint exactly from where those goals will come. Giovani dos Santos is likely out, after sustaining a minor hamstring injury in the last match and Galaxy centerback Jelle van Damme is suspended after a hotly debated set of yellow cards last week. The Galaxy defense likely would be ravaged by good attacking sides, but Real Salt Lake is not one of those teams at the moment.
M Albert Rusnak ($5,800): Rusnak had 15 crosses in Chicago last week, but has yet to put a shot on target. I'm looking for much more aggression from him in the attacking third, instead of being content to float on the wings, but I can't blame him for trying to escape Dax McCarty in the center of the pitch last match. With wild and dangerous Jermaine Jones and Joao Pedro roaming the center of the pitch for Los Angeles, Rusnak may again find himself more comfortable on the outskirts of the attack. All of that considered, he's still an outstanding value for a playmaker and set piece taker at home against a poor back line.
F Jose Villareal ($3,900): Villareal appears likely to slot in for Gio dos Santos, and he has the qualities to be an exciting MLS attacker. Many will tab RSL for a clean sheet in this match, as L.A. has yet to show that it has its ducks in a row offensively, but I see it getting a respectable number of chances. Villareal can score DraftKings points in a number of ways, and the price is really appealing for a forward who isn't goal dependent. Just be advised that the Galaxy lineup isn't the most predictable at the moment.
With Joao Plata and Jordan Allen out once more, Brooks Lennon ($3,400), Ricardo Velazco ($4,500), and Sebastian Saucedo ($3,800) all make for quality value options. Real Salt Lake should score, and at least one of them is likely to be a contributor. Jermaine Jones ($4,400) shouldn't be overlooked either, and could factor into the attack more without dos Santos in the picture.
10:30 p.m. EDT
Houston is the darling of the opening two weeks in MLS, but Portland is here to ruin the party. The Dynamo focus on playing sound team defense, while using their front three to press and counter-attack. On the road in Houston, this will be exaggerated even more than it has been during their opening home fixtures. Portland isn't a team that you can give many chances to, and given its strong midfield, it's not a team that can be exposed easily on the counter. At best, Houston grab a goal in this match, but at worst Portland embarrass it like it did Minnesota United in week 1.
M Sebastian Blanco ($6,200): Unless something crazy happens, Blanco and Diego Valeri should be create opportunities all night against Houston. Both veterans will not be easily shaken by high pressure, but they will be able to expose any vulnerabilities that Houston's aggressive approach opens up. Valeri has been the more productive player through two matches, but he also costs $4,800 more than Blanco. I like this matchup so much, that fitting both into a lineup isn't an absurd strategy either.
D Alvas Powell ($5,100): Outside of Acosta, Alvas Powell is likely the premier attacking fullback on this slate. Given the cheap midfield and forward values we've highlighted above, Powell's price is fairly affordable, too. He will need to deal with Romell Quioto, but the best way to do that might be making him track back on defense as Powell pushes up the wing. A clean sheet is certainly possible for the Timbers, giving Powell an additional positive factor.
Fanendo Adi ($8,800) is probably going to score, just accept it. If I have to take a Houston player, lightning quick Alberth Elis ($4,600) running at a recovering Vytas or inexperienced Marco Farfan on the Timbers left flank could be an interesting sleeper.