Welcome to the Gameweek #164 preview!
Before we get to the team builds I’ll talk about teams with favourable/unfavourable form/fixtures at the top.
This should help those who do not have the exact cards in the team builds. There are many ways to build a strong team each week and we will all be picking from different selections.
Note that projected line ups are mainly sourced from the excellent Rotowire who are often right but they aren’t mind readers and things do change last minute. I also do my own local news search but since I am doing this preview well before the deadline – do pay attention to the lineups before locking in your teams.
Week #164 Preview
Overall this is a tough gameweek with few really obvious mismatches between very strong and very weak teams. So we might see less stacking than usual (picking multiple players from the same team).
As per last weekend’s Match Report, something I’m wary of this week is further rotation/fatigue due to yesterday’s CONCACAF CL games featuring Atlanta, Toronto, Philadelphia, Columbus and Portland. It doesn’t mean we can’t use players from these teams but it makes rotation more likely and may result in underperformance – some like Valeri at Portland defied this trend but it was quite rare.
Whipping boys Cincinnati do not play this gameweek, possibly welcome relief for them as they need to get their act together.
Columbus Crew vs D.C United looks tasty on paper – Columbus strong favourites in both algorithm and betting odds. However they did play midweek making them rotation/fatigue risks. And D.C are stout defenders but weak in attack.
I might back the Columbus keeper Room and high baseliners like Artur as we anticipate high Columbus possession. I’d be less likely to back Columbus attacking assets or defenders with usually high threat/assist potential.
Kansas are strongly favoured in algorithm and betting yet opponents Austin are looking better than expected and it might be that algorithms and odds have not yet caught up with their ability.
They are playing really attractive football that is coming out well in the scoring system too. Kansas have struggled for possession so may not be as rich a source of baseline points. Still, if holding good Kansas attackers like Pulido I’d play them here – Austin are not tight at the back. However someone like Ring from Austin could do well for baselines if they keep insisting on having the ball. Austin remind me of an MLS Leeds.
Dallas look a good side to back versus Houston who have given away plenty of chances. And Houston give up possession a lot too, which can help baselines. We might go for in form Hollingshead or youngster Pepi is looking dangerous too. You could still back the Houston attack though – Urruti is getting plenty of chances to score.
Miami should be delivering weak baselines but have shown strength going forward. If you go with the CONCACAF CL narrative you might hope Atlanta are fatigued from their midweek game. Higuain if starting would be a strong shout, he’s a doubt though. Same for Robbie Robinson. But we could try Pizarro or Lewis Morgan who have been disappointing so far largely because of weak Miami possession. But both are capable of goals and assists.
I might also target players attacking Chicago, LA Galaxy and the SJ Earthquakes as these defences look soft.
Orlando, NYFC, Seattle, Nashville and Portland so far look solid defensively. Portland look unfortunate to concede 6 so far they have limited their opponents to few chances. That doesn’t mean any of these sides won’t concede in this free scoring league but I wouldn’t rush to put attacking players up against them unless they were exceptional or I had no other options.
And as per the match reports there are some players looking so dangerous that I’d pretty much put them in versus anyone. Ruidiaz. Castellanos. Beric. Buksa. Gil. Leal.
This is premium so has a large $10,000 budget. Whilst the budget is generous to permit premium choices, there is no sense spending more than we need to and I will still be considering efficiency. I expect to be coming in well under this budget most weeks.
Let’s start with Room since D.C are amongst the very worst MLS sides for goal threat, Columbus are a solid defensive team, and the keeper shouldn’t be too vulnerable to rotation due to that midweek fixture. $1,650. That’s not far off what it would cost to sign him in real life.
Hollingshead from Dallas can be our defender due to his excellent numbers – 1 assist this season and he is a regular chance creator plus has goal threat of his own. And Houston should give up possession and concede chances if they stick to the season script to date. $225.
In midfield we will go for Alex Ring from Austin, banking on Kansas’s low historic possession and Austin’s desire to get on the ball to get him a big baseline. $1,350 the cheapest price on the market today. Pricey.
At Forward I will go for Ruidiaz for the second week running because his threat is too strong to ignore. $1,750. I want to add Lodeiro too who could be starting and should be excellent in general but I respect the Portland defence a bit too much to double up on Seattle this week.
And we will add Rossi(C) who is back to fitness and whilst he disappointed holders last gameweek he was very close to scoring. Derby games can be tough but Galaxy have been ropey defensively so I’d be happy to target this. $2,300. We’ll make him Captain too, which is between him and Ruidiaz but Rossi has the better fixture.
$7,275 which is well under the big premium budget, but still more than I would want to pay. It’s a luxury team that can win but I wouldn’t call it great value exactly.
$5,000 budget. This is the closest to what I’d do in reality, I’m not working on a Premium budget myself – I like to work harder and win on a smaller budget than the team above because A) I’m not a millionaire and B) the less we spend the more return on investment when we win.
I’d expect the mid-price teams to ultimately deliver the best returns over a season, as we aren’t spending more than we have to on premium choices but nor are we scrimping on weak budget choices too often.
This week in particular there aren’t many obvious clean sheets on the table.
So for the keeper what I’d really do is play the best keeper I had from any halfway decent defence and avoid splashing mega bucks just for a mild improvement.
For this build though I’ll go for Frei whose been a consistent choice since my pre-season previews and he has not let us down. Reasonable value, relatively speaking. And whilst Portland are a tough game this week, the Sounders are solid generally. $1,250.
In defence we can go for Anton Walkes of Atlanta, trying his best to pull off his version of Zoolander’s “Blue Steel” pose in his picture there. The thinking here is that Miami are giving up the ball so easily, and this ball playing CB might rack up points if Miami sit back and play on the counter as they have all season. He’s also great value at $261.
He looks a good value squad player to rotate into fixtures like this, and also bring off the bench for a reliable 50-60 points if we are missing a player. He might do better than that this week if Miami let him spray the ball around. With these CONCACAF CL involved players though do check the team news carefully up to the deadline.
We bring in Quioto from Montreal for our midfield slot. In the match report from the last round of games I noted how Montreal battered Columbus and were unlucky not to score. I also think Vancouver are fortunate to get away with conceding just 3 with the chances they are giving away. Quioto is looking consistently strong for goal and assist potential. $700 the cheapest card available.
Alternatively, Mason Toye, if fit, looks a younger alternative to Quioto and could be good value in this improving Montreal team as per my last MLS match report.
The week before last I highlighted Diego Rubio’s strength, and it came through in the last game with him netting vs Vancouver. Let’s include him here as he faces Minnesota who have been surprisingly leaky for a side who should in theory be amongst the best. Not on current form they aren’t, so let’s target them. $562.
Let’s finish up with Beric at Chicago. He was in my premium team last time but blanked again. He also blanked in the match before that. Yet, he’s had good chances in both and has a strong historic record. This knocks him down in price into mid-price range as people are so impatient. It is not an easy game versus Philly but I will hope Philly are tired from their midweek CONCACAF game. $1,015 right now for a Beric.
$3,788 for this group, well under the mid-price budget.
Let’s try to land under $2,500 (1 ETH last week). I’ve been (possibly rightly) told off for calling this sort of team budget. What I’m talking about is a budget side that has a serious chance of competing for enough cards to be worth it. It’s all relative.
The weekly budget keeper is usually a lose-lose scenario. You are just spending too much of your budget here no matter what.
I was happy with the Willis choice last week as he did get the clean sheet he deserved eventually and it reminded people they were being way too knee-jerk to sell him so fast.
So it might have been the right trade but in terms of points per $ it’s not what I’d really want to be doing all the time in the budget team.
This time we’ll go for McCarthy at Miami who have been, perhaps surprisingly, solid. He does have eventual threat to his place from Marsman but he isn’t joining until Summer and McCarthy has been playing well. $716 the cheapest, an absolute steal for a goalkeeper in this game! (Excuse me a moment whilst I go and be sick).
In defence I like Afful at Columbus, who is at rotation risk as a CONCACAF CL involved player but he did come off early so could be relatively fresh. Do check before the deadline, though. Afful brings decent assist potential from right back, but my biggest hope is that D.C give up the ball easily as usual and also force a lot of duels, which Afful could rack up points for. $135.
Midfielder Kreilach came out of my match report well last time so we’ll use him here since Real Salt Lake are looking strong and have a kind fixture. Value at $217.
New England are strong. Buksa is strong. He was unlucky not to score last week, and his tepid scores are bringing him into budget range. I’d happily have him in a mid-price team and given time he should show his quality. It is not an easy fixture against Nashville, but we don’t often get to pick such quality players in the budget section. $611.
To stay well within budget we will go for 21 year old Casseres(C) who has impressed me for NYRB. They have Toronto who aren’t exactly easy pickings but Casseres has looked really strong in the season openers as a source of both goals and assists. He can captain, too. But I’d have been equally happy with Buksa captaining to be fair. Value at $421.
$2,100 all up.
I was almost able to squeeze in Pulido which would have been quite remarkable, missed out by a few bucks though, so I won’t cheat and I’m happy with the team as it is anyway.
This does highlight that this budget side feels easier to put together than it has in weeks, due to some price drops and a cheaper keeper being available. As well as more value options coming through in the match data.
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