Last week I covered my Early Keeper Picks, today I’m going to go more in-depth about the early defenders I like. As with my keeper article, this will expand upon what I already posted in my first MLS article so take a look at both to get the full picture.
When it comes to defenders, I don’t try to hide my bias. I love center backs. They are big, they are strong, and they are in the best position to rack up the best bonus point generating stat, CBIs (Clearances, Blocks, and Interceptions).
When you look at the stats from last year, there are three defenders who stand out above the rest. Kendall Waston (VAN $8.5), Liam Ridgewell (POR $8.5), and Omar Gonzalez (LA $9.0). All three of these players missed portions of the 2014 season (Waston and Ridgewell joined in the second part of the season and Gonzalez was at the World Cup) yet, they were still able to generate PP90 numbers that exceed the expectations for their price range. When you also consider that their teams have no bye weeks for the first half of the season, I don’t see how you can have a defensive line without at least one of them.
But, unfortunately every player on your team can’t cost $8.5m+ and I did say you should have at least one. This means you’re going to need to pad the rest of your defense with more reasonably priced defenders. I already covered several of the cheapest options in my latest MLS article, so here are some other options who come it at a little higher price point.
Emanuel Pogatetz (CLB $6.5) has been a hot topic at /r/FantasyMLS and I agree that he has promise. Columbus ended last season on strong form, and he’s set to be paired with one of the top 2014 Fantasy CBs. The early byes in Round 3 and 5 are the only reason you may want to hold off on adding him to your team just now. Ethan White (PHI $6.5) spent much of his time on the bench last year, but earned a starting spot for most of the second half of the season. He’s paired with a new CB so it’s hard to know exactly what to expect, except that he’ll be a starter. I’m probably going to get in trouble for mentioning this last name, but if you have not taken a look at Ike Opara (SKC $7.0) yet you should. An early injury ended his 2014 season so be sure to look back at his 2013 numbers, which are very impressive (14.2 CBI/90 and 7.4 PP90).
Box to Box Men
The prevailing argument for why managers should consider full backs has two pieces to it. The first is that they get up the field more frequently thus increasing their chances for assists and goals. The second is that they tend to be cheaper than CBs and still earn the clean sheet bonus. They also tend to earn fewer points overall, but with the right opponent, some may be worth a look due to the increased chance a goal and assist has at making defender prices rise.
Here’s five name to put on your value short list. In order of most 2014 points: Lovael Palmer (CHI $6.0), Sheanon Williams (NYC $6.5), Waylon Francis (CLB $6.5), Justin Morrow (TOR $6.5), and Marc Burch (COL $5.5). All of these players proved capable of earning assist and/or scoring goals last season and are set to be starters.
These are the 2015 early defender picks that stand out to me, is there anyone you think should be added to this list? Share your thoughts in the comments below, by posting on /r/FantasyMLS, or send a tweet to @MLSFantasyBoss. Also, don’t forget to join in on the FREE live MLS Fantasy chat her at MLs Fantasy Boss!