The MLS Fantasy Manager game has finally opened and now it’s time to get down to the business of picking players. I’ll kick things off with my 2015 early keeper picks and then work my way through the other positions.
I’ve already made a few recommendations in my Preseason Picks article at MLSsoccer.com, so this article will cover others and go into a bit more depth. Be sure to read both to get the entire picture.
As I mentioned in my MLS article, I like keepers who rotate home games. The chart I currently have posted shows all of the rotations for the first 18 Weeks for MLS Fantasy. I only listed the first 18 weeks because that is right up to the Gold Cup and I expect that many people will be using a Wildcard around that time.
This year, there is no perfect rotation option in the first 18 weeks, but there are two 17 game rotations options. The first is in my MLS article, but the combination of Steve Clark (CLB $5.5) and Luis Marin (SKC $5.5) is actually the cheaper of the two. What I like about this combination is the excellent experience that Clark and the entire Columbus defensive unit bring to the table, that new starter Main will be playing behind a very solid SKC defense, and the Columbus Double Game in Week six will give you seven games worth of points in the first six weeks. Just keep in mind that Columbus has two bye weeks in the first six weeks and SKC starts out with a tough few weeks.
There are 10 keepers who rotate 16 games, and I really only like three of them. I touched on my favorites in the MLS article and second and third favorite include Los Angeles. At first glance, LA does not have the best starting schedule. However, when looking back through 2014 data on how often teams conceded goals (which you can find in the 2015 MLS Fantasy Primer), LA was tied for 2nd best at home and 3rd best on the road. Jaime Panedo (LA $6.0) pairs well with David Ousted (VAN $5.5) and Steve Clark (CLB $5.5), but Ousted is the best due to Vancouver not having any byes in the first six weeks and a double game in week six.
Single Keeper Option
Of course, for those of you who are trying to find places to trim your budget, having one starting keeper paired with a $4.0 bench warmer will save you up to $2m. This can go a long way when building a team, but there is a downside.
Using this method you are totally at the mercy of Bye Weeks. So you’ll have two options, you can either make a transfer for a different keeper when your starter has a bye, or you have to pick a keeper that has no bye weeks for a long stretch of games. I don’t have any recommendations if you are going to be making trades because I can’t predict when that will happen, but I can help with your other option.
There are nine teams that have no bye weeks during the first 14 weeks of the season (before the first free Wildcard). I’m going to scratch SJ, POR, and HOU off right at the start because they have a rough run of games or conceded a lot of goals last season.
Of the remaining six, four of these teams have two double game weeks and that puts them at the top of my list. David Ousted (VAN $5.5) takes my #1 spot because they have the best balance of a low 2014 goal concession record and opening schedule ease. Even though Jaime Panedo (LA $6.0) has a tougher opening schedule than Bobby Shuttleworth (NE $5.5), I still rank him higher because it’s possible to get three double game weeks out of LA before you have to worry about a bye in week 19. Finally, there is Rais Mbolhi (PHI $5.5) who seems to be the front runner for Philadelphia’s starting keeper spot. He’s new, and their defense has had a rough preseason so far, but you do get those two double game weeks.
These are the 2015 early keeper 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 sent a tweet to @MLSFantasyBoss. Also, don’t forget to join in on the FREE live MLS Fantasy chat her at MLs Fantasy Boss!