2023 Round 1 DiffeRANCHals

Every week, I’m going to go over my suggestions from last week, and determine if they were a good or bad pick based on position and points. To describe in detail the ranking system here is the metric: bust = 4 or fewer points (or not starting/on the bench), average = 5-6 points, good = 7-8 points, great = 9+ points. Players not available for selection I am disregarding and not counting as a positive or negative in the article.


Full 2022 Season Results: 22 Great, 25 Goods, 25 Average, 65 Busts

Hello everybody! Welcome back to the diffeRANCHal article: 2023 edition. I hope y’all enjoy the new banner that was designed special for this season! For anybody who doesn’t know what a differential is, let me explain. A differential (or diffeRANCHal) is a less common pick that has the potential to either score high or score low. It’s a way to stray away from the pack, but you could be straying the wrong way. A diamond in the rough, if you will. It’s a way to play catch-up (take a big lead in GW1), or fall further behind. Without further adieu, let’s get into the picks for week 1!


Matai Akinmboni, $4.5m (DCU Defender)

For the first pick of the diffeRANCHal article, I am rolling with a teenager in the form of Matai Akinmboni for DC United. Akinmboni has impressed Wayne Rooney so much in the preseason that he has expressed a potential starting position for the sixteen year old center back. DC United opens the season by hosting a lethal Toronto offense, but I am all for a cheap defender with the potential to rise in price in week 1.

Zac McGraw, $5.0m (Portland Defender)

Are you looking for a better matchup than DC hosting Toronto? Look no further than Zac McGraw and the Timbers hosting SKC. McGraw is the new starting center back, replacing Tuiloma. With SKC coming into the opening game without Johnny Russell, Portland’s defense may be a great pick in a low-scoring affair. 

Bill Tuiloma, $5.0m (Charlotte Defender)

Speaking of Bill Tuiloma… How about taking a look at the free kick banger himself. Bill recently was traded for $900k to Charlotte. With Corujo still being out injured, Tuiloma should be the starter on Saturday when Charlotte hosts the Revolution. The downside is that the Crown does not have their main goalkeeper, Kahlina. With Sisniega in net, Tuiloma is a risky pick with high upside if there is a direct free kick.

Jack Maher, $5.5m (Nashville Defender)

The best time to roll a differential player is in the first game of the week. It is also a good idea to shoot for a defender clean sheet. Jack Maher is the cheaper of the two Nashville center backs, coming in at $1m cheaper. Nashville also is hosting a NYCFC team which lost a lot of it’s attacking potential.

Eduard Lowen, $6.5m (STL Midfielder)

I absolutely love throwing a dart at the board when it comes to new teams entering the league. This year, I landed on Eduard Lowen for St. Louis. Lowen is the set piece taker, meaning he may get an assist or two in game week one.

Efra Alvarez, $7.0m (LA Galaxy Midfielder)

I cannot get through this article without a piece in the El Trafico game. For week one, I am rolling with Efra Alvarez. Should he start, the Galaxy winger plays a vital role in the attack. From what I understand, the weather in this game will be sideways rain, which also helps with potential goals.

Rodolfo Pizarro, $7.0m (Miami Midfielder)

The return of Pizza. Piza? Pizzzzzzzarrrrrooo. I would like to order a large pepperoni pizza with extra cheese. Can I also get a side of chicken and rice? Actually, scrap the chicken and rice, I don’t want any trouble. With Pizarro having a new goal scorer to deliver the ball to, he may be more fantasy relevant than the last time that we saw the Miami playmaker. Miami hosts a new Montreal offense that does not look dangerous on paper.

*Sergio Santos, $7.0m (Cincy Forward)

I am putting an asterisk on this pick due to being unaware of if Brenner will start on Saturday or Santos. Brenner has missed most of the preseason because he was entertaining trade offers and visiting his family in Brazil. He just arrived back with the team on Thursday morning. Should Brenner not be available to start, the natural replacement would be Sergio Santos. Santos made a name for himself when he was playing in Philly and now has a lot to prove in Cincinnati. With potentially the most favorable matchup out of the entire weekend for forwards, Cincy gets to host a transformed Houston team!

Sunasi Ibrahim, $5.5m (Montreal Forward)

To be totally honest, I do not know what to write about for Ibrahim. I was told that he is a potential starter with Miljevic being out for 8-12 weeks. If Sunasi is a starter, he will be either a winger or second forward. Montreal lost a lot of their midfield core after transferring away Mihailovic and not signing any replacement. This is a complete shot in the dark, so your guess is as good as mine with this pick!

*Heber, $7.0m (Seattle Forward)

Heber gets the same asterisk as Santos, but for a different reason. Raul Ruidiaz has been battling a hamstring injury that he suffered in their last preseason game. In the past this would put a damper on the Seattle attack, but after acquiring Heber, they are still very competitive. Heber has impressed during the preseason and wants to showcase that he can still score goals after being overshadowed by Taty Castellanos in NYCFC. Yes, I did have to make my Taty mention in 2023. Consider me the first person to do it this season!

About Tyler Norman

Moderator of MLS Fantasy Boss Discord, new contributing writer for mlsfantasyboss.com. Soccer and fantasy sports enthusiast.

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