Draft Analysis – Selecting Defenders

Selecting Defenders

In MLS Fantasy defenders have been the necessary evil on the team. Premium defenders never produced the same points that other positions did. That is changing in 2017, but Draft format has never undervalued defenders. Defenders make up a steady core of points with a decent floor and low ceiling. Occasionally gems shine going forward or play out of position making them hot commodities.

Premium Defenders

MLS Fantasy has done away with Premium defenders. Since there is no real differentiation, managers must look for other indicators as to who will be the best pick.

  • The Best Defensive Teams are worth snagging a player from. Teams like Dallas, Colorado, and Seattle have consistently done well and their players are usually getting decent points. Toronto’s duo of Moor and Morrow also fared well all season.
  • Set Piece Takers on defense are rare, but invaluable in fantasy. While their opportunities are more limited, that chances for extra Bonus Points. Chris Tierney is a prime example
  • PPG and PP90 are the best indicators to go on. Defenders typically remain consistent when starting.
  • Aerial Threats are also worth looking into. Big guys that take headers on set pieces can steal a goal every so often.
  • Teams that tend to struggle holding the ball and give up lots of crosses tend to have statistically better fantasy defenders. Looking at NYC and CLB are prime examples. This is a very hard trend to quantify, but it is an outlying trend to keep in mind.

Defenders On the Rise

Defenders don’t rise very high, but occasionally a name or two pop out as the years progress.

  • Ike Opara is a monster in the air, but a huge injury risk. If he can remain healthy, he’s easily a top 5 prospect if not the #1 overall. SKC’s defense didn’t look too shabby with Sinovic at the end of 2016 either.
  • Leonardo was relegated to the bench with LA last season, but a transfer to Houston should see him right back in the starting XI.
  • Sean Franklin is battling with Bobby Boswell for the second DC center back spot and it looks like he has the edge.

Falling Out

Defenders aren’t always a big risk, but there are a few that could go early that likely won’t due to roster situations.

  • Justen Glad was a fixture for RSL last year, but the youngster might be losing his starting spot to a more experienced veteran. Keep an eye on his minutes in preseason.
  • Seth Sinovic and Jimmy Medranda are in a heated battle for the LB position in KC. Medranda adds a lot going forward and is easily a top 10 defender if it wasn’t for the uncertainty.
  • Josh Yaro from Philadelphia is considered to be one of the hot talents coming up, but a preseason injury will sideline him for the early part of the season.


New players are hard to judge, but there are a few guaranteed (almost) starters in 2017.

  • Jonathan Mensah is a Ghanian many USMNT fans will be familiar with. He’s hoping to solidify the CLB defense that was dreadful in 2016.
  • Francisco Calvo has been brought to MLS by expansion side Atlanta. All indications are that he will be a major factor on the back line.
  • Angoua and Delamea are the new CB pairing in New England. After a dismal 2016, the Revolution cleaned house.

Top 40 Defenders According to the Author

These are highly subjective and dependent on repeated performances and speculation. While the individual positions might be off, the general area of each player is a better indication of how they are expected to perform.

16TierneyNew England
17RogersLA Galaxy
18BirnbaumDC United
22BernardezSan Jose
25KempDC United
31SteresLA Galaxy
34DelameaNew England
36Van DammeLA Galaxy

About Blayne Riffle

Blayne is an IT Technician with a math degree, online journalist, and MLS Discussion Group moderator.

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  1. Do you think Burling will start over Watts?

  2. Friendly note from a Minnesotan reader — Calvo is ours, though I’m sure Atlanta would love to have him. 😉

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