New York Red Bulls 2020 Fantasy Preview

New York Red Bulls 2020 Preview

The 2019 New York Red Bulls season opened with a CCL berth and sky-high expectations. Unfortunately, despite making their 10th straight playoff appearance, their season was viewed as disappointing for many pundits. The hole that homegrown wunderkind Tyler Adams left following his departure to RB Leipzig was readily apparent: the club exited both the CCL and US Open Cup tournaments in the early stages and never managed to get hot for more than a handful of matches at a time. The Red Bulls ultimately finished 6th in the Eastern Conference and exited the playoffs in the knockout round against Philadelphia, despite leading by two goals at two different points during the match.

Coming into 2020, New York is leaning even further into the #PlayYourKids movement that the European Red Bull clubs have become known for. This offseason saw the departure of several veteran players who played major roles in one or more Supporters’ Shield campaigns: Luis Robles, Bradley Wright-Phillips, Kemar Lawrence, Michael Murillo, and Connor Lade were some of the notable names that are no longer with the club coming into this season. In their place, the club has replenished the ranks with a combination of academy products, MLS SuperDraft picks, and young international talent.

That said, the #PlayYourKids philosophy does come with its risks, particularly in a league that is ramping up spending and no longer enjoys the parity that it did as recent as five years ago. With this many question marks, most analysts and pundits have RBNY missing playoffs this season… and the Day 1 values for Red Bulls players in the MLS Fantasy system appear to be following suit with these predictions.

Tactics & Key Players

Since the patented Red Bull high press exploded onto the MLS scene in 2015, the club has consistently operated a system that emphasizes high work rate, relentless pressure, and a penchant for generating turnovers in key areas to create goalscoring opportunities. However, since Chris Armas took over in 2018, he has dialed down the high press from a 13 to about an 8 and at times deployed a more patient attack that builds up out of the back.

During the preseason, we’ve seen quite a bit of 4-2-2-2 thus far. Now, this isn’t something that Red Bull fans haven’t seen before – Jesse Marsch attempted this twice, only to revert to the tried-and-true 4-2-3-1 shortly after the season begins. As far as who we expect to see occupying these formations is another story; the club comes into the season with a healthy amount of depth at virtually every position, with several projected backups having racked up hundreds of MLS minutes in their careers thus far. That said, based on preseason lineups and comments from the team thus far in 2020, the nailed-on starters appear to be:

  • Forward Brian White (8.0m)

  • Midfield Kaku (8.0m)

  • Midfield Josh Sims (8.0m)

  • Midfield Danny Royer (8.5m)

  • Defense Aaron Long (6.5m)

  • Defense Tim Parker (5.5m)

All of the above players can be in consideration for Week 1 fantasy rosters given their price points, home field advantage and Week 1 opponents.

Elsewhere in the outfield, we expect the following players to also contend for minutes:

  • Forward Tom Barlow (6.0m)

  • Forward Matias Jorgensen (5.5m)

  • Midfield Florian Valot (7.0m)

  • Midfield Alex Muyl (5.5m)

  • Midfield Omir Fernandez (5.0m)

  • D.Mid Sean Davis (6.0m)

  • D.Mid Christian Casseres Jr (6.5m)

  • D.Mid Mark Rzatkowski (7.5m)

  • Defense Amro Tarek (4.5m)

  • Defense Kyle Duncan (5.0m)

  • Defense Rece Buckmaster (4.5m)

  • Defense Patrick Seagrist (TBD)

Ryan Meara (5.0m) was the projected starter between the goalposts, but a preseason injury may have opened the door for new transfer David Jensen (5.0m) to seize the reins – keep an eye on Meara’s status coming into the season, as he’s a proven MLS talent who should be worth a cheap look during home fixtures if he manages to rebound from this setback.

Fantasy Expectations

Outside of Aaron Long (who is one of seven defenders assigned the position-high price tag of 6.5m), the immediate thoughts when looking at this roster are ‘value’ and ‘high-upside’. With the highest-priced player coming in at 8.5m, the Red Bulls will offer fantasy managers some intriguing choices when filling out their lineups this season – particularly when they play at home which historically has been a fortress for this club.

Speaking of home matches, they open up against FC Cincy in Round 1 at Red Bull Arena. As such, fantasy managers are encouraged pop one or two RBNY players into the lineup to supplement the higher-priced picks from LA and Seattle.

Going forward, however, will really depend on whether or not the #PlayYourKids move works out. I don’t see any fixture-proof players coming into the season, but if team gets hot, that could change especially if player values remain low for a decent stretch of time. However, if too many of the question marks on this roster end up not panning out and the team never truly gets into a groove, then we could be limited to utilizing RBNY players as value picks during home fixtures in 2020.

Predicted XI

NYRB 2020



About Tim Shaw

Tim Shaw is a long-time RBNY season ticket holder, fantasy sports fanatic, lawn-game enthusiast, Rocket League addict, and the founder of

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