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MLS Fantasy: Playing the Matchups

We turn to the analytics to find the best-laid plan for this double-gameweek.

This is bad defending. This is not unusual for the Revs.
This is bad defending. This is not unusual for the Revs.
William Hauser-USA TODAY Sports

There are 8 teams with DGWs this week, 4 next week, and another two after that. That means you're going to have a lot of similar options. Choosing between them often comes down to matchups. This is difficult to do in the early season, but now we have enough information to judge who is good and who isn't. I'm going to look at the defensive numbers today as those numbers tend to be more important when trying to figure out which offensive players to bring in, and most of your fantasy roster tends to be offensive players anyway.

Strong defensive teams:

LA Galaxy - They're getting the press for their onslaught of goals, but less noticed has been the success of their defense. They have only allowed 10 goals, but their expected goals against is a mere 8.67. That's the second best overall behind only Chicago, who has played 2 less games. Everyone else is in the tens. This is something you have to think about if you're considering, say, CJ Sapong, who has a DGW this week with the first matchup against the Galaxy: do you assume the midweek cross-country trip nullifies the strong defense or will LA rely on its defense to grind a low scoring result that will frustrate Philly's offensive player?

Colorado Rapids - They've only given up 8 goals over 10 games, and their xG suggests that's a fair representation. They have a DGW this week at the road against struggling SKC and a divided and Kamara-less Crew. Defenders like Sjoberg (5.6) and Burch (5.5) make for some of the best defensive options this DGW, assuming they don't get PABLO'ED

Defensive Teams You're Probably Wrong About:

New York City FC - Last year they were the Chivas USA, doling out points to opposing fantasy players like candy at Halloween. They're not great by any stretch, and some of this may be clouded by the glut of home matches the Pigeons have enjoyed, but so far they're a decent middle of the pack defense at 12th in xGa.  The Pigeons are back at home from the middle of GW11 until 14, so you may not want to bring in a player based solely on his chances of tearing up NYC.

Toronto FC - They've only allowed a league best 7 goals, and they did it mostly on the road trip, so their defense should be golden, right? Well, their xGa is 12.06 which suggests that while TFC has turned around their defensive woes, they've also been a little lucky in keeping the ball out of the net. 12.06 is still 5th best, so you can feel good about getting a defender (although they're all above $7.0 making them a little pricy for my taste) while not need to transfer around facing their defense.

New York Red Bulls and Portland Timbers - Both teams are a little unlucky in what they've let in: 17 goals against a 14.03 xGa for the Jersey boys and 16 goals against a 13.39 xGa for Portland. I wouldn't pick up any of their defenders, but their goals against suggest much worse defenses than the xGs show so don't expect goal-fests from their opponents.

Awful Defensive Teams:

New England Revolution - They've let in a league worst 20 goals and their xGa is league worst at 19.09. That's bad and worse than the rest of the league by a few goals. They get the second end of Chicago's DGW this week and Dallas next week. If you're deciding whether to bring in Diaz or Urruti, the ability to keep them during this juicy matchup might tilt the scale in favor of doing just that, especially since Dallas enjoys two home games this DGW.

Orlando City - Orlando has only given up 14 goals but their xGa is 17.74, which is 2nd worst. They're on the road to SKC this week with both Philly and NYCFC in Week 12. This may mean holding off that rage-sell on underperforming players like Zusi while making sure your fantasy roster has plenty of NYC players next week to take advantage of both the DGW and the week 12 matchup.

Rosters Lock at 7:00 EST tonight, so make sure you have your transfers done by then. Unfortunately, we'll only get to see one of the DGW team's lineup (Philly) before that. My general advice is to to go in too hard on this DGW if doing so handicaps you from DGW 11: you'll NEED to have Giovinco, Sacha, and one (if not both) of Villa and BWP next week, and that's before we talk about other good options like Dax, Bradley, McNamara, Campbell, Irwin, and (maybe if he's healthy) Accam.  As always, if there's a specific question you need help with feel free to ask me in the comments below or on twitter @MikeDatTiger.

Good luck!