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MLS Fantasy: Using The Free Wildcard

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FINALLY

After more than half the season and a game week with half of the players on the bench (Hi Jesse Marsch!), we have a game wide unlimited transfer week. That deadline ends Friday night at 11 EST. If you've drifted off from the game, this is the perfect time to jump back in and compete for those weekly gift cards.

You can make how ever many transfers you want this week with taking any negative penalty hit. Now, the transfers are counted against your total transfer count, which is the first tiebreaker if you're tied with someone in the classic scoring standings. This probably isn't going to come into play too often, and I'd encourage you unless you're at the very top of the leaderboards to play around with your team until you find the best fit.

Goalkeepers

Rowe ($5.0)-The Galaxy have conceded 2 or more goals 3 times. Outside of Colorado, LA has the best defense in the league and Rowe is 1.1 cheaper than Tim Howard with a better schedule. Also, LA is one of about 5 teams that doesn't have a bye in either 25 or 27, making him a great piece in a "set and forget" strategy that allows you to spend transfers up front.

Bono ($4.5)-Toronto has a slew of favorable home matches with one of the few DGWs in the next 9 rounds, and he should be the keeper while Irwin is out. A squad of Rowe and Bono isn't too heavy on the budget.

Blake ($5.0)-Nothing terribly frightful on the schedule and he's been a solid bonus points producer even when he doesn't get a CS (he got 7 points in the match against Houston, which is really good).

The theme here? Get a starter or two but don't spend too much money. Yes, Timmy Howard is the Secretary of Defense, but that extra $1.1 could be used elsewhere.

Defenders

Again, go cheap starters. I would field 4 or 5 of these cheap defenders depending on whether you carry a spare forward/midfielder.

Campbell ($5.1)-Chicago plays a very defensive style, sitting back and absorbing pressure. Even if they don't keep a CS, the attacks generate defensive bonus points and Campbell is at the top of that list for his price. Also, Chicago doesn't have a bye the rest of the year, avoiding the Byes of 25/27.

Steres ($5.4)-What I said about Rowe is true for Steres as well. In a team of Galacticos, he's come out of nowhere to lock down the starting spot.

Sjoberg ($6.1)-One of the best defenders on the best defense with 4 out of the next 6 at home. Pretty much a must have.

Moor ($7.7)-This is pushing it value wise, and may put him out of reach. But he's at SJ which doesn't score a lot and then has four games at home including a DGW, none of which scream "goalfest." He's also good for an occasional goal himself, boosting his value.

Allen ($5.3)-Before the match at SKC, he had been on a run of 6 games with no fewer than 4 points, a great thing for his price. If Mataritta's injury that kept him out of training today keeps him out long term, Allen may get more of the crossing burden and more points opportunities. The drawback here is the road trip NYCFC is on, which isn't traditionally a good recipe for defenders.

Glad ($4.8)-I've had Glad the past two weeks and regretted it. He's super cheap, but RSL's luck has run out and they're getting trucked. There is a DGW in 25, so if you want a super cheap guy to throw on the bench as a backup and then throw on for the DGW, that's fine.

Zimmerman ($6.6)-he's the highest defender in the game despite Dallas's fondness of getting blown out by teams at the bottom of the Western Conference table. It's tough to recommend him too much with a bye looming in 22, not to mention Dallas is one of the few teams juggling both a US Open Cup and CCL matches.  But I can see him putting up good numbers these next three weeks against Chicago, Colorado, and Vancouver, none of whom really generate a lot of goals.

Nota Bene: At this point in the season, Yellow Card accumulation comes into play. Allen, Steres, and Sjoberg are all a yellow away from a one game suspension with varying times before the good behavior incentive puts them out of the danger zone. This makes depth very important.

Midfielders

Jack Harrison ($5.8)-tailed off a bit in the last two matches, but 5.8 is as cheap as you're going to get an attacking player. NYC doesn't have a midweek game the rest of the season and Jack isn't old enough to get rotated, meaning he's a solid player to keep on the bench or to throw out for a good matchup (Like a match against a Montreal coming off a cross country midweek game without Piatti and Ciman cough cough).

Cronin ($6.0)-Another cheap mid, he doesn't have the ceiling of Harrison as Cronin is a defensive midfielder but his floor is awesome. The number of times he has played and scored less than 3 points: 1. Out of 18 matches. That's great consistency, and if you want a "mid on bench who will produce reliable points when I have to sub him on" he's your guy.

Bolanos ($8.3)-He's been a very strong producer. He's had a few duds of 2 or less, but otherwise it's been 6 and up. For 8.3 that's strong. He plays Orlando this week, which is always nice. Beware though that Vancouver is about to go on a hellish road trip lasting until GW 25 which includes 6 straight road matches, a midweek home match, and another road game. Home or away hasn't mattered too much for Bolanos so far, but that stretch could take a toll.

Alonso ($9.2)-Speaking of consistency, Alonso has scored less than 5 twice and doesn't have a bye until 27. I'd get nervous about his role when Seattle does close one of their long rumored big midfield signings but for a while he's solid.

Lampard ($10.4)-Super Frankie has scored a goal in 4 out of the last 5 and an assist in the other one. I suspect the rough defensive match ups  of @ NY, COL and @ SJ will slow that down but his price makes him cheaper than many of the other mids on this list. Yes, his saga was awful but fantasy managers can't let that cloud their judgment. When he's been on the field for NYC, he's been producing. He's still an injury risk, but without a plethora of DGWs and byes you'll probably have the transfers to absorb that.

Diaz ($11.3)-With Valeri, he's one of the best two mids in the league. But...Pareja's kid gloves are getting frustrating, and with FCD balancing both US Open and CCL going forward, you're taking a risk putting him on your squad. The reward is high though, so if you take him make sure you have sufficient bench coverage.

Valeri ($11.0)-We'll find out tomorrow (I hope) if Valeri will play against Seattle, but when he plays he's one of the best midfielders in the game.

Piatti ($11.1)-He may be suspended for the NYCFC match for a nasty tackle, but if not he's got 5 out of the next 7 at home. He's been scoring a lot of goals, but the xG numbers suggest a regression is in order. If you don't buy the xG numbers though, he's a top midfielder. I'm also worried about his diminishment if Drogba comes back for a while, as Montreal has been worse this year when the Chelsea legend plays.

Gerrard ($10.4)-Another model of consistency apart from the injuries, he has yet to score less than 4 points in a match he played over 30 minutes. You have to worry about the injuries though.

Sacha ($12.0)-Going through another rough patch of form, including a rest against Orlando. They also play 3 out of the next 4 on the road. He's the most expensive mid for a reason, but for that price the duds he's put up hurt especially bad. My guess is that now that RB is out of the busiest part of the schedule, he'll regain his form.

Feilhaber ($11.3)-Benny has been consistent, but not explosive. The duties shared by Davis and Zusi have cut into his production. He's still good, but the problem is putting him above other players in his price range when those other players have much higher ceilings while cheaper mids provide you just as much consistency.

Nguyen ($11.9)-One of those players that seems to do better when I don't own him. His DGW disappointment notwithstanding, Nguyen has been a solid 4 points or more mid with the ability to put up double digit scores. He deserves consideration.

Forwards

Ola Kamara ($8.6)-Come on with a vengeance, the sustainability is the big question. Home at DC, ORL and then @ Tor before a bye week in 22, he has a schedule that a good forward should produce against. The xG numbers suggest his goal tallies aren't crazy and that he is producing good chances.

Gashi ($9.3)-Has missed a number of games, but when he plays he's generated bonus points, no small feat for a forward at his price.

Plata ($9.5)-One of the stars of the first half of the season only to regress badly. I don't see it turning around especially since he's injured at the moment. I'd avoid. The other RSL forwards are better options, with Yura Movsisyan at $9.0 in good form.

Robbie Keane ($11.7)-yeah he's been hurt and missed a lot of time with international duty. When he's played? 7,2,9,13,5,2,7,7. That's good. It's the second half of the season, and Keane just got what amounted to a month long vacation in France, and he doesn't have a bye until 32. Must have.

David Villa ($12.1)-Have heard reports that he's good at the soccer thing. He's the golden boot leader, so he's definitely at the forefront of Forward options. The schedule scares me a little bit though.

Giovinco ($13.0)-He's pricey, but he has a DGW in 22 and may be the only must have player of the two DGW teams that week, and the schedule breaks favorably after this week.

Other Notes

Your formation is either a 3-5-2 or a 3-4-3. You need two of the heavy hitting forwards regardless, so the choice comes down to the value for the cheaper forward or the mid.

Note that while the MLS schedule is relatively clear in midweek, that's an illusion as far as rotation goes as many MLS players will be dealing with US Open Cup, CCL matches, and the All-Star game. The ASG is in San Jose, so even though they'll play only a half in the game at less than full speed, the travel could see a lot of Eastern conference players have less minutes in GW 21.

You also have another Free Wildcard to use for the second half of the season, but that WC needs to be saved to deal with the wonkiness of the schedule. Massive byes in 25 & 27 will pinch managers, there's 4 DGWs in 28, then a massive DGW week in 31, then a massive bye week in 32. Your WC needs to be used sometime during that stretch.

Have fun redesigning your team, and as always, good luck!