Otto Greule Jr
In the first look at preseason rankings and draft prep, Matty takes a look at the backbone of your fantasy team: goalkeepers. Are there any gems to be had in 2013?
If you play fantasy football in the fall, you're probably well aware that picking a keeper and a team defense typically comes last in your draft prep. In MLS Fantasy Manager, everyone has value, so ignoring your goalkeeper could cost you dearly.
In the intro piece we showed you the scoring system in 2013, so you'll be well aware of where your points are coming from. Goalkeepers receive 4 points for a shutout, and a point for every 3 saves. You'll also notice that a penalty save is worth 5 points, but because penalty kicks are such a random thing, you really shouldn't put much stock into a 'keeper's ability to save penalties.
*Don't forget that a player also receives 2 points for finishing a game, and goalkeepers rarely come out of games.
Tally Hall ($6m). Hall led all keepers in fantasy last year with 200 points. While his save numbers weren't as high as some (88), it was his 12 shutouts and 33 games played that really beefed up his point total. While the Dynamo will have to continue to cope without Geoff Cameron, expect the Houston standout to continue his strong numbers in 2013.
Nick Rimando ($6m). As steady as they come, Rimando also boasted 12 shutouts, as well as 83 saves in 2012. A big boost to Rimando's 177 fantasy points was the two penalty saves he had in 2012, as well as only missing 3 games. With Josh Saunders joining the mix at Real Salt Lake, however, what is in store for RImando's workload in 2013? It's clearly Rimando's job, but will we see any attempt at a platoon, or less appearances for the RSL stalwart keeper?
Jimmy Nielsen ($6m). Only two points behind Rimando in 2012 came Sporting Kansas City's Nielsen, who is supported by one of the best CB tandems in MLS. With the strength of his back line, as well as his keen ability to stay healthy and play in every match (34 GP in 2012), Nielsen racked up the bonus points in 2012. When you add in the fact that he also led the league in shutouts, you've got yourself one stellar option at keeper.
THE SECOND TIER
Michael Gspurning ($6m). The Seattle keeper is a tough sell because of his limited sample size in 2012 (only 21 regular season appearances), but you can't overlook the talent. Averaging almost 3 saves a game, as well as adding 8 shutouts in his limited appearances, Gspurning warrants the price tag, but is 21 matches enough to convince you?
Andy Gruenebaum ($5.5m). Sitting back behind a stellar defense, Columbus' Gruenebaum is a solid option that will save you half a mill. The Crew backstop actually led MLS in saves last year with 124 (41 fantasy points) and looks like a shoe-in to continue his fine form.
Troy Perkins ($5m). Cheaper than most, Perkins offers up a solid choice while saving you a little dough in your transfer kitty. Perkins was sixth in fantasy points last season, with 7 shutouts and eclipsing the 100 save mark with 101. He only missed 3 games, and with Montreal entering its second season, Perkins looks primed to add to last year's totals.
Sean Johnson ($5m). Youth was certainly a storyline you saw amongst goalkeepers last year, and one that may be ready to break out is Chicago's Sean Johnson. Allowing only 38 goals last year, Johnson also added 5 shutouts and placed third in saves in all of MLS with 108. While his 138 fantasy points placed him eighth, another solid offseason and more experience should only help the young keeper.
Zac MacMath ($5m). Another up and comer, MacMath led the Philadelphia Union for 32 matches last year, amassing 8 shutouts, 93 saves, and a goals against average of 1.34. Level with Johnson at 138 fantasy points, MacMath is also poised for a solid encore.
Dan Kennedy ($5m). One of the few bright spots for Chivas USA, Kennedy has all the potential to be a great value pick at goalkeeper. Second in the league in saves, as well as 7 shutouts and 32 matches played made Kennedy a very viable option in 2012 with 141 fantasy points. The biggest knock was his rather terrible 1.69 GAA, but under new guidance, and an almost certainty to give up fewer goals, you have to consider Kennedy as a nice option to both produce, and save some cash.
So that's a quick look at what you have in store for goalkeepers in 2013. With a few teams still figuring out who will play between the posts and First Kick nearly upon us, it's best to take a sure thing at keeper and move on!