MLS Fantasyland: Strikers Preview

Mike Stobe

In the final installment of your fantasy draft prep, it's time to take a look at the stars up front. Goals are the biggest point getters in fantasy, so who can you count on to give you the most production?

Talking about strikers in fantasy soccer is like talking about quarterbacks in the NFL: they're easily the "celebrities" of the draft. They get all the press, all the attention, and hopefully, if you're doing it right, all of the goals for your fantasy team.

THE STUDS

Chris Wondolowski ($10.5m). Hard not to include the Golden Boot winner in the studs department. 27 goals, 7 assists, and a knack for staying on the field (32 games played). Wondo has long been a solid performer in MLS, and this year should prove no different. Only concern here is can the supporting cast around him stay healthy? Oh yeah, and don't forget that fat new contract either.

Thierry Henry ($10.5m). As a devoted Arsenal fan I shall do my best not to gush for the next three sentences. Henry not only scores you goals, but he also creates for his teammates (15 goals, 12 assists). My main concern is his propensity to take matches off when they're played on turf or if he feels like he needs a rest. His 175 fantasy points last year came in only 25 matches. If he plays more matches than that in 2013? He's at the top of the league in fantasy points.

Robbie Keane ($10.5m). With David Beckham gone, and Landon Donovan on a spiritual journey in Cambodia or something, I have a real problem putting Keane here. Quite frankly, I'd probably take all three strikers in the next group over him, but his production cannot be ignored, and he's still one of the more talented strikers in MLS. Does his production take a dip in 2013? I think so, so at $10.5m you'd better be sure you think otherwise.

THE SECOND TIER

Alvaro Saborio ($10m). A long standing MLS stud, Saborio had a nice run in 2012 with 17 goals which was good for third in MLS. With RSL re-tooling, and in most cases getting a bit stronger, I'd expect Saborio to keep rolling right along with his solid production in 2013.

Eddie Johnson ($10m). Perhaps last year's greatest comeback story, Johnson put up a solid effort all year long. EJ pumped in 14 goals, added 3 assists and also managed to play 28 games (staying healthy has sometimes been an issue). With Seattle as strong as ever, and Johnson's form continuing into 2013, the Sounders' big striker could be primed for quite an encore.

Federico Higuain ($9m). While the sample size last season wasn't very big (Higuain only appeared in 13 matches), you have got to love what you see. 5 goals, 7 assists, and doing it all with a flair, Higuain is definitely one to keep an eye on in 2013. While Columbus is often thought of as a defensive-minded side, there's no denying the potential of Higuain to have a breakout year with a full schedule.

THE SLEEPERS

Jerry Bengtson ($9m). Hard to call one of 2012's hottest international strikers a sleeper, but given his low price point, and the fact that he struggled with New England in MLS, not too many folks have Bengtson on the top of their mind. His goal against the USMNT will certainly have increased his visibility, so if he can translate his Honduran form to his MLS form, the $9m price may be a steal.

Fabian Espindola ($8.5m). We all saw what playing with Thierry Henry did for Kenny Cooper's game last year, and with the talented Espindola now taking his place, I'd expect the same bump in productivity. Espindola had 9 goals and 7 assists with RSL in 2012, and he managed to hit the 30 games played mark as well. At only $8.5m he's a great option to save a little cash without sacrificing a ton of points.

Dominic Oduro ($6.5m). Now THIS is a sleeper. $4m less than the top tier, Oduro has a chance to surprise a lot of people. Playing next to Higuain in Columbus (Oduro moved from Chicago in the offseason), the incredibly quick Oduro will have a great attacking partner to play off of, and could certainly see his fantasy production increase with teams keying-in on Higuain. As your third striker? Why not take a chance at $6.5m?

Best of luck to you all in the upcoming season! MLS Fantasyland will be here all year long, with insight, recaps, and some great advice to help you along the way! Happy First Kick everyone!

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