While many of us are gearing up for a critical World Cup Qualifier for the United States on Friday night, Major League Soccer teams are looking into how they're going to compensate for playing without some of the league's biggest stars.
Also caught in the crossfire of this international weekend is something that is also of great importance: your fantasy MLS team.
Coming off another solid week that saw my team vault into the top 4,000 in MLS Fantasy Manager, I'm certainly among the masses of owners that needs to make more than a few changes to my lineup due to international duty. Before we get into all that and how we can prepare ourselves for another good week, let's take a look back at last week's top players, as well as the disappointing performances.
Bill Hamid, GK, DCU: Massive display from Hamid this weekend as the United goalkeeper breached double digits with 11, filling up the stat sheet with 7 saves, a clean sheet, and a full 90 minute performance. D.C. United may not be playing the most attractive style, but it's working for Hamid's fantasy value.
Glauber, DEF, CLB: It just seems like no matter who Columbus plugs in at the back, they're producing some fine defensive performances. This week, it's Glauber with the 11 point performance as he not only goes the full 90 but gets on the scoresheet as well.
Steve Zakuani, MID, SEA: There were several players tied with 8 points this week from the midfield spot, but it was the way Zakuani compiled his points that really impressed me: an assist, attacking bonuses, defensive bonuses and an 81 minute display. If he can continue to be that well rounded he's sure to delight fantasy owners.
Federico Higuain, FWD, CLB: That man did it again this week, with another assist and a myriad of other bonuses as well. Proving to be far more worthy than his moderate price tag, Higuain is showing he's a fantasy stud early on in 2013.
Nothing too crazy here this week, as most of the big name players produced, but I've got to say, players like Darlington Nagbe, Juan Toja, Jerry Bengtson, and Robbie Keane were all a little underwhelming in Week 3, with each of them failing to really live up to expectation with only scoring a point or two in their matches.
You expect forwards to have off games of course, so it's absolutely normal for them to have weeks like that from time to time, but with midfielders being a little bit more involved, you've got to expect more out of your midfield unit.
THE TRANSFER MARKET
Who to Sell? Pretty much anyone on international duty this week, unless you're very confident in their backup. If a player is away on international duty, odds are he's coming with a sizable price tag, and with each fantasy club getting TWO FREE TRANSFERS each round, it makes perfect sense to add/drop a couple of your internationals for players who will at least be playing in Week 4. There's no sense in putting $9m on your bench and playing a sub when there are plenty of players available this weekend.
As for dropping players due to poor performance, I don't think it's panic time just yet, but if you're disappointed in the play of preseason favorites like WIll Bruin, Eric Hassli, Joel Lindpere, or even a Dwayne De Rosario, feel free to shake things up in a week where some fresh faces will be getting a little playing time in light of the international break.
Who to Buy? The object here is to take advantage of players on a great run of form, or players who may be seeing a little more playing time or action due to a teammate being away. Here are a few suggestions:
Brandon McDonald, DEF, DCU ($5.6m). A solid choice regardless of the fact that Dejan Jakovic is away, McDonald has actually matched Jakovic at 21 points and comes at a similar price point. With United proving to be a stellar defensive unit early in 2013, McDonald is a good play against another defensive side in Columbus.
Oriol Rosell, MID, SKC ($6.8m). Graham Zusi is the most owned player in MLS Fantasy Manager in 2013, so it means that owners across the country will be looking to do something with his $9.8m transfer fee. With Zusi gone, look no further than Rosell, who is Sporting Kansas City's second-leading midfielder in fantasy thus far. With SKC traveling to New England, you've got to like the matchup.
Juan Agudelo, FWD, CUSA ($8m). Let's finish it off with somewhat of a sleeper pick. Yes, THAT Juan Agudelo. I have to admit that I've been pleasantly surprised with how Chivas USA has come out of the gate, and with Agudelo getting 90 minutes last week, and getting a slightly favorable matchup this week against a Chicago team trying to find their identity, why not roll the dice with the former starlet? At $8m for a striker he won't break the bank, and even if he fails to score, his heavy dosage of minutes puts him in a position to earn you points in a few other areas.
I really hope you're enjoying this column, as I've truly enjoyed bringing it to you. Fantasy sports are an extremely inexact science, and while some of the "experts" you see in magazines and on TV will have you believe they "know" what's going to happen the bottom line is this: they don't.
I hope I can at least shed some light on a good way to approach your team, how to analyze the matchups, and take advantage of strong performances.
Good luck with your team in this international week, and I'll catch you guys next week!