As you can probably tell, I’ve thrown myself headlong into the pending college season, and that, combined with a rather disappointing fantasy season (by my standards) have me just playing out the string for the final round. Nonetheless, here are some brief thoughts on the four matchups for the final round:
WNY Flash vs Boston Breakers – WNY’s in the worst position relatively speaking of the playoff teams, not knowing any other results before they start. A win would basically wrap up a home playoff game and potentially the regular season title (and home field throughout) though, so they figure to be going all out. Abby Wambach’s production has slowed down markedly through the closing part of the season, and I’d probably trust Samantha Kerr more to deliver the goods in this one, especially considering Boston are probably weaker defensively on the flanks. Brittany Taylor and AD Franch remain pretty good options to fill out a defense/GK, while Carli Lloyd also figures to shoot on sight here. Boston have all but locked up fifth spot, but they have a bit of motivation in that Sydney Leroux is a candidate for the Golden Boot. I’d expect her to be fed the ball as much as is feasibly possible, meaning she might rack up phantom points for SOGs, even if she doesn’t hit the target. This game probably has the most potential of being a goalfest.
Seattle vs Portland – I think the Thorns are catching Seattle at the right time. The Reign have seemed disinterested since being mathematically eliminated from the playoffs, and I wouldn’t be shocked if Laura Harvey rings the changes going into the finale, though you have to figure she’ll try to keep the fans happy by starting Solo, Rapinoe, and Fishlock. Everyone else could be fair game though, so I’m staying away from most Seattle players. Portland knows they need a Herculean effort and a hell of a lot of things to go their way to gain a home game in the semi-finals of the playoffs. With goal differential in play for a tiebreaker with SBFC, and the club not knowing how many they might need, I’d expect Cindy Cone Parlow to go all out attack on Saturday. That makes players like Tobin Heath, Christine Sinclair, and even Meleana Shim very appealing options. It could also leave room at the back though, so tread lightly with Portland defenders.
FC Kansas City vs Chicago – FCKC needs just a point to wrap up the regular season title, so I’m expecting them to play very pragmatically against a Chicago team who has shown a volatility in attack at times this year. The end result might not equal a great fantasy line for stalwarts like Holliday and Tymrak, but it probably makes Nicole Barnhart and the backline solid picks. Chicago has the capacity to produce surprising fantasy numbers…it’s just they’re so unpredictable in who puts up the big production, that it’s really hard to roll with a player consistently.
Washington vs Sky Blue FC – This one’s going to be nerve wracking for fantasy owners. If Portland and WNY win on Saturday, SBFC would lose the tiebreakers regardless of their result and may just phone it in and rest their best players for the following week’s playoff game. Of course, fantasy owners aren’t going to be privy to that info before locking in their lineups. I’m not sure you want many of SBFC’s out-of-form players anyway, but if you do tab a few, I’d have some heavy hitter options on the bench just in case. Washington present dangerous opposition as well, considering their recent surge in form. In particular, Diana Matheson may be a shrewd pick for owners for the final round.