Second week above a hundred points means I keep climbing up the rankings, closer to the Top 10%. Opting for Brittany Taylor instead of Caitlin Foord and playing form instead of matchups hurt, as it did with Kim Little and Lianne Sanderson, with the former proving to be frighteningly inconsistent with her fantasy production this season. I also paid for breaking a cardinal rule and putting in two strikers from the same club, missing out on a banner round from Mexican Monica Ocampo.
This round coming up is heavy on double gamers, with five teams playing twice this round. Fantasy standbys Seattle and FC Kansas City both face tough matchups though, while are you seriously going to be going big on Houston and Chicago even with two games? You may want to roll the dice with a few single gamers like Boston and WNY who have favorable matchups on paper.
Also, be wary of players coming back from international duty, especially for the Portland/Seattle match on Saturday. The following players went ninety minutes(not counting goalkeepers, who obviously should be good to go):
Krieger, Sauerbrunn, Lloyd, Holiday, O’Reilly, Leroux, Matheson, Sinclair
I would be surprised if either Sinclair or Leroux went the distance on Saturday. Given the importance of the match in the Pacific Northwest though, both may be pushed hard.
Notable internationals returning from midweek European WCQ duty:
Sanderson, Fishlock, Sonia, Vicky
Boston doesn’t play until Thursday, meaning Sanderson should be good to go for ninety. Sonia Bermudez and Vicky should be in contention for starting spots with Sam Kerr away and Carli Lloyd suspended. Jessica Fishlock almost went ninety for Wales in midweek, and I’d rather put my roster spot towards Kim Little this round.
Gone at the Asian Cup:
Naho, Foord, Kiryu, L. Williams, Kerr, De Vanna
There are also a handful of players changing positions with this round. Most notable are Crystal Dunn moving to midfield and Julie Johnston moving to defense. The latter should be your go-to player for the rest of the season if you want to cover a clean sheet with the Red Stars.
Houston (@CHI, POR) – The Dash crashed and burned against FC Kansas City, and it’s really hard to trust them until Engen and Klingenberg arrive to bolster the defense, which loses Ohale for the Chicago match through a red card suspension. I doubt you were looking at the Dash for defensive help anyway, but that robs them of more value against a Red Star team low on firepower. The attack’s still a muddled mess right now. The Red Stars are probably better on defense than expected anyway, meaning a Houston team struggling for a consistent offensive outlet may have problems again. There’s potential here later in the season once all the parts are clicking, but I’d still stay well away from them this round.
Portland (SEA, @HOU) – Do you bet on a clean sheet from NADINE ANGERER against Houston in midweek and risk taking a hit on Saturday against a very dangerous Seattle attack? For my mind, it’s between her and Karina LeBlanc of Chicago for this round’s netminder, with Angerer appealing to many because she doesn’t consume an international slot. None of Portland’s defenders have been great fantasy producers, but I’d opt for either REBECCA MOROS or NIKKI MARSHALL if you want to try and cover the clean sheet against Houston in midweek while praying for defensive solidity on Saturday. The offense has been a mixed bag, but with ALLIE LONG on penalties and in form, you almost have to include her on your shortlist of midfielders with two games this round. JESSICA MCDONALD has been the in-form forward for the Thorns, scoring last round out and may be rounding into the team’s top frontline option. CHRISTINE SINCLAIR has to break out some time, right? The Houston match on Wednesday looks appealing, but is McDonald turning into the Thorns’ top scoring option?
Seattle (@POR, FCKC) – Big scorers obviously, but they’ve got two rather difficult matchups, if you believe FC Kansas City is for real. I’d be wary of tapping any of the club’s defense, form be damned. If you want to gamble, KENDALL FLETCHER’s the one on the backline to take. HOPE SOLO’s been racking up the points with the club’s winning start, but you suspect it’ll be very difficult for the Reign to not get dinged at least once this round. Offensive options are a bit more limited than previous rounds. NAHO is definitely gone for both rounds at the Asian Cup, while MEGAN RAPINOE will miss at least the weekend match injured. She could theoretically be back for midweek against FCKC, but are you going to gamble with that? The top two options are SYDNEY LEROUX, who broke her scoring duck this past round, and BEVERLY GOEBEL, consistent but unspectacular thus far. I think Leroux’s got more upside this round despite the tough matchups, but Goebel’s a good option if you’re lacking allocation slots. JESSICA FISHLOCK was big last week but played on Thursday across the pond, meaning her minutes may be limited on Saturday. As such, KIM LITTLE, who’s been mercurial enough to give fantasy owners frequent heartburn, is probably the better option this round. Just hope for a good round, instead of last week’s dud.
FCKC (WSH, @SEA) – Honestly, are we sure FCKC isn’t this year’s good bad team? They destroyed the Dash over the weekend but then were made to look very ordinary in midweek against WNY with both squads at less than full strength. The injury list is mounting, and it’s becoming more apparent that the club isn’t as deep as we thought they were. Regardless of the difficult matchups on paper, AMY RODRIGUEZ and LAUREN HOLIDAY are nigh-undroppable in their current form, especially with FCKC having two matches. They both take up allocation slots but have been lethal lately. It’s very hard to totally trust anyone else here given the matchups. NICOLE BARNHART wasn’t bad last round, but there are better options this round. With ERIKA TYMRAK struggling with a back injury, the rest of the non-Holiday midfield may get more chances, but it’s hard to be confident of any of them starring given the matchups. I’m not too terribly confident of the backline keeping clean sheets this round, but you may tap KASSEY KALLMAN or LEIGH ANN ROBINSON as options if you feel different.
Chicago (HOU, @BOS) – Chicago are a ridiculously frustrating fantasy team. They’re clearly formidable, but most of their players produce garbage numbers in terms of fantasy, which leads to a big dilemma this round, as they clearly have the best matchups. You have to figure the Red Stars are going to be able to shut one of these teams down, meaning goalkeeper KARINA LEBLANC is a great option in goal. She costs an allocation, but with those matchups, you may just have to bite the bullet. With JULIE JOHNSTON now listed as a defender in the game, she’s a very good bet this round with the chance to be a factor on set pieces. Offensively? Well, good luck. HAYLEY BROCK scored last round out, but it’s awfully hard to trust a starting spot to her given the limited returns. Despite the matchups, it’s really hard to pick out any other midfielders or attackers worth your time. LORI CHALUPNY might be a canny but very risky pick, as she’s not been able to come close to last year’s offensive form. Some might spring for MELISSA TANCREDI now that she’s available, but I’d wait until she shows she can score at this level given her allocation status. Given the rest of the chopping and changing Rory Dames has done with the offense so far, I’d generally steer clear this round.
Boston (CHI) – It’s not like the Red Stars have been overwhelmingly impressive this season, so including one or two Boston attackers in your lineup might not be totally insane. Which ones to spring for is the bigger question. LIANNE SANDERSON is coming off a few games in England, but with the club not playing until midweek, she should be rested and ready for this round. She’ll need to take more of an attacking role with LISA DE VANNA gone, but that may not be as much of a boon as it sounds like at first glance. HEATHER O’REILLY has been her usual self in fantasy this season, AKA valuable. With her potentially facing a rookie at full-back, she could again deliver the goods. There’s not much else here worth noting though, even against a shaky offense. The back four continues to look like a liability, and with just one game this round, I’d still stay away from ALYSSA NAEHER until the backline ahead of her shows it can keep a clean sheet.
Sky Blue FC (@WNY) – Yeah, betting on SBFC against WNY is like playing Russian Roulette, especially on the road. MONICA OCAMPO showed why she’s so valuable to the club last round with some nice performances on the stat sheet, even while not scoring in the club’s second match of the round. Given the matchup and other available double gamers, I’d wait a round before putting her in my lineup. KATY FREELS played just once in the round, but she scored from the spot, saving teams everywhere from some serious heartache. Again, there are probably better options out there. The bigger developments are happening further back though. KELLEY O’HARA has looked to be rounding back into form the past few rounds and is certainly one to keep an eye on for future weeks, while the situation in goal bears extra watching, with JILL LOYDEN having been dropped for BRITTANY CAMERON. You probably want to stay far away from SBFC players this round, but keep an eye on their form for double weeks ahead.
Washington (@FCKC) – They handled them once, but that was back in D.C., and you figure FCKC is going to be hellbent on revenge. If you’re going to spring on Spirit attackers, DIANA MATHESON looks like the best option, though with so many allocated options having double game rounds, she still seems like a marginal pick this time out. CHRISTINE NAIRN could be a sneaky pick, as she tends to be a high volume shooter without finding the back of the net regularly. Even if Washington does end up pulling the upset away from home, it’s difficult seeing them shutout a volatile FCKC attack. That means you should stay away from the backline, as well as goalkeeper ASHLYN HARRIS.
WNY Flash (SBFC) – The Flash are still without the suspended CARLI LLOYD, while SAM KERR AND LYDIA WILLIAMS are away at the Asian Cup. It seems likely that Aaran Lines will try to cram VICKY LOSADA, ADRIANA, and SONIA BERMUDEZ into the same formation, though Losada and Bermudez are both coming from World Cup qualifiers in Europe. I’m skittish that one (or both) of those two may end up starting on the bench in favor of JASMYNE SPENCER, who scored in midweek though, so be wary. I’d probably stick with Vicky for now given some of the other forward options available this round. ABBY WAMBACH wasn’t bad in her first club game of the season, but her international form points towards an erosion of pace that may not bode well for her. SBFC hasn’t been the best defensively this season though, so there are worse options, even with the double week. Sunday’s opponents have struggled offensively at times, so the Flash have the opportunity to keep a clean sheet. Still, with rookie KELSEY WYS likely starting in goal, and the defense outside of BRITTANY TAYLOR having done little of note fantasy-wise thus far, you may want to look at other options.