This article is part of our DraftKings Fantasy Soccer series.
Round 14 kicks off early with four games Wednesday night. The international break begins this weekend, though the MLS season continues with one of its biggest weeks of the year, as 15 games are set to kickoff in a span of five days. All eight teams that play Wednesday also play over the weekend, so player rotation will be a factor for fantasy managers to consider. Road teams tend to rest key players, and the home teams typically put out a near full strength lineup. This makes home teams even more dominant in midweek games than on weekends, and in a slate with three clear-cut home favorites, it is safe to say that your lineup should have as many home players as possible. Regardless, it is imperative to check the starting lineups as soon as they come in because there are often plenty of surprising starters in midweek slates.
Luckily, the starting lineups for three of the four games should be released about an hour before lock, so there will be plenty of time to assess most of the starting options on this slate. In a scenario like this, it is often best to rely heavily on the first three games for fantasy production by leaving very few spots unlocked for the last game. If you leave too much available salary for the last game, and the player you intended to pick doesn't start, it can often be difficult to find a player to replace him with similar upside. However, on this slate, it just so happens that the biggest favorite, the Houston Dynamo (-160), plays in the final game of the slate. The starting lineup for Houston will not be released until after the other three games lock, so it will be risky, but it may pay off to gamble on putting one or two Dynamo players in your lineup.
7:30 p.m. EDT
In what is a very quick turnaround, New York City will play its second game in four days. The club is coming off a 3-1 loss to expansion side Atlanta United, in which NYC FC started a near full strength side. Andrea Pirlo missed last weekend, and Alex Ring is suspended for yellow card accumulation. Meanwhile, David Villa and Jack Harrison were rested in a midweek match two weeks ago, but they will likely start in this one.
The Revs come into Wednesday's match with a fully fit side, and having just lost 2-1 at Red Bull Arena, it is likely that they line up a full strength unit. Juan Agudelo came off the bench last weekend and is very likely to start Wednesday. He subbed on for Kei Kamara, and it is unclear if head coach Jay Heaps will start both of the forwards together up top, or if he will rest Kamara and to start Agudelo alone up top with Lee Nguyen playing right behind him.
David Villa, NYC v. NE ($10,600): Villa failed to find the net in Sunday's game against Atlanta, but he has a very good chance to make up for it Wednesday, as he has scored four goals in five home matches this year. New England has the seventh-worst defensive record in the league, and the center-back pairing of Benjamin Angoua and Antonio Delemea is still a work in progress. They have not yet played the 2016 MLS MVP, which should only add to Villa's likelihood of scoring. Villa is, without a doubt, the top play on the slate.
Jack Harrison, NYC v. NE ($6,200): Villa's partner in crime is definitely Harrison. He will be facing left-back Chris Tierney, who is a subpar defender, and if Tierney decides to get forward like he usually does, it will play right into Harrison's preferred style of play. The right winger loves to play on the counter, using his elite pace and dribbling skill to beat defenders. Additionally, Harrison took two corner kicks last game due to Andrea Pirlo's absence, which certainly adds to his fantasy floor.
Juan Agudelo ($6,900) and Kei Kamara ($6,500) could both start, with Lee Nguyen ($7,300) playing right behind them. The road matchup for these three makes it difficult to justify their prices, but Nguyen's drop in price makes him the top choice out of the three. Kellyn Rowe ($5,300) has provided a nice floor over the past six weeks, and Diego Fagundez ($5,600) is not a bad play, though his three goals this season have came at home.
The Crew are the least-favored home team on the slate as they face the defending MLS Cup champions. Columbus changed their formation last week to try to break down the sturdy Toronto FC defense, but it backfired as the Crew lost 5-0 on the road. Head coach Gregg Berhalter will likely revert back to his regular 4-2-3-1 formation after Friday's failed experiment. Seattle has shown weaknesses this season, and after last game's performance, it is very likely that the Crew will field the strongest possible lineup.
Coming off a 1-0 win in last week's Cascadia Cup match against the Timbers, Seattle now travels to Columbus to face the high-powered Crew attack. The Sounders have struggled to create offensively this season, but the return of right-back Brad Evans has really helped to stabilize what was a leaky defense. If he starts Wednesday, which is unlikely due to his recent return from injury, Justin Meram's fantasy value will suffer somewhat. But if he does not, Meram should have a lot of fun on Columbus' left flank. Add in the fact that forwards Jordan Morris and Clint Dempsey will be away on international duty, and Seattle looks very likely to continue its championship hangover.
Justin Meram, CLB v. SEA ($8,300): As stated earlier, there is a good chance that right back Brad Evans is rested for this one, thus Meram could enjoy a one-on-one matchup with rookie Jordy Delem. Meram has had a fantastic start to the season with seven goals, more than he had in each of the last two seasons, and four assists. He is a streaky player, and though he was subbed off last game at halftime, it was likely because of Berhalter's failed tactical decision.
Federico Higuain CLB v. SEA ($8,100): Pipa is having another great season in his sixth year in MLS. He takes corners and penalties for the Crew, and at home these duties typically come in higher volume. He has scored four goals and provided four assists in 2017; all except one goal has come at home. He will be facing one of the best defensive midfielders in Osvaldo Alonso, though it is often hard for a player in this position to stay on Higuain for an entire 90 minutes. Pipa should have plenty of opportunities to add to his impressive home record.
Ola Kamara ($7,700) always has a chance to find net, but it seems there are better options in his price range due to his goal-dependent production. Nicolas Lodeiro ($10,200) is the only player on Seattle worth considering, but on the road with Dempsey and Morris out, his price seems too steep this week.
Orlando has just two points in its last six matches, which includes four games on the road and their first home loss of the season. The team relies heavily on their attacking trio of Cyle Larin, Carlos Rivas and Kaka, but the latter will miss the match because of a calf injury. However, Orlando should be relieved to play a team that is tied for the fewest goals scored this season. The defense has done well, and it could take just one goal to earn all three points Wednesday.
Although the D.C. United attack is low on goals, the defense is a little better than average. On the road, head coach Ben Olsen often employs the pack-it-in method, and sometimes it leads to a 0-0 draw or even a smash-and-grab 1-0 win. However, if the team concedes first, they often find it hard to get back in the game. The chemistry in the D.C. attack is not even close to what a successful MLS team needs, and one has to wonder how much longer the players will respond to the pessimistic instructions from a frustrated Olsen. It seems year after year, D.C. runs out the same scoring-deficient team that relies on tight victories won by their defense and shot-stopper Bill Hamid.
Carlos Rivas, ORL v. DC ($7,500): Rivas stuffs the stat sheet with a ton of peripheral stats. He has two goals and five assists this season, but with his ability to cross the ball and take shots, his floor is about 10 points. If he adds a goal or an assist, he can get above 20 fantasy points, which also offers a nice ceiling for his hefty price tag. His finishing ability leaves a lot to be desired, but he looks to be one of the safer options on this four-game slate.
Cyle Larin, ORL v. DC ($8,600): Larin actually has a much better scoring record this season without Kaka in the lineup, as he has five goals in the six games without Kaka, and just two goals in the seven games Kaka has been on the field. D.C. United will be without starting center-back Bobby Boswell, which could give Larin more room in the air to win headers.
Matias Perez Garcia ($6,800) should fill the hole left by Kaka once again. He has trouble producing goals and assists, but his peripheral stats give him a high floor, though Will Johnson ($4,400) should be on corners. Scott Sutter ($5,700) continues to send in crosses, but with his high price he'll likely need an assist to hit value. I would completely fade D.C. United.
The Houston Dynamo earned their first road point last week, and on Wednesday they return to their fortress of BBVA Compass Stadium, where they have yet to lose this season. All signs point to this record extending against a struggling Real Salt Lake side, which has lost five of seven on the road this year. DaMarcus Beasley is away on international duty, and Romell Quioto is likely to miss out because of an ankle injury. Houston's lineup will be released right after lock, so you must be confident that your Dynamo player will start, or have a ready replacement if he doesn't.
Though still second-last in the Western Conference, Real Salt Lake has won two of the last three, which have both come at Rio Tinto Stadium. Attacking midfielder Albert Rusnak has been the only bright spot for the club. Forwards Yuri Movsisyan and Joao Plata have really struggled to produce after having very strong seasons in 2016. Starting goalkeeper Nick Rimando is away on international duty and will miss Wednesday's match. RSL has conceded 10 goals in four games without Rimando this year, but they've allowed just 13 in his 10 starts.
Erick Torres, HOU v. RSL ($8,800): Cubo was neutralized last game against the strong FC Dallas defense, but he returns back to his stomping grounds of BBVA Compass Stadium, where he has seven goals in as many games. He takes penalties and has even shown the ability to assist this year. He should be considered the best option after David Villa.
Mauro Manotas, HOU v. RSL ($7,200): Manotas has a great way of hitting the target, as he is tied with Orlando's Cyle Larin for the highest shot-on-goal percentage in the league among players who have shot more than nine times. As a left winger at home against a team that is tied for the second-most goals allowed, he has a high chance of finding the back of the net.
It is not certain that Alberth Elis ($7,300) starts due to his recent return from injury, but if Quioto fails to play, Houston may need Elis to fill in at right wing. If he does start, he will likely be subbed off, so his upside is limited. Alex ($6,500) takes corners for Houston, but his deeper role in the midfield makes him the fourth-best option from their attack. Albert Rusnak ($8,000) is the only RSL player worth consideration, but his road matchup makes him a fade.
Keepers of the Day
Tyler Deric, Hou v. RSL ($5,600): Deric is the most expensive goalkeeper on the slate, and rightfully so. Houston has yet to lose at home in 2017 and RSL is a very poor road team this season.
Joe Bendik, ORL v. DC ($5,500): Bendik has a very favorable matchup at home, and Orlando has lost just once in seven home games.
Zack Steffen, CLB v. SEA ($5,300): Steffen is the contrarian play Wednesday. With Seattle's offense already struggling, they now are without forwards Clint Dempsey and Jordan Morris, which should only compound their troubles offensively.
Sometimes you have to throw darts at defenders in order to fit all the attackers you want. Here are some options to consider: Chris Korb ($3,300), AJ DeLaGarza ($4,000), Chris Beltran ($3,900)