DraftKings Fantasy Soccer: Saturday MLS Picks
DraftKings Fantasy Soccer: Saturday MLS Picks

This article is part of our DraftKings Fantasy Soccer series.

MATCHES (EDT)

7:00 p.m: Chicago Fire v. Vancouver Whitecaps
7:00 p.m: FC Dallas v. Toronto FC
7:00 p.m: Sporting KC v. Portland Timbers
7:00 p.m: Montreal Impact v. D.C. United
7:30 p.m: Columbus Crew v. Atlanta United

It's not often we get a five-match MLS slate where we can see all of the lineups ahead of time, but this week provides exactly that gift. Chicago and Atlanta enter Saturday on three-days rest after losing to USL sides in the U.S. Open Cup. Sporting KC and D.C. United also played Wednesday, earning a win and loss, respectively, against MLS competition. FC Dallas, Toronto FC and Montreal Impact all played Tuesday and shouldn't be quite as much of a concern in terms of fatigue. That leaves the offensively gifted Columbus Crew as the most rested home side. Of additional note, most teams feature players away on international duty. Fortunately, rotation, injury and international absence aren't as concerning since we'll see all the lineups before contests kick off.

PLAYER RECOMMENDATIONS

GOALKEEPER

David Ousted, VAN at CHI ($3,900): After Chicago played 120 minutes in their U.S. Open Cup loss Wednesday, including stars like Bastian Schweinsteiger and Nemanja Nikolic, I'm not as concerned about a trip to Chicago for the Whitecaps. David Accam and Dax McCarty, almost certainly their other two best players, are playing with their respective national teams and will also miss out. So, despite Chicago being a dominant force in 2017, Vancouver have a great chance to compete in this one and a clean sheet wouldn't be all that surprising given the likely "B-Team" Veljko Paunovic will throw out. The Whitecaps actually haven't been that poor on the road this year, and their defense comfortably sits in the top half of the league in part to great goalkeeping from Ousted.

DEFENDER

Brandon Vincent, CHI v. VAN ($4,600): Chicago's attacking outlook may not be as bright as usual, but they should hold their own defensively. Vancouver won't be mistaken for an offensive juggernaut at any point in the future, and while my RotoWire colleague Schuyler Redpath is raving about Cristian Techera's play of late, I'm more impressed by Chicago's defensive stature all season, including just four goals allowed in nine home matches. Add Vincent's penchant for dangerous crosses from the left wing to the clean sheet potential and we may have the only high value fullback worth their salt this week.

Taylor Kemp, DCU at MTL ($4,100): It wasn't all that long ago that Kemp was one of the highest-priced fullbacks on DraftKings. Kemp's dangerous left foot comes in handy more often when D.C. United can build a respectable attack, but even during their latest doldrums, Kemp has popped up with some healthy crossing numbers. His floor has actually been pretty good for a defensive player in his price range too, thanks to relatively active defensive work, and Montreal project to be only average in attack without Ignacio Piatti. Offensively, Kemp projects to get up field against some less experienced wingers and should find enough room to operate effectively.

Tyrone Mears, ATL v. CLB ($3,400): While I'm not fond of the matchup for Mears, he's a veteran who has proven very capable in the attacking third, and he comes at a great price this week. With 14 crosses over his past three starts, and Atlanta sporting a front four that put every opponent on their heels, Mears could pay off just in this one statistical category alone. That said, he'll have to deal with a similarly dangerous Justin Meram and that should cap his upside. Regardless, the price is extremely palatable for the talent that Mears can bring.

MIDFIELDER

Blerim Dzemaili, MTL v. DCU ($8,700): While Federico Higuain and Diego Valeri make good cases for the top midfield play this week, Dzemaili stands out to me as the foremost fantasy threat. Without Piatti in the lineup, the Swiss midfielder will lead Montreal on most set-piece plays. Even without impressive crossing totals, his fantasy consistency has been quite notable, and a matchup with a reeling D.C. United should do nothing to slow him down. United have only scored 12 times in their 17 matches, but have conceded 25, which is easily the worst goal differential in the Eastern Conference. Dzemaili may not have the highest ceiling of the midfielders on this slate, but his floor feels as sturdy as any midfielder in the league.

Sebastian Blanco, POR at SKC ($6,300): Both Portland and Sporting KC have quite a few holes in their lineup heading into this match, but Blanco will be returning fresh from red card suspension. Portland may be forced to open up their play offensively given the absences of Diego Chara, David Guzman and likely Darlington Nagbe, along with a bare-bones back line. SKC are missing Matt Besler and Graham Zusi along their back line, which can only help an already potent Timbers attack. There's some fear that a road match with this much lineup turmoil will be troublesome for Caleb Porter's side, but with Valeri and Fanendo Adi leading the way and Blanco's improved play supporting them, optimism for one of the league's highest-scoring teams remains. If you have the cash, Valeri is a great choice, but if you need to dip into this middle tier of midfielders, Blanco makes for an intriguing option.

Artur, CLB v. ATL ($3,100): This space is mostly reserved to highlight the fact that we'll be likely to find valuable players near the minimum price in the midfield in the wake of U.S. Open Cup play and international duty. However, without seeing the lineups, pinpointing those players ahead of time is a tough task. One player poised for a start is Artur, a young Brazilian midfielder who could be a key component if Columbus are to defeat Atlanta. Artur will be tasked with controlling possession alongside Will Trapp and distributing the ball upfield to Meram, Higuain and Ola Kamara. While he hasn't yet broken out or even put up respectable fantasy totals, his influence on the field is growing with each appearance and he's plenty capable of contributing in a variety of stat categories. Artur is a relatively safe but unexciting option who should meet value this week, but I also recommend watching for more exciting $3,000 options like Daniel Johnson, Kevin Kratz, Ian Harkes and Marco Delgado playing in Justin Morrow's spot.

FORWARD

Josef Martinez, ATL at CLB ($7,900):David Villa may have something to say about this, but for my money Martinez and Nikolic are the two most feared forwards in the league. We have to choose between them on this slate, or massively forego expensive midfield choices, and I prefer Martinez. Since returning to health, he has 38 fantasy points in just 161 minutes, including two goals. Atlanta immediately looks twice as dangerous when he steps on the field, and his willingness to fire shots goal-ward rivals other elite MLS forwards. Nikolic has been a revelation in Chicago as well, but we noted their lineup questions earlier after playing 120 minutes midweek, and I'm hesitant to spend $900 more just for a home fixture from him. Between Martinez and Miguel Almiron ($9,500), Atlanta have such a deadly attack that I would not be opposed to spending up for the road stack here.

Soony Saad, SKC v. POR ($5,200): There are plenty of good forward choices between Martinez and Saad, but none stand out above the others significantly, so we'll dive into a value play here. Without Dom Dwyer and Benny Feilhaber, Saad should step right into Sporting's starting XI. Previously this season, he's commanded control of some or most of Kansas City's set pieces when he's been on the field, and his shooting is probably underrated at this point in his career. With the Timbers missing key personnel, I wouldn't mind having a piece of SKC, but Saad is one of the only options that doesn't feel eminently disappointing for the price.

Dairon Asprilla, POR v. SKC ($3,800): Same game, even cheaper option. Asprilla's play in June warrants increased consideration when he suits up for the Timbers. He's always been somewhat of an unrefined but dangerous winger, willing to shoot from distance, and plenty athletic enough to beat any defender he matches up against. He has a goal and assist this month in four starts; not thrilling, but remember the price range we're in, and he also showed he can produce without the scoring statistics with an 11-point outing against San Jose. I've liked what I have seen from the forward lately, and if you're too shy to buy into Valeri or Blanco on the road, Asprilla might be a good way into one of the league's best attacks.

The author(s) of this article may play in daily fantasy contests including – but not limited to – games that they have provided recommendations or advice on in this article. In the course of playing in these games using their personal accounts, it's possible that they will use players in their lineups or other strategies that differ from the recommendations they have provided above. The recommendations in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of RotoWire. JD Bazzo plays in daily fantasy contests using the following accounts: DraftKings: OfficerBo, Yahoo: DeNirosDinero.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
JD Bazzo
JD is a contributing soccer writer at RotoWire and was a finalist for the 2017 FSWA Soccer Writer of the Year award. JD has been writing for RotoWire since 2015. He is a proud Pittsburgh native, purveyor of fantasy sports, and likely the first Penn State Basketball fan you've ever met.
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