This article is part of our DraftKings Fantasy Soccer series.
Value abounds in a five-match saturday slate featuring new transfers, tired sides, and some struggling teams. It's beginning to be the time of year where poor squads either make a playoff push or fizzle out, and at least half of these teams are squarely in that group. Let's break down each of the five matches and parse out the most interesting fantasy options.
7:30 p.m. EDT
Montreal are surging of late with the return of Ignacio Piatti. Both Philadelphia last weekend and Chicago on Wednesday looked helpless in stopping the Impact, and Real Salt Lake have not been a defensively superior side to either of those recent opponents. However, the additional rest is notable, as is Salt Lake's recent attacking prowess. This match could easily feature multiple goals on both sides.
Joao Plata, RSL at MTL ($8,900): Plata has become one of the league's best high-floor fantasy forwards. With crosses and shots being plentiful nearly every match, the dynamic winger rarely disappoints. Few defenders have the speed to catch him once initially beaten, which could be magnified after the recent fixture congestion for Montreal. I'm keen on Montreal's defensive spine lately, which makes playing Plata over Albert Rusnak ($9,000) an easier call this week.
Ignacio Piatti, MTL v. RSL ($8,700): It doesn't take a genius to write up two of the highest-priced players in this match, but Piatti is another player who is nearly a must-play this weekend. He has at least 23 fantasy points in three straight matches and shows no signs of decline. Blerim Dzemaili ($9,300) has been viewed as the more consistent option, but without the set piece duty monopoly he used to have, and with Kyle Beckerman and Sunny commanding the central midfield for RSL, he just isn't as appealing of an option this week.
As mentioned above, both Rusnak and Dzemaili are great midfield plays, I just prefer them less than their counterparts this week, particularly since they're more expensive. Luis Silva ($5,100) remains in consideration now that he spearheads the Salt Lake attacking four and his play continues to impress. Daniel Lovitz ($3,900) and Marcelo Silva ($2,800) are cheaper fullbacks on either side who should safely earn a handful of points.
This match caused the largest disagreement on the RotoWire Fantasy Soccer Podcast this week, with contributor Schuyler Redpath preferring the home side and yours truly not being able to look past Columbus' lively performance last weekend. Orlando are slightly more desperate for three points, but they simply don't have the second or third gear that the Crew are capable of hitting.
Kekuta Manneh, CLB at ORL ($5,600): With Ethan Finlay shipped to Minnesota, Manneh has been given plenty of chance to claim the right wing as his own. When in form, Manneh remains one of the speediest and most underrated wide players in the league. While he'll never accumulate points like a true playmaking midfielder, his goalscoring upside is just as high and the price is right this week. Orlando have only won once in their past six home matches, with 10 total goals allowed, so I'm not terribly concerned with the away match factor here.
Yoshimar Yotun, ORL v. CLB ($4,800): Recent addition Yoshi is listed as a defender on DraftKings but has featured in the attack for Orlando City thus far. With Kaka out due to a red card suspension, it's very possible that Yoshi handles the majority of the Lions' playmaking and even set piece duties. This is a no-brainer selection even with the clean sheet chances in doubt.
Justin Meram ($8,000) appears to be back to his full potential and could have had multiple goals last week. If you're comfortable dropping a pretty penny on a road attacker, he's one of the top choices. Carlos Rivas ($7,200) is rarely in my fantasy wheelhouse but plenty of smart fantasy players continue to have success with him. Like Manneh, he's a game changer when playing at his best. Keep an eye out for new additions Pedro Santos ($6,000) and Dillon Powers ($3,100), who would both be in consideration with a starting spot.
Toronto are the road side, but they are undefeated in their last six while Chicago have lost four times. The Fire also played Wednesday and have had a string of poor results. When it clicks, Toronto's attack is virtually unstoppable. However, when Chicago's defense clicks they are virtually impenetrable. Unfortunately, Chicago's defense has broken down more times than I can count over the past several matches.
Sebastian Giovinco, TOR at CHI ($11,700): Another highlight of the podcast this week was the Giovinco discussion. While I'm typically skeptical of needing to play the fantasy legend at his high price, or at least do my best to play devil's advocate, I can't see many arguments against him this week. Schuyler has been slightly underwhelmed by recent outings and tried to throw some cold water on my hot take. Put simply, nobody has the upside that Seba brings each week and I've been entirely underwhelmed by the Fire on fresher legs than they'll have this weekend. Chicago are 10-1-0 at home and still have a chance to catch Toronto in the Supporters Shield race, but I can't pass up the floor and potential Giovinco has even if his opponent slightly improve on their recent play.
Justin Morrow, TOR at CHI ($5,200): Morrow may be on everyone's radar after two goals in his last match, but that's no reason to look away if you have the extra salary space. One of the league's most consistently attacking wingbacks, he's able to link up with Giovinco, Jozy Altidore and Victor Vazquez. Realistically, the wings are where Chicago are most susceptible and their center-backs have had trouble defending crosses of late, so it makes sense that Morrow could see even more action this week than is typical.
If I'm counting on an attacker to break down Toronto's strong defense, it's David Accam ($8,400), who can create individual moments of brilliance against even the best defenders in Major League Soccer. However, I also find Toronto keeper Alex Bono ($4,300) to be a great value against a Fire side that are sure to put some shots on target.
This match between two of the most respected teams in the league comes at an awkward time as both have lost their identities a bit lately. Dallas can't seem to get all of their pieces working together like the well-oiled machine they often are. Sporting still have one of the better organized defenses, but having traded Dom Dwyer and failed to re-acquire Kristian Nemeth, the attack lacks even the faintest hint of punch.
Kellyn Acosta, DAL at SKC ($5,200): Given Sporting's superior back line and keeper, I'm fairly unwilling to play Maxi Urruti at his high price this week. However, I wouldn't mind getting some Dallas exposure. If they are to get back to form, it will likely be thanks to their star midfielder, Acosta. With seven shots last week and potential to take most set pieces, I anticipate a lively match against one of Dallas' main rivals.
Jesse Gonzalez, DAL at SKC ($4,600): Sporting may squeak a goal in this weekend, but I just as easily am picturing a disappointing zero-goal outing in front of the home crowd. Dallas are difficult to break down and Sporting players like Gerso Fernandes have been pretty dreadful lately. I can see them taking some desperation shots from outside the box, leaving Gonzalez with some easy save points. If you use Gonzalez, consider one of the Dallas fullbacks, who are likely to pitch in with a few crosses as well.
Victor Ulloa ($3,400) was surprisingly on most corner kicks for Dallas last match. I'm not promising it continues, but if you need the savings, you could do worse than bet that it continues. Benny Feilhaber ($7,300) is an interesting differential play this week since most players will scroll right past the star midfielder on the home team. He tends to step up with big matches, and this is certainly one of those.
Snore. Two of the league's most boring sides face off to cap off the slate. It's actually going to be difficult to recommend two players in this one. Notably, the Rapids coach, Pablo Mastroeni was fired this past week. D.C. United may have three starters who were not on the team just two weeks ago.
Paul Arriola, DCU at COL ($4,300): Arriola has carved out a regular role on the U.S. men's national team at a very young age, and recently transferred to D.C. from Liga MX. He was thrown right into the fire last week and combined very well with United's lone playmaker Luciano Acosta. Arriola is one of my favorite value plays on the slate, even if it's on the road and with a team he has had little time to build chemistry with. D.C. simply need to rely on him if they're going to claw their way up the standings.
Shkelzen Gashi, COL v. DCU ($7,800): Perhaps I should be considering more Rapids attackers against a United team that have conceded 17 goals in their past six matches. It's just tough to rely on any of them. Gashi, however, is an all-star caliber player who can both score and create, and he comes at a slight discount to other similar fantasy options. It remains to be seen how much change interim assistant coach Steve Cooke will bring to how Colorado play, but I find it hard to believe he'll open up the attack as much as we would like.
Both goalkeepers are heavily in consideration here, but Bill Hamid ($4,000) is considerably cheaper than Tim Howard ($5,600). I'll take the road keeper at those savings even with their horrible track record defensively of late. Patrick Mullins ($5,100) regains his starting spot with Deshorn Brown's injury, and Luciano Acosta ($5,900) would be a true value if he repeats last week's performance.