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The Armband: FMLS Round 31 Captain Rankings

Adam Zdroik

Adam writes on sports ranging from NFL and MLB to soccer and college basketball. Outside of writing, he has worked with a professional soccer team, Sporting Kansas City, and in the stats department at ESPN. He is a former Streak for the Cash winner and Michigan State graduate.

Following what was the biggest round of the Fantasy MLS season is the shortest time between rounds of the year. Before we get there, I want to congratulate anyone that went ahead and gave the armband to Yoshimar Yotun, who finished with the most fantasy points (27). I labeled him as my favorite differential and it worked out in the end.

The other leaders were Alberth Elis, Nemanja Nikolic and Dallas defenders. And before I pat myself on the back, my top three captain options (Yamil Asad, Ignacio Piatti, Josef Martinez) all failed to reach double-digit points despite playing two matches. Nicolas Lodeiro was at least the top midfielder, so it wasnít all bad outside of Yotun.

The upcoming week will require more strategy, as there are five matches, yet only eight teams in action. The round also starts on Tuesday, Oct. 3 and ends on Wednesday, Oct. 11. Taking a certain strategy is key because the two teams with two matches donít have many players that youíd want to captain at this point, while ones like Atlanta and New York have extremely favorable matchups. Youíll have to decide if you prefer the two matches over one favorable fixture, while incorporating the international break. Sounds like fun.

With international play, letís get some of the bigger fantasy names out of the way. Matt Besler, Benny Feilhaber, Graham Zusi, Maynor Figueroa, Kevin Molino, Francisco Calvo, Alberth Elis and Josef Martinez are all on international duty (Molino and Calvo will play the first match). Atlanta have a great home matchup against Minnesota, but will also be without Greg Garza and Anton Walkes on the back line.

Is that it? Probably not, but time to move on.

Sporting KC are on the road twice, where they have just two wins and seven goals scored in 14 matches. Thatís a tough situation, but thereís one player who stands out in Ilie Sanchez. Heís been fairly consistent in the midfield and would be a safe option to get eight fantasy points in two matches. Heís averaged just over four per match in the last six, and even on the road he has potential to accrue points due to bonuses and passes completed. Diego Rubio is goal-or-bust and I donít trust him in two games SKC could get shut out in.

Minnesota travels to Atlanta and then hosts Kansas City for their two matches. The Loons will have trouble scoring in Atlanta, while the Minnesota-KC matchup will be hard to predict. However, in Sportingís last four road matches, only six goals have been scored. My only thought is that Ibson is the safest option because heís reached at least five fantasy points in his last nine matches and that includes a number of bad defeats.

Atlanta will be without multiple players, but Asad, Julian Gressel and Hector Villalba are still around for a team that has five clean sheets in its last six home matches to go with 22 goals scored. But on a short week, players like Asad may see fewer than 70 minutes again, which has been the case in the last two matches. Gressel is a sneaky play in place of Miguel Almiron, though he's not at the same level despite one goal and three assists in his last three home starts. Villalba could start alongside Kenwyne Jones up front with Villalba the clear option. He has two goals and six assists in his last six home starts.

The Red Bulls are the other team up for debate at home against Vancouver. Tyler Adams and Gonzalo Veron took over last week, but Iím not willing to bet against Sacha Kljestan and Bradley Wright-Phillips. Both should be back in the starting XI, though that isnít guaranteed. Daniel Royer is back from injury, and he scored and assisted in his first start last weekend. Before he was injured, Royer compiled six goals and an assist in four starts. The Whitecaps are in first place in the Western Conference, but Iím still not sold on their away form with their recent wins coming against Orlando and Kansas City. They lost 3-0 at Seattle a week ago.

Colorado can never be trusted in terms of selecting a captain and the same goes for Dallas on the road as they have three goals in their last seven away from home. The only side left to consider is Houston at home against KC. The Dynamo were a fairly popular team last week with two home matches, yet they allowed four goals and Elis was the main benefactor up front. With five quality forwards, itís been a mystery all season as to which one would produce, and those that went with Erick Torres last week fell prey to only 64 minutes played in two matches. Yet, with Elis out, Torres may end up seeing 90 minutes and producing a hat trick, which would make everyone happy.

Atlanta and Houston have the best chances for a clean sheet, with Leandro Gonzalez Pirez the only one Iíd consider for the armband. I like him more than Sporting defenders because Atlantaís chances of a clean sheet may be higher than KCís in two road matches. Gonzalez Pirez also has at least eight fantasy points in his last six starts.