The numbers are in, the odds are out, and we’re ready to go once again with our Parsing The Percentages series!!
For Round 4, we’ve selected the New York Red Bulls and Columbus Crew SC as our top two clubs this weekend. Oddsmakers across the board have given each of these teams well above a 50% chance of winning outright. Should each of these teams manage to come away with a win, MLS Fantasy who loaded up on players from each of these teams would be primed to come away with some big fantasy points. So without further ado, let’s jump on in to our picks!
New York Red Bulls (vs. Minnesota United FC)
FiveThirtyEight: 68% Chance to Win
OddsShark: RBNY Win -275
OddsPortal: RBNY Win -294
Minnesota are losing both of their starting center-backs and their top defensive midfielder to international call-ups this weekend. Needless to say, we expect New York to carve them up like a Thanksgiving turkey on Saturday evening!
The oddsmakers seem to expect this as well, with the spreads massively favoring a Red Bull victory on Saturday. From a fantasy perspective, the only question at this point is who will be in the Starting XI. With Tyler Adams, Kemar Lawrence, Michael Murillo, and Fidel Escobar all away on international duty, we're anticipating a 5-4-1 this weekend (especially given how wide Minnesota seems to be playing now that Kevin Molino is out).
On the attacking end, we can guarantee that Bradley Wright-Phillips (9.4m) and Kaku (9.1m) are all but locked in, and we expect them both to produce very strong returns. At the moment, we're starting them both on our squad, and even giving Kaku the Captain's armband.
In the midfield, things get a little more tricky, given how much depth the club has at this point... especially if we see a 5-4-1 on Saturday. Danny Royer (8.5m) is the most likely candidate to start amongst this group, and we wouldn't be surprised to see Sean Davis (6.5m) starting in a defensive midfield role (as Tyler Adams currently traveling with Team USA). Marc Rzatkowski, Florian Valot, Vincent Bezecourt, and even Alex Muyl are all candidates for the starting lineup as well. Each of these players offers quite a bit of upside in Round 4, so keep an eye out for the lineup announcements on Saturday, as any one of them could be a fun differential option this weekend.
On the defensive end, we're a bit more hesitant this week. With the absences of the aforementioned Lawrence, Murillo, and Escobar, it wouldn't be unheard of for New York's depleted back line to give up a goal. Therefore, we favor utilizing MLS Ironman Luis Robles in a keeperoo this week... if New York gives up a goal, managers can quickly swap in a replacement from either Colorado/Sporting KC or Vancouver/LA Galaxy. We're also of the same mindset when it comes to Tim Parker and/or Aaron Long - bring in whichever one your budget can handle, but definitely consider a switcheroo here as well.
Lastly, the mighty Connor Lade will likely start at one of the fullback or wingback positions; his tenacity and non-stop engine allows him to maintain both a decent defensive bonus floor and potential attacking returns. Get him in there if you're feeling cheeky!
Columbus Crew SC (vs. DC United)
FiveThirtyEight: 59% Chance to Win
OddsShark: Columbus Win -275
OddsPortal: Columbus Win -294
Columbus at home against DC United is another very favorable matchup this weekend. Although they are missing USMNT call-ups Wil Trapp and Zack Steffen, there are still plenty of opportunities for strong MLS fantasy returns for the Crew.
Frederico Higuain (11.2m) will likely find his way on to quite a few fantasy rosters this weekend. The Argentinian creator stumbled a bit last week on the road against Philadelphia, but he is primed to bounce back against a club that has given up an Eastern Conference-high six goals so far in 2018.
Ahead of Pipa in the formation is a rejuvenated Gyasi Zardes (9.7m). The young forward is a boom-or-bust option for sure - the type of player who can a risky option against a team managed by Ben Olsen - but we are optimistic that he will be able to generate some returns this weekend. Not a terrible switcheroo option either at 9.7m, given that there are some budget options available in the Saturday night matches that could swap in.
We also expect some strong production from the Columbus back line this weekend. Jonathan Mensah and Lalas Abubakar have been nothing short of phenomenal for fantasy managers so far this season; they anchor a Crew defense that has given up a mere two goals so far this season. Even if Columbus can't hold on to a clean sheet, we anticipate a handful of bonus points from each player. We will certainly have Abubakar in our starting lineup this weekend, and are strongly considering including Mensah as a switcheroo option as well to double up on a potential clean sheet.