NWSL – Fantasy Preview – Round Eight

So, I had generally had an awful round last week after two consecutive outings over a hundred thirty-five points. It was enough to drop me to #60 overall after a few weeks of big gains. Obviously, captaining Alex Morgan turned out to be a gigantic mistake, with the USWNT star putting up a goose egg in a rare misfire. In a week with tons of clean sheets, ending up with AD Franch, who didn’t keep a shutout, turned out to be very detrimental as well.

Round Seven was our last relatively docile round for a while as well, with bye weeks, double weeks, and international call-ups wreaking havoc from now until August. While things figure to be slightly less chaotic than in a few weeks, there’s still plenty for fantasy owners to chew over:

-Bye weeks for Washington and Seattle. I’m going to go out on a limb and say you didn’t have any Reign players on your fantasy radar, but the absence of Ali Krieger and Diana Matheson is notable.

-Boston and Portland on double weeks. Both have concerns though:

-The Breakers may get two games, but they also get two of the league’s form sides at the moment in Sky Blue FC and the WNY Flash. You obviously want players who are going to be around for both games first and foremost, so Kyah Simon and Lianne Sanderson are almost must haves this week, with consideration also going to the likes of Cat Whitehill and Katie Schoepfer. The Breakers have some single gamers worth looking into, most specifically Heather O’Reilly. I’d stay away from Sydney Leroux and the goalkeeping situation though considering the unpredictability of both.

-Portland’s an absolute headache. Never mind the fact that the club looked like absolute pants for much of the game against Seattle, there’s the small matter of the club putting out two radically different lineups for their two games this round. Complicating matters is that that first match, against Chicago and without their WNT stars, looks like the best fantasy matchup by far this round. Surefire double gamers Marian Dougherty and Nikki Marshall are no-brainers, but wither everyone else? It’s a potential headache and a half for fantasy owners that’s sure to require some serious guesswork and intuition.

-Beware mid-week fixtures with returning players. Just because the WNT’ers are going to be back for the Wednesday and Thursday matches doesn’t mean they’ll play the whole match or even at all. You have been warned.

Round Eight Team Rankings:

1. POR
2. BOS
3. SBFC
4. WNY
5. FCKC
6. CHI

GK

Cameron (SBFC) – Has been lights out so far behind a fantastic defense. Matchup isn’t bad, but will rearguard hold up without Rampone?

LeBlanc (POR) – You’re only going to get one game, and it’s against stern opposition. She’s been rock steady in goal though, and even if she doesn’t keep a clean sheet, she could rack up points for saves.

Barnhart (FCKC) – Tough matchup on the road, and has to deal without Sesselman on the backline. Impressive so far, but better options this week.

Franch (WNY) – Playing behind a leaky backline and with a potentially dangerous matchup against volatile Boston offense. I’d stay away unless I needed to free up an allocation spot elsewhere.

Gay (POR) – A real gut check for fantasy owners. Has by far the round’s best matchup, but is she good enough for this level? Seriously risky, to say the least.

Vancil (CHI) – Impressed on debut and gets a depleted Portland side, albeit on the road. Could be worth a longshot play.

Santiago/Phillips (BOS) – Do you even want to mess with this situation? Phillips was supposedly back and available last round but magically wasn’t, leading to another Santiago start. Boston obviously has an advantage with two matches this week, but the volatility around the position has to be a major turn-off for fantasy owners. My advice? Don’t bother, as you’re in danger of eating a zero if you guess wrong.

DF

Dougherty (POR) – Two games and at least one great matchup = must have.

Foord (SBFC) – Has come alive as of late, and a goal is coming sooner rather than later.

Robinson (FCKC) – Matchup, Sesselmann’s absence dilutes her value a bit, but still a decent option given production.

Marshall (POR) – Might get slid inside to center-back with Buehler gone for first game, meaning she probably has less value than Dougherty.

Goodson (SBFC) – Always a threat on set pieces and matchup isn’t bad but without Rampone for cover could struggle.

Johnson (SBFC) – No O’Hara likely means she’s glued to left-back spot which shrinks her value a bit, but still a decent option given defensive form.

Whitehill (BOS) – Two game and a guaranteed starter, so she might be worth it.

Taylor (WNY) – Two assists were a shock, but she’s showing willingness to storm forward, meaning she might have more value than normal center-back.

Sauerbrunn (FCKC) – Thorns attack combined with allocation status and new center-back partner make her a marginal option this round.

Sahlen (WNY) – Borderline viable fantasy option, but still mostly useful for clean sheet points.

Mathias (FCKC) – Marginal option loves to get up flanks, but Robinson probably provides more bang for buck.

Williamson (POR) – Not going to give you much other than clean sheet points but non-allocated status helps.

McNeill (BOS) – Two game status makes her playable despite low scoring season thus far but beware threat of bookings.

Avant (POR) – Might get a play at left-back against Chicago if Marshall moves inside. Gets forward without abandon but Dougherty, Marshall still better options.

MF

Sanderson (BOS) – Has been red hot this season and surefire double gamer status makes her a top option this week.

Chalupny (CHI) – Been good, not great, but has a decent matchup against depleted Thorns.

O’Reilly (BOS) – Only getting one game but less of a rotation risk than other USWNT’ers and very consistent this year, so might be worth a look.

Washington (POR) – Benched last round, raising fears about this key round. Should in theory be a double gamer, but production has been erratic this season.

Sinclair (POR) – Gets just one game, and it’s a tough matchup, though against a depleted FCKC side. Hard to ignore point production as of late though.

Cheney (FCKC) – Hard playing 10 v 11, leading to a poor round seven, but facing a Thorns side with a notable weakness in midfield. Wouldn’t expect massive numbers but could still be a strong contributor.

Lloyd (WNY) – Last round was good and bad in a nutshell as she racked up phantom points for SOG but hurt fantasy owners with booking/fouls. Still a good option this week despite single-gamer status but be wary of her not getting ninety minutes.

Loyd (FCKC) – Shuffle without Sesselmann means she’s likely back in the lineup in the attacking band of midfield, making her an intriguing option given displays this season.

Zerboni (WNY) – Had best game by far with Lloyd now in lineup and could continue offensive resurgence this round.

Long (POR) – Has generally been a hatchetman for the bulk of this season, but she’s getting two games and has to come through with some offense sometime, right?

Mewis (FCKC) – More on than off lately, but Loyd’s presence could complicate matters for the rookie.

Lohman (BOS) – Likely to get two games but still just a marginal option.

Freels (SBFC) – Probably the only sure thing in midfield for the league leaders this round, but has generally underwhelmed fantasy-wise this year.

Mautz (CHI) – Erratic, but capable of the occasional big day.

Farrelly (FCKC) – Likely playing defensive midfielder with Buczkowski back in defense, so stay away.

FW

Simon (BOS) – Hard seeing her getting less than a hundred fifty minutes now that she’s on form. One of the few sure things this round, so play her with confidence.

Foxhoven (POR) – A big-time boom or bust pick, as she’s likely to start just one game for the club. That game’s against Chicago though, making her a very tantalizing option, and she could yet get major minutes against FCKC mid-week.

Cuellar (FCKC) – Torched Buehler in first meeting and has been pretty consistent, so use her if you want.

Kerr (WNY) – Breakers still weaker on the flanks, especially left side, so she could have a big game on Wednesday despite bad round seven.

Wambach (WNY) – Decent matchup but might not play the full match given her weekend USWNT exploits, so she’s a gamble.

Schoepfer (BOS) – Put up big numbers as well last week and represents a decent alternative option to Simon.

De Vanna (SBFC) – Had a rare bad round against FCKC last week but has been very good for much of the season and could again impress against Breakers.

Morgan (POR) – Murdered countless fantasy teams with no-show last round. Struggled in clubs’ first meeting and might not get full ninety after USWNT duty, so tread lightly.

Leroux (BOS) – Warning signs aplenty after being dropped last round following series of poor showings. Not guaranteed to start or get major minutes with USWNT duty on the weekend too.

Adams (SBFC) – Unless you have a major hunch, I’d stick with De Vanna, though she’s a sure starter and has shown well at times this season.

Adriana (WNY) – Didn’t do much last round but have to figure she’ll go deep considering Wambach unlikely to go ninety this time out.

McDonald (CHI) – Might stick in the lineup after assist in last game but probably going to play second fiddle to Grings.

Ocampo (SBFC) – Somebody’s got to fill O’Hara’s spot in attack, and it’s likely to be the Mexican international, though her allocated status is probably a big stay away this round.

Grings (CHI) – Could be offense Chicago needs, but I’d stay away until she shows she can still hack it at this level.

Masar (CHI) – Struggling with injury and poor form and now has Grings to deal with, so avoid until further notice.

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