NWSL – Fantasy Round Ten Preview

The less said about Round Nine, the better. I went in like a mad man on Portland and Washington, looking at matchups, while avoiding WNY, despite their two match round. And I, along with many others, paid the price, as the Thorns were humiliated by the Flash at home, while Washington put in a decidedly limp performance on the road against Boston. The result was a slide close to knocking me out of the Top 200 overall. It should probably serve as a reminder as to why double game clubs are so precious and vital to success in this game. Yes, WNY was utterly disappointing against Houston, but they had already made fantasy owners very happy earlier in the round against Portland.

So basically, this round? Load up with Red Stars players. As the lone side with two games this round, they’re ripe for points, especially with the matchups they have, even on a current losing streak. That being said, it’s not as simple as that, as they, and every other squad, are going to feel the heat from being without so many players thanks to international call-ups.

It’s going to make for a very unpredictable round. Even Seattle, who you’d normally expect to walk all over Boston will be without key players like Kim Little, Jess Fishlock, and Sydney Leroux. Honestly, I’d look less at things from a pure matchup standpoint in lieu of targeting players scoring points consistently (or as close to consistently as things are going to get with so many others absent). Regardless, the spread of players being picked this round is probably going to be as wide as it gets all season. Given the sheer amount of unpredictability the past few weeks, I doubt many fantasy managers will be confident after the roster deadline on Saturday.

Round Ten – Team Rankings

1. CHI
2. SEA
3. POR
4. WNY
5. FCKC
6. HOU
7. WSH
8. BOS
9. SBFC

Chicago – Their form has taken a downturn in recent rounds, and I’m probably a little more bearish on them with that in mind. But they’re the only club with two fixtures this round, making them very appealing. Of course, Rory Dames has the somewhat annoying habit of shuttling new attackers in at the half, which could provide a real headache for fantasy managers, even with the club having two games. TAYLOR VANCIL looks like a no-brainer in goal this week. Given all the unpredictability with the international call-ups, two starts is probably going to be good enough for her to stick in my team, especially with the matchups. I’d consider her for the armband as well. MICHELLE WENINO would normally be the defensive pick, but she went just seventy-three minutes last time out, meaning she may be at risk of not getting clean sheet credit again, especially with the team seemingly working hard to get TARYN HEMMINGS back in the lineup. LORI CHALUPNY hasn’t been great this season, but should at least get you a good shot at double digits as a surefire starter this round for the Red Stars. The other midfield options are toss-ups. EMILY VAN EGMOND has the hot hand after her goal against Seattle, but the safer options (relatively speaking) may be either ZAKIYA BYWATERS and/or VANESSA DIBERNARDO. Bywaters probably has a better chance of scoring but is also more likely to be subbed in or out at the half. Up top, JEN HOY has cooled down after a hot stretch but is basically the last woman standing thanks to international call-ups and injuries. You’ll probably want to roll with her and hope she gets the goals going again.

Seattle – No KIM LITTLE. That’s a thought to send a cold snap down the spines of many fantasy owners this round. No HOPE SOLO, JESS FISHLOCK, or SYDNEY LEROUX either. You’d still fancy the Reign to beat Boston, but the club’s reserves haven’t exactly impressed thus far. HALEY KOPMEYER hasn’t played a minute this season but was decent in her time last season and isn’t a bad pick here. As always, go with KENDALL FLETCHER in your defense if you’re backing the Reign. The midfield’s a big question mark, though KEELIN WINTERS might be in line for a more advanced role with the absences around her. I’d avoid that situation. Up top, NAHO should be good for at least a handful of points and possibly much more against Boston’s shaky defense. BEVERLY GOEBEL has been a bit middling lately, but could represent a solid option if you’re not springing for the Japanese international.

Portland – Do you have any clue what’s going to happen with the Thorns after being humiliated in back-to-back matches? They have their backs to the wall but also face a forgiving defense that has been beset by maladies. Up top, JESSICA MCDONALD went the full distance despite the presence of Sinclair and Morgan and will likely be the focal point of the offense this week. She’s been poor as of late but could get back in the swing of things here. I’m going to keep the faith with VERO for another round. The Spaniard is simply too good to hold down for too long and could feast against a shorthanded Washington defense. The rest of the midfield is a mystery. Some combo of ANGIE KERR, REBECCA MOROS, SINEAD FARRELLY, MANA SHIM, and AMBER BROOKS figure to play. None have been terribly effective, and I wouldn’t bother trying to figure out which is going to be a go-to player this round in midfield. Similarly, I can’t fathom trusting any of the Portland defense after the follies of the past few weeks. I’d roll with either NIKKI MARSHALL or STEPH CATLEY if I thought otherwise, but really, there are safer options. MICHELLE BETOS could be a busy keeper, and given Washington’s tendency to throw up the occasional dud, isn’t a horrible pick in goal.

WNY Flash – Highest of highs, lowest of lows. The Flash looked like a team reborn against Portland but promptly fell back to Earth against Houston a few days later. Which Flash shows up against Chicago? Being at home helps, but I’m not sure the Flash won’t get bullied by the physical Red Stars. JASMYNE SPENCER and SAM KERR were the preferred pairing last round and did well, but ADRIANA’s cameo off the bench, including a goal, may see her in contention for starting minutes again. I’d probably go with Kerr if I’m choosing between Flash forwards. MCCALL ZERBONI has picked up steam in the past few weeks and figures to be a critical figure in the offense again this round. VICKY’s another possibility for owners, but she’s slowed down noticeably after a promising start. None of WNY’s defenders have been too terribly productive from a fantasy standpoint this season. BRITTANY TAYLOR was the low woman on the points totem pole after a booking last round but has been steadiest on the season, followed by KRISTEN EDMONDS. LYDIA WILLIAMS made ten saves in two matches last round and is a shrewd pick in goal this week if you fancy Chicago’s offense to stutter again.

FC Kansas City – They’re in good form, but so are there opponents, which might be ominous considering the most consistent performers are with the USWNT right now. I’ve not a clue as to who is going to be the club’s center forward with AMY RODRIGUEZ not here. Guessing wrong doesn’t seem to be in my best interest, so I’m staying away. ERIKA TYMRAK didn’t do much last round but should be the clear focal point of the offense this week and is a pretty good option for your side in midfield. Beyond her, there’s not much in the way of reliable offensive performers here, so you may want to look elsewhere. The defense is rounding into form, but they’ll also be without BECKY SAUERBRUNN and NICOLE BARNHART this round. Having an undrafted rookie in SARA KEANE in goal probably ticks everyone’s value down on the backline. I suspect AMY LEPEILBET will take Sauerbrunn’s spot on the backline, though she may not be able to go the full distance just quite yet. Strikingly enough, KASSEY KALLMAN has been the best scorer on the FCKC backline, though I’d tip LEIGH ANN ROBINSON to still be the option with the most upside going forward.

Houston – They look a hundred times better than they did in the opening month of the season, but the Dash also face a tough task against an equally in form FCKC side. How much has the defensive revival been down to the solid play of WHITNEY ENGEN? We’ll probable get another example of just how much in this one. I don’t think I’ll spring for a Dash defender, but if you do, STEPHANIE OCHS is now eligible at defender and has impressed at left-back. Goalkeeper BIANCA HENNINGER has looked good in two starts thus far and may snag a clean sheet if FCKC’s offense can’t fire into gear without its main weapons. Offensively, TIFFANY MCCARTY is the in-form option after a monster week with 33.50 points to her name. She’s top option here again and could thrive against a defense without its top center-back and goalkeeper. ELLA MASAR and KEALIA OHAI are against the grain options, though the former doesn’t seem likely to go the full distance and is always in danger of being booked. There’s little to note in midfield, with TERESA NOYOLA’s numbers being inflated thanks to penalties.

Washington – They were absolutely abysmal against Boston in midweek, a further reminder as to how temperamental the Spirit can be on a bad day. That’s more than enough reason to be given pause in tipping any of their players against a Portland side with their backs to the wall. With the team now missing DIANA MATHESON to go along with the club’s USWNT’ers? Yikes. JODIE TAYLOR had tapped into a rich vein of form for much of the past month but was surprisingly left out of the starting lineup in the last match and provided nothing off the bench. Portland’s had some clownish defending the past few weeks, but given Taylor’s bagel last round, I still think she’s a risky pick. DANESHA ADAMS has been decent, but I’m guessing most will be looking for more than decent from a forward this round. CHRISTINE NAIRN is the pick of the lot in midfield for the Spirit, and her free shooting ways could deliver a nice return for the club this round. LORI LINDSEY’s also a sleeper to consider for Washington this round. The Washington defense could struggle again, even agains a shorthanded and slumping Portland attack. If you think otherwise, TORI HUSTER has been the best scoring defender for the club, while keeper CHANTEL JONES may have many shots to stop for the club this round.

Boston – The Breakers looked like a living, breathing team last week and will have the chance to win over more doubters if they can be the first to topple league leaders Seattle, who will be missing a lot of their first team through international duty. It’d probably be a lot more comforting if we knew who the best candidates to shine for the Breakers were however. JAZMINE REEVES was big against Portland a few weeks ago but did little of note this past round despite getting a full ninety minutes against Washington. LISA DE VANNA was equally unimpressive in her own ninety minute stint, and with COURTNEY JONES and KATIE SCHOEPFER netting in the Washington win, the forward situation is as up in the air as its ever been, prompting me to recumbent you avoiding the situation this round and in the future until a clear scoring threat emerges round-by-round. All of the club’s top midfielders are away on international duty, so I’d recumbent avoiding that situation as well. The defense finally kept a clean sheet, though they’ll be taking on a much more acute attack against Seattle. JULIE KING’s the one you should target if you’re feeling risky, though gambling on ALYSSA NAEHER making a boatload of saves is another tact for those wanting to go against common thought.

Sky Blue FC – For all the world, they look like a sinking ship, and I’m not sure Jim Gabarra’s comments of looming roster change will do much to settle the locker room after such a protracted slide. You figure Gabarra will be ringing the changes, and that creates a nightmare for fantasy owners hoping to use any SBFC players. KATY FREELS has been indispensable in midfield, but you wonder if there are any targets for her passes this round with KELLEY O’HARA with the USWNT and MONICA OCAMPO still recovering from injury. The latter is listed as probable on the injury report, but I’m shying away considering she’s facing a physical and roughhouse Chicago team. There’s no telling who’ll line up on defense amongst a cadre of disappointing youngsters, while JILL LOYDEN may or may not keep her place in goal in lieu of BRITTANY CAMERON. There’s way too much bad mojo here to trust with a fantasy slot, so I’d keep my distance.

Round Ten – Player Rankings

GK

1. Vancil – CHI
2. Kopmeyer – SEA
3. Williams – WNY
4. Henninger – HOU
5. Betos – POR

DEF

1. Wenino – CHI
2. Fletcher – SEA
3. Robinson – FCKC
4. Taylor – WNY
5. Ochs – HOU

MF

1. Chalupny – CHI
2. Vero – POR
3. Tymrak – FCKC
4. Nairn – WSH
5. Freels – SBFC

FW

1. Hoy – CHI
2. Naho – SEA
3. McDonald – POR
4. Taylor – WSH
5. McCarty – HOU

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