Shorter than usual due to preview writing focus.
Anyway, here are some details about the the AWK Eliminator fantasy group that is (probably) the biggest out there at the moment.
We’re moving away from weekly eliminations, and splitting the season up into five, four round segments with a TBA number of the bottom teams eliminated after each segment. I say TBA, because the number of teams continues to swell as the deadline approaches. Once the group closes tonight, I’ll make clear in next round’s preview as to how many teams go out after each segment.
Also: Winning a round is your golden ticket. Teams who win rounds cannot be eliminated for the rest of the season. Additionally, since I can’t leave the group I created, if I’m in the elimination zone after a segment, anyone above me is safe, even if they’re in the elimination zone too.
If you can keep the thoughts of Sydney Leroux’s possible REVVVEEEEEENNNNNGGGGGE out of the back of your mind, HOPE SOLO is probably your best goalkeeping option this week, with the Reign heavy favorites against a young Western New York side. If you’re looking for a non-allocated option, Portland’s NADINE ANGERER is probably the best bet, though she played in Europe in midweek, and Boston’s record against the Thorns was shockingly good last season. I’d stay away from the keepers from FCKC and SBFC (too close to call), and WNY (uncertain situation + bad matchup). I fancy Washington to beat Houston, so ASHLYN HARRIS isn’t a bad GK option if you want an allocated player and are staying away from Solo. Houston’s BIANCA HENNINGER and Boston’s ALYSSA NAEHER are picks for the especially brave, but I’d stay away from the latter as an allocated player.
As always, you want to look at players who are likely to play in roles further up than what’s listed. The obvious choice is Washington’s CRYSTAL DUNN, listed as a defender but likely to play in the attack. Dunn will be wanting to do everything possible to seal a spot on the WWC roster, which could mean a lot of offensive chances. ABBY DAHLKEMPER and TORI HUSTER also will probably play in midfield, but neither offer real offensive threats. I’m always in favor of taking players from defenses with the best matchups, so you’ll definitely want a Seattle player. I’m plumping for KENDALL FLETCHER due to the odds of a set piece goal, though there’s not really a wrong answer. It’s perfectly understandable if you want to avoid Portland’s defenders after last season, but KENDALL JOHNSON is probably the best bet at left-back of the likely starters. Speaking of likely left-backs, WNY’s JAELENE HINKLE could be a big fantasy factor going forward but has a bad matchup this round. So too with KRISTIN GRUBKA and KASSEY KALLMAN, with the former FSU teammates having potentially rough days ahead of them this weekend, though both have upside. FCKC’s defense has some question marks but should at least be viable with BECKY SAUERBRUNN around. For the non-allocated crowd, LEIGH ANN ROBINSON remains a solid bet.
The obvious question is to KIM LITTLE or not to KIM LITTLE? The reigning league MVP played extensively against Australia on Thursday and faces a long flight back to the States, meaning she’s not guaranteed of ninety minutes. A worst case scenario would be Little getting a token appearance off the bench, as owners wouldn’t be able to sub their bench option in. But the matchup is too good and Little is too talented to not roll the dice. Those in another mood could easily make an argument for JESSICA FISHLOCK or even both. In the other favorable matchup of the round, Portland’s TOBIN HEATH is the allocated option but has been hard to trust in fantasy. ALLIE LONG remains divisive but isn’t shy about shooting and could be on penalty duty again. SBFC’s KATY FREELS and WNY’s SAM MEWIS both should score their fair share of points this year but have tough matchups ahead of them in round one. Mewis’ sister, KRISTIE is the obvious option for Boston and the only one that’s really a known commodity against Portland, though her allocated status makes her a marginal play. LAUREN HOLIDAY and CARLI LLOYD will both be looking to impress and are likely to be popular options amongst allocated players, while HEATHER O’REILLY shouldn’t be slept on as she was a consistent scorer with Boston last year. The best remaining non-allocated options are ERIKA TYMRAK, who could have a field day against whoever SBFC plays at right-back, CHRISTINE NAIRN, who always seems to put points on the board, and MORGAN BRIAN, who has allocation talent without the status right now.
I know ALEX MORGAN has been in terrible scoring form for the USWNT, but you have to start her, right? The other scoring options are coming off international friendlies in midweek, meaning Morgan is probably getting ninety minutes against a hideous defense. My other big tip is Washington’s ESTEFANIA. The Argentinian is definitely a gamble, but I think the Dash’s defense looks putrid without their Canadians, and Banini looks the most likely forward option for the Spirit at this point. It’s a confidence game from that point on. Many will opt for SBFC’s NADIA NADIM after last season’s heroics, but she has a tough opponent in Becky Sauerbrunn on Sunday. I also don’t think that SYDNEY LEROUX’s REVVVEEEEEENNNNNGGGGGE is going to come on Sunday, as she’s on the road with a club she hasn’t had much time with thus far. Those tipping JESSICA MCDONALD may want to keep an eye on lineups to make sure she’s in it after earlier talk of contract ‘complications’, while KEALIA OHAI is more of a second banana in the attack. KELLEY O’HARA might also be called upon to play left-back if Cami Levin can’t step right into the starting lineup after returning from loan. STEPH MCCAFFREY is a rookie. Going into a snake pit in Portland. So, yeah, I’d avoid. The remaining three options on the board are MEGAN RAPINOE, AMY RODRIGUEZ, and BEVERLY YANEZ. Yanez is obviously a nice choice if you’re low on allocations, and her fantasy value has gone way up with Leroux’s trade. RAPINOE is mercurial and injury prone but supplies the goods when healthy and on form. A-Rod is A-Rod. And she looked mighty good in the friendly win over New Zealand.