NWSL – Round Sixteen Fantasy Preview

First, a reminder that Round Sixteen ends the penultimate segment for the AWK Eliminator group, with the field being cut to the Top 25 and round winners for the final four rounds.

Last round was good to me. I hit on nearly all of my picks and made a good choice in captaining Carli Lloyd who had a big round and is pretty much a must play for everyone until she cools down. If she cools down. The Dash have a pretty vibrant offense with her and the rest of the internationals in the lineup, and they look like building momentum down the stretch, so a whole bunch of Houston players will likely be in teams from now to the end of the season.

This week? The pace of double game teams drops to just one…and unfortunately, that one is a Boston side that’s looked generally hopeless as of late. Kristie Mewis is still a must play, and you probably aren’t going to get hurt too badly by playing either Kyah Simon or Stephanie McCaffrey. But after that, I really wouldn’t mess with the Breakers that much.

Seattle and Portland are both good options against Boston this round. I can’t believe I’m tipping Portland, but they’ll be playing at home and face a Boston side that’s flying across the country after hosting Seattle on Saturday. The other matchups are a lot more up in the air, though I do like the looks of SBFC hosting WNY thanks to the New Jersey side having a whole lot of their firepower back now.

GK

This decision was made much harder with the news that HALEY KOPMEYER would miss the match through injury. With HOPE SOLO still out, it means that Seattle goes into what looks like the easiest matchup of the round on paper with undrafted free agent CAROLINE STANLEY as their starting netminder. To put it bluntly, I don’t think Stanley’s good enough for this level, but she’s also got a great backline to protect her. On the road and against a desperate opponent, she’s a big risk, and one I don’t recommend for anyone comfortably in the upper echelon right now.

It sounds batty, but I’m actually tipping Portland to clobber Boston at home on Wednesday. I’m probably going to roll with MICHELLE BETOS in goal as a result. It’s hard to trust Portland’s defense, especially given the history of their rivalry with Boston, but the Breakers will be on rubber legs on the road against a well rested Portland side. The non-Boston opponent option, IMO, is BRITTANY CAMERON of Sky Blue FC. SBFC look a completely different team with Sam Kerr and Kelley O’Hara back and will fancy their chances at home against a WNY side that showed little in defeat last time out.

I’d avoid the other two matches. The potential for a lot of saves is there, but so is the potential for a lot of goals allowed. Ditto with ALYSSA NAEHER and Boston.

DEF

This is one of those weeks where I’m not sure anyone’s getting out with a clean sheet. The teams facing Boston are a good place to start, meaning you’ll probably want fantasy ace KENDALL FLETCHER in for your Seattle fix. Boston are much better at home than away though, so I don’t recommend doubling up on Reign defenders. You aren’t going to know about STEPH CATLEY’s status before the deadline, so don’t bother including her in your team this round. Portland’s defenders are generally interchangeable for fantasy purposes, so pick whoever suits your fancy.

If you’re considering a Boston defender, I’d probably stick with JULIE KING, even with the risk of fouls and bookings, though LAUREN LAZO has also shown potential. Houston’s ELLIE BRUSH has been impressive from a fantasy standpoint thus far, though her matchup against Washington away is less than ideal. There are likely to be goals in the SBFC/WNY tilt, which isn’t great for clean sheet points but could be great for offensive minded full-backs CAITLIN FOORD and JAELENE HINKLE.

Finally, old standbys TARYN HEMMINGS and AMY LEPEILBET could also deliver you a few points this round. Or nothing. It’s not the best round for defenders. Chicago’s ARIN GILLILAND is also questionable on the injury report and should be avoided.

EDIT: So apparently, we never moved KELLEY O’HARA up to forward in the game. I didn’t catch that last round, but, obviously, you want to play her as long as she’s listed in defense.

MF

KRISTIE MEWIS is an automatic, and if you’re into risk, I’d add her as an option as captain. Unfortunately, the other options in midfield for Boston aren’t much to crow about. From the clubs facing Boston, KIM LITTLE of the Reign is a good bet after having snapped her early season funk, while JESSICA FISHLOCK also is a contender for double digit points. I’ll take unallocated ALLIE LONG over TOBIN HEATH’s continually disappointing returns for the Thorns.

Elsewhere, you’re really not going to need an excuse to put CRYSTAL DUNN and CARLI LLOYD in your lineup at this point, are you? Given the uncertainty in the matchup though, that’s about as far as I’m willing to go with those two clubs. KATY FREELS and SAM MEWIS should find opportunities against each other’s clubs in what could be an open match and are both solid second tier options this round. VANESSA DIBERNARDO looks to be suffering in fantasy value with LORI CHALUPNY back, while LAUREN HOLIDAY is an injury doubt, meaning I’m likely to avoid any Chicago or FCKC midfielders this week.

FW

Against my better instinct, I’m probably going to roll with at least one forward from Boston this week. I think KYAH SIMON’s the more consistent option over STEPHANIE MCCAFFREY, though both have scoring potential this round. In terms of opponents of Boston, you have to look at BEVERLY YANEZ from Seattle who had a great showing last time out and won’t have to worry about the injured MEGAN RAPINOE scavenging points. Portland’s hard to trust but have a good matchup. CHRISTINE SINCLAIR is probably the option you’ll want instead of the inconsistent GENOVEVA ANONMA or the injury doubt from JODIE TAYLOR.

Elsewhere, I’m all in with Sky Blue FC at home against WNY. You really can’t go wrong with either SAM KERR or KELLEY O’HARA, though the latter will cost you an allocation. If you don’t believe in SBFC’s defense, you probably won’t mind giving MICHELLE HEYMAN another run out after she savaged the New Jersey club in their earlier meeting. JESSICA MCDONALD keeps scoring but is a second tier option this round, as is teammate KEALIA OHAI.

I don’t say this often, but you probably want to avoid both AMY RODRIGUEZ and CHRISTEN PRESS this round given the options elsewhere.

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