A month is gone in the 2012 season, and several factors are emerging that should help you determine which players to target for your fantasy team. A select group of teams is already pushing toward the top of the standings, indicating that their players will be good bets to contribute to your team on both the offensive and defensive ends. At the same time, a handful of teams have made it clear that they won’t be very competitive this season, and it may be time to re-evaluate the value of individual members of those teams.
Week to week, there also continue to be opportunities to take advantage of short-term situations which can make the difference between a Win and a Loss in your Head-to-Head league. In Week 7, there will be more double-dip opportunities, with three teams (D.C. United, Sporting KC, and the Vancouver Whitecaps) taking part in mid-week and weekend contests. Unfortunately, some key players around the league will inevitably miss time due to injuries this season, but if you know who their replacements will be, then you can turn that injury into a gain for your fantasy team. Below are five more players to take a closer look at in Week 7.
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Two to Add:
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Kei Kamara – Forward, Sporting Kansas City ($9.6M)
There is no better team in MLS right now than Sporting KC, and few players have had a bigger impact on their success this season than Kamara. After bouncing between four different teams in his first four MLS seasons, Kamara has found a home in KC, where he has quietly become one of the more consistent goal-scorers in the league. After seasons of ten goals (2011) and nine goals (2010), the 27 year-old has started 2012 with three goals in the first six games.
Sporting is off to the best start (6-0-0) in MLS history, and Kamara has been on the field for every minute thus far. This week, the league-leaders go on the road for two games in the Pacific Northwest, as they face Vancouver and then Portland in the span of four days. If trends continue, then Kamara is likely to net at least one goal in those games, helping KC continue its remarkable run to start the season.
The bottom line: Though he has been overshadowed by the emergence of several other star teammates, Kamara remains one of Sporting KC’s most productive players.
Nick DeLeon – Midfielder, D.C. United ($6.3M)
Already on the shortlist for Rookie of the Year, DeLeon continues to contribute for D.C. United, even expanding his role to taking corners and set pieces in recent weeks. Despite a relatively crowded midfield, the former Louisville Cardinal has excelled as perhaps United’s most dangerous attacking threat thus far this season.
In five games (four starts), DeLeon has two goals and three assists, including assists on each of United’s goals in last Saturday’s 2-1 win over the Revolution. DeLeon was also awarded four bonus points based on his performance vs. the Revs, thanks in a large part to his corner-taking and set pieces. With two games on the schedule this week, he may not be able to play the full 90 minutes in both, but he will certainly be called on to help United extend its four-game unbeaten run.
The bottom line: One of the hottest commodities in MLS (and the fantasy game), DeLeon is nearly a lock to provide a boost in the short-term and long-term for your team.
Two to Drop:
Jack Jewsbury – Midfielder, Portland Timbers ($8.5M)
All is not well in the Rose City, as the Timbers have suffered four consecutive defeats and have the daunting task of facing unbeaten Sporting KC next. Jewsbury, or “Captain Jack” played a big role in the expansion team’s near-playoff run in 2011, but both the team and its captain seem to have taken a step backward in 2012.
After a positive 3-1 season-opening win over Philadelphia that included a two-assist effort from Jewsbury (11 fantasy points), the Timbers appeared to be building on their promising 2011 campaign. However, Portland has not won since, going 0-4-1 since the season-opener, and Jewsbury has only amassed a total of 10 fantasy points in that time.
The bottom line: Captain Jack had a career year in 2011, but that is becoming a distant memory as his individual and team struggles get worse in 2012.
Edson Buddle – Forward, LA Galaxy ($9.2M)
If you have been a regular reader of this column, then you may be getting used to seeing Galaxy players in the ‘Two to Drop’ section. Truthfully, the Galaxy have had a decent start to the season, but the sky-high expectations have done some damage to the team (especially on the fantasy front, where player values are over-inflated.) In Buddle’s case, he is a former MLS All-Star, who looked like a great choice given his scoring history, and the quality of his teammates.
However, the Galaxy hasn’t been as dominant as expected, and the goals haven’t been flowing as expected for Buddle. The more concerning aspect to Buddle’s 2012 season has been his minutes on the field (or lack thereof.) Last week he played just 23 minutes in a substitute appearance, and he has played the full 90 minutes just twice so far. Such are the problems when you have teammates like Robbie Keane and Landon Donovan, whose names are etched in stone in the Galaxy’s starting 11.
The bottom line: All is not lost for Buddle, who will regain his regular minutes this summer when Keane departs for Euro 2012, but stay away from him for now.
Andy Gruenebaum – Goalkeeper, Columbus Crew ($4.6M)
The Crew’s veteran back-up Goalkeeper got a lot more valuable last week when it was announced that the team’s regular ‘Keeper, Will Hesmer, would miss the next six months after undergoing hip surgery. The news means that Gruenebaum, a 29 year-old with six years of experience as the number two in Columbus, will finally get his chance to make a lasting impact on the team.
Despite one blip this season, a Thierry Henry-inspired 4-1 beat-down by the Red Bulls, Gruenebaum has done well for Columbus, recording two Clean Sheets in the team’s first five games. He has kept eight clean sheets in 30 career starts, and with a decent defense in front of him, Gruenebaum should put up respectable numbers this season.
The bottom line: The only regular starting ‘Keeper you’ll find at this price, the only question-mark is how a young Crew team will perform over the course of the season.
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