The clock is ticking into its final moments before the start of the 2018 MLS season, and with it the frantic panic to set your Fantasy lineup truly begins. To help ease the burden with you, The Hype Train recently released previews from each and every match ahead of Gameweek 1, and to aid you further we are plucking the value players that stand a very good chance of starting this weekend. By value, we mean we're going for the lowest of the low and nothing else. All aboard.
MLS Fantasy: Gameweek 1
For us in the UK, the first game of the weekend starts at 6pm, with current Supporters' Shield winners and MLS Cup holders Toronto FC going up against Columbus Crew.
Three teams will be missing this weekend, with Chicago Fire, Colorado Rapids, and New York Red Bulls, omitted from the discussion this week. You can check out the fixture list below.
You can also read all of our MLS Fantasy articles on our specialist page, by clicking here.
VALUE PICKS: Goalkeepers
Tyler Miller (LAFC) - GK - $4.5 million
Miller has seemingly cemented his place as first-choice Goalkeeper at LAFC in the off-season, and to our reckoning is the only $4.5 million shot-stopper playing during Gameweek 1.
LAFC travel to Seattle Sounders for their first game, so it is probably the hardest fixture of their season right off the bat.
VALUE PICKS: Defenders
Auro (Toronto) - RB - $4.5 million
The new signing for Toronto has featured in their Champions League campaign, keeping back-to-back clean sheets against Colorado Rapids. Auro is going to lock heads with Gregory van der Wiel at right-back, but is potentially going to get the nod ahead of the Dutchman.
Our advice would be to monitor the situation before Toronto play, as he offers serious value, and switch him out if he isn't playing.
Kevin Garcia (Houston Dynamo) - LB/RB - $4.5 million
Houston host Atlanta in the opening weeks and A.J. DeLaGarza, their main right-back is injured. In our match preview we pinned $4.0 million right-back George Malki to take his spot, but he is also out with a concussion.
This leaves the door open for Kevin Garcia, mainly a left-back, to fill the void, and this was made evident in pre-season with the pair tussling over the position. We expect Garcia to get the start against Atlanta.
Auston Trusty (Philadelphia Union) - CB - $4.5 million
Keegan Rosenberry (Philadelphia Union) - RB - $4.5 million
The duo of Trusty are Rosenberry are in line for a start against Brad Friedel's New England Revolution. It looks like Philly will be given a start to the young Auston Trusty to start the season, but if they go back on their plans, it will be Richie Marquez that comes in for Trusty.
Oniel Fisher (D.C. United) - LB - $4.5 million
There's no story here for Fisher, other than he will be making his D.C. United debut, so don't let his 1.45 points per game put you off as he was not a regular starter last season.
D.C. play most of their first 10 games away from home, so consider at your own peril.
Demar Phillips (Real Salt Lake) - LB - $4.5 million
Danilo Acosta and Demar Phillips will be challenging for the left-back spot and we have an inkling that the cheaper option of the two, Phillips, is the most likely to be played in the first fixture away at Dallas.
RSL are being tipped quite highly this season, so Phillips is one to keep on your radar going into Gameweek 1.
LB/RB - Tyrone Mears (Minnesota United) - LB/RB - $4.5 million
Michael Boxall (Minnesota United) - CB - $4.5 million
Minnesota are probably going to the MLS whipping boys this season, but do offer some value options in defence, with new signing Tyrone Mears slotting in comfortably at one of the full-back slot, whilst Boxall will be nailed on at his price.
Aaron Maund (Vancouver Whitecaps) - CB - $4.5 million
In our Canadian derby preview we quickly discovered that Vancouver are pretty much West Brom. They play long-ball, are reliant, at set-pieces, and will expect a lot from their defensive assets, which is a plus for reasonably priced Aaron Maund who will partner Kendall Waston at the heart of Vancouver's defence.
Jukka Raitala (Montreal Impact) - LB - $4.5 million
Daniel Lovitz (Montreal Impact) - CB - $4.5 million
Michael Petrasso (Montreal Impact) - RB - $4.5 million
Former Aston Villa Head Coach, Remi Garde, is rebuilding Montreal with a lot of youthful players, and opportunity breads some cheap options. 3 of Montreal's back 4 are $4.5 million, with the full-backs locked on the the season - and both expected to make their club debuts. Against Vancouver, we imagine a close fought derby game, so these options might be worth looking into.
Ashley Cole (LA Galaxy) - LB - $4.5 million
Former Chelsea left-back is the LA Galaxy captain, playing for a side who finished rock bottom of the entire MLS last season, so the only way is up for Cole and the Galaxy. An opening encounter against Portland might be off-putting, but it's another home fixture with a proven talent.
Marco Farfan (Portland Timbers) - LB - $4.5 million
Portland have a new Head Coach in Giovanni Savarese, and he has reshaped his defence, kind of, just in case there are injuries to Liam Caldwell at the heart of the backline. At left-back, Marco Farfan is the starting player, and is probably the option we're considering most for our actual teams as of writing.
Waylon Francis (Seattle Sounders) - LB - $4.5 million
Tony Alfaro (Seattle Sounders) - CB - $4.5 million
Jordan McCrary (Seattle Sounders) - RB - $4.5 million
Chad Marshall is the go-to option in the Seattle defence, and is known as 'Air Marshall' as he is a goal-threat from set-pieces, but if not Marshall, Seattle are expected to lineup with 3 cheap options.
Kelvin Leerdam and Roman Torres have struggled for fitness and minutes in pre-season, with Alfaro and new-signing McCrary seizing their opportunities in the CONCACAF Champions League, and we expect all three to start against LAFC, which is ideal for Fantasy owners - an MLS powerhouse going up against a club who has never played a competitive game before.
Joao Moutinho (LAFC) - LB - 4.5 million
The first pick of the MLS SuperDraft this season looks set to make his debut at Seattle. The addition in your Fantasy teams would be the biggest wildcard move, and based off the other Defender's on this list, Moutinho is a hard-sell until we know how Bob Bradley's side compete on the big stage.
It also doesn't help that LAFC play their first 6 games away from home.
VALUE PICKS: Midfielders
Anthony Fontana (Philadelphia Union) - CAM - $4.5 million
Injuries and a lack of match fitness for Borek Dockal and Ilsinho means that Anthony Fontata is braced for a start, and what a price to come in at. Perhaps the cheapest and most attractive budget option this week by an absolute mile.
Fontana registered regular minutes throughout pre-season. He's ready to go, and could excite Philly fans who are crying out for goals this season.
Alphonso Davies (Vancouver Whitecaps) - LM - $5.5 million
Quick, explosive, and looking to get speed on the counter. Davies could be set for a big breakout year at just aged 17. He's a little raw, but he's expected to be thrown into the mix against Montreal.
Raheem Edwards (Montreal Impact) - RM - $6.0 million
With 3 cheap defensive options in the squad, Raheem Edwards is likely to make his Montreal debut in the Canadian derby, and he is one only a few reasonably priced midfield options, so might be worth a punt if Remi Garde is half-decent in charge of the Impact.
Emmanuel Boateng (LA Galaxy) - LM - $6.0 million
Sebastian Lletget is recovering from injuring, potentially allowing Boateng to take flight on LA's left-wing against Portland Timbers at home.
Danny Hoesen (San Jose Earthquakes) - CF - $7.5 million
Hoesen was played out of position in Midfield last season and has been listed as such in MLS Fantasy. This price is at the limit of being considered being a bargain, but for a Gameweek 1 home tie against Atlanta, this is a snip for the man expected to partner Chris Wondolowski up top for a fairly decent San Jose side.
VALUE PICKS: Forwards
Stefano Pinho (Orlando City) - CF - $6.0 million
An injury to Dom Dwyer opens the door for Pinho to lead the line against a D.C. United side that finished rock bottom in the Eastern Conference. Orlando are missing some of their big hitters in attack though, so goals might be at a premium for both sides.
Will Bruin (Seattle Sounders) - CF - $7.0 million
An injury to Jordan Morris opens the door for Bruin to take top spot as Seattle's main Forward, and is an absolute bargain going into a home encounter with LAFC. It could be a whitewash of goals for Seattle.
The 2018 MLS Fantasy Season
MLS returns on Saturday March 3rd 2018, and you can join our very own MLS Fantasy League by clicking here, or alternatively by using the league code RDPUAHR2 whilst on the MLS Fantasy site, or checking out our pinned tweet on our @HypeTrainMLS Twitter account. We'd love to have you aboard for the ride.
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