Picking a Captain to double down on in MLS Fantasy is the most important choice ahead of each round of games for players around the world. There's a lot of self-help out there for MLS enthusiasts, with our Hype Team providing three major consideration for the armband for each and every week. We'll be detailing the popular choice for captain, a few alternative picks in case Plan A doesn't go to plan, and a Wildcard pick of our choosing to add to the chaos. All aboard.
MLS Fantasy: Week 26 Deadline
For the 2019 MLS Fantasy season there is a 'Rolling Lockout', which means you can make substitutions and transfers until the second a player's game kicks off, which means you can chop and change your lineup as any Week progresses.
Captaincy in MLS Fantasy
There are a few differences with picking a captain in MLS compared to playing other games such as FPL. The major element to note with our Captaincy article is that for the 2019 we will have one major essential pick, decided by a poll, as well as a series of alternatives in case your original pick doesn't go to plan, and a wildcard selection who might prove to be a worthwhile differential
We've listed the differences below that make captaincy in MLS Fantasy unique:
- With the Rolling Lockout, you can change your captain until the selected captaincy pick plays
- Once the team your captaincy pick takes to the field, you can no longer change your captain
- If your captaincy pick doesn't play, then you'll end up with nothing
- There is no option to select a vice captain
Week 26: Essential Captaincy Pick
Our essential captaincy picks is voted on by members of our community on Twitter over at @HypeTrainMLS. We pit four popular choices against each other to see who wins the popular vote.
Fixture: Minnesota (H)
Player: Carlos Vela (LAFC)
Player Price: $15.0 million
New week, fresh Double Gameweek fixtures, but the same result in our essential captaincy poll this week. With Carlos Vela's LAFC facing Minnesota United at home, the poll was a foregone conclusion, despite injury concerns and a Double Gameweek for a Montreal Impact side that have just signed up former Barcelona and Stoke midfielder, Bojan.
Our weekly 'Carlos Vela Weekly' update in our captaincy series this year has hit new heights. Vela is the first player to reach 300 points in MLS Fantasy, a massive number to hit in any fantasy football game - Mo Salah only reached 303 points in Fantasy Premier League after scoring 32 goals for Liverpool during the 2017/18 season - Vela has eclipsed that in far fewer games, irregardless of the favourable points scoring system in MLS Fantasy.
Week 25 not only pushed Vela past the triple-century of points, but it was also the third time this season the Mexican international managed 25+ points from a Gameweek, whilst Vela has now managed 10+ points in 13 of the last 15 games, scoring in 8 of the last 9 fixtures. Vela's been an absolute dream in the game and as we write these words, is forming a legacy that might never be trumped in the Fantasy game.
LAFC's home fixtures against local rivals, San Jose Earthquakes and LA Galaxy during Rivalry Week in MLS, resulted in 4 points for Bob Bradley's side, meaning that on 63 points after 27 games, they were assured of a play-off spot two weeks ago and are 19 points ahead of Real Salt Lake in the Western Conference with only 7 games remaining of the regular season. A win against Minnesota will ensure that the Black and Gold will have claimed the crown in the West and will almost certainly host the MLS Cup finals if they make it to the final.
Part of football though is rolling with the punches, but could a win against Minnesota derail LAFC and provide more harm than good? Having only lost 3 matches all season, topping the West this early might in turn mean a drop-off in performance as they gear up for the post-season, which could raise doubts of Vela's ceiling of points remaining in MLS Fantasy for the remainder of the season. It's a century old story in football, but sometimes is so obvious, our only wish is that LAFC finish the season with a point to prove and smash every regular season record on their way to winning the Supporters' Shield.
Regarding Vela, we're conscious about not delving too much into his undeniable and obvious appeal this week as a captaincy choice this week. Lasting only 61 minutes against LA Galaxy in another entertaining El Trafico, with the teams drawing 3-3, Vela has a minor hamstring injury to contend with, so there is one big question mark over his availability.
MLS Fantasy players will have to make a judgement call before LAFC face Minnesota in the final game on Sunday evening (morning morning over here in the UK), with a host of attacking options from Montreal as attractive captaincy options, and for us, as much as we'd love to set and forget Vela, the luxury of time unfortunately runs out for Vela before the weekend and we'll have probably moved on to the Canadian side that have a new number nine in their ranks.
Week 26: Alternative Captaincy Picks
We don't have one specific alternative captain, but a few choices for consideration. This method bodes well with the flexible approach of MLS Fantasy of being able to chop and change your decision until the minute before a game.
Are Montreal players worth the risk with captaincy?
Our alternative captaincy picks, for once this season, actually have some weight to bear as Fantasy players have to make a choice between a potentially injured Carlos Vela, and Montreal's midfield options, who host national rivals, Vancouver Whitecaps at home on Wednesday evening (Thursday morning, UK time).
At the top of the list is a trio of midfielders who we're struggling to fit in to our sides this weekend. The first is Saphir Taider ($11.6m), the midfielder who from experience only gets Fantasy points when you take him out, after a bad week owning him. Taider's boosted by set-piece potential with Ignacio Piatti out of commission, a luxury to have in a Double Gameweek. Taider has been hitting 5+ points-per-game now as a minimum for the last 5 Week's, so if form holds up you'll be looking at a minimum of 20 points from your captaincy picks.
Next up is our flavour of the month pick, with Bologna's loanee, Lassi Lappalainen ($8.4m), a name we've had to Google a hundred times this week, an affordable pick with home form in his favour at the right time. Lappa has only played 5 games, 3 away from home, with the midfielder scoring braces in both home games, with Philadelphia Union (Week 21) and FC Dallas (Week 24) both falling victim to good form from the new arrival. The Finnish midfielder managed 29 points from his opening home games, so any repeat of his heroics will be cause for reward in MLS Fantasy - Vancouver and D.C. United are the perfect opponents to capitalise on too, especially with Wayne Rooney appearing to sabotage his final few months in Washington with a move back to England, and personal problems off the field, dominating the headlines recently.
Both Taider and Lappalainen will be boosted by the arrival of Bojan ($7.3m), the new number 9 for the Impact to close out the season. Montreal sit in 8th in the East, 3 points behind rivals Toronto, with this a crunch week for the club as they attempt to reach the post-season play-offs. Bojan is off the mark with Montreal, scoring his first goal in the 2-1 defeat at Toronto, a potentially devastating defeat. Playing as the central attacker, Bojan could easily have the same impact as New England's Carles Gil, a struggling former Premier League midfielder moving to the States, in the Fantasy game, so Bojan is one to keep an eye on and potentially offers an explosive return this week.
What about elsewhere around MLS?
Week 26 is all about gorging on home players, with the exception of in-form Zlatan Ibrahimovic ($11.8m) this weekend. The Galaxy have a tricky test away at Seattle Sounders on the horizon, but in Zlatan and Cristian Pavón ($10.0m), LA have a deadly partnership in the works that is causing havoc in the league. Pavon scored and assisted at LAFC last week and was more influential when able to counter with Ibrahimovic. Seattle pose an exact repeat of this, with Zlatan scoring braces in the last 3 games - yes you heard right, 6 goals in 3 games. Form in permanent in MLS, fixtures sometimes don't matter, so in this instance, it might be idiotic not to bank on the legendary Swede as a potential captaincy option.
Talking of form being imperious in MLS, regardless of fixture, Magnus Eriksson ($10.8m) has been on an unstoppable hype train the last few months for San Jose Earthquakes, with a home tie against Orlando the perfect time to potentially cash in on his new found Fantasy points. Eriksson has scored 5 goals and assisted 8 times this season, with Magnus earning 15 points for 2 assists in a win over The Whitecaps last weekend, with the midfielder managing a mighty 7 bonus points, with 5 coming from his passing stats alone.
We compared Bojan to Carles Gil ($13.2m) earlier, with Gil proving to be a massive MLS Fantasy success story this year. Gil is the second best player this season with 210 points, only 101 points behind Carlos Vela (naturally). The attacking midfielder has scored 9 and assisted 12 times, a big return for the former Aston Villa midfielder, and is only one goal shy of making his double digits for both goals and assists, a memorable feat for any player in MLS. Toronto aren't defensively compact, so Gil will have the opportunity to add to his attacking tally, and to earn bonus points for key passes and big chances created.
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The Hype Train were nominated and shortlisted for the 'Best Football Blog 2016' by the Football Bloggers Association at their annual Football Blogging Awards (The FBA's), with the final presentation held at Old Trafford in Manchester.