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Fantasy Focus: At last, the last

It’s all but over

The final round is on deck, and after overtaking the leader for most of this season last round, No Name MLS cemented the overall lead by amassing the most points in this round with a score of 131 points. Captain Nemanja Nikolic (CHI, $10.8) led the team with a hat trick and an armband-aided 36 points. Meanwhile, Portland’s Diego Valeri ($12.3) scored 18 points on a goal and two assists, while teammate Sebastian Blanco ($9.1) scored 16 points on two goals. The overall lead is now 54 points, which is not insurmountable, but it will take some flawless picking.

Positional Leaders

Goalkeepers

Tyler Deric (HOU, $5.5) led the goalkeepers with 14 points on the strength of a clean sheet, while Tim Howard (COL, $6.1) somehow regained his ability to see balls in flight in time to keep his own clean sheet on the way to 11 points. There was a tie for third, as Alex Bono (TOR, $5.7) and Brad Guzan (ATL, $6.7) each kept a clean sheet for 10 points. Steve Clark (DCU, $4.3) did that thing where you play 90 minutes and concede a lot of goals so you score 0 fantasy points.

Defenders

Portland’s Alvas Powell ($4.7) kept a clean sheet and scored a goal on the way to 16 points, leading all defenders. Axel Sjoberg (COL, $6.6) kept a clean sheet and scored 12 points, his first time in the double digits since the very first game of the season, while both Ashley Cole (LA, $5.3) and Ike Opara (SKC, $6.5) tallied clean sheets and 11 points. The D.C. defense was led by Steve Birnbaum ($5.2) with 3 points and one terrible injury completely overlooked by center referee Mark Geiger in an egregious shirking of official duties, followed by Chris Korb ($4.4) with 2 points, and Jalen Robinson ($4.5) with 1.

Midfielders

Romain Alessandrini (LA, $10.9) is trying to heroically drag the LA Galaxy to a 10th place Western Conference finish, and he added an assist to two goals for 19 points, leading the midfielders and all players, while Diego Valeri’s 18 points were good enough for second. Diego Fagundez (NE, $7.8) rounded out the top three with 17 points on two goals. The United midfield featured Nick DeLeon ($5.6) and Russell Canouse ($6.6) with 5 points each, the pair of Luciano Acosta ($8.2) and Ian Harkes ($5.7) with 3 points each, Paul Arriola ($8.6) with 2 points, and both Lloyd Sam ($7.9) and Marcelo Sarvas ($6.7) with 1 point.

Forwards

Nemanja Nikolic’s 18 points led the forwards, while Will Bruin ($6.9) scored twice for 12 points. Four players tied for third place with 8 points, two of them scoring a goal — Ola Kamara (CLB, $10.6) and Jozy Altidore (TOR, $10.6), and two of them assisting a goal — Giovani dos Santos (LA, $9.9) and Clint Dempsey (SEA, $10.0). D.C.’s point-scoring forwards were Zoltan Stieber ($8.0) with 4 points, Patrick Mullins ($8.2) with 2, and Bruno Miranda ($6.0) with 1.

Looking Ahead

Everyone plays once this week, of course. Not knowing how teams that are either eliminated or cannot either better or worsen their playoff position (Toronto, the Red Bulls) will set up their teams, I would suggest leaning towards teams that have something at stake. With that in mind, I like Sebastian Frei (SEA, $6.9) in goal at home against Colorado, and Andraz Struna (NYCFC, $4.5) as a cheap option in defense at “home” against Columbus. Nicolas Lodeiro (SEA, $12.3) is your go-to midfielder, and keep riding Nemanja Nikolic, he of eight goals in six games, on the road against Houston.