Dry your eyes and bring out the pom-poms! Fantasy Shots is back! After a two-week hiatus (partly my fault and partly the fault of the WPS bye week) I have returned to contribute my expertise and advice to all you WPS Fantasy fans!
This week will, indeed, be a difficult challenge, as the unfortunate news of the St. Louis Athletica folding has caused roster changes (and many disappointing days on my end).
I have also recently moved across the country to complete my college degree with a final internship in Northern Virginia, so I've sadly been out of the WPS loop for a week or so. However, my faithful Bleacher Report colleagues and the marvelous league staff have helped get me up to date, so without further delay, let's begin!
First off, how exciting was it to see the Chicago Red Stars come out of the week with a 1-0 win against the first-place FC Gold Pride? Thanks to some great defense and a beautiful goal, the Red Stars gain the confidence they desperately need.
The Washington Freedom showed off their snazzy camouflage jerseys on Military Appreciation Night and held off the Philadelphia Independence, earning a 2-1 win after leading 2-0 for much of the match.
Sky Blue FC and the Boston Breakers battled to a scoreless draw, both teams having many chances on goal but failing to net one.
Top Four Point Leaders for Each Position:
Goalkeepers: Karen Bardsley (Sky Blue FC, 197 points), Erin McLeod (Washington Freedom, 120 points), Nicole Barnhart (FC Gold Pride, 112 points), Jillian Loyden (Chicago Red Stars, 108 points)
Defenders: Allison Falk (Philadelphia, 79 points), Carrie Dew (FC Gold Pride, 61 points), Daphne Koster (Sky Blue FC, 36 points), Brittany Taylor (Sky Blue FC, 34 points)
Midfielders: Lori Lindsay (Philadelphia Independence, 64 points), Homare Sawa (Washington Freedom, 60 points), Shannon Boxx (St. Louis Athletica/FC Gold Pride, 42 points), Lori Chalupny (St. Louis Athletica/Atlanta Beat, 39 points)
Forwards: Abby Wambach (Washington Freedom, 81 points), Eniola Aluko (St. Louis Athletica/Atlanta Beat, 52 points), Marta (FC Gold Pride, 49 points), Christine Sinclair (FC Gold Pride, 44 points)
Before I get bombarded with people telling me that those Athletica players are no longer in St. Louis, let me explain. They haven't technically played a game for their new teams yet, so their fantasy points are still from St. Louis. And I'm still sentimental about it. Don't worry, it'll be changed next week.
Lauren's Week 6 Team (*denotes captain)
Points Earned: 66
Overall Standing: 15
Goalkeeper: K. Bardsley (SBFC)
Defenders: A. Falk (PHI), C. Whitehill (WAS), C. Dew (FCGP)
Midfielders: H. O'Reilly (SBFC), S. Bompastor (WAS), K. Lilly (BOS), L. Lindsay (PHI)
Forwards: Marta (FCGP), A. Wambach* (WAS), C. Sinclair (FCGP)
Unfortunately, the bye week threw me off, so I forgot to denote Bardsley as my captain. Had I done so, I would have likely moved up in the standings. But my last-minute option of Wambach was a good one, as she did gain points for me.
As I didn't expect Chicago to beat FC Gold Pride, I lost many points in my choices there. Overall, still doing fine, but this week could have been better.
Picks for Week 8 (*denotes captain)
Goalkeeper: K. Bardsley* (SBFC)
With Sky Blue traveling to Philadelphia, Bardsley will look to continue her success against the Independence. She will have a great game against a great pressing team.
WATCH LIST: E. McLeod (WASH)
She'll be vital against FC Gold Pride, who now have play maker Shannon Boxx back together with former Sol teammates. They will be putting pressure on a Freedom back line that has struggled this season.
Defenders: B. Taylor (SBFC), A. Falk (PHI), T. Ellertson (ATL)
Brittany Taylor has certainly been one of the more welcome rookies to the league. Her steadiness in the back has been shown often, and against Philadelphia, she'll be working to keep their shooters at bay.
Falk: Same as above, but switch the team names.
Tina Ellertson joins the Beat from St. Louis. Her impact will need to be immediate for Atlanta to get their first win.
WATCH LIST: A. Riley (FCGP), D. Koster (SBFC), C. Whitehill (WAS)
Koster has been very strong with Sky Blue, as has Ali Riley for FC Gold Pride. This week, they could be on anyone's roster. I just had to make a difficult choice! Whitehill and the Freedom still need to work on pulling the defense together, and they have been improving.
Midfielders: H. Sawa (WAS), S. Boxx (FCGP), S. Bompastor (WAS), L. Chalupny (ATL)
Sawa returns to the Freedom after a couple-week stint with her national team. Despite missing a couple games, Sawa is still the midfield point leader. Look for her to make an impact serving up balls for her teammates.
Boxx makes the move back west and is now reunited once again with former Los Angeles Sol teammates Marta and Camille Abily. This triple-edged sword worked wonders for Los Angeles. Their chemistry could be the game-deciding factor against second-place Washington.
Bompastor will be crucial in serving passes for her teammates, who are hitting their stride now. Her attacking presence will also be needed if the Freedom hope to continue their positive streak.
Chalupny makes the move to Atlanta, teaming up with several other former Athletica, most notably Eniola Aluko. This addition of star power could help Atlanta to their first win of the season.
WATCH LIST: J. Lohman (PHI), R. Moros (WAS), J. Rasmussen (ATL)
Lohman has been consistent during the last couple of weeks. Her offensive presence is a key in Philadelphia's success. Moros has also been steady with the Freedom, but wasn't really noticed until her goal last week. Rasmussen could finally get the offensive support she needs to get Atlanta's first win.
Forwards: A. Wambach (WAS), E. Aluko (ATL), A. Rodriguez (PHI)
Gonna take some risks with this front line. Wambach has been steady in the last couple of weeks, including her two-goal game with the US Women's National Team last month.
Aluko comes to Atlanta from St. Louis and will likely make an impact against Chicago, if her midfield can support her against a Chicago defense that has picked up its strength of late.
Rodriguez is a risk against a strong defense like Sky Blue, but she's been pushing and pressing for quite some time. Isn't it about time she gets a goal?
WATCH LIST: K. O'Hara (FCGP), C. Welsh (WAS), R. Bachmann (ATL)
O'Hara hasn't made the slash like she did the first couple of games for FCGP, but with the addition of Boxx to their midfield, she might get more looks on goal. Welsh, along with her teammates, is starting to hit her stride. Bachmann will have the world-class addition of Aluko beside her, and could play off of her nicely.