Editor’s Note: After publication, the NWSL announced a schedule change for this weekend’s games due to the wildfires on the West Coast. Those changes are reflected in the schedule below.
The NWSL returned last weekend with its 2020 fall series, an adjusted season following the 2020 Challenge Cup that will give the teams some time on the field before the year ends. All nine clubs are participating, with the league broken up into three, three-team regional pods that will help reduce travel and health risks for the players. Teams will play only the other teams within their pods, which should make for some interesting matches as clubs take the opportunity to try some new things this fall.
Though there isn’t a championship at stake, the NWSL has created the Verizon Community Shield to give the teams something worthwhile to play for. The team with the most points at the end of the fall series will receive a grant of $25,000 to give to a small business or local organization from their community. The second and third place teams will also receive smaller grants for their community partners. This program looks like a great way to give a sense of consequence and purpose to this strange season, and the teams will surely put their best efforts forward to support their communities.
As the first full weekend of games for the fall series gets underway this Saturday, we’re here with our first round of tips to help you make your fantasy picks. If you aren’t playing She Plays fantasy games yet, you can find a full rundown of our NWSL games here. New players can join any time, so read on and then start picking!
NWSL Fall Series Games Schedule
- Washington Spirit vs. Chicago Red Stars – Saturday, September 12 at 12pm ET (TWITCH)
- North Carolina Courage vs. Houston Dash – Saturday, September 12 at 3:30 pm ET (CBS)
- Portland Thorns FC vs. OL Reign – Tuesday, September 15 at 10pm ET (TWITCH)
Missing Players Galore
A big factor to consider as you make your fantasy picks this weekend is the significant number of players who will forego this fall series to play overseas, or who have opted out for other reasons. We saw some teams finding some real chemistry during the Challenge Cup, and it’s a safe bet that the clubs who have remained mostly intact will have a leg up in the upcoming games.
For instance, as you consider your Pick ‘Em decisions for the weekend, you should remember that though the Courage have traditionally held the upper hand over the Dash, Houston is coming off a huge win in the Challenge Cup. That momentum plus the fact that Houston’s team is almost entirely intact could give them the edge over a Courage team that will be missing a lot of players.
Assign the Line
As always, Assign the Line is a great chance to test your knowledge of the individual parts of each team. To play, choose an offence, defense, and goalkeeping unit to create your ideal superteam based on that week’s matchups. A solid choice on offense this week would be the Houston Dash, who have players like Shea Groom, Megan Oyster, and Nichelle Prince ready to build on the offensive spark they started in the Challenge Cup.
As for the backline, consider Chicago’s defense a great choice for this week. Though they are missing a few players, their notoriously tough backline should still be a force to be reckoned with. They’re matching up against a Washington team that fell to Sky Blue last weekend, so if they can hold it down on defense this Red Stars team should do well.
As for your goalkeeping unit, you have choices galore thanks to the stellar goaltending we saw at the Challenge Cup. Jane Campbell of the Dash is a veteran and a brick wall, though the Courage could be a tough opponent for her. Portland looks like an excellent choice for your goalkeeper spot, with both Bella Bixby and Britt Eckerstrom giving show stopping performances in the Challenge Cup. Against an OL Reign club facing a lot of transfers, these keepers should be able to stand strong.