MLS is Back and MLS Fantasy is back. Dirty South Soccer has a league and y’all can join by clicking this link. Better still, I finally figured out how to do well in the current format and might care enough to write about it fairly regularly again. My main plug for FMLS is that it’s a way to follow the ridiculous chaos that MLS delivers every match. Nothing will keep your attention on an MLS game knowing that you have a defender from Columbus who has a cleansheet going into the 75th minute with Caleb Porter’s tendency to watch his team ship goals late for some inexplicable reason. If that sounds like your kind of fun you are my people, jump aboard.
There’s all kinds of rules and scoring bonus points and all that, but that gets a little in the weeds and the main thing you need to know is that the biggest points come from goals, assists, and cleansheets. Basically, pick your teams around the idea that the point of the game is to get points that way and don’t worry about the intangible things that won’t get you returns.
Frankly, this makes things pretty easy. You want to pick forwards and attacking midfielders for those slots and probably play 4-5 mids each week and 2-3 forwards. They play closer to the goal, the point of soccer is scoring goals, have them on your team. For the most part, MLS players seem to score more fantasy points at home, but there will be a few players that rise to the top who are fixture proof. Otherwise, pick good players at home against bad defenses. This will be a little hit or miss in the early going, but watch to see who is struggling to keep the ball out of the net and pick against them (to be safe just pick whoever is playing at home against Cinci or San Jose).
There will also be players who don’t rise to the level of elite with the eye test but pass they scores a lot of fantasy points test. Marcelino Moreno is kinda one of them, don’t get me wrong, he’s very good for Atlanta United, but I wouldn’t have guessed that I wanted him in my fantasy team every week nearly regardless of who the opponent was.
Defenders are a little trickier. You have two options. First, center backs that will keep a cleansheet and don’t pick up cards, if they play the ball a lot that might help and if someone seems like a target on set pieces that really helps. Second, outside backs that get into the attack a lot. Julian Gressel is listed as a defender in the game this year and I can’t emphasize that he’ll haul fantasy points. He averaged over 6/game last year as a midfielder and this season he’ll be able to rack up extra clean sheet points. He might even be a captain pick at home every week and I’m not kidding. Stick to the formula of picking defenders at home against teams that can’t score (Charlotte). Same goes for keepers.
Rolling Deadline Strategy and the ole Switcheroo
FMLS has a rolling deadline, so roster moves can be made until a player on the roster kicks off. This means a few things. One is that you can swap a player you expected to start for another one if they’re benched for some reason. It also means that you can do some interesting things with picking your team. Aside from the starting XI, there are also four bench spots and you can do a few things here.
Put guys who absolutely won’t play to maximize your budget with players who will get points or pick one or more players that will play, but perhaps you aren’t sure will pay off. If you go with option two, start the guys who won’t play because the game will automatically sub in the guys who do and maybe keep some extra funds in the bank. That way if you have a scrub who got 0 minutes and a midfielder who had a tempting matchup but is inconsistent you can stick him on the bench and if he hauls you can get the points. Let’s say he just scores one point, if there’s another player who hasn’t started remove the scrub and get someone in who players later to try to get those points.
I don’t always do this because it’s easy to get carried away with changes and throw away a good roster trying to make up for missing out on one player having a bad game.
A strategy that does pay off pretty often is doing the switch with keepers. With this move take two keepers who will not have overlapping game times. Put the one in with the later game time in your XI and the early game time on the bench. That way if the one who played that’s on the bench has a good game you can put in a scrub at keeper and the one one the bench will sub for him.
If you’ve read this far and are still on the fence about playing, just think of all of the joy you’ll feel when that weird notion you got about Rubio Rubin having a good game midweek against Sporting Kansas City pays off or the irrational abhorrence you develop for Eloy Room when he lets in a late goal you’ll get to experience by joining.