With the second segment of the season just getting under way I thought this would be a good time to share some strategies I’ve used on my MLS fantasy team this year. This is the first time I’ve participated in a fantasy sports league and I had a pretty steep learning curve at the beginning. I made a bunch of mistakes that basically boiled down to not understanding that what I should be trying to do is maximize the points each individual player scores. I’m not trying to put together a team that would win a real game. The best advice anyone could give you is to pick players that will over perform expectations. Since that’s easier said than done I’ll start with three pieces of advice that have nothing to do with the game of soccer.
1. Take advantage of the broken substitution rules. In the ESPN fantasy league the way substitutions work is that if a starter doesn’t play, the player on your bench at that position with the highest point total will take his place. I take advantage of this by starting a defender that has little to no chance to see the pitch. I keep two decent defenders on my bench. Each from different teams. In the 6 weeks I’ve tried this I’ve averaged about 6 points per week from that position.
2. Save some transfers for unexpected injuries. It took me a couple weeks to figure out exactly what I was doing and during that time I burned half of my available transfers. Throw in some changes for matchups, and changes to take advantage of weeks where a player played twice and I was out of transfers by week 7. This wouldn’t have been a huge problem if I wasn’t starting a midfield of Steve Zakuani (broken leg), Atiba Harris (knee surgery), David Ferreira (broken ankle), and Javier Morales (broken ankle). Hopefully we won’t see another bunch of injuries like we did early in the season, but you never know when someone will miss a game for a royal wedding, English exhibition match, or a Calvin Klein photo shoot.
3. Don’t choose players that put your soccer allegiances in conflict with your desire to score points. At the beginning of the second trimester I was considering adding Jack Jewsbury to my lineup. I figured he’d be a good pick because despite what John Spencer says the Timbers score most of their goals off of set pieces and Jewsbury is the one taking them. In the end I decided against picking him because I don’t want to be put in a position where I’m watching a tied Timbers game, Jewsbury steps up to the ball in the 90th minute and some small part of me actually wants Portland to score.
As I said at the top, this whole fantasy sports thing is new to me. So I’d love to hear what people think about my suggestions.