Hello again fellow fantasy degenerates, it is time for more MLS Fantasy Soccer. MLSsoccer.com has just released its 2016 version of the official fantasy game; you can find it here: http://fantasy.mlssoccer.com/. There may be other forms of MLS fantasy soccer but let's be honest, none of them hold a candle to the official version. Sure, there may be some daily fantasy leagues out there, but are you really going to invest your time and money into a system which could crumble beneath increasingly aggressive prosecution against what looks more and more like an illegal gambling scheme? So, head on over to the official version and sign up.
While you're there, join the Sounder at Heart league! The league code to join is: 147-369. Alternatively, if you are already signed up just follow this link to enter our league: http://fantasy.mlssoccer.com/?autojoin-code=147-369.
With those pleasantries out of the way, let's look at the big changes to this year's game. First, roster sizes have been reduced from 18 to 16, while the overall team budget has remained at $120 M. The reasoning here seems to be that the vast majority of teams were simply squatting on minimum-value players in their last two slots. The shrunken roster now means you can invest that last $8 M or so into other players on your squad. Teams should be better across the board as a result.
Second, the other major change has been to scoring of bonus categories. While most of the scoring is the same as last year, defensive bonuses have changed significantly and there are many new ways for offensive players to score bonus points. Here are the new offensive categories:
- 4 shots/1pt
- 4 fouls suffered/1pt
- 35+ passes & 85%+ accuracy = 1pt
- 70+ passes & 85%+ accuracy = 2pts
And here are the adjustments to defensive scoring, with tackles being new and CBIs broken down into component parts:
- 2 blocks/1pt
- 4 tackles/1pt
- 4 clearances/1pt
- 4 interceptions/1pt
These new categories should lead to inflated scores overall, with some players benefiting more than others. MLSsoccer.com actually has done a great breakdown of some of the players who benefited the most. As you might have assumed, defensive midfielders see some of the greatest boosts due to the passing points and greater potential value of defensive actions. In fact, three defensive midfielders, Christian Higuita of Orlando, our own Osvaldo Alonso (+29 from passing bonuses alone), Matias Laba of Vancouver (+33 in defensive bonuses alone, largely from tackles) saw the largest increases to their value, with Dax McCarty, Diego Chara and Juninho (rest in Liga MX) not far behind.
And then Giovinco actually crashes the party at the top of beneficiaries from the new rules, earning a whopping 31 new bonus points from the number of shots he took. Villa and Kamara earned 22 and 20 from extra shots, respectively, and then BWP was a distant fourth with 15 bonuses.
Overall it seems scoring will be up across the board with these new categories, making those triple digit weeks all the more feasible. Defensive midfielders should see their point totals rise about 30-50%, making them worthwhile investments. Besides Giovinco (a ridiculous outlier who will probably continue to be an outlier), it looks like defensive midfielders will give very good bang for your buck. McCarty, Laba, Higuita, Chara and Alonso are all right there at the top of the very important points per dollar list.
And finally, the most important question: What's your team name this year?