Hello friends, and welcome to another year of MLS Fantasy Soccer with Sounder at Heart. This year brings one massive change — unlimited transfers — and numerous other tweaks (some big, some small) that MLS hopes will make 2017 the best edition of fantasy soccer yet. Personally, I’m not totally sold that the changes make for a better game, but they certainly make for a more accessible game.
First, if you’re reading this post, I’m guessing you have some interest in fantasy soccer. If you don’t know already, MLSsoccer.com runs a fantasy league modeled after other popular fantasy games. You assemble a team of 11 players and 4 substitutes (this year), using a salary cap to build your team. Players have a starting value, based on their history and a guess as to how they’ll do this year, and their value can increase or decrease depending on how well they score. Players score points through everything from goals, minutes played and clean sheets to more esoteric categories like “key passes,” “interceptions,” and “recoveries.” If you have any questions about how these categories are tracked, Opta has got you covered, or just ask in the comments here.
You should go now and join us in the Sounder at Heart league. It’s free, and there are prizes for playing, with zero commitment required. Once you’ve made an account through the link above, go here: http://fantasy.mlssoccer.com/a/leagues/join/private and join league 159-931. You can see the standings here: http://fantasy.mlssoccer.com/a/leagues/standings/931/classic.
Now that introductions are out of the way, let’s look at the changes to the game in 2017. First and foremost, the biggest change is that transfers are now always unlimited. Fell asleep at the wheel and half your team is injured, benched, or away with their national team? No problem! You can give them all the boot with no penalties. Want to try out a niche player with a favorable schedule for a differential play, but don’t want to commit to them? Now you don’t have to! I’ve heard some say this is like a watered down version of daily fantasy leagues, and maybe it is to some extent. However, it certainly is easier to get into and easier to correct mistakes. We’ll see how it plays out during the year.
The other major change is that roster sizes have shrunk to 15, down from 18. The team salary cap has also shrunk accordingly, down to $100 million (from $120 million). This makes it harder and harder to stack an offense full of guys like Giovinco, Piatti, Villa, Lodeiro and Kleijstan. You can still afford a couple, but you’ll have to be more judicious with your budget, especially if you want any cover on the bench.
The other main changes come to defenders. The top defenders now only start at $6.5 million (down from $8.0 million or so), plus clean sheets now count for 5 points (up from 4). These changes make top defenders somewhat more valuable, so we hopefully won’t end up with everyone having the same backline bargains next year.
If you do extremely well, MLS has some prizes for you, the biggest two being a VIP trip to the All-Star Game in Chicago (for being the best through Week 17) and the MLS Cup Final (for the overall winner), wherever the Final might be.
I’m pretty curious to see how changes go this year. So far, this is my first stab at a squad (this will certainly change during preseason as projected starting lineups take shape):
I’m trying to build my team around Lodeiro, Almiron, Dempsey and Giovinco, but they’re expensive as a group so it’s tough to find enough starters to fill in. I have no idea if Phillips, Loyd, Saied or Badji will actually be starting, but we’ve got some time to figure it out. In fact, MLSsoccer.com won’t even be counting week 1 towards the season-long totals. So rest assured your first attempt can go as horribly wrong as my team likely will, and you won’t be playing from behind the whole year.
I always enjoy your thoughts, comments, Rate My Team (RMT) questions or hidden gems you’re willing to share. Good luck this year.