What a finish to the season. Action-packed games, goals galore... all the ingredients for a fantasy bonanza to close out the year. Cascadia contributed the top three player scores of the round with Darlington Nagbe ($8.9m) and Clint Dempsey ($12.3m) logging a 17 to edge out Kendall Waston ($9.2m) and his 14. If you actually kept the high-priced Waston on your roster long enough to reap that clean sheet and goal bonus, bully for you - it still wasn't fiscally sound team management on pure bang-for-your-buck in the long term but hey, points are points, and that's what matters. I'm just saying you could've had Waylon Francis ($6.4m) and his 11 points - still very respectable - leaving you with the budget to slot in, say, an Ethan Finlay ($9.6m, 13pts) or Charlie Davies ($8.9m, 11pts). It's all about that cap, folks - all about that cap.
That said, if you didn't have Sebastian Giovinco ($13.7m) wedged into your team somewhere once it became clear he was lights-out amazing, you had problems. Giovinco was easily the star of the year both on the pitch and in the fantasy pages, taking the mantle of "Captain Fantasy" away from last year's winner Graham Zusi ($10.9m, 105pts) with a commanding 251-point haul. This beats out early "Captain Fantasy" Benny Feilhaber ($10.6m) whose stellar season was reflected in fantasy with a score of 208. The other two members of the 200+ club from 2015 were the obscenely undervalued Kei Kamara ($9.9m, 203pts) and the man with too many consonants in his name, Sacha Kljestan ($10.9m, 201). I'll be honest - I didn't know what to expect out of Kljestan or the New York Red Bulls as a whole this season, what with the whole Mike Petke debacle in the offseason. Fast forward to October and here we are with the Supporters' Shield resting in New Jersey. Oh, and the final two "best-in-class" winners were David Ousted ($6.0m, 181pts) for goalkeepers and Matt Hedges ($10.1m, 159pts) for defenders. Clearly, Hedges made his value back and good for you if you had him on your fantasy squad. I'm just saying, Jorge Villafana ($6.6m), 143 points for $3.5m cheaper... bang for your buck, people. It's A Thing™.
Finally, I would be remiss if I did not offer my heartiest and sincere congratulations to Barbara Red of Paisley SC, who demolished the competition in our league and many, many others, including the global Houston Dynamo table and both of sister SB Nation blog Dynamo Theory's leagues (classic and head-to-head). Her 2,720 points placed her squarely among the global leaderboard heavyweights, making up the breakaway Top 4 with room to spare. Congratulations, Barbara! You're welcome back to challenge us next year; goodness knows with as stern a competition as you provided, we'll all have to up our game to even come close.
Round 34 Top Score
Well, it only took me two years of running this league to finally look like I know what I'm doing. At long last, I have the top score of the round! And, uh, so do two other people. Figures - I log a sizzling 92 to end the year and it doesn't count for bupkis because I made a 3rd transfer to lose the tiebreaker! That leaves two teams which are no strangers to this Top Score feature and, since I play favourites like the scumbag I am, I'm putting Todd Paulhus of CarlRobinsonSweaters in the spotlight for the final time this season:
And the crazy part is that both Dominique Badji ($4.5m) and Patrick Doody ($4.0m) saw minutes and made meaningful contributions. Heck, Badji scored a goal! Space-fillers? What space-fillers? Seriously, keep an eye on Badji for next season. Could be a sleeper hit.
First and foremost, thanks go to Spencer Phinney for starting the idea of an Eighty Six Forever league and allowing me to run with it the past couple of years. Thanks to all of the 86F commenting family who put their best efforts forward for bragging rights and/or glory by taking part in this year's fantasy pool. I hope you'll come back next year as we try to make the league even stronger (come on, 750-player prize threshold!).
See you in 2016! Let's go enjoy the playoffs, shall we?