(Psst! Join our MLS Fantasy Manager league! The code is 245-361.)
Welcome back to MLS Fantasy Manager for the 2015 season! That we even have a season at all is still amazing to me - thanks, last-ditch CBA negotiations. Much obliged. Let's get right to it, shall we? First thing's first - a hearty thank you to the 125 of you who joined this year's pool, especially since I could've made it easy on myself and just clicked "Renew League" from last year to really spike the numbers up. D'oh. Well, lesson learned for 2016. Onwards!
The first rule of fantasy sports is "check your emotions at the door". Did I follow that rule for opening weekend? I sure didn't. Going full hype-fueled fanboy, I maxed out on Vancouver Whitecaps players and started David Ousted ($5.4m), Kendall Waston ($8.5m), Pedro Morales ($11.0m) and Octavio Rivero ($8.6m), giving the armband to Morales. Total haul from Vancouver players: 20 points, equal to the combined opening day totals of DC United's Steve Birnbaum ($7.6m), who I predicted would have a good year this year and is currently only selected by 5.6% of all managers, and Seattle Sounders' Chad Marshall ($8.6m). Two defenders equaled the points total of four of my players - not exactly top form fantasy managing. Still, it's only one game of 34 which means there are plenty of chances to make good on my season. Where should I and other low-scorers begin?
For starters, check the bye teams for the next two rounds and make sure you plan your transfers and starting lineups appropriately. For Round 2, the Colorado Rapids, D.C. United, Montreal Impact and New York Red Bulls are all on a bye. In Round 3, it's the Columbus Crew, Real Salt Lake, the Sounders and Toronto FC. Don't worry if you're stuck with a player or two - everyone's playing again in Round 4. The point is this - get players that are playing on your roster. Starters get points; subs are far less reliable; bye teams get zip.
Next, find those value picks and stockpile as many as you can safely get away with. Don't burn your wildcard to overhaul the team completely; however, taking a small penalty to flip, say, David Horst ($8.0m) for Zach Loyd ($7.6m) or Moises Hernandez ($6.6m) isn't the worst thing in the world. That said, don't be swayed completely by price. The afore-mentioned Birnbaum has a pretty darn attractive price point, bye week or no bye week. However, one look at D.C.'s upcoming schedule - away to New York Red Bulls, home to LA Galaxy, away to Orlando City - and suddenly that price feels very unsustainable. Remember, in this year's version of fantasy, price is determined not by transfer activity but by on-field performance. Good players go up; bad players go down. Against that kind of opposition, I don't fancy D.C.'s defense to log any price-raising performances.
I'm not saying you'll instantly turn around a forty-point deficit - I'm certainly not expecting you. What moves like this do is help you get the little things right, which sets you up to make the big (or lucky) moves that nab you those coveted in-form fantasy studs.
Round 1 Top Score
The best score this round went to AT Dad, whose team #AssistiveTech came oh-so-close to cracking the 100-point barrier with a solid 99 points, good for 34th in the overall rankings. As a Seattle supporter, AT Dad has the luxury of being able to go all-in on the Sounders and still make the case for it being a logical play owing to their strong squad and their opponent. It certainly paid off:
I mean, sure, his bench is laughable and that Daigo Kobayashi pick was something of a bust but who cares when you start the season with a 99-point haul?
Matchups To Watch
Instead of the Good Buy/Bad Buy segment from last season, I'm going to try something different for 2015 and take a broader look at matches that should produce good fantasy numbers.
3. Real Salt Lake vs. Philadelphia Union
Attention, fans of scoreless draws - this match will probably be one. Grab the cheapest starting defender you can and hope nobody gets any bright ideas about scoring.
2. FC Dallas vs. Sporting Kansas City
The Sporks are without Matt Besler ($8.6m) thanks to a second yellow card from opening weekend. That's not what they needed heading to Frisco to take on a very good FC Dallas team. There are so many good buys up and down the Hoops' roster that it would be foolish not to at least consider picking up one or two before matchday.
1. Seattle Sounders vs. San Jose Earthquakes
Yikes. Somebody get a mortician on speed-dial because the Earthquakes are going to be dead and buried after this match. Dom Kinnear will have to work a miracle to stop the Sounders from going 2-0-0 to start the season. Do you have a Sounder or three on your team? Good news! You'll do fine.