We’re a little under 2 weeks away from the kickoff of the 2014 season but Fantasy MLS is already well underway. Rate My Teams posts are popping up on /r/FantasyMLS and first week strategy discussion is getting more focused in the Live Chat here at MLS Fantasy Boss.
Preseason games are still going on, but I believe there is enough information to at least make some preliminary recommendations. In this 4 part series, I’ll give my thoughts on some of the hot picks but also provide some value options that could give good returns. So let’s get started.
I believe that this is one of the most forgotten positions in the game and poor planning can result in having to waste one of your trades just to have 1 keeper playing. Here is a list of a few of the popular strategies:
- Keeper Ironman: Pick one big name starter and have a cheap bench player.
- Double Cheap: Find two cheaper starting keepers to save money.
- Big & Small: One good main keeper and a cheaper backup.
- Premium Pair: Doubling up on two of the best players.
Below I’m going to go over some of the better options for each of the strategies and I’ll provide some tables with stats to help you make your own decisions.
There is only 1 viable option for this strategy; you have to have Ricketts on your team. Portland is the only team that has no bye weeks and since Jamaica is not going to the World Cup, there are currently no other obligations that Ricketts has. Portland also had one of the best records of not conceding on the road last season. There are other options in the first 14 weeks, but Ricketts is the only “Pick and Forget” choice.
- Save money to use in other field spots.
- An injury or red card could really hurt.
- Only 1 Double Game Week in first 15 weeks.
Just like the previous strategy, I believe there is only 1 option if you want two cheap starting keepers, if your definition of cheap is under $5m. Chivas’s Kennedy and Columbus’ Lampson are both $4.5m and both set to start. Chivas struggled last year but has made an attempt to fix that over the offseason. Lampson’s numbers are the better of these two, but he only played for about half the season. Columbus is going through a rebuilding year so it’s hard to judge their defense right now, but their preseason performance is promising right now.
- 2 Starting Keepers.
- Saves money to use in other field spots.
- 3 Double Game Weeks between in first 15 weeks.
- Defenses are new or rated low.
- Share a Bye in week 15.
Big and Small
This is where options really start to add up. This strategy pairs one of the $4.5m keepers with one of the more premium options ($5.0-$6.0). The MLS Fantasy Boss Home/Away rotation chart can help with this. Of the possible pairs, I prefer the ones that share 0 bye weeks, offer at least 3 Double Game Weeks, and don’t share any DGWs.
CHV + DAL/HOU/PHI (all 3 DGW)
CLB + PHI (4 DGW)/POR (14 Game Rotation)/SKC (4 DGW)
- One strong keeper.
- Take better advantage of H/A rotations.
- Higher price.
This final strategy focuses on getting two of the best keeper options you can ($5.0-$6.0). There are several good pairings here, but my favorites are the ones that maximize your chance to have a home keeper and, again, DGWs.
POR+RSL: Perfect home/away rotations for the first 15 weeks and 2 DGWs.
HOU + SKC: Home keeper for 12 of first 14 weeks and 4 DGWs going into WC.
LA + SKC: Home keeper for 11 of first 14 and 3 DGWs going into WC.
POR + HOU/DAL: Home keeper for 11 of first 14 and 3 DGWs going into WC
RSL + HOU/LA: Maximize 2013 PP90
- Take advantage of best keepers/defenses.
- Maximize home games.
- Little worry of not having a starter.
- Price, Price, Price.
At the end of the day, I don’t think the first two strategies are good options. There are too many risks with just going with one Keeper and two cheap keepers are cheap for a reason. I’d rather spend the extra money to get a little more quality. Plus, the higher PP90 really start to add up over the season.
Either of the other two strategies are much better options. These are my favorite combinations.
HOU/SKC $11m: Houston has an excellent defensive record over the past few years, and SKC was the standout defense overall for 2013 and had an excellent away record. This combination lets someone take advantage of two of the strongest defensive teams and maximizes DGWs leading into the WC (4). They do play each other in Week 14, but you can easily adjust for that.
POR/RSL $12m: Going back to 2007, there has been a documentable advantage of teams doing better at home. They may not always win, but they come away with points about 62% of the time. So being able to maximize having a home keeper does give you an advantage and the combination of POR and RSL will let you do that for the first 17 weeks… If you’re willing to pay.
CLB/SKC $9.5m: If you want to save some money, I think this is your best option and you get 4 DGWs. Even though Columbus has gone through some defensive transition, they have shown some promise in preseason and you’re able to take advantage of the impressive defensive record of SKC that is mentioned above.
These are my picks, how do they match up with yours? Feel free to join the discussion about this article at /r/FantasyMLS or send a message on Twitter to @MLSFantasyBoss.
You can also come by and join the Live Chat at MLSFantasyBoss.com.