Behind the Numbers: MLS Fantasy Week 2

Behind the Numbers

Week 1 Recap

The lesson from Week 1 for me to was to remember to trust the data and my subconscious data analysis…a.k.a my gut. The Behind the Numbers team fared OK on Week One, scoring 82 points, good a WR/OR rank 718. That’s fine for Week 1, beating the average of 80 points for the MLSFB Experts League and staying above the Wiebe Line. But with that 82 points only came a team value rise of $1.5, which could hurt going forward. The very scientific twitter thread lurking shows that the average of the people tweeting about fantasy gained about $2.2.

What hurts the most about Week 1 is that I swapped out L. Acosta and M. Manotas (both recommended in this space last week), who scored a combined 22 points and gained $0.8 for Alessandrini and Elis who scored a combined 3 points and lost $0.8. Oof. Down with tinkering. Long live tinkering.

Fantasy philosophy

I thought I hated picking a team in Week 1. Week 2 is gonna be worse. I have just enough soccer watched to have hypotheses, but the xG models are still recalibrating for 2019. I love Champions League as a fan, but as a fantasy manager, I hope everyone loses as fast as possible. To top it all off, we’re not quite sure how the price system works yet to know how to pick players yet.

A quick word about price changes:

I did a quick regression looking at the price change of player vs. the points they scored over their price. I sampled different positions, price points, and price changes. The plot is below.

It’s not perfect, but a simple model that explains almost 90% of the variation in the price rises? Works for me after one week. Based on this simple model, here are some benchmarks for what players at different price points would need to score to get different magnitudes of price rises.

In terms of team setup, the philosophy still holds. Pick a team with a cheap keeperoo, and pick two 4.0 scrubs for the famed double switcheroo and set up your remaining players in a 4 – 4 – 3 or a 4 – 5 – 2. If you penny pinch reallllll hard you could make it to the 3 – 5 – 3 I prefer, but not sure we’re there yet on the budget side.
In terms of player selection, while MLS says the formula will be more focused on current performance, they also said they had a functioning share button, rather than 2/3 of a functioning share button…so I’ll believe it when I see it. Week 1 performance will be front of mind for me as I go through player selection.

Week 2 Defense Rankings

Total Budget this Week: $101.5


Budget Target: $9 – $10

Last week the Keeperoo went pretty well with Blake getting the penalty save and not needing Vega to rotate in. As mentioned on the podcast, Vega remains to zero risk Keeperoo option at $4.

The top defenses all have high priced Keepers or are involved in CCL action. These factors have me looking beyond the numbers for my budget choices this week. My top pick right now is Rimando ($5.5) at home against a still-developing Whitecaps attack. I think Jesse Gonzalez is also a good option with the Galaxy attack very much in flux after the Alessandrini injury.

Vega should remain your Keeperoo option, though you’ll have to be on top the score to make the Rimando/Vega option work.


Budget Target: $22 – $26 (four starters + one $4 scrub)

For defenders this week, I’m looking for three things. Players at home, who scored well last week and who are in that $4.5 – $5.5 price range. Why that range? Beyond being a cheapskate on my backline, let’s revisit the price rise chart. In that $4.5 – $5.5 bracket you need 7 points to get a $0.5 price rise and would need 2 points to get a price drop. So if they play, basically no price drop, if they get a clean sheet, it’s raining budget. That’s the high floor/high ceiling budget building double!

Rather than with the keepers, there are some good budget options here for the top teams.

On ATL, Miles Robinson is only $5.1 and event Parkhurst at $5.6 isn’t bad. Also could find some value (maybe Bello?) if they rotate with CCL.

On SEA, you can either chase the points with Leerdam at $5.5 or stick with attacking potential of Smith at just $5.3.

I don’t really trust the numbers on the NYC and HOU defenses against pretty decent attacking teams. I’m avoiding them.

FCD still has Hollingshead at just $4.8 and are a reliable defensive option.

My diamond in the rough pick comes from SKC by the name of Barath at just $4.3. He lost value last week since he subbed on for an injured Fontas. SKC will have to rotate with CCL action and I don’t see a lot of other CB options. Keep an eye to see if you can snag this bargain.

Week 2 Offense Rankings


Budget Target: $65.5 – 70.5 (7 starters + one $4 scrub)

Top Offenses for Week 1

According to @thedummyrun’s xG rankings, the top 5 offenses this week should be ATL, NYC, LAFC, SKC, and SJE.

This top 5 is complicated to decide what to do with. I love ATL and SKC’s matchups, but CCL rotation as me worried. Thankfully, LAFC plays after ATL and has a great matchup as well. I’ll be watching lineups to decide how to proceed. From ATL, Josef ($10.6) and Pity Martinez ($10.1) are strong options if they play. They could easily be swapped out for the likes of Nguyen ($8.1), Rossi ($9.7), and Vela ($10.8) if Martinez goes hard on the rotation. POR doesn’t scare me at all after giving up three goals to the mostly 10 man COL team.

SJE’s ranking says more about MIN than it does about SJE, but when you have the chance to get a Valeri (Vako $8.8) in your lineup, you have to think about it.

I don’t know how to feel about NYC, Mitrita ($10.4) is certainly interesting after a strong Week 1, but DCU is a good team so I’m staying away for now. If you don’t share that assessment, then Ofori at just $6 had a great Week 1.

Beyond the Numbers

Outside the top 5, I’m really interested in SEA, RSL, and FCD.

In the projected points per $ metric, Lodeiro ($11.5) and Victor Rodriguez ($8.5) rain supreme and they’re both coming off 14 point weeks and play COL, who while looking better, still need to show me more. Locked and loaded in my lineup.

VAN was lit up at home by MIN last week. I have a soft spot for RSL particularly at home because their front four are just so much fun. Rusnak ($10.5) is the man in the middle and had a solid Week 1. Baird ($6.9) is coming off a solid week 1 and scores highly on the value rankings.

FCD will probably always intrigue me this season since they have so many budget options. Michael Barrios ($7.9) is the xG darling and probably the most known commodity in the FCD attack. Badji ($7.1) has definite value as a cheap forward in a switcheroo.

2019 Week 2 BTN Team

Here’s my first lineup based on the discussion above.

About Kyle Mcelhinny

Scientist by day, soccer fan by night. Nerd always. Using stats to overcome my lack of knowledge about the beautiful game.

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