MLS Fantasy Golden Rules
In the MLS Fantasy Golden Rules series, we will be going over some basics for beginners and some refreshers for veterans. We are aiming to cover some of the broader questions that get brought up and clear up some common errors we see holding players back from their desired final rankings. With the change to unlimited transfers, these can be implemented right away and it’s still early enough in the season where mistakes are not game breaking.
Rule 3: Away Player Selection
It’s a general rule that selecting away players is usually very bad idea. So what do managers do when there are few to no good home match ups and away players will make up the bulk of your roster? There are a few strategies managers can use to maximize their points each week.
Identify the Best Matchups
The first, and arguably the hardest, thing managers should do on heavy away weeks is identify the best matchups for the round. With home teams generally having the edge and playing up to the level of their competition, this can be extremely difficult. What managers should be looking for is the most lopsided game according to current form. Targeting these teams for players will give the best chance for success.
For the coming round, MNUFC playing at New England and LAFC at San Jose are two of the best away matchups we might see all season. Both teams are playing well, even on the road, with players that are capable of putting up solid scores.
Earn Bonus Points
When there is no clear advantage between teams or matchups, look for the best bonus point producers. Bonus points are the biggest separator from a good player and a great player and they can generally be replicated on the road.
Nico Lodeiro is one of the best bonus point producing midfielders in the game. This round he’s playing in Vancouver which makes him a prime candidate for a solid away score even if he’s not involved in a scoring play.
Build The Fantasy Mullet
When defense is hard to find, remember the other Golden Rules. Build the fantasy mullet. Go for cheap defenders in the back and spend money elsewhere. When defensive matchups aren’t appealing or the best matchups are for road teams, don’t risk your money on a player that might not perform. Managers should look to save budget and add more sure bonus point potential from road games.
Axel Sjoberg ($4.2 COL) and Julio Cascante ($4.3 POR) are two key candidates this week. Combined, they can only lose $0.5 total value, but even 3 points from each of them gives a solid Points/$ return without needing a clean sheet.
Away weeks make it very tough to predict defenders. Fullbacks tend to put up more offensive numbers while Center Backs need to absorb some pressure to put up big numbers. Knowing this works in a manager’s favor. Away defenders facing possession or press oriented teams are more likely to get better defensive bonus point production which favors Center Backs while their Fullback counterparts see a lot fewer opportunities to score.
When applying this strategy, it’s less about predicting the clean sheet and more about predicting which team will face the most pressure and have to most opportunities for clearances, blocks, and interceptions.
Watch the Line-ups and Absences
Away weeks can be broken open by knowing exactly who is playing. With a shortage of optimal matchups to choose from, these little tidbits of information can completely change a week.
An obvious example this round is SKC vs MTL. SKC is vulnerable to the counter which is what Montreal thrives on. Defenders are a bit of a risk, but still part of one of the strongest home matchups. If the rumors turn out to be true that both Piatti and Taider could be inactive, this game becomes to go to matchup for home defenders with the potential for selecting 3 defensive players.
Why this Works
Much like massive bye weeks, navigating road heavy weeks is about not losing pace. Any one of the big bonus point producers is likely to go off, especially this round. Managers could make a case for Carlos Vela and Darwin Quintero any week of the season with these current match ups. The potential for being involved in multiple scoring plays is there.
Why This is a Golden Rule
Selecting away players can be one of the most difficult aspects of the game. It is what separates the average players from the good players and when used in more normal weeks it’s what separates the elite players from the good players.
These tips collectively make up the Golden Rules for selecting away players because they provide the most chances for success without being a complete gamble. Knowing which players are most likely to get points for your team will help you put up the best scores possible.
There is a lot to overthink when selecting lots of away players and the last-minute trends can be devastating. Lots of managers make panic moves as rosters are revealed. Unless the home team is getting a significant advantage somehow, be cautious about overhauling a lineup.
Trust your gut more than normal on these rounds. Overall score for away heavy tend to be lower, don’t throw out the basics trying to maximize points at the deadline Your early roster decisions are usually based on long term trends rather than a single week and a reaction. They are generally safer to trust than a last-minute hopeful transfer.