Change is inevitable, we all know this, but that does not make it easy to accept. There were several changes to the 2014 MLS Fantasy Manager game that caused a lot of chatter early in the year. At the time I thought about throwing in my 2 cents worth but decided I would wait and see how it all played out. I’m glad I did because I did have a little change of heart as the season went on. Here are my thoughts, but if you are not the type of person who likes to read, then catch the audio version, which includes more than just me, in the first Re-Recording of the MLSFI podcast which will be posted soon!
Inflation: It seems clear that one of the main objective this year was to encourage managers to have to make tougher decisions as to where they would spend their money. To do this, we saw inflation in 3 areas. Starting Salary Cap, Player Prices, and Roster Size. I think the increased salary cap and player prices did accomplish the goal and make for a more strategic game and fun game. Sure, we could all argue about why some players were valued so high, especially with the poor performance of defenders this season, but in general I grew to appreciate this change and the extra cash. What I did not like was the increased roster. I know this was to help stretch that extra $20m that we received, but by the middle of the season, I just had 3 $4.0m or lower bench trash to I could use the money in other places. The idea that our teams could be more flexible and dynamic with this increased bench was totally shattered by the to how substitutions worked and was a lard part of my frustrations for the entire season.
Substitutions: As I mentioned above, the substitution changes really made a larger bench pointless, but it’s unfair to blame all of the changes for that when it was really just Auto-Subs. No auto-subs make an expanded bench useless for all but the most hardcore of players who are able to be present for each kickoff. This change added an unneeded and unwanted level of micromanagement that frankly just made the game not fun for many players. This was especially a burden for those in time zones outside of the United States. I believe that this change, coupled with the loss of vice captains, was implemented to address the wide use of the Caparoo in 2013. While the loss of the Vice Captain did not bother me, the auto-subs was just too much. My solution? I would have rather seen Captains and Vice Captains locked as starting players and untransferable as a manger sub.
On a lighter note, I loved the change for the transfer/substitution deadline! Having the deadline moved to kickoff for each game and not just 15min before the start of the first one was great and really let managers wait for the most current lineups before making trades. Of course the trade off for those managers is they would miss out on value gains or losses, but I thought that was fair.
Scoring: I liked all but 1 of the scoring changes, and it’s mostly just about personal preference. Points for earning a penalty, and OG assist, and the removal of Big Chances Flubbed were nice to see, however, I think tracking 2nd assists is a useless statistic and fail to see its relevance in any sport.
Format and Site: The only format change was the removal of the playoffs from the fantasy game. I missed this not being part of the game but it’s by no means essential. The only other change I wanted to point out was to the stats section of the fantasy page. Last year, when you clicked on stats you were brought to the main stats page that had the top 5 in many statistical categories (like top players and leagues). This year, the only way to access that page (that I was able to find) was to edit the URL after going to one of the drop down links from the “Research” tab. I hope this was just an oversight and is added again for 2015.
Overall, I enjoyed the game this year, even if it was a bit different and even if I did finish lower. I mean all of these comments as constructive criticism and I hope that the feedback from the other various MLS Fantasy communities will also be constructive. Here’s to a great 2015!