Stats Summary – Finding Value at Forward 2017


Opening weekend challenge is just around the corner. This will be the first post in a 4-post series where we look at each position to try to find value players who are priced less than what last year’s production says they should be priced.

Points Per Start

Veterans of my Stats Summary articles will know that I’ve long been a proponent of using points per 90 minutes played instead of looking at the total points a player scored. This helps normalize things so someone who didn’t play every game, like Lodeiro, still ranks high in our analysis. I also don’t like using the points per game metric since it penalizes a guy who comes off the bench for a couple games as they return from injury. This year, I’ve settled on using the metric of points per start, where we still normalize scores like in using the points per 90 stat, but we don’t over-estimate guys who consistently get subbed out early.

Note: the “Residuals” column accounts for any changes to a player’s designated position and also any changes in fantasy scoring. Also, this analysis only includes players with at least 10 starts.

Value Over Replacement Player (VORP)

This is a common valuation for players in other fantasy sports. Basically, it is a way to measure how much better a guy is than the best player left off our roster. Fantasy MLS is a bit different since we have to also wrestle with the salary of players. So, I measured everyone against the cheapest players available at their same position who I think has a reasonable chance of playing a significant amount of time. For forwards, we’re comparing how much better a player is in terms of points per start than the average of forwards priced at 6.5. I simply subtracted that average from the points per start for every forward to find their VORP. I did the exact same thing for the cost, where I subtracted 6.5 from the cost of each forward to find the cost over replacement player (CORP).

Using VORP and CORP allows us to not only account for individual players’ value, but it also accounts for the strength of each position. This allows us to better compare across positions and prices to answer questions like who gives us the most value out of Larin, Nagbe, or Collin. (Collin)

Finding Value

I then ran a regression between the VORP and the CORP for every player in the league. It gives us the expected VORP for each CORP and also how much better each player performed than their expected VORP. This is the rightmost column labelled “Residuals” and it is the important column. The higher the residual, the better value a player is.

Okay, done with the boring math. Here’s the result:

name2017 PricepositionteamstartsscoreppsvorpResiduals
O. Kamara10FWDCLB201537.43.380.96
dos Santos10FWDLA261836.772.750.33
de Leeuw9FWDCHI16845.131.11-0.64
K Doyle8FWDCOL241044.040.02-1.05
K. Kamara9.5FWDNE3015050.98-1.1

Even though Giovinco is priced $2 more than any other forward, he’s still the best value at the position. With how frequently he scores enough points for a price rise, I think he’s a must own for almost all games where he’s healthy. The other darlings of the fantasy world last year, Villa and Ola are also great value. Badji is the budget choice assuming he can lock down a starting role.

Some of the guys at the bottom came as a bit of a surprise. Adi and Morris present awful value based on their price and last year’s production. I think both perform much better this year than last, but I’m not sure it will be enough to warrant grabbing them instead of paying up for the premium forwards.


About Andrew Crollard

Andrew has worked as both an economist/data analyst and as a university and youth soccer coach. Naturally, marrying soccer and data together is a perfect fit.

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