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Ben's Fantasy (MLS Fantasy Manager Round 9)

Defensive-minded lineups? Maybe.

MLS: Seattle Sounders FC at Vancouver Whitecaps FC Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

So we’re 8 rounds into the season with 26 left to play, and we’re starting to get an idea how this plays out with the new rules. The top scorer overall boasts a whopping 644 points, and if you’re like Steel City FC (who’s just barely in the Top 1000), you’re looking at a 104 point deficit to make up on the leader. Conveniently, that works out to be exactly 4 points a week. Steel City FC will need to average besting the current leader by 4 points a week to catch him. The good news is that only signifies a roughly 5% increase in average scoring, and that doesn’t seem that daunting. Here’s a non-scientific list of suggestions to make up the stagger.

Stick with home players: Yeah, this is pretty obvious, but if you’re going for ceiling it’s even more obvious. Of the 80 field players in the Team of the Week this year, home players lead the way by a 3 to 1 ratio. The difference is considerably more pronounced than record.

Handicap all of the games: ok, it’s semi-scientific. Really, just a few data points I thought were kind of interesting to consider so far. One of these was how prevalent were mids and forwards from teams that scored less than 2 goals on the Teams of the Week to date. Through 8 rounds, only 4 of the 44 mids and forwards from the weekly best XI came from teams that scored 2 or fewer goals. Some very rough math lead me to ~40% of overall team games yield a score of 2 or more goals with 11 of 24 team results of 2 or more goals last round. Your mids and forwards should come from these teams at the preference of name players and scorers like David Villa and Lee Nguyen. You know who I like better than either this round? How about Will Bruin and Victor Vazquez. I think Seattle and Toronto are both good for multiple goals this round.

Dream Team D Mean Score M Mean Score F Mean Score H R Attacker<1 tm goal
1 5 11.6 3 13.6 2 13 8 2 2
2 4 12.25 4 14 2 16.5 8 2 0
3 4 10.25 3 13.3 3 13 7 3 1
4 5 10.8 4 10.5 1 14 6 4 0
5 3 10.3 5 13.4 2 15 8 2 1
6 5 11.6 4 12.25 1 11 9 1 0
7 5 11 3 11 2 12 6 4 0
8 5 12.6 2 14 3 15.3 7 3 0
Mean Per Round 4.5 11.3 3.5 12.75625 2 13.725 59 21 0.5


There’s been some talk about the value of defenders and using more 4 and 5 defender formations because of defenders featuring more often on the best XI/Team of the round this year, and that’s true. That said, it isn’t all that significant compared to the absolute min per week (3-2-1 is the min per position) so far through the season, and we’ve already gone through the part of the season where defense typically has an advantage over the attack. What’s probably more attractive about defenders this year is more choice i.e. a reduced opportunity cost for taking a budget defender versus the most expensive defender ($1-2 vs $3+) and the extra point from clean sheets doesn’t hurt.

While the increase in top end performance from defenders is evident, they’re still not matching the top end for midfielders and forwards when it comes to average score in the dream team, so there’s a pretty good possibility you’re sacrificing overall ceiling if you build with a more defensive formation over time. At this point, I haven’t seen a convincing enough set of data/analysis that would lead me not to recommend you refer to point 2. We definitely need more data.

Until then, if you see a lot of good matchups where you feel confident about picking the 2+ goal scoring teams, lean towards mid and forwards. If picking the teams that score crooked numbers isn’t as straightforward, hedging towards defense can be the shrewdest play. We may re-visit this again next week. Then again, I still really want to dive into 1-900 numbers at some point so maybe not.


Byrd’s Ballers: (Round 8. 4-1-0, Season 23-14-3)

  1. Sebastian Giovinco- F $12.2
  2. Nicolas Lodeiro- M $11.3
  3. Romain Alessandrini - M $9.6
  4. Victor Vazquez- M $8.8
  5. Miguel Almiron- M $9.3

Just missed out on the top score this round as Beerretriever SC’s 124 beat me by 1. That was 5 better than Phil, who tops the BDS overall leader board by 1 over Bad Kompany. You have to go all the way to #15 before you hit a sub-100 team last round. Good job, gang.

Going with my handicapping rule of thumb, the 4 teams I feel most confident about putting up a crooked number this round are Seattle, LA, Toronto, and Atlanta in that order. Soft defenses don’t usually do well going cross country, Houston is still suspect, and while I don’t think DC is pure garbage, they look like they’ll leak 2 unless Hamid stands on his head for 90.

Skinflint’s Specials: (Round 8 3-2-0, Season 18-22-0)

  1. Donnie Toia D $5.0
  2. Ambroise Oyongo D $4.9
  3. Raheem Edwards F $3.8
  4. Julian Gressel M $4.4
  5. Will Bruin- F $7.0

Some of the neckbeards, reformed neckbeards, and the truly elite class of hipster who can’t decide whether to be a neckbeard or reformed neckbeard nor has the coverage or discipline to make either reality...they loooooooove them some Harry Shipp. 3rd team in 3 years- no big. He’s going to kill in Seattle. Well, never mind all that; Will Bruin is good for at least a couple of big games every year, and I think it’s this week. He benefits more than most from not having to be ‘THE’ guy in his new digs. He’s my switcheroo with Gressel this round. Follow me to victory!

Aside from that, I’d love to bank on Tommy Redding this round, but Aja might be back to stake his claim on the backline. Toia can still be your man on the cheap. Oyongo brings you some nice potential for BP and assists with Vancouver coming to town, and Raheem Edwards is going to bag an assist at some point just by virtue of sharing the pitch with Giovinco. $3.8 is crazy. As always, good luck- hopefully slightly less good luck than mine.

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