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Fantasy MLS Round 5

The debut of Zlatan and game mechanics

Manchester United v Burnley - Premier League Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images

Now that’s moxie. Or maybe this is moxie.

Alright, I’m definitely all about getting golden years Zlatan in MLS. Yeah, he’s more than 5 years past this effort, and yes, he’s had a severe knee injury since then and a largely dormant spell with Manchester United ever since. That said, he’s still one of the greatest strikers in history, and I’d bet heavily on him producing the sublime while he’s in the US.

If you think he’s actually going to be relegated to earning less than he walked away from in England just to live in LA, we should really talk bridge. Zlatan obviously has some sort of deal on the side to make this a lucrative move, but even minus that, he’ll be at least as motivated as players like Henry and Villa to put his stamp on the beautiful game stateside. For fantasy purposes, he’ll be a player you have to consider every week- just not quite yet.

So yeah, he’ll probably only get 15-20 minutes on Saturday, if that. With rolling lockouts now, you certainly could risk that he might start and play 60+, but that seems like a lot to bank on in the first el Tráfico. The chalk will be to wait on him for at least one week. If he gets subbed in and only manages 1-2 points, he’ll lose $500k in salary right off the bat. That leads me to part 2 of this week’s dispatch.


What we’ve learned about player valuations

One significant change to this year’s game is the player valuations. The swings are much wilder and more difficult to predict in previous seasons. Here’s just one example last week that takes into account last game score, 3 week average, 5 week average, and previous salary.

Mauro Diaz: 5, 6.67, 9 (includes last year), and $10.4. He dropped 100k.

Reto Ziegler: 4, 5.67, 5.67 (if no last year, same as 3, apparently), and $5.8. He rose 500k.

As you can see, Mauro scored higher in all 3 scoring metrics but dropped price while Reto Ziegler enjoyed a maximum weekly price rise. This isn’t totally insane as Josef Martinez scored a goal in Round 2 but still dropped in price because of other averages and his relatively high salary. There’s 3 things I took from this.

  1. Don’t skimp on cheap players. They can still give you a boost with a meh game.
  2. Still important to game the cap. Defenders are going to get pricey.
  3. Speaking of defenders. If you want to game cap, it might be best to use your ‘sheep’/players that won’t play at midfield and forward- preferably forward since they’re more boom or bust.

The other thing I think is that price swings are largely dedicated to price and have nothing to do with positions. I’m not going to present you with any regressions to demonstrate this; it’s been years since I’ve taken stats. What I will do is provide some raw data with players that started out at a pricing tier last week and show you the same data that I gave you for Diaz and Ziegler. If some highly motivated self-starter thinks they can expand on that, by all means:

$10 Mill+

Player Score 3wk 5wk Price Rise Starting Salary Pos
Moralez 4 7.67 9.4 500 10.5 M
Diaz 5 6.67 9 -100 10.3 M
Medina 5 5.67 6.75 -100 10 M
Valeri 4 3.33 6.4 -500 10 M

So, there’s not much data for this price and position from last week (there’s only 4-seriously). There’s little to make of this- they’re even all midfielders. Moving right along...

$9-9.9 Mill

Player Score 3wk 5wk Price rise Starting Salary Pos
BWP 13 7.67 6.6 500 9.4 F
Kei Kamara 2 7 5.4 400 9.3 F
Zardes 2 6 5 -100 9.7 F
Techera 3 6.67 5.8 -100 9 M

Again, we’ve got only four players who started the week in the 9’s because of the short week. Maybe the big week for BWP was what differentiated him from Kei? For what it’s worth, Techera and Zardes are almost exactly the same across the board, so maybe there’s a hint about the fluctuation being position-agnostic. Edit: I left out Gutierrez here, but he’s been on fire. I’d bet on him getting a max price rise this round even if only put up 1 or 2 points. Edit, I also missed out on Santos somehow- Santos 7 5 7.2 0 9.1 M. It seems like he should have gotten a bump if mids were their own category.

$8-8.9 Mill

Player Score 3wk 5wk Price rise Starting Salary Pos
Artur 8 6 6.8 400 8.7 M
Russell 3 7.33 6.5 500 8.4 M
Blanco 8 6.33 7.8 200 8.7 M
Finlay 4 7.33 5.4 200 8.7 M
Urruti 3 5.33 4 -100 8.8 F
Ibson 4 6 6 0 8.6 M
Adi 5 3.67 3.6 -500 8.9 F
Barrios 2 4.67 6 -300 8.5 M
Royer 5 4.33 5.4 -500 8.5 M

Seemingly, this is where it gets interesting. Shouldn’t Blanco have risen higher in price since he has better numbers than Artur? The answer is no- the total average comes into play here. Artur’s average over 4 games this year is 7, and Blanco’s is 6.33. Looks like we’ve found another variable. Ethan Finlay’s is 6, and he and Blanco paired up perfectly. Adi and Royer (different positions) are at 3.67 and 3 respectively and both dropped the max. Food for thought: Gerso has subbed into 4 matches so far for Spork this year and earned a paltry 1.75 points per game. He’s dropped the full $500 each match.

$5-5.9 Mill

Player Score 3wk 5wk Price rise Starting Salary Pos
Ziegler 4 5.67 5.67 500 5.8 D
Hedges 2 5 4.4 500 5.8 D
Sinovic 0 3 2 -500 6.1 D
Brillant 3 3.67 4 100 5.6 D
Powell 4 4 4.8 100 5.5 D
DeLeon 2 3.33 3.6 -100 5.4 D
Castillo 5 4 4 200 5 D
Besler 4 3.33 3.2 -200 5.4 D
Hairston 2 3.33 3.6 -400 5.8 D
Jacori Hayes 8 6 3.6 500 5.3 M
Rico Clark 8 3.67 2.8 200 5.7 M
Caldwell 2 3 4.6 -200 5.8 M
Bunbury 3 2.67 3 -400 6 M
Ofori 4 2.5 2.5 -300 5.7 M
Medranda 1 2.67 3.6 -500 5.7 M
Danladi 1 0.67 2.6 -500 6.1 F
Gerso 4 2 2 -500 6 F
Boateng 3 3.67 3.6 -100 6 F
McBean 1 1.67 1.2 -300 5.6 F
Bingham 8 5 3 500 5.2 G
Maurer 4 5.33 4 500 5 G
Lampson 5 3.67 3.2 200 5.1 G
Howard 4 2.33 3 0 5.3 G

This is where I think it gets interesting because I can select similar price averages across all positions. If I sort largest to smallest, there’s very little difference between 3 week average (5-6ppg), regardless of position at the top end. This differs from higher salaries where you can actually see a drop with these averages. I’m feeling pretty good about the theory that lower salary players will increase more rapidly with good performances.

When I sort the other way, I notice that Marlon Hairston and Nick DeLeon have delivered the exact same point output. Behold, Hairston dropped -400 while DeLeon only dropped -100. The only difference was their starting salaries (5.8 and 5.4, respectively). There isn’t enough data to determine whether position is a significant factor, but salary definitely is.

So what’s the formula? I have no idea. It doesn’t seem like a simple linear regression, and I can’t tell whether position comes into play here or not. It’s possible we’ll find out more in the 6 million range this week. I will say with confidence that a cheaper player is more likely to boost your cap and, at the rate of increase on the lower end, this remains an important consideration for down the road. If you can micromanage your team and deftly use switcheroos, you’ll be set for success and a bigger cap.

Oh, and before I forget- Gambling*!

Tor -1 -105

CCr -1 +105

Mon +1/2 +110

DCU +1 -110

Fire Moneyline +135

Previous week’s picks: 3-2-0 Season: 6-4-0

Good luck, fellow degenerates.

*- Odds courtesy of Bovada. For Entertainment Purposes Only!