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Fantasy MLS 2021 primer

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The old, the new, the borrowed, and the blue.

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The secret to a hot start.
Photo credit should read ARIEL OCHOA/AFP via Getty Images

MLS’s 26th season- hopefully with fewer hiccups than last year- kicks off on Friday, and MLS has opened up its fantasy game which you can easily sign up for here. If you’ve never played before, the rules are pretty simple; but if you’re competitive and want to win your league (you can set up a league with friends), our league (register for that here), and the season long and Champions League ($$$), then you’ll want to bone up on strategy.

The Old:

Ok, I hype video is new even if it comes from an ‘old’ guy. Speaking of which, Older Goaler’s site is still a great central index for content like schedules, advice columns, podcasts and all things useful to competitive players. Other things that remain unchanged include being able to do switcheroos and the ‘Champions League’ format which will give you a chance for a fresh start after weeks 7, 12, 17, and 23. Also, you still get unlimited transfers every week, so there’s no need to plan ahead.

The ‘New’:

Ok, if I’m breaking out ‘The Senderos’, it isn’t truly new. Fantasy is switching back to the lower starting salary budget, and you actually gain and lose salary based on the players performance. That was the Dynamo defender’s salary and increase at week three of 2018 after scoring zero points in 45 minutes, and he earned a full price rise because of his strong three week and five week averages. I have no idea if it will work like it did in 2018 or not. The algorithm will definitely be new.

That said, you can count on lower cost players increasing in salary more with smaller point outputs and, conversely, you can expect higher cost players managing to dip in salary even with the same point total. Making heads or tails of that will be crucial both to early and long term success, so I’ll try and follow up with what the hive mind and I have managed to deduce between weeks 2 and 3.

The Borrowed:

I’m not going to list a bunch of player picks here. I’d strongly suggest tapping into Older Goaler’s website (above) if you’d like to do your own research, or you can hit me up in the comments below.

That said, you’re crazy if you don’t start your team with Freddy Vargas (5.5 M). Despite being the less touted of the two South American wing imports from this winter, Vargas looks the more acclimated of the duo, has already notched multiple goals and assists, and adds the added benefit of taking at least some of the free kicks and corner kicks (huge for earning attacking bonus points). Vargas offers the combination of a high floor and high ceiling that is unbeatable at this price- he’s simply too cheap to ignore. Consider Vargas your free space to start the year.

The Blue(s):

Ok, this one is a huge stretch I’ll freely admit. Last year was kind of a bummer in general. FC Dallas had some highs and lows, but the lows seemed to sync with the world burping in a way that was depressing to say the least.

We’ve entered the Spring of 2021, and it seems that the midnight hue of recent memory has brightened to something easier on the eye. This iteration of the club looks feisty, the fans are slowly ebbing back in the stands, and now it’s time for the game (per Shatner). May the rising tide raise all of your boats that are actually fantasy teams almost as high as mine.