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Be the Boss: A guide to MLS Fantasy Soccer Manager 2015

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A new MLS season is around the corner, how will your squad stack up against the thousands of other managers vying for MLS Fantasy glory?

Major League Soccer

The 2015 MLS season is nearly here. And aside from the whole Collective Bargaining Agreement detente expiring in two weeks’ time and threatening a work stoppage, we can still get excited and plan our MLS Fantasy Soccer Manager squads.

This year’s website at fantasy.mlssoccer.com is all-new, streamlined, and easier to navigate through player information to help you bring consistent, productive players into your squad. The mobile site is also improved, and while the rest of us die-hard fantasy managers are waiting on a fantasy manager mobile app, the new mobile site will have to do for now.

New for 2015

One of the biggest changes to this year’s MLS Fantasy Soccer Manager is how the transfer market handles in-demand and high performing players. In previous years, if a player was in high demand and was being transferred in at a high rate by fantasy managers that, in turn, hiked up the price of the player.

See (for example) 2014 Houston Dynamo defender David Horst. He started out the season at $5.5m, but ended the season at $7.0m after a pretty dominant year. His price didn’t go up so much because of his form, but because his form was causing a lot of fantasy managers to pick him up, therefore driving up the price. In other words, the fantasy market was driven by the fantasy market, not by player form.

This year’s process will be different. A player’s price will fluctuate based on form, so if you’ve got a player on your squad that’s been performing fairly average for his price range, then suddenly explodes the next week with high points, his value will increase. Which means managers can decide whether to ride the wave of good fortune, or cash that player in for a higher priced commodity within the league.

Selecting your squad

There’s a lot of information to consider when selecting your squad. You’ve somehow got to make $120m stretch across 18 players, which is by no means an easy feat. And if you think your 18 will all be superstars, you’ll get half way through your roster and realize you’ve run out of cash. You’ve got to have a balance of MLS Top XI players and some lower-priced but consistent producers. Part of the beauty of fantasy soccer is making your money work for you, and there will be no greater joy than having a low priced, risky acquisition pay dividends throughout the season because you gave him a shot and he delivered.

The best way to decide on whether a player is right for your squad is to look at last season’s production. Minutes played and total points is a good indicator of what you might be getting, but it’s by no means the be-all-end-all for fantasy manager success.

Here’s one example that I’ve used in building my squad: last season I had Red Bull New York striker Bradley Wright-Phillips on my squad, and he was my permanent captain. He had a great season and would naturally be top pick for any manager going into the 2015 season. However, you’ve got to consider the changes to BWP’s Red Bull squad. No more Thierry Henry, meaning that BWP won’t have Henry’s 10 goals and 10 assists to help his production. Gone as well is Tim Cahill, and with two major pieces to the Red Bull attack gone, the majority of the attacking load will be placed on Wright-Phillips’ shoulders. Not having two of the best attackers in the league around him may make it difficult for him to produce. I’m going out on a limb in saying this, but I’d not be surprised if BWP has a so-so year. It’ll be a far cry from his dominance the last two seasons.

Assessing risk

Because you’ll want some big name players on your squad, you’ll need to balance that out with less expensive players. Midfielder Nick Besler, younger brother of SKC defender Matt Besler was a top prospect in the 2015 SuperDraft and was picked up by the Portland Timbers. Because the Timbers are a stacked squad, it may take some time for young Besler to get on the field. But he’s a promising young player at a low buy price. You can’t go wrong for $4.5m. And who knows, he may be this year’s Harry Shipp who this year is at a $7.5m asking price and will likely be the first man off the bench for the Chicago Fire in 2015. Besler is low risk with a good potential upside. A riskier option would be Dynamo homegrown Memo Rodriguez who is priced at a measly $4.0m, but is unlikely to see any consistent playing time. But he’s selected by 21% of all fantasy managers because of his low cap hit and he’s another body to fill out your bench.

How is your squad turning out? Are you struggling to find the balance between a top players and considerably priced producers? How does the formation you’re choosing to play drive the type of roster you’re building?

And if you’re looking for a league to join, jump in to our Hot Time In Old Town classic league. Entry code to join is 2424-808.

Best of luck as you chase down fantasy soccer greatness!