The 2015 MLS season is officially starting and the second most important thing that comes with that (you know, besides the soccer) is the return of MLS Fantasy Soccer Manager!
This year, in addition to just having my leagues (*cough*here*cough*also here*cough*) and a “if you build it, they will come” approach, I’ve decided to preview the MLS Fantasy Soccer Manager season with some tips I’ve picked up in the last 4 years of playing the game.
For new managers
If you’re new to MLS Fantasy Soccer Manager, there are a few things to get out of the way that make MLS Fantasy Soccer Manager a little different.
First, you have one team, but you can join a bunch of leagues with that team. This is different than other fantasy sports where your team is in a single league and you drive all your points and attention to that. In those kinds of leagues, if you want to be in multiple leagues, you need to manage multiple teams, and that’s kind of crazy considering how time-consuming managing a single team can be.
The other thing that you often see with those leagues is an initial draft — you draft the players on your team and other players in the game cannot have the same players. In MLS Fantasy Soccer Manager, everyone pulls players from the MLS player pool and multiple teams can have the same players.
There are two types of leagues in MLS Fantasy Soccer Manager — Classic and Head to Head.
In Classic leagues, you’re just trying to get the most points among your peers in the league. You’re judged solely on the basis of points earned from the players you have on the pitch that week.
Head-to-head leagues are (to me) a little more interesting. In head-to-head leagues, you’re matched up with an opponent and your performance in the league is based on your record across all games against all your opponents during the season. In that way, it’s a lot more like playing a real game, because you aren’t just playing against yourself and trying to get the most points. Your record, and performance, is based on how well you do that week against a specific other player. In head-to-head leagues, you have a win/loss/draw record and, while draws are uncommon, they aren’t impossible. Head-to-head leagues can also have playoffs/championships with different amounts of playoff rounds dependent upon how the league was initially set up.
Tips for MLS Fantasy Soccer Manager
Listen to the “experts”. Last year was the first year I was sort of “all in” in Fantasy Soccer Manager. My wife joined and we started really paying attention to the details of how the league works and how to work the league. In this process, we started paying a lot more attention to the blog posts, advice and the Starting Lineup videos on MLSsoccer.com. I’m not going to say that these guys are always right, but knowing what other people are doing, and, in particular, what MLS analysts opinions of players are, can help when you see a pool of hundreds of players and you know about 2% of them.
Use your free transfers. MLS Fantasy Soccer Manager isn’t a “set it and forget it” thing. You don’t just pick your team and then walk away, hoping something good will happen. I mean, you can, but you won’t get very far. You have 2 free transfers every week, as well as a couple wildcards. Free transfers means you can make 2 trades from players on your team for new players to bring in. Use this wisely. You can make more than 2 transfers in a week, but it starts costing you points for that week. Sometimes the player you’re transferring in will make up the difference, but sometimes not. This is especially important when teams have byes for that week. This year, they’ve made it easy by showing you not only the teams that have a bye for the week in each week’s matches, but also what teams have double-game weeks.
Use the DGW. DGW stands for double-game-week and those are the weeks (as shown above) when teams play multiple league matches in a single week. This can often mean double the points if your player starts both games. But it can work against you if the team decides to bench the player for one or the other of those games. You can expect a lot of experienced FSM players to be banking heavily on DGWs, so you should at least look at the options if you want to stay competitive.
FSM on mobile
This year marks the first year that Fantasy Soccer Manager has really gone mobile. Last year, they had a mobile site, but it wasn’t very usable. This year’s FSM is fully responsive and actually has a pretty good UX — I sometimes prefer it to managing my team on the regular site. Anything you can do on the desktop site, you can do on the mobile version.
I have a separate shortcut that takes me to MLS Fantasy Soccer Manager as if it was its own app.
To do this on iOS, while in Safari and on the FSM page, tap the Add to Home Screen button after tapping the share icon. That will give you a new desktop icon just for Fantasy Soccer Manager.
Use the MLS app to your advantage. One trick I learned last year is to use the MLS Matchday app to your benefit. It takes a bit of doing but here’s what you do: once you get the app, set up alerts for lineup announcements for every MLS team. This way, you can make last minute changes to your fantasy team lineup if it turns out that one of your projected starters is going to be benched for the upcoming game. Don’t expect this to be a silver bullet, though. You’re still limited by the players who are available on your bench and those who have already played. And making last minute transfers without a free transfer available can be costly.
The league officially opens up tonight before the LA Galaxy v Chicago Fire game, but if you miss out, it’s not the end of the world. You can always join late, but obviously you’ll be missing out on points you could have scored if you stared at the beginning. However, head-to-head leagues close after the first week (unless configured to start later in the season), so if you miss the boat to join a H2H league, you’re out of luck.
Those are my tips, now here are my links to join the official RSL Diary fantasy soccer leagues!