Wednesday, March 6, 2013

MLS Fantasy: Week 1

Article by Zach Hall

First off - congratulations to Brad Snook, MLSR reader and current leader of the MLSReserves Fantasy League with 81 points. That lead is small however, with 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place all being within one point of one another. If you haven't joined the MLSR Fantasy League yet, sign up at and enter our league code: 4380-1052 to join in on all the fun.

I admit - I had a decent weekend, but not great. I'm kind of regretting the choice to have functional bench players instead of spending $90m on my starters and then just buying the cheapest players to fill my bench. This upcoming week will be the first week to test players transfer and substitute skills however, as LA, Houston and Seattle all will be participating in Champions League play and won't have a league match. That means the like of Keane, Magee, Davis and Johnson will all need to be sitting on your bench come 1:15PM on Saturday when your team's lineup locks for Round 2.

Let's take a look at Round 1's "Dream Team" and see who the cream of the crop was and if that run will continue.

It was a good week for MLS defenders: four players appear on the league's Dream Team this week: Josh Williams (COL), Omar Gonzalez (LA), Chris Schuler (RSL) and Todd Dunivant (LA). And the top reason why is easy: they all posted shutouts. That's an easy four points/player right there. Williams came up big this week with 14 points because he netted a goal of his own: 6 points. Gonzalez got an assist in LA's rout of the Fire: 3 points.

It's Schuler's points I want to have a closer look at though, because he racked up a huge 4 points with a "defending bonus". A defender gets 1 point for every 6 clearances, blocks or interceptions and 1 point for every 6 recovered balls, so that means that Schuler had a heck of a day against the attacking forces of the Earthquakes. Defending Bonus' are going to be hard to predict and I usually don't try to pick a player based on it - I would rather with a player that is known for getting set piece goals. I would keep an eye on Schuler though. If he keeps putting up multi-point defending bonuses, he might be worth a transfer.

If Sunday's match against the Fire is any indication, Mike Magee is going to be a huge asset for fantasy players. This is because he's listed as a midfielder in fantasy, but he's playing as a forward for the Galaxy. That means he's going to be in a position to score goals (5 points) and be eligible for points for defending as well: 1 point for a shutout, attacking bonuses for positive passes and crosses and he's eligible for those defending bonuses we discussed earlier.

Don't pick up Magee this week though - LA will be playing midweek in a CCL match and you'll just have to bench him. For players who played Magee in Round 1 though, he racked up 18 points. If you had him as your captain, that's 36 points one player tallied - more than half my whole team put up in Round 1.

Graham Zusi (SKC) and Gershon Koffie (WFC) round out the midfield in Round 1's Dream Team. Both scored a goal each, Zusi got extra points from attacking bonuses and Koffie received extra points from defending bonuses.

The forward line is unsurprising: Alvaro Saborio (RSL), Fabian Espindola (NY) and Robbie Keane (LA). I for one didn't anticipate Espindola's scoring prowess to start so quickly and easily for the Red Bulls, especially when playing at JELD-WEN Field, but the Timbers basically gifted the new New York man with two easy goals and he made Portland pay. Saborio's performance was also surprising; I think I may have counted out RSL's "rebuilding" year too quickly.

Just because Kreis and company have shuffled things around for 2013, they seem to be doing it the right way: by plugged players who are built for RSL's system into the pre-existing system. As for Keane - well, I picked him up even though he wouldn't be playing in Round 2. Many believe he's going to be pushing for both the Golden Boot and league MVP in 2013; don't you want him on your team? If you didn't have him for Round 1, don't pick up this week; wait till LA's back from CCL play for Round 3.

Remember - if you haven't joined MLS Reserve's fantasy league, there's still plenty of time to get in on the action. Head to Our league's code: 4380-1052. As always, you can keep up with everything going on at MLSReserves,com by following Luke on Twitter: @MLSReserves and while you're at it, go ahead and give me a follow: @LDGoals.

I'll be back on Friday to tell you what to buy and sell before MLS play continues on Saturday.

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