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Fantasy Focus: 2020 Season Primer

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Ch-ch-ch-changes

SOCCER: AUG 04 MLS - Philadelphia Union at DC United Photo by Tony Quinn/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

We’re just days from the 2020 MLS opener, and that means it’s time again for Fantasy MLS. As usual. we have two leagues for you to join: the classic league, and the head-to-head league. Go ahead and join them. I’ll wait here.

Now that you’ve joined, let’s look at the changes for the 2020 season, taken directly from the game rules.

Removal of the Spring/Fall season: MLS Fantasy is now one full season.

Fantasy Champions League: The Fantasy Champions League will consist of the 200 best managers from the season. You can qualify for the Fantasy Champions League by finishing in the top 50 of one of the four qualifiers.

Team Value: Your team value is set at $125M and will not change throughout the season. Player prices will still fluctuate so make sure to keep the total value of team at $125 or less each week to receive points.

Double Game Weeks: Both scores from double game weeks will no longer count. Instead, the best score will count.

Firstly, I support the elimination of the separate Spring and Fall seasons. It was needless to have potentially two champions in one year with no ultimate champion. Meanwhile, the Fantasy Champions League is cool conceptually I guess, but there’s no clear indication of what it actually is. Is it a head-to-head setup? Are there groups like actual Champions League? All we’re shown is how to qualify.

Now we get to the part where I don’t know what they’re doing with the game. At the start, the $125M value makes it possible to add the most expensive starting 11, fill your bench with $4.0M guys, and still have money leftover. Further, and most crucially, eliminating changes in team value is nonsensical. There’s no longer true value in finding sleepers who will outperform their initial valuation. Identifying sleepers is a skill that not all players have, and there’s no apparent reason for essentially eliminating it completely. The last thing there is another head-scratcher: double game weeks (DGW). With few exceptions, every MLS player can play no more than 34 games. This change is crazy to me because 1) you’re not necessarily getting 34 games of scoring from each player, and, more importantly, 2) players from some teams are now effectively playing more games than others. Why should a team that chooses Atlanta players only get points for 29 of those games after Atlanta plays five DGWs? Do you want to pick LAFC players? You get one fewer scoring game because LAFC has six DGWs. Yes, DGWs are important to scoring, but it’s not as simple as picking a team full of DGW guys and racking up the points. A fantasy player has to still pick the right players, and a lot of DGW guys get outscored by single game guys.

There’s one other thing mentioned in the changes that has implied meaning but isn’t explicitly stated. Under team value it says “player prices will still fluctuate so make sure to keep the total value of team at $125 or less each week to receive points.” It suggests to me that player prices fluctuating will affect the value of your team, and it’s on you to make sure the value doesn’t go over $125. More specifically, if your team value is at exactly $125M, and one of those guys goes up in value, you’re suddenly over the budget and you need to make changes. It’s not explicitly stated that that is the case, and I really hope it’s not.

Okay, enough about the bad stuff. Who do I like to start the season?

Goalkeepers:

Bill Hamid (DCU, $6.0) vs. Colorado
Brad Guzan (ATL, $6.0) @ Nashville
Kenneth Vermeer (LA, $6.0) vs. Miami

Defenders:

Jorge Moreira (POR, $6.0) vs. Minnesota
Frederic Brillant (DCU, $6.0) vs. Colorado
Aaron Long (NYR, $6.5) vs. Cincinnati

Midfielders:

Carles Gil (NE, $11.0) @ Montreal
Eduard Atuesta (LA, $10.5) vs. Miami
Maxi Moralez (NY, $11.0) @ Columbus

Forwards:

Carlos Vela (LA, $13.0), vs. Miami
Josef Martinez (ATL, $11.5) @ Nashville
Gustavo Bou (NE, $10.5) @ Montreal

Now go thee forth and conquer, unless we’re playing each other in the head-to-head. Good luck!