By Andy Simmons (@Andysimmons615), staff writer.
Welcome to the very first edition of Andy's Fantasy Corner! Each week, I'll be providing my mediocre insight on the world of MLS fantasy football.
What, that's the correct term, right?
A bit of background on me and fantasy sports. I've been playing fantasy sports since high school, most notably American football and fantasy Premier League. My first year of playing saw some highs (Benny McCarthy) and some lows (Andriy Shevchenko), but it was a notably enjoyable experience overall. Fantasy soccer took a hiatus from my life once I went off to college, but now I'm diving back in with MLS. For some reason, the Speedway crew thought it would be a good idea for me to write about this, so here we are.
A quick 411 on fantasy soccer if you're new: Players get a budget of $125M dollars to fill in 15 slots (Two keepers, five defenders, five midfielders, three forwards). The format is like daily fantasy, where there are no head-to-head matchups. Points are tallied based on a number of factors, including minutes played, assists, goals, clean sheets, recovered balls, clearances, crosses, interceptions, etc. By the same token, points are also deducted for yellow cards, fouls, goals conceded, own goals, etc. Additionally, you can designate one player on your starting 11 to be your captain, who will earn double points.
Pretty straight forward for the most part.
So now, my goal is to help you with building your lineup. Each week, I'll be providing some insight on which players you should avoid and to pick up based on their matchups, as well as reflect on the past week's studs and duds, and highlight last week's highest scoring team in our Speedway Soccer fantasy league (which you should all join).
I can't promise I'll be the Matthew Berry of Speedway Soccer when it comes to my insight, but I'll at least try to be as entertaining.
With that being said, I do have a few early pointers to help you starting out if your week one went poorly (like mine).
1. Start players with value
This seems like an obvious one, but every player's value will see rises and dips throughout the season based on their form. Of course, you'll want to start your studs that you pay big money for (Carlos Vela), but it's also important to keep your eye out for players who have a low cost/high reward price. Finding that gem of a player early on will allow you to save money on your budget and spend big on more high-value players.
2. Choose defenders who get involved in the attack
Left and right fullbacks that get up and down the flanks to provide service into the box are a fantasy treasure trove, and should be adopted by you immediately based on their usually low value and high upside. Following up on that, any center back that has a knack for going forward on set pieces and is an aerial threat should also be considered.
3. Play the matchups when it comes to keepers
Keepers in fantasy soccer are a lot like D/ST units in fantasy football, and by that I mean you should usually play the matchup when it comes to choosing one. Look for keepers who are playing against teams that struggle to put any pressure on goal when making your selections.
4. Monitor the status of your players before the match
I cannot stress this enough because it happened to me the first week, but keep an eye on the health of your players and their status as a starter. Sometimes players are also left out of lineups as a healthy scratch and are preferred as impact players off the bench. Nothing wrong with coming off the bench (we'll get to a prime example from this past week shortly), but I'd rather have a guy who can make plays throughout a longer period of time during the match.
STUDS OF THE WEEK
1. Kyle Duncan, New York Red Bulls (15 points): Perhaps the biggest surprise of the week was the emergence of Duncan, who gave a serious ROI to managers who started the youngster with a goal and two assists. Duncan's value went up a cool million dollars from his original fantasy price ($5), but will still probably be a hot pickup based on this performance.
2. Maximilliano Urruti, Montreal Impact (14 points): We saw an Henry-esque performance from Urruti, as the new Impact boss and Arsenal legend watch his talisman rack up the points with a goal and an assist in 87 minutes of play.
3. Kevin Molino, Minnesota United FC (14 points): Apologies to noted Portland Timbers fan and Speedway colleague John Sloop, but Molino absolutely took the Timbers to the woodshed. The Trinidadian scored twice and also chipped in an assist in 81 minutes of play to get his season off to a flying start.
4. Jordan Morris, Seattle Sounders (12 points): Speaking of coming off the bench, Morris came off the bench for Seattle Sunday against Chicago and flipped the game in the Sounders favor, scoring two goals. Those who were patient with Morris in their week 1 lineup were massively rewarded.
DUDS OF THE WEEK
1. Javier Hernandez, LA Galaxy (2 points): The wildly-hyped debut of Chicharito fell flat on its face, with the Mexican International only recording one total shot in 90 minutes of play. Those who paid a good chunk of their transfer budget to grab Hernandez have to feel discouraged, but a tasty matchup against a shaky Vancouver side awaits this weekend. Feel free to hang on to Hernandez for now, but start to panic if he doesn't deliver the goods Saturday.
2. David Jensen, New York Red Bulls (3 points): Facing last year's worst team, FC Cincinnati, had all the making for Jensen to put up some points and record an easy clean sheet. The new Red Bulls keeper unfortunately had a day to forget, despite his side coming away with the victory. Jensen did record three save to salvage his day.
3. Maxime Chanot, New York City FC (-2 points): Chanot was sent off six minutes into NYCFC's matchup against Columbus Crew, docking a couple of points off team totals who decided his value was worth the matchup. Chanot will now miss this week due to suspension, so he should be avoided for now.
SPEEDWAY SOCCER CLASSIC TEAM OF THE WEEK
James Shockley's team, The Big Green, was the top scoring team in the first week of Speedway Soccer's fantasy league. Shockley's team got an exceptional performance out of his two forwards, captain Carlos Velas and Cristian Pavon, who combined for 27 total points thanks to Vela's captain status. Additionally, two of his defenders, Milton Valenzuela and Eddie Segura, both tallied double-digit fantasy points, giving him an even further boost.
Join the Speedway Soccer Classic with this link, or use code 32Z3CLET to sign up.
PLAY OF THE WEEK
Hany Muhktar, Nashville SC: Call me a shill if you'd like, but I like Muhktar in this matchup against a high-pressing Portland Timbers side that just got gashed by Minnesota United. Look for Muhktar to play some long balls over the top to his speedy wingers to try and break the press with the counter, which could lead to some assists and runs by him in the box for easy finishes.
For more MLS fantasy soccer advice, hit me up on Twitter @Andysimmons615 with your questions.
Cover photo by Casey Gower. Graphic design by Will Mims.