Fantasy MLS: Avoiding Rookie Mistakes: Part 1

Fantasy MLS: You too could hoist the Cup in 2014 - Jamie Squire

Last year was my first season participating in Fantasy MLS. During the season, resources like’s "Starting Lineup", the "Fantasy Insider" podcast, the Reddit FantasyMLS forums, and FMLS gurus like Ben Jata provided excellent information on how to succeed in FMLS, but there were some aspects of the game that I had to learn on my own... by doing them absolutely wrong. I somehow managed to work my way into the top 50 in overall points for 2013, so I’m here to try and help prevent others from starting out making the same errors that I made. The first one is this:

Mistake #1: Overvaluing forwards early

When drafting your initial team, it’s tempting to load your team up top with goal scorers like Keane, Higuain, and Henry. Last year, over 7,000 FMLS players took on 2012 Golden Boot Winner Chris Wondolowski’s hefty $10.5M season-beginning price tag. Yet, over the first 10 weeks, he only produced 39 points – 3.9 points per match. That’s not a bad haul, but certainly not worth spending over 10% of 2013's starting FMLS budget. Here's a comparison of the average starting fantasy cost for each position of the players that finished with at least 50 overall points for the season:


Early on in FMLS, money is at a premium. It’s mathematically impossible to play a first-choice player in every single spot of the starting XI. The fantasy dollars have to go in where they will get the most bang for the buck. I took a look at all of the players that scored more than 50 total points over the 2013 season, and found some interesting stats:

  • 18 of the top 40 points earners after round five were defenders
  • Only three forwards in the top 40 for total points after five rounds


In 2012 and 2013, defenders were much, much cheaper to purchase than midfielders and forwards. Midfielders still got the job done, but at a higher price. To get a better idea of the fantasy value of defenders in 2013, look at the top players in terms of number of points earned per million fantasy dollars over the first five weeks:


Notice anything missing? The top forward in this category was Robert Earnshaw at 45th place, earning 28 points for his paltry (by forwards’ standards) $7.5M price… a price didn’t stay that low for long. Owners willing to spend the extra few million for five quality defenders reaped the rewards. Michel, Matt Hedges, and Auerlien Collin combined for triple-digit points at a cost of $16M. Earnshaw, Higuain, and Agudelo, the three top-performing forwards of weeks 1-5, combined for only 78 points (28, 26, and 24, respectively), but at the expense of 24.5M fantasy dollars, nearly a quarter of the total starting fantasy budget.

Don’t get me wrong – winning FMLS definitely involves shelling out for the hot forwards that are capable of producing the double-digit bonanzas that we’ve seen from the likes of Camilo, Keane, Di Vaio, and Higuain. Will Bruin, the source of more than a few BCF points lost last season, hung a 19 against DC United in week 11. In the early going, though, I’ll most likely be relying on my defenders and midfielders to produce the bulk of my fantasy points at a discounted price.

Of course, all this is assuming FMLS will have a similar salary structure this year, which I’ve been told may not be the case. If not, it’s still worth making sure to get the most out of the money spent on players in the early rounds. Make sure to compare the players' FMLS salaries against their expected output, and budget accordingly.

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