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Preparing Your Roster for the MLS Fantasy Season

The role of the schedule, dealing with early transfers, philosophies and building your 18-man roster for Round 1.

MLS Fantasy managers will be pinpointing every aspect of their rosters ahead of the March 6 kick-off.
MLS Fantasy managers will be pinpointing every aspect of their rosters ahead of the March 6 kick-off.
Casey Sapio-USA TODAY Sports

The MLS Fantasy season is finally upon us and managers will have two weeks to experiment with their rosters following the release of FMLS this past Thursday before the start of the MLS season on March 6.

My team, the River City Elite, who had a dream start in the first five rounds of its inaugural season last year before tailing off incredibly, enters its second season. They're looking to put up a consistent effort this season as they gun for a top 100 position.

The multiple edits to your line-ups will never feel sufficient enough as you try to find the perfect combination of a starting 11 and competent bench players. We're here to help with that by giving you a few key themes that will hopefully guide your decisions.

Plan Accordingly

The first step to selecting your roster would be to consult the schedule we referred to back in a recent FMLS preview. Before and during the MLS season, the entire league schedule will be your required reading before you make any big moves. That schedule can be found here, thanks to MLS Fantasy Boss.

Preparing your roster specifically from round to round isn't often the best option in FMLS. This can lead you to getting bogged down by transfers in certain rounds because you took too many players in the previous round that are going into bye weeks.

For example, if you look at the schedule, Seattle Sounders, Columbus Crew, Real Salt Lake, and Toronto FC all have week three byes. If you have four combined players from these four teams playing on your roster in week two, you're only going to be able to transfer two of these guys out without taking a transfer penalty. To avoid this, look at the schedule and find a run of fixtures that you like that aren't too affected by bye weeks. If it is, be sure to budget your transfers so that you can afford to make them without taking a hit in the points department.

I plan on taking DC United defender Steve Birnbaum for week one and transferring him out before his week two bye. I currently have Columbus Crew midfielder Tony Tchani and defender Emanuel Pogatetz, so I'm most likely going to skip out on taking any Seattle Sounders because of their shared bye (and the fact they're rather expensive) with the Crew in week three. It's little decisions like these, for example, that can help minimize point penalties and maximize your earnings based on favorable schedules. It's up to you, however, to make the decisions on who you think will perform.

The elusive double game week (DGW, as it is commonly referred to) is one of the big things to regularly prepare for. Proper planning for these weeks where a team has two games in one round can help you pile on the points. Big players who you know are likely to play the entire ninety minutes of both games, coupled with a captaincy (double the points for a specific player) can score big for your squad.

Picking Your Squad

You have $120 million for 18-players, but you want to make sure you have big-hitting players in your line-up that will get you the majority of your points. This is even more important at the start of FMLS in order to get your club off to a good start near the top of the table. This is what a lot of experts and managers are calling the "Studs and Duds" method, which means loading up your starting roster with high-priced players that you know will score big for you while your bench is no more than a youth squad of low-priced players that probably won't see any time on the field.

To get the most value out of your players, MLS Fantasy guru Travi the Rabbi wrote an informative piece on the best points per game total from last year's players based on value that can be found here.

Up front, you have the sure things in guys like Robbie Keane and Frederico Higuain that you could easily build around with cost-efficient and competent players. What adds to the value of guys like Higuain is that he's a set piece taker and will score you easy fantasy points from free kick and penalty conversions. Doing your research in this category can make a massive difference. Finding key, cost-efficient players to surround these superstars can the difference in the overall standings.

Be sure to join Dynamo Theory's Classic and Head-to-Head leagues this season to take on your fellow readers! Go to the leagues tab on the Fantasy MLS site and type in the codes 5680-1513 and 5680-1516 under "Join Private League" after selecting "Join a League".

In a preview before the season begins in less than two weeks, we'll look at increasing the value of your squad while looking at more players that could make a difference in your squad.