One of the best things about the NFL football season is the weekly ritual of gathering friends, coworkers, family or all of the above into a fantasy football league. It makes watching the games much more fun, particularly the games that the Cowboys aren’t playing in; it gives you a reason to care about other games, or at least the performance of specific players. There simply aren’t many things in life quite as satisfying as telling your loudmouth trash-talking coworker to eat it because you started Arian Foster and he ran for 220 yards and 3 TDs that day while he or she, unfortunately, started the wrong Panthers back and got 14 yards and a fumble.
I have played in (and dominated) numerous fantasy baseball, basketball and even hockey leagues, so I know from first hand experience that playing fantasy sports can significantly increase your enjoyment of any sport. Playing fantasy sports also gives you a more nuanced understanding of the league, the players and the rules of each individual sport. For example, everyone knows that guys like Kobe Bryant and Kevin Durant are elite players in the NBA, but only seasoned fantasy league players appreciate the monster season Kevin Love is having, particularly compared to where he was drafted in most fantasy basketball leagues. So with all of those thoughts in mind, I’ve decided to start playing Major League Soccer’s Fantasy Soccer Manager and challenge each and every one of you to come enjoy the honor of me kicking your tail. I’m so confident of winning that I’ll even tell you exactly who I picked for my squad.
First off, I went here to begin setting up my team (just in case anybody is wondering, no, MLS is not paying me to talk up their fantasy soccer game. It’s free, so that would be a bit ridiculous. But, they are welcome to if they feel compelled to do so). Every fantasy league veteran knows that one of the most vital aspects of a successful fantasy season is picking a clever name for your team. I’ve decided to be “Brek Shea’s Mullet” in honor of our local soccer star.
The MLS game is not a draft-and-keep style fantasy league, rather you are given an imaginary salary cap of $100 and a roster of 15 slots to fill with two goalkeepers, five defenders, five midfielders and three forwards (some of which will be designated subs). You can keep the same players week-to-week if you want, or trade them out based on form, opposition, cost, etc.
In fantasy games with a salary cap, I usually like to fill in a couple of key positions with higher-priced, reliable stars first. So right away forward Thierry Henry ($10.8) of Red Bull New York and midfielder Dwayne De Rosario ($10.9) of DC United are on my roster as both have been in excellent form. Next I go for some defensive help and select FC Dallas’ Zach Lloyd ($6.5) and Ugo Ihemelu ($7.5) as they have a very favorable matchup against expansion Montreal. Then I say, “screw it” and go all-in with the Toros’ defense and add Kevin Hartman ($6.5) for my 1st keeper (which of course means that FCD will give up 4 goals against the Impact).
Five players selected, and I’m already down to $57.8 available to select ten more players, so I need (quite) a few bargains (quick aside: this reminds me of shopping with my wife). I change my sort options to show me only the players with a value of $5.0 or less and start to look for my blue-light specials. Welcome to the team, GK Ryan Meara of Red Bull New York ($5.0), defender Marc Burch of Seattle Sounders ($4.9) and midfielder Peter Vagenas of Chivas USA ($5.0). A few more shrewd bargain-bin selections and I have my goalkeepers, defense and midfield complete with $16.6 left for my last two forwards. I round out my squad with Toronto’s Ryan Johnson and Chivas USA’s Alejandro Moreno, whose teams are facing each other on Saturday. Quite suddenly, that otherwise completely uninteresting matchup has become the second most intriguing game of the weekend for me.
Here comes the fun part. You think you are some kind of fantasy sports stud? Well come and prove it. I created a league called “SportDFW”. The code is “12778-2070”. I know without a doubt that I can destroy any and all of you on the leaderboard and particularly in the forums. If you are saying, “B-B-B, I don’t know MLS!!”, well that’s not my problem, nancy-boy. I played in a fantasy hockey league when I barely knew what a blue line was, and I still trash-talked that league into submission. I dare you to come and try and shut me up.