Fantasy Report: The optimal formation for victory

MLS Fantasy Soccer: Jay Demerit

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Formations, formations, formations. Everyone loves to talk formations. Both in real life and in fantasy.

In fantasy soccer, actually, formations are more important even than in real life. They can mean the difference between living large like Bruce Arena or winding up like

So when playing MLS Fantasy Soccer: Manager, which formation is best? The 4-4-2, 3-5-2, 3-4-3 or maybe something unique, like a 5-4-1?

WATCH: DeMerit's diving header wins it

Talking Points

Before we get to the formations, there’s a relevant phenomenon to examine.

As of now, the three players with the highest point totals in FS:M are the Vancouver Whitecaps’ Jay DeMerit (21 points), Colorado Rapids’ Drew Moor (18 points) and Houston Dynamo’s Andrew Hainault (18 points).

Defenders, all! In fact, six of the top seven players in FS:M are defenders. 

The reason is a combination of goals scored (DeMerit, Moor, and Hainault each have one), which are good for six points for defenders, and clean sheets (Vancouver and Houston each have two, Colorado has one), each of which is worth four points.

In the 2011 MLS Campaign, Houston’s Bobby Boswell led all defenders with five goals. Not too shabby — for a defender. It’s important to remember that, despite all his success in front of goal, Boswell was tied with 32nd in the league in goals, and level with 20 forwards and midfielders.

So although defenders seem like the most important players in FS:M right now, things will balance out in the long run.

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Line 'Em Up

The long and the short of it all is that you should not jump on the defenders bandwagon and line up with five along the backline just yet.

The truth is, forwards are the money players. They are the ones who earn you the most points because of the sheer number of offensive opportunities they create. And even though FS:M does well to reward good defenders on good defensive teams, offense still dominates the point system — as it should.

So, for me, the optimal formation is the 3-4-3. It gives you the maximum number of attackers (seven) and forwards (three). That means you should overload financially on better strikers.

The 3-5-2 is a good secondary option, because of the many great midfield attackers in MLS. That group includes D.C.’s Dwayne De Rosario, LA’s Landon Donovan and Sporting KC’s Graham Zusi.

In either scenario, it goes without saying that you should look for relatively inexpensive, attack-minded defenders like Sporting KC’s Chance Myers and Houston’s Corey Ashe. They may not score goals like Boswell or DeMerit, but they feed crosses in and earn assists — which are worth points, too.

The 4-4-2 may be tried and true on the field, but in fantasy, over the long haul, it most likely won’t win you any trophies.

Jimmy Bowers is a former MLS fantasy champion.