MLS Fantasy 101: Strategies for success as 2013 MLS season kicks off

MLSsoccer.com continues our multi-part series to help the novice fantasy soccer player get into the game and start playing MLS Fantasy Soccer: Manager, our exclusive season-long fantasy game. Contributor Schuyler Redpath, one of the alltime best MLS fantasy players, will walk you through the game, from the basics of building a team to optimizing your squad selection to creating a league.

Part VII: Strategies for success


Well, the moment we've all been waiting for is finally here. The 2013 MLS season opens on Saturday. It's now or never to get your MLS Fantasy Soccer: Manager team in order.

For the past week or so, we've been going over the basics of FS:M in this Fantasy 101 series. Before you're dismissed, let's review what we've learned:

Part I: Setting up your team * Part II: All about leagues * Part III: The scoring system * Part IV: Substitutions * Part V: Formations * Part VI: Transfers & Deadlines

Now what? Ultimately, that's up to you. You are the manager. You will control how you do. But to help you out, here are some tips that have helped me over the years. While I can't promise you'll be flying to the 2014 MLS All-Star Game, keep these pointers in mind and you will increase your chances to take home some cool MLS prizes.

1. Pick with your head, not your heart | A common mistake in fantasy is to select players from your favorite team even though they won't get you enough fantasy points to win. To be successful, one must become more aware of player potential across the board. Some rounds, this may mean including a player from your club's rival team.

This isn't to say never include players from your club, because if the matchup is favorable, you have valid reasoning. But that's the key: reason. Successful fantasy players are the ones whose passion for their fantasy team trumps their passion for their club. Tough, I know, but it is necessary in ensuring you are maximizing your potential to earn fantasy points.

2. Increase your bankroll with wise transfers | In Fantasy 101 Part VI, we looked at how the transfer system in FS:M works. Another key element to seeing your squad succeed is to increase you bankroll by making transfers at the right time. Player values will increase or decrease based on the popularity of the player in the transfer market. If you sell a player for a higher price than you paid, then a sell-on fee of 50 percent (rounded up to the nearest 0.1 million) will be applied on the profits. For example, if you buy a player for 4.2 million and when you transfer the player their value is 4.6 million then you will receive 4.4 million, earning you a profit of .2 million. It may not seem like a lot, but it adds up over the course of the long season. If you find a "diamond in the rough" and buy him before the masses do, you are setting yourself up for a nice return if you choose to sell him someday. The wiser you are with your moves, the more spending power you will have which will translate into being able to bring in more stars as the season progresses.

3. Take advantage of your digital resources | It's Wednesday night and you've just left the office. Suddenly, it hits you: There are midweek games on the MLS schedule and the transfer deadline is less than an hour away! On top of that you have two starters who were called up for international duty still on your roster. Not to worry. You can fix up your team on a laptop, tablet or mobile device. While I don't encourage "transferring and driving" – you can easily pull off the road or pop into a coffee shop to make the necessary changes. Make sure to check the club injury reports and the Disciplinary Report to see who's out for the upcoming round. Then simply log in to your team and make your moves. This season managers can easily make these changes from their iPhone, Android or other mobile devices by going to ‪m.fantasy.mlssoccer.com . (Bonus hint: Bookmark these links for easy access.) 

4. Digest as much MLS as possible | The best way to familiarize yourself with who's hot and who's not is to digest as much MLS as possible. Obviously, that means watching the games, either on TV or through an MLS LIVE subscription.

Online, check MLSsoccer.com for bits of info such as injuries, international call-ups and disciplinary action. But also check out ESPNFC, NBC's ProSoccerTalk, SB Nation, and Soccer By Ives for good info about the league. Listen to podcasts, including MLSsoccer.com's March to the Match and ExtraTime Radio, NASN's Best Soccer Show, and ESPN's Big Head, Red Head.

Embrace Twitter. Engaging in social media can prove fruitful if you follow the right sources. The MLS Insider (@MLS_Insider), MLS Fantasy (@MLSFantasy) and even MLS players will fill your Twitter feed with useful info. Lastly, watching the games is the ultimate way to keep up with your fantasy players. Just as a good team goes out and scouts their competition, you are essentially doing the same thing in watching matches to determine the next move to make to improve your fantasy team. 

5. Stay the course | Considering the FS:M game runs all the way through the playoffs, culminating with MLS Cup in December, the season can – and will – become grueling at times. Just like it does in real life for the players. For 10 months out of the year, you will experience the ups and downs of being a gaffer. At times, you'll be pleased with your results and will be rewarded by seeing your fantasy team move up the standings. But there will be some bumps in the road along the way. All too often I have seen managers abandon their team altogether after a few rounds gone bad. My advice is to not get discouraged and stay the course. There will inevitably be managers who drop out as the season progresses, so if you can stick it out, you could very well see your team vying for a prize at the end of the season.

OK, that'll do it. Best of luck this season. The last and most important note is this: Have fun. Remember that this is a fantasy game and while you'll feel the pressure of managing a team, at the end of the day your job isn't on the line.

Oh, and don't forget the you still have unlimited free transfers up until the Round 1 deadline (15 minutes before kick off of the first match, or Saturday at 3:45 pm ET).