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Identifying statistical trends and bonus point phenoms early | MLS Fantasy Advice

At the beginning of every season, we come across new trends for both players and teams. Coaches implement different styles, formations change, players swap positions and so on.

After just three weeks, it's still fairly early to put a clear label on any of this, but that doesn't mean we can't take away something meaningful from it.

Identifying trends and taking advantage of them are two different things. A lot of people may recognize certain developments, but they don't act on it. I'm here to tell you that you should.

Last year, we saw several trends that started early on, last throughout the entire 2013 season. Some came to a halt, of course, but others others didn't. Making the decision to act on these trends sooner rather than later could be the difference between finishing 700th and ending the year in the top 50.

Here are some early trends that I've noticed so far.

CBIs - Clearances, blocks and interceptions combined

  Player Pos GP Selected Price Total Score CBIs
Chicago Fire Bakary Soumare DEF 3 0.7% $8.0 13 54
FC Dallas Matt Hedges DEF 3 5.3% $8.5 19 44
Portland Timbers Norberto Paparatto DEF 2 2.1% $8.0 11 44
Chivas USA Carlos Bocanegra DEF 3 4.2% $7.0 11 38
Real Salt Lake Nat Borchers DEF 2 2.1% $9.0 13 37

In the table above, you can see that Soumare is out to a pretty favorable lead in CBIs (54), yet he's still only owned by less than one percent of owners. Why?

Soumare is averaging 18 CBIs per game, which equates to an additional three bonus points – since six of them equals one point. Only Paparatto is averaging more: 22 per game.

Last year's MLS Defender of the Year, José Gonçalves, is averaging 17.5 CBIs per game.

So why are Hedges, Bocanegra and Borchers all owned by more people than Soumare? Sure Hedges and Borchers will score the occasional goal or two, but they both cost more.

Are Real Salt Lake and FC Dallas more inclined to get shutouts? Maybe. But if you're not earning that ever-so-important clean sheet, going with Soumare is clearly the better choice for now. Heck, Borchers has a clean sheet – Soumare doesn't, yet the Chicago center back still has the same amount of points.

Key Passes

  Player Pos GP Selected Price Total Score Key Passes
Portland Timbers Darlington Nagbe MID 3 13.7% $9.4 7 9
Sporting Kansas City Benny Feilhaber MID 3 5.4% $8.0 17 9
Chivas USA Mauro Rosales MID 3 23.3% $7.9 23 8
Houston Dynamo Brad Davis MID 2 2.0% $10.8 12 8
Montreal Impact Justin Mapp MID 3 1.2% $8.5 13 8

Last season players like Federico Higuain and Graham Zusi were atop the leaderboard when it came to key passes, but this season we've seen a slight shift.

Nagbe and Feilhaber lead the league with nine each while seven others are tied for second with eight apiece. Not listed are Joao Plata, Shea Salinas, Michael Bradley and Pedro Morales.

Of course, it's still early in the year and things will likely change, but these players have made a good case as to why they should be on your team right now.

Crosses

  Player Pos GP Selected Price Total Score Crosses
San Jose Earthquakes Shea Salinas MID 2 4.7% $7.6 14 11
Chivas USA Mauro Rosales MID 3 23.1% $7.9 22 8

Crosses are also important when it comes to attacking bonus points and the players above are leading the way after the first three weeks. Four players are tied with seven: Landon Donovan, Chris Tierney, Graham Zusi and Harrison Shipp.

Like I said before, some of these players will fade over time while others will remain at the top for the long haul. Your job: Find out who the real deal is and add them to your team ASAP!


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