MLS Fantasy Soccer: Can't decide who to start? Give the Switcheroo a try!

Have you ever had a hard time choosing between two players in MLS Fantasy Soccer? One could have a huge game if he can just shake off that injury, while the other is a steadier performer who’s guaranteed to get you a few points.

What if I was to tell you that there was a way you could hedge your bets and pick the best player between the two – even after the round has started?

It’s a tactic that advanced MLS Fantasy players have been using for a while – the Switcheroo. In this column, we’ll start with a basic description of the Switcheroo, present some scenarios where you might consider using it, and finally we’ll close with some words of caution.

The Switcheroo allows you a measure of control over the players in your lineup. It goes like this: You can’t decide between Player A and Player B. So instead of choosing one for your starting XI, you put Player A as your first sub off the bench and Player B as your second sub. Then, you insert someone who never plays – a Sacrificial Lamb – into your starting XI.

Then, you wait. If Player A has a good game, you do nothing. At the end of the week, Player A moves into your starting lineup as an auto-sub and that’s that. However, if Player A does nothing special, then you turn on manual subs and swap Player B in for your lamb and hope for better luck. That’s it!

Now, a couple provisos: Player A has to play before both Player B and the Lamb or else it doesn’t work. If Player B plays first, then you can’t move him into your XI. And if the lamb’s game is first, you can’t swap him out with Player B.

Ideally, the Sacrificial Lamb will play in the final game of the Round. But if the Lamb ends up playing in that late game and you haven’t manually subbed him, his score will obviously count in your week’s total.

So when would you use the Switcheroo? Maybe you don’t know if a star player is going to be able to overcome an injury. In that case, if it works with the schedule, slot him in as the first player on the bench and see how he does. You can also use it if you just think a player is ripe for a big game, but you’re not sure enough to start him.

Here's an example of how it all works: 

MLS Fantasy Soccer: Can't decide who to start? Give the Switcheroo a try! -

In this case, I've got Houston Dynamo midfielder Zach Steinberger, who isn't likely to play, in my starting lineup. However, FC Dallas are set to play Colorado Friday night (7 pm ET, UniMas) – a matchup I really like – so I'll see how my first sub, Ryan Hollingshead, does in that match. If he scores well, I won't make any changes and the FCD midfielder will be auto-subbed into my team at the end of the weekend.

However, if Hollingshead doesn't perform well, I'll switch to manual subs and swap Jose Villarreal in for Steinberger and hope the Galaxy player can shake off his hamstring injury and contribute. If he doesn't, no worries – I'm still where I would have been originally with Hollingshead auto-subbing into the lineup.

We’ll close with a word of warning. This approach does require some close attention to your squad over the weekend. A Saturday wedding or a Sunday work shift could throw a wrench into your carefully laid plans. I, for instance, had planned to use the Switcheroo last week, but went to Furious 7 on Saturday afternoon instead. As a result, I left Steven Beitashour’s seven points on the bench. (No regrets.)

So that’s the Switcheroo. There’s definitely some debate around whether or not it should be used. In my mind, it’s a completely valid maneuver and top players use it frequently. If you have a tough choice to make and some time to implement it, give it a try!

What do you think -- is the Switcheroo a legitimate move or dirty pool? Will you be employing it this weekend? Discuss in the comments below.