Everything you need to know to play this market-based fantasy game is in those three little words: Buy, Hold, Sell. You're not just keeping tabs on MLS players' performances. You're outguessing the competition. And with only 12 games in the books so far this season, everything is a guessing game.
Throughout the season we'll be taking a look at the movement through the MLS fantasy game market. Of course, we play the MLS Fantasy Challenge, but hopefully these recommendations to Buy, Hold and Sell will help you win whatever game you're playing.
First of many disclaimers: Remember, a "SELL" doesn't mean the player isn't any good. No one said fantasy value was purely based on skill, and it's not a player's fault if those of us sitting on our sofas eating cookie dough are overestimating that value.
Off we go ...
Todd Dunivant, DF, San Jose: Sometimes, we think we know things no one else knows. And we're quite impressed with ourselves. It could be the "fact" that The Monkees didn't play their own instruments, which is only partially true, or it could be the tedious guys who think Saturday Night Live peaked in the Belushi-Aykroyd years.
In this case, your fellow fantasy players are convinced that they're onto a big secret with Dunivant. Last year, they were. He started for one of the top defenses in the league, and his scoring output was surprising, especially early.
But he lost his starting spot for the playoffs. This year, he's battling injury and a deeper collection of defenders. Yet he's still second on the salary list for defenders at $332,000. SELL
Chad Marshall, DF, Columbus: The rookie missed the first game with an injury but started Saturday. He's also moving forward on set pieces, so he might get some scoring chances. The Crew defense is under renovation, but my hunch is they put it together. He's only $110,000. BUY
DaMarcus Beasley, MD, Chicago: In the international transfer market, he might command the highest price. But he shouldn't do so here, especially not with the Fire's offense dozing off. Chicago will eventually get in gear, but even then, $451,000 is too high for a guy whose ball-winning and foul-drawing skills don't count in the fantasy game. SELL
Preki, MD, Kansas City: Hello? He's hurt, and he's still pulling $410,000? SELL
Ronnie O'Brien, MD, Dallas: The Burn might not have such a good week every week, but the good news is that O'Brien (right) seems to have shaken off last year's catastrophic injury. His current price of $210,000 is reasonable. HOLD
Arturo Alvarez, MD, San Jose: He might be battling for time, especially with Chris Brown's move to the Bay Area, but $117,000 is a bargain even if he just comes off the bench the way he did against New England. BUY
Brian Ching, FW, San Jose: For $92,000? BUY
Davy Arnaud, FW, Kansas City: He's holding off Matt Taylor for now, and he's available at $173,000. HOLD
Erick Scott, FW, Columbus: Say you have $500,000 to spend on two players. You could get two $250,000 players. Or you could get a big-time scorer like Colorado's John Spencer ($401,000) and pay the minimum for this guy, who is coming off Columbus' bench but terrifies most defenders in the CONCACAF domain. BUY
Hold your horses: A look at players whose appearance on Sunday's "Price Movers" page suggests a rush of blood to the head ...
Fabian Taylor, FW, MetroStars (+100,000 to $245,000): It's tough to argue with a two-goal game, but the Metros are still working a couple of players into the lineup, and the offense might be spread around this year. SELL
Scott Garlick, GK, Dallas (+25,000 to $228,000): Maybe I'm the last one to be sold on the Burn this year. That price just looks awfully high for just one good game. SELL, but you never should've paid the asking price in the first place.
Antonio de la Torre, DF, Colorado (+23,000 to $152,000): Yes, that was a cheeky effort with that long-range free kick that clanged off Kevin Hartman's crossbar. Now consider which is more likely: (A) He'll score two or three goals along those lines this year. (B) Every goalkeeper in the league saw that highlight and will stay a little closer to the net when de la Torre lines up a free kick. Remember: No points for pretty near-misses. HOLD
Hong Myung-Bo, DF, Los Angeles (-25,000 to $131,000): Has he lost his starting spot for good? If not, you'll still have a defender on one of the top defenses on the league. HOLD
Eric Quill, MD, Dallas (-13,000 to $105,000): I'm confused. Everyone flocks to grab Garlick after the Burn's win, but two-game starter Quill is drifting along at third-string forward prices? (Disclaimer: Quill is a proud member of Dure's Donkeys.) BUY
Beau Dure covers soccer for USATODAY.com, and will look at the fantasy futures markets every other week for MLSnet.com.