REMINDER: The transfer deadline for Round 35 is tonight at 10:15pm ET!
In professional sports, GMs evaluate players several different ways. But whether or not they decide to pull the trigger on a player is usually based on one simple equation: cost vs. production.
And in MLS Fantasy, the story is no different.
At the beginning of the 2013 MLS season, each player was given a starting value. Some players, mostly second-stringers, were priced as low as $4.0m, while big-name players ran upwards of $10.5m.
These values were primarily based on a player's production the previous year, and in the case of most rookies, potential playing time factored in as well.
For the most part, individual production is unpredictable. You can make an educated guess based on statistics and age or team chemistry and coaching philosophy, but in the end, it's still just a prediction. Injuries, suspensions, managerial changes and playing time are just a few of the things that could potentially affect how well each individual player will perform in the long run. Just ask those people who expected Chris Wondolowski to win the Golden Boot, or Jack McInerney to still be in the MVP race at the end of the season.
With that said, let's take a lot at some of the best buys for the 2013 MLS season.
Price Rise (PR)
An increase in value usually means one thing: production.
A player's value will fluctuate over the course of the season, but as long as they continue to produce, people will continue to buy in. And the more people snap up a player, the more his price will increase.
In a nine-month, 34-game journey, this is easier said than done. Most players go up and down, never exceeding more than $0.1-$0.5m in either direction, but true value pushes beyond that.
As it stands right now, 42 players find themselves on the positive side of the equation. Of those 42, only 15 have increased more than $0.5m (below). Some of them have been popular all season and some just happen to be peaking at the right time, but no matter the circumstance, an overall increase by more than $0.5m is nothing to scoff at. Their point totals prove it.
Mike Magee is without a doubt the most valuable player in all of MLS Fantasy. He started the season as a mid- to low-end attacker at $8.0m and has climbed all the way up to elite status. In fact, only one player costs more than him at this point (Robbie Keane - $11.1m).
Philadelphia's Amobi Okugo had a great year despite being listed as a midfielder in the game. If he had received the four points awarded for a clean sheet (to defenders) as opposed to just one (for midfielders), he'd have 170 total points. This would make Okugo the No. 1 defender and the No. 4 player in all of MLS Fantasy. Fun fact: In 2012, he finished with 104 points at $6.4m.
Other notable players include Clint Irwin and Chris Klute, who had breakout campaigns with the Colorado Rapids. Even teammate Dillon Powers, who just missed the cut ($0.5m increase), had a very solid season. Check out the complete chart here.
All in all, the players listed above have clearly outplayed their initial value. You could argue that a few were underpriced to start, but regardless, these players have produced beyond expectation.
NOTE: Tomorrow we'll take a look at the players who have dropped in value.