Fantasy advice is like Mr. Toad with the motorcar: He knew where to get it, but danged if he knew how to use it.
We've all been there when that fantasy home run ends up earning one point over an entire month. Or when you just don't know whether the time is right to use your wildcard. Or when your gut tells you to sell, but it's been oh so wrong before.
These are just a few of the common ailments that afflict most fantasy owners at some point or another over the course of a season, and they're what the MLS Fantasy Doctor will attempt to address – and perhaps even cure.
- FANTASY SOCCER 101: Your entry-level course to becoming a master
I've been an MLS Fantasy player for two seasons, running a league both years. I have never won any of my leagues, nor would I claim to be an expert. In medical terms, I'm a general practioner coming off my residency.
What I'm here to do is to take your questions, apply my gaming experience, tap into an expert or two – even doctors get referrals – and try to get us all through this occasionally maddening diversion with a prescription or two and a little advice.
- Fantasy Boss: Who are the top dawgs, bargains and old reliables?
Is this your first time playing MLS Fantasy? Then I'll bet dollars to doughnuts that you've quickly realized how fast that budget will dry up once you've added Michael Bradley, Graham Zusi, and Jozy Altidore. Or maybe you've picked up the most expensive defenders, since they aren't too pricey, only to realize that now every starting forward in the league is out of your price range.
Like in life, a doctor is nothing without patients, so if you think your fantasy team could use a trip to the physician, feel free to send us a link to your team with a brief summary of your issue to FantasyDoctor@mlssoccer.com.
Our first ailing patient is Ariel Pearson, who is having issues choosing her initial squad.
Dear Fantasy Soccer Doctor,
I tried to keep my squad balanced by going Even Steven across the board. Every player is within a dollar of $6.5, which meant I didn't run out of money.
I have a new problem: none of my forwards were better than 100 points last season, and my midfield isn't that great either.
Where do I need to splurge, and where should I cut back?
The seven-dollar zone can look like a "remember when" section. It's full of players with enough name recognition for you to click the add button hopefully, but none that are likely to be world beaters come 2015. The key is finding the up and comers at this level, like Diego Fagundez of the New England Revolution circa 2013. When you start splashing your budget on Dominic Oduro and CJ Sapong, you're paying for name recognition with a big, fat question mark next to expected output.
Backup defenders and your backup keeper are the first place to go cheap. The 3-5-2 is currently the fantasy soccer darling, so barring injury you should be able to get away with four market-price defenders and some non-starters. Go with a starting goalkeeper who doesn't have national-team duties, and that should serve you at least until the first universal wildcard.
Take the savings and get yourself a pair of nice forwards, but there's still room to be practical. A healthy version of Mike Magee is a potential steal – make sure his real doctors give him the go ahead first, though – and going with Gyasi Zardes over someone like Obafemi Martins is a couple of bucks to bulk up your midfield. Forwards are where you'll get your big point jumps throughout the year, but make sure you've got a couple key-pass creating midfielders so your head-to-head leagues don't suffer either.