Fantasy Soccer Doctor: Why following the rules isn't always your best bet for week-to-week success

The Fantasy Soccer Doctor is in. Write to with a link to your team and a summary of your issue.

MLS is back and everything is good again. The rash of clean sheets in Round 1 proved opponents are just as important as the individuals in your XI, the Sounders displayed just how potent they’ll be this season (again), and those of you who were savvy enough to Galaxy ‘keeper Brian Rowe at the transfer deadline taught everyone else a valuable lesson.

For breaking news, be sure to use the MLS app for lineup announcements and monitor the Injury Report or Twitter to keep track of possible scratches. Otherwise you could be stuck starting Demar Phillips even though you Googled him and saw nothing to suggest he might miss Round 1. That happened to a friend of mine.

Anyhow, the doctor is in ladies and gentlemen. Let’s get down to the nitty gritty; only five cents!


This week's letter comes from Quinn Hovey, who wonders if these fantasy rules are too harsh.

Dear Fantasy Doctor,

As I set out to build a roster, I slowly came up with a few rules that I must adhere to when building a starting XI. Now I'm having second thoughts. Am I being too strict with myself?

1) For the initial roster, no player may have a bye week in the first 3 weeks. I want the starting 11 to mature and hopefully raise in transfer value.

2) A Defender must never play against an attacker. Best-case scenario is that the attackers all score a bunch of goals and the defenders get shutouts.

3) No more than 2 players on the same team may start together, and never in the same position. Don't let your own teammates steal points from each other.

4) Focus on team match ups more than individual skill. Try to identify the weaker defenses and attacks a pick up their opponents.

Here's my team for reference:

Dear Quinn,

In a general sense, I’m a fan of rules. Forwards could just cherry pick out all game without them, and no one would care where your prepositions are at. That last phrase was painful to write, but it proves my point. Rules matter.

Your rules get to the heart of some basic principles of MLS Fantasy Soccer. Players who don’t play won’t score any points. Points are a limited resource, and the potential for points often has more to do with opposition than managerial decisions alone.

By following your admittedly strict rules, you collected 46 points for Round 1, a respectable score yet below the round average. The rules kept you from adding any Sounders to your team since they have a third-week bye, and Seattle ended up with three players on the Round 1 dream team. That hurt.

Defenders were the name of the game as well, with clean sheets there for the taking. You got one from Raymon Gaddis, but your defenders with attacking potential let you down. The question you've got to ask yourself ahead of Round 2 is whether we're in for another round light on goals.

If you’re on #TeamGoalDrought and want to stick to your rules, you could use a free transfer to swap out Brek Shea for a Raul Rodriguez or a dream team member in Moises Hernandez. All three have a not-so-favorable fixture coming up, but two out of three ain’t bad.

Your other big point scorers were Benny Feilhaber and Blas Perez, who face each other in Round 2. Here’s where I think you should treat your rules more like guidelines. Seattle’s Gonzalo Pineda is a like-for-like swap with LA’s Juninho, but the Sounders have a much more favorable Round 2 matchup. It would lock you into another transfer next round, but we all saw how comfortable the Sounders were at home to start the season (and it might also encourage you to develop at least one bench option in order to hang on to Pineda).

Hope this helps,

The MLS Fantasy Doctor