MLS Fantasy Doctor, Kei Kamara
USA Today Sports

MLS Fantasy Doctor: Plan ahead or don't be surprised when bye weeks and international duty bite you

The Fantasy Soccer Doctor is in. Write to FantasyDoctor@mlssoccer.com with a screenshot of your team and a summary of your issue.

The pitfalls of MLS Fantasy are varied, and in successive weeks we’ve gotten the two most unavoidable. Fresh off the international break, owners have to deal with four teams (CLB, MTL, NYC, NY) on a bye in Round 5.

So what to do when the Crew have more than a few spots on your lineup? Or when you loaded up on the blue AND red side of New York, only for both to hit byes in the same week? Well, first you curse your poor planning, then you vow not to get burned again.

What solves one problem in the short term can end up creating another problem down the road. Much of MLS Fantasy comes down to schedule awareness. If you transfer in players without checking on their future availability, this can end up happening.

Our letter this week comes from Harrison Crow. He’s painted himself into a bit of a corner and now the bye weeks have caught up with him. Like Wile. E. Coyote, fantasy boulders just keep smashing him over the head.

Dear MLS Fantasy Doctor:

First the international break, now byes are just destroying my team. I’m not attached to anyone, so feel free to make any changes. I’ve been humbled enough to allow you to take over.

This chart, which breaks down how much each point is costing you, ought to help you make some tough decisions. The starting players over a buck are draining funds, while the bench players under a buck deserve a look.

Team Crow
Player Price Points Price (m) per Point
Tyler Deric $5.0m 22 .23
Bobby Burling $4.8m 11 .44
Ethan White $6.5m 15 .43
Hernan Grana $6.5m 17 .38
Baggio Husidic $7.9m 11 .72
Ethan Finlay $8.1m 15 .54
Jose Villarreal $6.3m 25 .25
Lloyd Sam $8.7m 20 .44
Dom Dwyer $10.3m 7 1.47
David Villa $10.2m 16 .64
Fernando Aristeguieta $7.6m 17 .45
Josh Ford $4.0m 0 N/A
Oscar Sorto On loan N/A N/A
Walker Zimmerman $5.5m 1 5.5
Erik Hurtado $7.0m 5 1.4
Rafael Ramos $5.5m 13 .42
Adam Bedell $4.5m 0 N/A
Aaron Kovar $4.5m 2 2.25

Dom Dwyer’s hefty price tag, combined with the bye weeks, is why I’m recommending the wildcard. Your Columbus Crew players have a DGW in Round 6, but both matches are on the road. We’re not going to worry too much about keeping them on board.

The players I’m going to recommend you jettison are Dwyer, Hurtado, Finlay, Grana and Villa. I think keeping Sam will pay off, and why not shed Hurtado for another Vancouver player who might pay off more in the upcoming DGW.

This gives us $42.1 to play with in the transfer market. That’s an average of $8.42 a player, and we have to get two forwards, two midfielders and one defender to purchase. Since we’re bringing Ramos off the bench, you could get away with keeping Grana, but I’ll leave that as player’s choice.

I championed Vancouver’s Octavio Rivero ($8.7m) last week, but with the DGW coming up, he’s pretty much a must-have. Let’s go with Tesho Akindele ($8.1m) as your other forward. Portland away can be a tough place to get points, but it is a place where goals are scored. Dallas gets two home fixtures after that and you can’t argue with their form.

Let’s get our bench defender out of the way. Colorado’s Marc Burch ($5.5m) is a bargain, and that Rapids defense is just shutout city these days. Having a bargain Rapids defender as your autosub is far from the worst idea ever.

This gives us $19.8m to play with for two midfielders, or $9.9m each. That’s enough to grab Fabian Castillo ($9.8m) from FC Dallas and Benny Feilhaber ($9.2m) from Sporting Kansas City. A formidable pair to be sure, but we wanted to grab more Vancouver players to make up some ground in the DGW.

The man you want is Pedro Morales ($11.2m), which leaves us $8.6m to find a second midfielder. FC Dallas’ Victor Ulloa ($6.5m) is an option should you want some free cap room for the the future. In both cases you’re bye free through Round 10, so you shouldn’t face a crisis like this again. Make sure you’re rotating players in with an eye to the upcoming schedule.

Oh, and while you’re making swaps, dump USL-loanee Oscar Sorto. A bunch of the bench fillers have been loaned out on USL stints, so it’s time to clean up and grab some of the remaining rookies who might actually play.

Hope this helps!

The MLS Fantasy Doctor

Fancy yourself a Fantasy Doctor? Give your alternative diagnosis in the comment section below. After all, a second option never hurt.