Fantasy Major League Soccer

Getting started with Fantasy MLS

With great excitement we look forward to the start of the MLS season next month. Given this week’s hiatus while we wait for FA Cup to reap its damage on blank game week 28, there is no better time to make your first MLS team. So this article is aimed at FPL Managers who have yet to play MLS. We will arm you with the background you need to know to manage and run your first team.

How does FMLS differ from FPL?

Similar to FPL, you have 100m in imaginary money to spend on players. You must buy 15 players to make a squad, two goal keepers, 5 defenders, 5 midfielders, and 3 strikers. Of the players you pick, no more than 4 can come from the same football club.

In each of the 33 game weeks you must choose your first 11 players for the pitch. There must be one goalkeeper, a minimum of 3 defenders and a minimum of 1 striker. You also select a captain who’s game week score is doubled. If one of your players does not play, then a new player is auto-subbed from the bench, within the formation rules. All familiar stuff so far, so to break you in gently, the first change is that there is no Vice Captain.

Sticking to the differences that won’t give you a heart attack, there are more blank game weeks and double game weeks, and you can’t set up your team until 9am on the day after the game week has closed.

The point scoring is slightly different, mainly around passing bonuses and defensive duties. However, it remains that the players who keep clean sheets or contribute towards goals get the most points. A good defender will pick up around 8 points and a good striker around 7. An excellent midfielder will score between 5 and 9 depending on if they score.

The first “Whooah there trigger” difference between FMLS and FPL is that in FMLS is you can move a bench player into your first 11 AFTER the game week deadline has passed! So if you hear the team line ups and one of your players does not play, then you can manually swap them out. The rules around these manual substitutions are simple. As long as either player’s kick off time has not passed, you can swap a player. For example, you can replace any player whose team has not played, with one from your bench whose team is yet to play. You can even swap your captain if he has not yet played, and as long as the new captain has not yet played!

However, and this is huge, if you do manually shuffle your team around after the game week deadline, then auto-subs is switched off. So why do it? Let’s say you have a superstar striker, like Zlatan, who is coming back from injury. You think they might play, but what you don’t want is for them to come on from the bench. Moreover, your first sub on the bench is not the player you would choose instead of Zlatan. Let’s say it is Pieters of Stoke with Defoe second. Well you can put Zlatan into your first 11, and if 30 minutes before kick off the Manager gives a pre-match interview saying “Zlatan won’t start today, but if we are winning then I’ll stretch his legs near the end of the game”, well you can quick swap Zlatan with Defoe. Problem solved.

So the logic and use of the manual sub is great. The downside is once you invoke it for the game week, you have to monitor all of the games in order to make sure your remaining players also play.

The final huge difference is that each week FMLS gives us unlimited transfers. Yes you can change all 15 players in your squad. This sounds great and will be super handy when a player gets injured two days before kick off. I expect this to also test our resolve on the gameweeks when a fixture could go either way. The biggest consideration of unlimited transfers is the impact of price changes.

In FMLS a player’s price does not change based on the number of people who buy or sell the player. Instead it is based on if their game week score “significantly differs” from the average match score of other players in the same position. This average score is calculated on a round basis and only includes players who played at least 45 minutes. Now price rises are easy to work out, because the algorythm is published:

  • 6 or more above $0.2
  • 3 to 5 above $0.1
  • 3 to 4 below -$0.1
  • 5 or more below -$0.2

…but all price changes are applied before the next game week opens (hence the delay).

This has a huge impact on the free transfers, because it is very possible that you sell a player, they have a bumper game week, and you then can’t afford to buy them back. This is what I mean when I say the unlimited transfers will test our resolve.

In our next article, we will take a look at some players and make suggestions for who should be in your first team.


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Site founder, first used stats to try to win his work mini-league. Now helps other managers win theirs.

21 thoughts on “Getting started with Fantasy MLS

  1. Embrace the “switcheroo”
    Thanks to the introduction of unlimited transfers, the switcheroo is easier than ever. The idea is simple, but requires you have a good bench. Player A is a cheap non-player, Player B is a bench player with an early game, Player C is a bench player with a late game.
    You put Player A in your starting lineup and set Player B to be your first bench sub. If Player B has a great game, congrats, just wait for the auto-sub to happen. If Player B flops, then you still have time to manual-sub in Player C.
    It’s a risky tactic that requires a little bit of planning, but it allows you to hedge your bets and could net you the few extra points you need to edge your competition.

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