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MLS Fantasy Rules

Major League Soccer has returned for another exciting campaign and so has the fantasy game. Because of this we bring in our expert and regular contributor @dmpwright. He takes a look at and explains some of the MLS Fantasy rules.

Taking a look at the MLS Fantasy rules can be extremely beneficial. Knowing how players can earn points, what type of structure the game uses and how different it is to other fantasy games is essential before the season starts.

MLS Fantasy 2024

MLS Fantasy is finally back (well, almost)!

I’ve played several different fantasy football games and genuinely believe that MLS Fantasy is one of the most enjoyable and rewarding. This is particularly if you enjoy double gameweeks (of which there are many). With the MLS season running from February to December, MLS Fantasy also dovetails nicely with the FPL offseason and scratches that fantasy itch in the otherwise boring summer months!

The Basics

Besides competing for overall rank and bragging rights in your own mini-leagues, MLS Fantasy also runs an end-of-season Champions League competition. There the top‑scoring 50 managers from each of four in-season qualifying rounds face off against each other. Once qualified for the Champions League, you do not participate in subsequent qualification rounds.

A key feature of MLS Fantasy is that you can make unlimited transfers each round without incurring point penalties. This is essentially like having a ‘Free Hit’ chip every gameweek in FPL. It also means that long term transfer planning is not needed. There are also no chips, which is another key difference compared with other fantasy football games.

Building your squad and starting XI

Like FPL, you have an initial $100 million to build a 15-man squad comprising two goalkeepers, five defenders, five midfielders and three forwards. You can also have a maximum of three players permitted from any one team. There are currently an uneven number of teams in MLS (29 – 26 from the USA and 3 from Canada), which invariably leads to one team being on a bye each round. Watch out for this and other scheduling quirks when building your squad each week.

When it comes to your starting XI, you can line up in any formation providing you play at least one goalkeeper, three defenders, three midfielders and one forward (5-2-3 is therefore not a legal formation in MLS Fantasy, unlike FPL).

If one of your starting XI doesn’t play, the bench player with the highest score will be automatically substituted in irrespective of their position on the bench. This is providing the substitution does not result in an illegal formation. As with other fantasy football games, you select a captain for each round who earns you double points. There is no vice captaincy though, so it’s important you get your captain right!

Rolling lockouts

Another key feature of MLS Fantasy is rolling lockouts. This means a player – including your captain – is not locked in your team until the scheduled kick-off of their game. This is even if the round has already begun (and other games have been played). It is an incredibly useful feature of the game. For example, it allows you to stow players from early games on your bench, if they score well, force them to automatically substitute into your team by replacing one or more of your starters (usually from later games) with a non-playing player.

An engaging point scoring system

The point scoring system in MLS Fantasy is one of the best features of the game. As with other fantasy football games, players can score points for goals, assists and clean sheets, and lose points for yellow/red cards and conceding goals. However, MLS Fantasy also rewards other aspects of gameplay. Bonus points are awarded for various offensive and defensive actions. This includes shots on goal, passing accuracy (at least 85% accuracy across 35 or more passes), crosses, key passes, aerial duals won, defensive clearances and blocks, while accumulation of fouls for/against can also result in point gains/losses. This means that certain roles/players (e.g. ball-playing centre backs) can be very valuable in MLS Fantasy.

Price changes based on player performance

Unlike FPL, where price changes are dictated by market demand, player price in MLS Fantasy is solely based on performance. A player’s round, 3-weekly average and 5‑weekly average performance are all considered when determining price changes, which occur in $0.1 million increments (up to a maximum weekly increase or decrease of $0.5 million) at the start of each new round. Budget building is incredibly important in the early part of the season (at least the first five or six rounds) to ensure you accumulate enough team value to afford premium players in later rounds. However, it’s important to balance early budget building against picking players who will actually score you points.

We are continuing with MLS Fantasy expert team reveals this season. Check out an example of what we released last season right here!

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