The sport itself has experienced a rebirth of sorts in the last few years, especially as it has started to gain more mainstream acceptance not just around the world, but also in the United States, where it has really began to take off with the success of the Women’s World Cup soccer teams and of course the growth of Major League Soccer (MLS).
And thanks to networks like Fox Sports and ESPN, the sport is finally being broadcast to audiences everywhere and gaining a head of steam with younger fans. This is also something daily fantasy sites have taken notice of and they’ve really began ramping up their game selection to accommodate soccer fans.
And while soccer is possibly the furthest away from all other sports in terms of strategy, you still need to play in a manner completely different than that of more mainstream sports like NFL and MLB. That is why many try and fail in soccer DFS when transferring over from another sport, so hopefully this article will help you out when you dip your toe into the soccer DFS water.
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1. The best players don’t always score the most points
Unlike most other DFS sports, a soccer player can have a great game and still score very little points. In sports like football or basketball, players are rewarded for pretty much every good piece of play they do. For example, NFL players gain points for every yard, every catch, almost every good participation they have in the game. In soccer, however, this isn’t the case.
A player can run the game and put in a man of the match performance and be the lowest scorer on the team. Players earn points for scoring or assisting in goals, putting in crosses, being fouled etc. So you can easily have a centre midfielder put in a great performance, but be heavily out scored by a winger who delivered 8 failed crosses and got hauled off at half time.
It may sound strange, but the best players aren’t always the best fantasy players. It is a big mistake players make when starting out, blinding picking the players they know to be good, to be disappointed when they find they haven’t scored them many fantasy points.
Researching the scoring system of the site you play on and then researching the stats of players will really help you figure out the valuable fantasy players out there.
2. You don’t need to spend every penny
This is a universal tip for DFS players, not just for soccer. It’s a problem every player will have had at some point, you’ve drafted your line up only to find you have a few hundred or thousand bucks left over.
Most players instinct is to instantly try and spend that money and find more expensive players to replace some of their current line up. This, 9 times out of 10, is always a bad idea. Pick the players you believe will score you the most points, regardless of their price or the amount of money you have left.
3. Centre Backs and Centre Mids are usually best left alone
When picking defenders and midfielders, wide players are usually best. No matter how important centre backs and centre mids are in football, it just doesn’t often translate over to fantasy sports. Centre backs can commonly end a game south of 5 points, whereas their full back colleagues can easily put in 10+ point games.
Centre midfielders aren’t always as bad, but because of the point awarded for each cross, wingers often are the best option.
4. The all-important goalkeeper
I, for one, think the goalkeeping position in DFS is highly important. It is typically the lowest priced position, but can have a huge swing in terms of points from player to player. A keeper can cost $100 less than another, but out score them by 25 points. Of course, that can happen in any position, but generally starting goalkeepers are all priced within around $1000 of each other. A huge swing like that can have a massively positive or negative effect on where you end up on the leaderboard.
Most importantly, you have to pick a keeper you feel will be on the winning side come full time. In an ever increasingly inconsistent Premier League, it’s sometimes very hard to find a match some weeks where you can be confident that a team will keep a clean sheet. This is why I focus on who has the best chance of winning, and just hope they can keep a clean sheet along the way too.
Saves are also important, so at times it can be better to sacrifice the chance of a clean sheet for a game which could be well matched, and hope you can gain more points from saves than you would from a clean sheet.
Overall, the goalkeeping position is the one that I usually deliberate over the longest, but when you get it right, you have so much more chance of finishing in the money.
5. Finding low ownership gems
On the whole, I would say the general soccer fan who plays DFS is probably less knowledgeable about the game than the average NFL fan is about football, or an NBA fan is about basketball etc. This means if we can research the players and teams, we can have a huge edge on the typical player.
If you are playing in GPP’s, the biggest deciding factor of almost every tournament is a player with a low ownership who had a great game. Now, it’s easier said than done to find these players, but when you know what to look out for it will get a lot easier.
Always check the starting lineups, which come out an hour before kick off, for players who may have replaced an injured player or are just getting a rare start. You may find a good player in a desirable match up who many other players who don’t check the line ups will miss. If that player goes on to have a great game, you will find yourself racing up the leaderboard every time he scores points.
Well, that was just a few tips to get you on your way in DFS soccer. Put them to good use in your draft strategy and, who knows, maybe you’ll be sitting at the top of the leaderboard next time.