Saturday, February 25, 2012

Strength of schedule: weeks 1-5

While picking our teams we need to take into account the relative strength of schedule that each player may face in the upcoming weeks. I have compiled last year's goals scored and allowed both home and away for every team (Montreal's numbers are simply league averages). I then applied these to the schedule to find the number of goals each team is predicted to score and allow based on who their opponent is and where they are playing.

Example - Colorado vs. Columbus:
Colorado averaged 1.47 goals scored per game at home last season. Columbus averaged 1.53 goals allowed per game away from home last season. Against Columbus, Colorado should score 1.50 goals.

I then added all predicted goals scored/conceded for each team for gameweeks 1 through 5 to come up with the following tables.

Attacking projections


TeamGoals scored
RSL8.2
Montreal7.7
Kansas City7.5
FCD6.9
Seattle6.8
San Jose6.8
DCU6.7
New York6.3
Chivas6.3
Portland6.2
Colorado6.1
LA5.9
New England5.7
Vancouver5.5
Philadelphia5.4
Columbus5.2
TFC4.8
Chicago3.5
Houston3.2

The average team is expected to score 6.0 goals over the first five gameweeks. Some teams have fewer games than others resulting in a lower total predicted goals scored, but they could have a higher average goals scored per game. For instance, Seattle only has 4 games and are predicted to score 6.8 goals in the first 5 gameweeks. However, they have the highest predicted average goals scored per game.

RSL and Montreal are the teams that are ranked at the top by virtue of them both playing 6 games in the first 5 weeks. Double gameweeks are extremely important to take advantage of (I'll have an upcoming article on that), but in this case, they skew the strength of schedule for Montreal and RSL quite a bit. Without that second game in week 5, RSL drops to 6th and Montreal to 12th. To start our season, I am going to choose to ignore that second game in week 5 and treat RSL and Montreal as 6th and 12th respectively.

Our top 5 teams in terms of predicted goals scored using the above methodology are Kansas City, Dallas, Seattle, San Jose, and DC. Seattle has a blank week to start the season, so I am going to wait until week 2 before bringing in any Seattle players. So, I plan to pack my forwards and midfielders with several players from these teams. These rankings and seeing the teams who have blank gameweeks have really changed the players I am going to start the season with. Koevermans and Grazzini are two players I am choosing to drop in favor of other options.

Defensive projections


Predicted clean sheetsTeamAverage conceded
3LA1.0
3FCD1.2
2San Jose1.2
2Chivas1.2
1Seattle1.1
1RSL1.1
1Philadelphia1.1
1Columbus1.2
1New York1.3
1Colorado1.3
0Kansas City1.2
0Portland1.2
0Houston1.4
0Vancouver1.4
0Chicago1.4
0Montreal1.5
0DCU1.5
0TFC1.6
0New England1.6


I approach the defensive projections a bit differently. I use the same methodology to come up with the average goals conceded, but I then use that to find how many games each team is predicted to conceded less than 1 goal. Since clean sheets are what really matters to fantasy managers, I have used that as my ranking.

Not surprisingly, LA and Dallas are the teams at the top. Our other two teams with a predicted two clean sheets are surprisingly San Jose and Chivas. I'm not going to pick a chivas defender simply because they've had a bunch of change at the back, but a San Jose player will almost certainly make my side (likely Beitashour).

Weekly data
The bulk of my weekly previews are composed of the predicted goals scored and allowed data. I have included a page that has each team's predicted goals scored and allowed for each of the first five weeks. found here:

http://mlsfantasy.blogspot.com/p/predicted-goals-scoredallowed.html

I will be doing these 5-week previews every 3 weeks or so to allow us some foresight to better plan our transfers.

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