ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (June 7, 2017) — In the age of fantasy sports, imagine for a moment that it was possible to play United Soccer League fantasy and pick your favorite Rowdies for your team.
Unfortunately, there isn’t a USL fantasy league to play in, but we’ve done the research and scored each player for every league match played this year to figure out which Rowdies would be best for your hypothetical fantasy team.
Applying the scoring rules used in Major League Soccer’s official fantasy competition, modified slightly to use the available stats provided by Opta, we now know that center back Neill Collins would be the Rowdies’ highest-scoring fantasy player.
In his 13 USL matches this season, Collins has led the way with 76 total points, for an average of 5.8 per outing. Damion Lowe (6.3) and Darnell King (6.2) have higher averages than Collins, but they’ve played fewer matches. Lowe’s average is the highest on the team.
With six clean sheets as a team this year, the algorithm heavily favors Tampa Bay’s defenders, who receive big points boosts for posting a clean sheet, plus have scoring opportunities for making tackles, interceptions, clearances and blocking shots.
Players in all positions receive points for appearing a match, one for playing 1-59 minutes and two for playing for an hour or more. If a player completes passes at a rate of 85 percent or higher, they’ll receive a point for every 35th pass.
Goals, assists, shots, crosses and chances created also award points, but defenders get one point more for scoring than midfielders or forwards do.
Goalkeepers and defenders are penalized for conceding goals, first by losing their clean sheet bonus, then by losing points for every second goal conceded. Midfielders also lose points the same way, but on a smaller scale. Being shown a yellow card also costs players a point.
In the attack, Michael Nanchoff has been the Rowdies’ best performer, earning 64 total points for an average of 5.8 per game, primarily through his team-high four assists, consistent passing and crossing frequency.
Joe Cole, Georgi Hristov, Marcel Schäfer have all also scored 59 or more total points.
The best game any individual Rowdies player has had this year was a 13-point outing for both Damion Lowe and Michael Nanchoff in a 4-0 win over Toronto FC II on April 1. Joe Cole is next-best with a 12-point game in a 2-0 win against Louisville City FC on May 13.