So I figured that there might be one or two people out there that are looking at this FSA DS (formerly VDS) thing and thinking that it seems too complicated or requires too much effort or something. So as I have successfully completed two FSA DS Seasons, and I must say this is the easiest game around (much thanks to SuperTed for his Brilliant site). The rules and everything are on the FSA DS Site I thought I would go for some pointers on team construction.
Am I qualified to help? Define Qualified, If you need a past winner, not me. if you need someone who has finished in the top 50, again not me. Going on the basis that those who can't do teach (not a slag on teachers, wonderful souls those), I must be eminently qualified. I have finished in the top 150 and top 100 so I don't totally suck.
Tips on the Flips.
If you are new to this game and looking to have decent year I have just one suggestion for you. Phillipe Gilbert, Last year the worst team with Phillipe Gilbert had 8694 points good for 489/682. The team in 490th would have jumped into the mid 200's simply by swapping Cance for Phil and dumping a couple of doughnuts. So if you have any doubts about which of the 18+pointers to choose Phil is the safest bet.
A couple of other reasons to pick Phil, he's cheap. His projected efficiency is 104, the next best is J-rod at 89. That means that Phil can be 500 points worse than last season and still be just as good a buy as J-rod will be if he matches last seasons performance, even if Phil ONLY produces 3000 points that is still good for 20 percent of last years total score for only 23 percent of your total budget.
Another tip max out your 18+ pointers. These riders are the Elite of men's Cycling, they are highly likely to produce similar scores to last year or better those tallies. Yes this will use up a lot of your points, but if you are new to this sort of game you are likely guessing a lot on the 1-2 pointers, these guys are mostly a crap-shoot anyway, so scoring points you can count on is the safest bet.
What if I don't care about any race but the TdF? well this is a good year for you. There is a good chance you should be able to pick most of the top favourites for the race. Cadel, Samu, and Wiggo, are the only 18+ guys. The Schlecks are relatively cheap, plus you can have Cunego, Basso, Menchov, VdB, Tommy V, etc.
What if I only care about sprints, well Cav is the only 18+ sprinter, you can pick up most of the other top guy for 10-14 points, good year for picking sprinters.
What if I only care about the Classics, well than you probably don't need me to tell you who you are going to pick!
My ratings of the 18+ pointers for those who care.
Phillipe Gilbert: ***** A rock solid iron clad lock to be the best. Barring a crash Phil is the Best.
Alberto Contador: *** For thirty points would you pick anyone else who won't race until August. He may still make 2000 points but it will be uphill all the way
J-Rod:**** J-Rod is mister consistency, rarely wins anything but is in the mix so much that he earns tons of points.
Fabian Cancellara:**** Cobbled Consistency always in the mix whether winning or just close he always scores and hey second place at the Olympic and maybe Worlds TT is not bad :-P
Cadel Evans:*** Won the Tour last year, could win it again, always there or thereabouts. Not superlative but a good bet if you want the Maillot Jaune on the squad.
Mark Cavendish:*** If you want the worlds best Sprinter on your team, well he's right here waiting to be picked. Will he hit 2000 points maybe, the classics will tell the story on this. Add MSR and Paris Tours, to the Olimpics and he could tally a few points more.
Alejandro Valverde:** Hit or Miss, 22 points on a returning Doper who had a 15 month lay-off from competitive cycling. He could bag over 2000 or be way off the pace everywhere, a total wild card.
Peter Sagan: *** Will the rise continue? He is a massive talent, we have yet to see the plateau of that talent. Will that plateau be 1200, 1500, 2000. This is the 20 point question, a solid lock for 1000, how much higher is speculation.
Edvald Boasson Hagen: ***1/2 He is healthy for the spring (as of this writing), we haven't seen that for two years. This could be the year he smashes 2000 points, how good can he be? We haven't seen his best, and not his best is very good.
Samuel Sanchez:*** Always in the mix, winning in the spring and in the summer, and hey sometimes in the fall. Finds a way to find points all through the season. rarely hits 2000 but is capable.
Michele Scarponi: *** The Giro is there for the taking this year. No Spanish interlopers to stop him this year. He wins in the spring and will likely skip getting pantsed by Clenbutador at the Vuelta to concentrate on the fall classics. 1600 sure 2000 maybe.
Bradley Wiggins: *** He had his best year ever with a broken collarbone at the Tour. Providing his teams split motives don't kill him he will be a big threat for the podium at the tour this year. 100 km of ITT will help him mask any deficiency in the mountains. In last years chasing groups lead by Evans they never seemed to get small enough that Wiggo wouldn't have been there. He is a better TT'er than Evans and so is a threat. 1600-2000 definite possibility.
Vincenzo Nibali: **1/2 The Giro is there for the taking this year. No Spanish interlopers to stop him this year. Not as consistent or rounded a point scorer as Scarponi and just as unlikely to ride the Vuelta this year. 1000-1600 sure why not.
Tony Martin:** This is a rider on the rise. He has left the Cav Train and is now Mr. number one for Stage Races at OPQS. How will he fare, a better ITT than Wiggo or Evans, now that he is not burning the candle at both ends what can he do in the high mountains. Can he lose that "Jour Sans" that has plagued him throughout his career. How high can he rise?
Now how do you pick other riders? From my point of view there a basically two options. Look for consistent upward growth, or try to catch guys on the bounce.
Guys on a consistent upward trajectory usually have their costs padded in order to account for this. There are always a few however that jump in a big way. Go with your gut pick the guys you like, that you think are ready to break out.
Catching someone on the bounce is a bit trickier. For instance Simon Gerrans in 2010 he cost 16 based on his consistent upward growth and 900 point previous season. He scored 90 points and fell to 4 points in 2011, I picked him on the bounce and he scored 750 points. This year he costs 10 points and could still be on the bounce because he is now a leader on an Aussie team dedicated to seeing he does well in races suited to him. Tombo has been falling for a couple of years and has dropped down to 12 points based in his 580 point haul last year. Will he bounce this year or will the free-fall continue?
Some Bouncers were injured. In 2009 Igor Anton scored 10 points recovering from injuries, in 2010 he scored 1040. So if you're looking for bouncers look for guys who's points dropped dramatically but whom you don't believe truly suck. Say Nick Roche (or maybe he does suck), or maybe Bjarne finally puts a train in front of J. J. Haedo and he wins a boatload of races(if he actually is capable).
Finding the diamonds in the rough, well there is Aladdin, although if you don't have the genie this is a bit of a guessing game. For our European friends this can be a bit easier since they get regular race coverage and sports articles about up and coming cyclists.
It is now time for scouring the internet. CQ ranking and cycling4fans are good place to find out about young cyclists. Vlaanderen90 may tell you what he thinks in a few days, and he knows his stuff. But in the end 1-2 pointers are guesses. Quality Guesses are better than Random Guesses over the long run. If you want to do well you will have to have great success with one or two 1-2 pointers or modest success from many 1-2 pointers.
For 4-6 pointers about half of them suck and half of them do well a few will do extremely well. Some will be doughnuts see Kevin Seeldrayers/ Martin Maaaskant 2010. This is where the luck or skill in talent picking comes in, get the right guys cheap and you will be rocking the charts all year.
For all the rest it is much the same pick your consistent growers, pick your bouncers, you can't have all the winners and it is much easier to pick the losers.
This is a game, and it is a fun one. The best thing about it is that it is a set it and forget it type game. Pick your team and you are done until next season. The results are final as of Feb 24. They just are not revealed until October 16. Watching Disaster or Victory unfold is the Joy of the Game.
And remember "The goal of the game is to win, but it is the goal that is important not the winning" Reiner Knizia