The first round is already in the books, but don't panic. You can still be in the running for the championship because Motocross Fantasy has a drop round. Only your top 11 scores of the 12 rounds will be counted. If you didn't play last week, your zero will be thrown out. If you miss any other rounds, however, they will count as zeros. You're also battling for race wins every weekend, so the championship isn't everything. As the season goes on, things happen and players miss weekends. Though you likely won't win the Pro Series with any zeros, many players end up missing weekends here and there.
There are some naysayers complaining how often they hear about fantasy Motocross. That's the main complaint I hear though, the sheer amount of chatter about the game. Well, haters, try connecting the dots on that one. Those playing can't shut up about it because fantasy Motocross is that awesome. Here's why:
- Fantasy makes every race interesting: The races where Eli Tomac holeshots and checks out become a little bland in the 25th minute, right? When you're playing fantasy, you still get to watch your team's riders battle in fourth, 10th or clear back in 20th. I've lost track the amount of times I've yelled at [insert privateer here] through my TV to make a pass for 25th.
- Comradery: Players can create private leagues within Motocross Fantasy. Leagues can consist of you and those two other goons you ride with, you and the main squeeze or get the whole office in on it. Here at MotoSport, we have a pretty cutthroat office league complete with prizes, a red plate for the points leader's desk (which I've had so long I'm considering building a display case, EAT IT Crandall962!) and a group chat that, if our HR department saw, could potentially get us all fired. Also, careful on the main squeeze thing. The season is 24 Motos long and a vengeful ex can really pour salt on your wounded heart by smashing you in fantasy. If you bring the better half in on it, make sure they'll be around after round 12.
- Adds to the economy of the sport: There are multiple websites providing platforms for playing fantasy Motocross (MotoSport.com Motocross Fantasy is the best one). Each of these sites provides a hub for players to pay to play fantasy (it can be played for free as well) and sponsors to showcase their products via ads and prizes. Garnering more interest and activity grows the sport which is beneficial for the entire Motocross community.
- Prizes: With help from MotoSport.com, Motocross Fantasy has an insane prize line up for the year. You can play for free, but you have to pay the $25 entry for the Pro Series if you want the prizes. The series champion not only wins a brand new Yamaha YZ125, but a $2000 MotoSport.com shopping spree to trick it out! Season ending prizes go all the way down to 15th place, including a week at Real Deal MX Training Facility, head-to-toe Fox, Shift, Ride365 gear sets and many more prizes. MotoSport.com gift cards are up for grabs every week as well. First place every week gets a $250 gift card all the way down to $30 for 10th. There is also a random $100 gift card drawing for everyone who enters a team in the Pro Series each race.
- Education: Fantasy Motocross is the best way to get to know riders you may not otherwise notice. More experienced players tend to pick a lot of privateers as they have the highest risk/reward payoff. A lot of the best storylines and most interesting personalities are mid-pack.
How do you get started?
- Head to www.MotocrossFantasy.com and sign up. Your team name can be anything you'd like, mine is Cody105.
- Once you're registered, go to the "Join a Series" page. Here, you can pay $25 to play in the Pro Series for prizes or scroll down to join or create a free bench racing series. You can enter the Pro Series only, if you'd like. If you want to play for free, find a public league (the ones that don't require a password) that already exists, VitalMX has one for example. If you don't care to play any other leagues, you can create your own single-member league.
Fantasy Motocross Basics:
The basic premise of the game is simple: Each week, you pick four riders for each class. Just choose the riders who you think will do best. You can play the game at the basic level by doing this and nothing else. You may not win but you'll be officially playing fantasy and just like riding in reality, you'll gain the proper technique with practice.
If you'd like to be more competitive, here are some pro tips:
Handicaps: Each week, every rider is assigned a new handicap based on their previous week's finish. Picks are usually made available with new handicaps every Wednesday before a race. A rider's handicap is subtracted from their Moto finishing result to get their finishing position for fantasy. It's basic math:
Formula: Finishing position - handicap = fantasy position
Example: Tyler Bowers: Handicap 6, Finishing Position 18 18th - (6) handicap = 12th in fantasy
Some riders will have a negative handicap, like RJ Hampshire this week with a -2. This usually happens when a top rider becomes an underdog due to poor recent performances. It's the same formula in this case. Now class, what happens when you subtract a negative number from a positive? That's right, Poindexter, the positive number increases. Here's an example if he finished 3rd:
- 3rd - (-2) handicap = 5th in fantasy
What if a riders handicap exceeds their finishing position? The best a rider can finish is first place. If Frederick Noren is an 8 handicap and he finishes 5th, he still only gets points for 1st. No extra credit, kids!
Motocross Fantasy uses the current AMA points system:
1. 25 points
The most important strategic aspect is understanding how double points work. There are two types of riders to choose from, underdogs and non-underdogs. Underdogs score double points if they make the top ten (including their handicaps). Non-underdogs can never score double points regardless of where they finish.
When you click to choose your riders, the list highlights most riders and you'll notice the top riders (Eli Tomac, Ken Roczen, Cooper Webb, etc.) are not highlighted. Also, the far right column says "yes" or "no" to whether a rider is an underdog or not. This can change week to week based on how a rider has been performing. If Eli Tomac crashes out at the first round, he may come back in the second round as an underdog.
Basically, you want to aim for all eight of your riders to score double points. Right now, Eli Tomac is a non-underdog (single points) with a 1 handicap. The most points he can earn is 26 points. He will earn 26 points if he wins or gets second, since he has a one handicap.
Justin Hill, an underdog (eligible for double points), is a handicap 7 this week. If he finishes 18th, his handicap will only get him points for 11th (18th place minus 7 handicap equals 11th place). 11th place scores 12 points. If he finishes one spot better, 17th, his handicap will get him to 10th place. Because he has now reached the top ten (including his handicap), he's eligible for double points. Tenth place pays 13 points, but because he's an underdog that scored in the top ten, the points double for a total of 26 points.
See how that works? Tomac has to win to score 26 points. Justin Hill only has to get 17th or better to score 26 points. Better yet, if Justin places 8th or better, he will get points for first and max out on points with 52. 8th place minus 7 handicap equals 1st place. 26 points for first place, doubled because he's an underdog in the top ten, equals 52 points. 52 points is the most a rider can score in a Moto. I rarely choose non-underdogs. You basically need to have all double points riders. Choose underdogs who will finish in the top ten (counting their handicap).
Change Up: You can't choose the same riders two races in a row. Riders you chose the previous round will be crossed out and you won't be able to pick them. They'll be available for you to pick again the following race.
Risk Versus Reward: Single points paying non-underdogs should be off the table. There are still plenty of underdog top tier riders. This week Cole Seely is a 3 handicap and in the 250 class Christian Craig is a 2 - both underdogs. These are considered safer picks because the factory guys are likely to finish in or near the top ten. Will they max out on points by getting top three? Possibly, but they're more likely to get you a decent score in the Top 10. Then take a guy like Gared Steinke with a handicap 18. Stank Dog didn't make the Motos at Hangtown, he was one spot off in the LCQ. If he qualifies this weekend, all he needs to do to get double points is finish 28th or better. The real attraction of a handicap 18 is something fantasy players refer to as upside or payoff. If a rider with an 18 handicap finishes 18th or better, he'll max out with 52 points. The high handicaps have a bigger payoff but can be more risky as privateers are notorious for not finishing a race, finishing near the back of the pack or not qualifying for the race at all (hence their high handicap). It's up to you to decide if the throttle is worth the twist.
Speaking of Qualifying: In outdoor Motocross, we know everyone who qualifies for the main show before it starts (compared to Supercross where the night show starts with qualifying races). There are two practice sessions the morning before each race where riders qualify for the Motos based on their best lap time. The top 38 lap times go straight to the Motos and both classes have a Last Chance Qualifier race directly after practice to qualify the last four riders into the main Motos. You can find qualifying results at www.americanmotocrossresults.com, it's updated live on race day. Qualifying times are usually posted around 11:45 a.m. local time so you have about an hour between qualifying and the pick lockout time at 1:00 p.m. If you're serious about doing well, I highly recommend checking qualifying before every race. While it isn't a completely accurate means of predicting the outcome of a race, it can give you an idea of who's riding well that day. It also tells you who qualified for when you're picking those high handicaps that don't always qualify.
Lockouts and Time Zones: A lockout is the exact time in which you can no longer enter or make changes to your team. It's usually just before the first Moto starts. Both 250 picks and 450 picks close at this time regardless of which class starts first. Lockouts creep up faster than you'd think. Countless times I've tinkered with or submitted a team with less than 30 seconds before lockout. I DO NOT RECOMMEND THIS! Side effects include heavy sweating, anxiety, ulcers, arm pump, heart palpitations, smashed phone screens and loss of the ability to enjoy the day's race. Lockout for every round of the 2019 Motocross season is at 1:00 p.m. local time. That means if you're on the West Coast while the race is in New York, lockout is at 10:00 a.m.
Set Picks on Wednesday: Save yourself and set some safe picks on Wednesday when they come available. You can always change them on Saturday. It's 10:00 a.m. You're on the West Coast, dead asleep after a Friday night filled with 805's and one dollar bills. While you're busy having a booze snooze, the race is starting and the chance is long gone to enter a fantasy team. You'll be thankful you set a team on Wednesday. They may not be post-qualifying picks, but they likely won't get a zero score. I've had Wednesday picks get a better score than what I would have changed them to.
Scored Per Moto: You are paid points per Moto to total your score for the weekend.
DON'T TWEET THE RIDERS
The biggest goon move you can pull as a fantasy player is to make negative comments on social media. It's okay to joke around with friends, but don't be talking about how a rider ruined your fantasy while tagging them or posting it on the profile. Trust me, if they had a bad race, Kyle from Minnesota's fantasy team is the least of what they need to think about. They are more bummed than you. Keep it classy, people.