It’s hard to believe we are living in the year 2020. I was supposed to have a hovercraft and eat my food in pill form by now. Although we haven’t turned into the Jetsons just yet, there have been some cool improvements to how we can watch supercross in recent years. Watching live on an app from anywhere is pretty cool and having live scoring for your fantasy motocross team is also a great step forward. That’s right, I said fantasy motocross! For 2020, Staging Area is going to be fantasy motocross focused. We are going to take a look at who’s good, who’s bad, and who has me cursing on Saturday night. After a long layoff, we are all excited to get the season rolling and if you play fantasy motocross, you know how much more it adds to the excitement.
Fantasy motocross is a complex combination of calculated risk, educated guessing, and a little bit of luck, too. One of the most common misconceptions for new players is that you simply want to pick the best riders. That’s a very basic strategy and while you’ll usually score a certain amount of points, you are limiting your upside far too much. With the handicap system that Pulpmxfantasy.com employs, finding the perfect balance of high risk/high reward riders coupled with your “all-star” pick is what it’s all about. Monster Energy AMA Supercross creates high drama with many of your picks as teams are chosen (sans the Triple Crown) before the night show racing begins. That means you’re picking riders for your team that might not even make the main event. That’s where the high risk/high reward comes in. Many of these “bubble” type riders have big points handicaps, therefore have the potential to pay off huge points if things go well. By nature, they are also likely to not qualify, resulting in me tossing my Coca Cola Classic and tub of popcorn down several rows of seats and then burying my head in my phone nonchalantly. To win, though, some chances must be taken. The Mendoza line of how risky you want to get is really where Matthes’ basset hounds are won and lost. Inevitably, there are going to be a few riders that I am still mumbling about on Sunday morning. That’s just how this game goes.
One big key to a successful fantasy night is getting all eight riders on your team into the main event. I know that sounds obvious, but you would be shocked at how difficult it really is. If you just picked eight factory riders, your odds are pretty good, though your score won’t be much to write home about. With that method, if everything went perfectly, your maximum score each weekend would be 208 (26 points x8 riders). That’s not a bad score but considering the winner of the Pulpmxfantasy.com in SX scored an average of 257.5 (wow), and a high score of 306, you’ll just be middle of the road every time. That’s the genesis of fantasy frustration. To do well, risks must be taken. With risk comes the chance of epic failure (hence the soda and popcorn toss). There will be nights where the stars align and you can approach 300 points, but there will also be nights where your entire team is laying in a pile of shrapnel in the first turn and you end up with 120 points. Like I mentioned, though, getting eight riders in the main event is always priority #1.
Let’s take a look at a few fantasy rider choices, shall we? I will try to share my best insight on why to pick said rider or why caution might be wise.
Dylan Ferrandis: This will most likely be my all-star pick. Coming off the crazy 2019 250SX West title, he is experienced, healthy, and ready to defend. With his 1 handicap, if he finishes in the top two positions, he will score the maximum of 26 points.
Mitchell Oldenburg: One of the biggest boom or bust options in fantasy, Oldenburg is flat out scary to pick. He is capable of a podium finish at any given time but he’s also very capable of ruining your night. All you need to do is go back and watch his Las Vegas heat and LCQ races from last season and you’ll understand.
Jett Lawrence: I suspect Jett will be one of the trendier picks this weekend. With a ton of hype going in, if he qualifies well, look out. For me, I think I will wait and see how it shakes out at the pressure cooker that is A1. With a handicap of 1, I feel safe waiting and watching on the kid. If that proves to be a mistake, so be it.
Luke Clout: After a breakout Aussie SX season, Clout will be an interesting option. Most Americans don’t know much about him but he has slowly been improving through the years. With a 3 handicap, he has some upside if he finds himself in the top ten. With little Monster Energy AMA Supercross experience, though, it’s risky to assume he has a good day at the tumultuous A1.
Michael Leib: A veteran of the 250SX wars, Leib knows how to get into these main events. It’s not always about raw speed, especially in the chaos that is a 250 qualifier. I expect Leib to be in consideration for my team, my only question mark will be the 15 mins plus 1 lap.
Cooper Webb: Last year’s champ should be solid coming into A1. Last year’s fifth place finish would have been much better without his first turn fall (he had the fastest lap in the main event). I don’t know if he will win the opener but I do expect a solid podium finish.
Eli Tomac: I would be lying if I said I know what to expect in these early rounds from Tomac. He has been so erratic early in each series and then absolutely awesome down the stretch. I will probably avoid Tomac at the opener just based from past results.
Adam Cianciarulo: AC is an all-star with a 4 handicap, meaning a top-five finish earns maximum points (26). Being his first 450 series race, I might go with one of the veteran guys who have been through this Anaheim mayhem before.
Dean Wilson: Deano is a 3 handicap but his status is far from certain. He has only been riding a short while after his big MEC crash. He nearly won A1 in 2019 but I don’t think I can pick him for a few weeks minimum. Even if he can qualify for the main event, to think he has 20 minutes in him is asking too much.
Chad Reed: I don’t think we will see the prepared CR22 that we saw last season. This year will be about fun and career appreciation instead of podium hunting. Having said that, there might be a small amount of value with Chad at a 6. If he stays out of trouble, I could see him leaving with a 12th or so.
Martin Davalos: Oh, Marty. There are not many riders who can inspire excitement and confidence from qualifying practice like Marty can. He has so much speed and talent. Translating that into a net result hasn’t always worked out, though. He has huge upside at a 4 handicap but buyers beware, it could go sideways at any time.
Fredrik Noren: “Fast Freddie” is a stay away for me, at least until he proves his SX prowess. The 450 class is tough, especially at A1. He might pay off but a 9 handicap is not enough of a ceiling for the risk.
Jimmy Decotis: Decotis is my sleeper. He is an exceptional starter which should put him in good position to qualify. At a 9, he just needs to put in solid laps to score solid points. There’s certainly a chance for disaster but I might take a shot with Jimmy D.
That’s just a few of the dozens of options this weekend. The ebb and flow will shift all day through qualifying practice. That window from 5 p.m. till 6:30 p.m. local time has most fantasy players beside themselves with indecision. Next week we will have a lot to work through but hopefully you choose wisely and get off to a good start!
Don’t forget to sign up at Pulpmxfantasy.com for a chance to win weekly prizes, season prizes, and a random draw for a 2020 Yamaha YZ450F!