News broke last week that AFL Dream Team AFL Fantasy will be altering the way we trade, moving away from a season-total system and forging a brave new path with two trades per week; use it – or lose it. Given that the way we trade our players is one of the most fundamental parts of the fantasy AFL experience, there was always going to be some vocal opposition to this change and that’s very understandable. I’m not going to get into the pros-and-cons of the amendment (although, for the record, I’m a fan of any change that promotes continued interaction with the casual fantasy crowd), but rather, I’m going to look at what it means for us as DT coaches.
Firstly, I need to point out an assumption that I’m making for the following article. Last year, I proposed a Use It Or Lose It trading system, but one point I highlighted was a significant alteration in the Magic Number. That hasn’t happened this year (changed roughly in line with the salary cap from last season), so on surface value, it’s fair to expect that we should be able to gain ‘complete’ sides considerably earlier with the extra available trades, without fear of injury/form ruining our sides for the remainder of the season. One way to counter this (from Virtual Sports’ perspective) would be to alter the way prices changes – for instance, lesser or quicker price changes based on form, or even price changes after just one game instead of three. Clearly, the way we treat Cash Cows would need to evolve with any such alteration. For now, let’s assume that the prices change in the same fashion that they have for the last decade.
After a good week of consideration, here is what I believe will be the five biggest changes in the way we play DT as a result of the Use It or Lose It trading scheme:
Sideways Trading Out of Injury
This is the most obvious and probable effect of having extra trades. Last year, many coaches painstakingly held onto super-premos like Ablett, Swan, Franklin and Pendlebury through awkward mid-term injuries. In the past, it was general consensus that you hold for a 1-2 week injury and trade out of anything over a month, but there was always that horrible grey area in between where you waged war with that voice in your head about whether to trade or hold.
In 2013, benching an injured Premium will be very rare, with most coaches surely opting to take the less stressful route by sideways trading to another Gun – and it will be that much more effective if you snap up a Premium with a price-rise on the way and get the most bang for your buck. Sideways trading has long been taboo in DT, but with extra trades comes extra manoeuvrability, and these options are now very open to us.
Less focus on DPPs
The main advantage of Dual Position Players in the past is that they allowed you to alter your team without using a precious trade. Looking at a donut in the forward line? That’s okay, you can swing your non-playing forward DPP into the midfield for another rookie Mid/Fwd and escape a zero, all without ‘wasting’ a trade.
Well, we don’t really have to worry about that as much any more. With two trades per week, it could be that a simple rookie sideways trade is the best way to go for you – saves a donut, and perhaps makes you some cash with the promise of more to come, and you don’t have to ‘waste’ a trade in the traditional sense, because you’re going to lose it anyway.
However, DPP is by no means redundant now, as I’ve heard some coaches suggest. DPP still allows you to pick a player in two positions (such as Broughton – he might fit your structure better as a Forward rather than a Defender, or vice versa) and it still allows you to trade out a player in one position and trade in a player to another line using just one trade and some DPP magic – so while DPP won’t be as crucial this season, it’s still very handy. It’s just that now, it shouldn’t be the governing selection factor; which is lucky, because we’re very light on promising Mid/Fwd rookies in 2013.
We’re going to see coaches jumping onto rookies on the bubble (just before their price increase) all season long, if the pricing system remains the same. Expect to see the majority of Round 2 & 3 trades used to swap out botched rookies choices for the big movers and shakers before their first price hike. A fast start in generating cash will be essential to keeping up with the competition leaders, as quick money will help you attain that ‘complete’ squad as soon as possible.
This tactic should be a popular one all throughout cash-cow season, especially as the ‘downgrade’ target in any upgrade once our rookies start maxing out, and particularly because we don’t have the same pool of rookies we’ve been treated to over the last two season (thanks to GWS and Gold Coast) – so missing a decent cash cow means more than it once did.
More Emphasis on Break Evens
Break-evens have long been the friend of the most astute coaches, but now they are essential tools for moulding a champion fantasy outfit. In the past, we’ve almost exclusively looked at the BE’s of (1) our rookies, with the aim of figuring out whether to cull a fully-appreciated cash cow or not; and (2) fallen premiums, with picking them up at their basement price in mind.
With the extra trades, we now have the ability to pull some sneaky switches. Say it’s Round 10, and you don’t have any injuries to cover, no break-out rookies to jump on and no cash cows ready to cull either – what do you do with your remaining trade(s)? You scour the Break Evens of your squad and locate that under-performing player with a high BE (and therefore set for a drop in price). You then head to the Assistant Coach and look for a player of similar price with a very low BE (who will shoot up in price). If you do this right, you’ve effectively pulled an upgrade, but for the price of just one sideways trade. For example:
Broughton – $380,400 – 124 BE – 57 and 75 in last two
Carrazzo – $373,000 – 25 BE – 118 and 110 in last two
If you made this sideways trade, and re-evaluated it 3 weeks later, you’ll see this:
Broughton – $326,000 – 59, 36, DNP in last three
Carrazzo – $447,400 – 114, 123, 83 in last three
This is essentially a gain of 225 points and $120k, for what was a simple sideways trade just three weeks earlier. This is an extreme example, but it shows that this can be a very effective method to bolster your squad with just the one trade. Therefore, tracking the Break Evens of players in your squad and watch-list will be a powerful tactic for maximising your trades all season long.
Opportunity to Select More Break-Out Contenders
The way I see it, these new trading rules is the perfect opportunity to try and pick those break-out contenders. In the past, our sides have been generally made up of three brackets of players: Premiums, Mid-Priced/Injury Discounted players and Rookies, and that’s been a successful recipe for a long time. But the one sub-class of fantasy player that usually gets overlooked is Midfielders in the 80-100 average range.
Traditionally, coaches fill up their mids with Super-Premos (Ablett, Swan, Boyd, Pendlebury, etc. – all 110+ average), maybe one mid-pricer (if they’re brave) and fill the remainder with rookies. That cuts out a huge amount of under-priced midfielders, and those possible break-out contenders such as Cotchin, Watson, Kennedy, Jack, Tuck and Ebert in 2012, and that’s not even mentioning Mid/Fwds like Beams, Dangerfield and Sidebottom (who really should have been MID only). The problem with picking these guys in the past is that if they don’t break-out completely, then they won’t have averaged enough to become a ‘Keeper’, but won’t have swelled in price enough to justify using a sacred trade – meaning, you’re stuck with them. Very risky.
Thanks to a combination of the extra trades and the structure change which allows two extra midfielders, these types of players now need to be seriously considered. If you hit one of these break-out players, then you have unearthed a keeper for the season. But if they don’t quite explode like the players I mentioned above (such as, say, Andrew Swallow. 99.6 avg in 2011, then 102.6 last year) then a clever coach will be able to sideways that player out to a fallen Premo, much like I outlined earlier. Picking a break-out contender will be a very fruitful tactic if you pick a player who you believe can only increase in average; so if you don’t land the big fish, then at least you aren’t sacrificing points and cash along the way.
This year, there’s a huge amount of value of the MID-only, Premium Lite category. Keep an eye on players like Barlow, Fyfe, Mundy, Scott Selwood, Gaff, Boak, Zaharakis, Shuey, Greene, and Hannebery, just to name a few. I can only see their numbers rising – the only question is, by how much?
So that’s my Top 5 ways that DT coaches will change to evolve with these new trading rules. Hopefully, you’re as excited for the new challenge like me, and you can embrace the new tactics and strategies that come with change! Do you agree with the above? Any tactical changes that you think I’ve missed? Let us know in the comments!
Hit me up on Twitter for anything fantasy-related: @Tbetta9