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To rank or not to rank…

“To rank or not to rank. That is the question that hangs over my head during the day & keeps me awake at night.” Our Irish friend, Mark (coach of the Irish Invaders and also known as “Irish” or “MakingMeMark”) shares his story for this season.

To rank or not to rank. That is the question that hangs over my head during the day & keeps me awake at night. Let me explain…

I’m part of one of the most revered and long standing DT leagues in the country. With an entry fee of $275 & hence the Premier taking $2.5k at the end of the season, there’s an obvious cash incentive. More so however, there’s the respect & banter element. When you’ve got guys who’ve finished top100 overall previously, and sons of AFL legends in your league, there’s bucket loads of respect for taking the chocolates. Especially when you didn’t even know what footy was 7 years ago – I’m from the land of Mr.Stynes and hence the team name “The Irish Invaders” (Irish pirate Calvin is the married to my sister and also my uncle – go figure!). We now even have a DIV2 with 2 teams being promoted/relegated each year.

More to the point, our Premier is decided by the league match-ups, not overall ranking. So even though every year a coach/es may finish in the top few hundred, no one remembers them. The Premier gets the league named after him & joins the sacred list of past Champions.

There are internal “I’ll outrank you by year’s end” bets between coaches and any weekly prizes are applauded obviously. But at the end of the day, you need to pick your team with a league focus instead of an overall points strategy.

Aren’t they the same? Surely if you score high you’ll win your league. Not true. Our highest points scorer a few years ago didn’t even make the 8 due to unlucky match-ups. Also, you simply have to have 4 or 5 trades at least for finals (in a normal year) to win whereas previous overall winners have exhausted their trades as early as round 18.

Slightly off topic but I know of other leagues, with entry fees of up to $500, that decide winner on overall points. But the grudge matches against rival coaches and the weekly banter based on that round match-ups etc is a large part of the magic of DT for me.

So back to my dilemma & the point of this post. My situation is that for the first time in years I’ve bolted out of the box and based on my current ranking (469) & a strong mix of mainly the correct Guns’n’Rookies, I believe I actually have a chance to stick with the leaders & give the overall a shot. Hopefully others out there can relate to this – either this year, previous years, or changing trading policies due to an unexpected lengthy run in the Eliminator (a fellow coach gave up his chance on league title as he went for broke & used up all his trades in round 17, eventually going out in last 32 of Eliminator last year).

My team is 100% selected for league win. So I paid no attention to the multi-bye rounds. I used up virtually every penny ($2k remaining) to try win the first 3 rounds pre those multi-byes (2 from 2). Cox & Sandi in the ruck with the cheapo’s Bailey/McCauley on bench not wanting to waste money on risky (in my preseason opinion) expensive backup like Hale & Petrie (was 4k short of Zac). With Boyd & Libba in the mids, I still chose to go with Bewick & Beams, knowing I’d be facing a donut in round 4 but not be able to remove any from my starting squad (was rubbing my hands seeing Beams on 44 1st qtr first round & still think he’s a good pickup). And other decisions such as not going with D.Swallow & not really caring about DP link-ups.

But now I must decide whether to totally change my strategy. Do I make a couple of trades this week or next to avoid donuts and bring in the leading rookies (Yarran to Tapscott, Beams to Curnow for example)? Or do I stick to my preseason plan & conserve trades until Rd6 onwards?

I know it’s a marathon not a sprint but I may never start as strong as this again. With the ridiculous amount of information, cheat sheets, sample teams easily available to every man and his dog (or “dad”), it’s getting harder every year to get into the top 500 at ANY stage of the year.

Then again, winning $2.5K & the eternal respect of 15, make that 31, other coaches/friends is quite attractive also!

Let us know in the comments below if you are or have experienced something similar. What would you do in the same situation? How many of you are in ultra competitive/pricey leagues? Which is the better league strategy in your opinion – overall points or match-ups?

Coach, The Irish Invaders

DT Talk - covering AFL Fantasy and other games since 2007.



  1. Avatar


    April 7, 2011 at 7:05 pm

    I don’t see them as mutually exclusive. If you bring in the Libbas and Curnow won’t their increase in cash help you in your league for finals?

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      April 7, 2011 at 7:10 pm

      for league and overall, you have to look long term
      so think about any trades and REALLY think about who you are bringing in
      and who you trade out

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      April 7, 2011 at 8:35 pm

      westy1 – its not that trading in the libbas/curnows won’t help.
      It’s that using up vital trades now when I don’t really need to will probably come back to hurt me in league finals.

      For example, I don’t have Curnow nor Tapscott. So if I go for overall, I’m looking at the Yarran>Tapscott, Beams>Curnow trades, which will also cover my Rd4 donut & give me surplus cash.

      But if I go for league, I’m happy to miss out on the Curnow (will he maintain his position??) & Tapscott (Yarran could still be a keeper) trains & reserve trades for injuries & finals.

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        April 8, 2011 at 3:34 pm

        Every man and his dog says they are in a really competitive league. I was speaking to someone about dreamteam after last year, and we were trading stories about how great and competitive our leagues were. He started off by implying his league was as good if not better then mine. He won his, I came 7th in mine. After a bit more chit chat, I realised that this fool had no idea, and after a bit more specific questioning about his overall ranking, I realised that I could have probably won his league without trading all season.
        Sure the league rivalry is fun, but at the end of the day you are only as good as your overall ranking. There are a lot of people who win leagues, many thousands infact. But there is only 1 person ranked No.1 overall.

        If the 15 people in your league are the only people you talk to in this world, then go for your league. If you have more than 15 friends, and your in a position to have a crack at the big time, stand up, puff your chest out, stop playing with your man-gina, suck up a bit of that Irish courage and HAVE A GO!

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          Goaled Finger

          April 8, 2011 at 3:49 pm

          I disagree, my dog says he is in a shit house league.

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            April 8, 2011 at 3:53 pm

            Ok – every man and many dogs.

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            Goaled Finger

            April 8, 2011 at 4:08 pm

            Maybe, but I’m in my dogs league – and I’m a realist.

            He has been unbearable since he knocked me off in round 1!

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    April 7, 2011 at 7:09 pm

    Trade now!!! while you still can fix any errors of initial selections

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      April 7, 2011 at 7:12 pm

      Exactly Brappin. This is effectively the ‘free’trade’ round. Even those who only care about league wins have to trade if they have made any initial selection errors, which, let’s face it, most of us have (Andrejs Everitt, I’m looking at you). A couple of swaps before prices change should set most people up to st their team, barring injuries, until the cash cows mature in rounds 6 or 7.

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    April 7, 2011 at 7:26 pm

    I’m in a competition with a few mates where the emphasis is placed on three rounds (10, 15 and 20). Most of them aren’t in the other leagues I’m in and change the name of their team yearly to keep their team under wraps til round 10. The rules are simple…it’s $20aud for every point your opponent beats you by in each of the grudge matches. Once a year we leave ‘er indoors indoors and soak up a weekend of footy. I’d love to focus on my overall ranking at times but there’s nothing like going to the G on a Saturday and buying your mate a beer after his captain had his arm ripped off in the first quarter. It pretty much sucks being a dt junkie, doesn’t it?

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      April 8, 2011 at 2:40 am

      wtf? $20 PER POINT!!! so if u lose by 100 points u have to pay $2000!!! lol

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    April 7, 2011 at 7:30 pm

    I finished 540 last year and never once thought about the car. I even had a strategy this year of loading up on one strong teams players and then giving up the one game when they all have a bye later in the year (much in the manner of Geelong resting players before the finals).

    However there are people who are in my leagues going for the car. They will surely use that as an excuse when they lose to me! See you in that last weekend in August!

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      April 7, 2011 at 7:38 pm

      I just go for both i don’t really see the difference.

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        Leigh (aka Cousins Coke n Ice)

        April 7, 2011 at 8:06 pm

        There is a difference, particularly this year. Due to the season starting in leagues from round 1, and the byes for leagues occurring when there are multiple byes, people who are going for national rank need to be wary of dropping right of the pace by having too many players playing in teams with in the multi bye rounds. People playing for leagues don’t need to worry about that. That’s the Irish dilemma when he has got off to such a cracking start!

        Conundrum conundrum Irish! May you lose plenty of sleep while you wrestle with your decision! Nice write up champ.

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          April 7, 2011 at 8:38 pm

          Thanks Leigh, sleep shall be lost – still can’t decide. Was hoping the teams would help push me one way or another!

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      April 8, 2011 at 10:56 am

      You’re going down this year Ando.

      I think it’s possible to go for both this year with the amount of trades and 3 bench players. I will be saving 6 trades for finals, that should cover it.

      Bragging rights are a little overrated for getting a league win unless there is money on the line or something. I haven’t heard you bragging at all these last three years Ando (maybe because you’re too modest!). Do a little more bragging son because you will be losing your title this year, even though most of our league are going for the car.

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    April 7, 2011 at 7:48 pm

    i know this isnt directly relevant to the article, but i need a few tips with my team please
    doing my first trade friday night : Brown out and chappy in, but my midfield needs attention
    mids: pendles,goodes,rockliff, callan ward, Foley , Harris
    bench: krak, swallow and bewick
    Foley and ward not really firing although it is only round 3 … im thinking of keeping them and if they are still not firing later in season can downgrade to (jacobs/mzungu/other rookie that comes in) its just alot of money for not a high score.. (obvious risk of mid-pricers)
    any suggestions? its just so tempting, not already having, liba to downgrade foley/ward to him but thinking ill just tough it out

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      April 7, 2011 at 8:00 pm

      You probably need more firepower in your mids. Can you switch Goodes to the forward line and upgrade one of your dpp for/mids to Swan, Boyd, etc. To do this you’d probably need to downgrade Foley to Curnow or Libba.

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        April 7, 2011 at 8:05 pm

        only dpp is higgins (did have prestia in preseason but swapped him with tapscott). higgins doing good so will keep him. Think i will just keep foley/ward and wait for them to show me more and i can always downgrade/upgrade later in the year. cheers

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    April 7, 2011 at 7:52 pm

    Ward not firing??????

    What planet have you been on.

    You bought him as a cash cow and and he is averaging 88.5 ppg and is set to rise at least to $300-350K

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      April 7, 2011 at 7:59 pm

      haha to be honest this is my supercoach team ( i just didnt want to say because it will cop abuse) where his avging 79 but i guess im just getting greedy with cash cows, and i didnt jump on pods last year so in two minds about what to do with liba. i think ill keep both and just rely on my other cash cows for $$$. thanks for your help

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    April 7, 2011 at 8:10 pm

    Great new blog with write-ups of current affairs and controversies of the AFL with in-depth analysis and critique.

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    April 7, 2011 at 9:26 pm

    nice article makingmemark, kudos for your work on the famous coaches thread last year, really enjoyed that.

    I have a similar dilemma in that I have alot of bets on results, some for highest rank, some for league position… makes it quite challenging to get the team you want if you focus on the rank.
    I certainly would have picked enright if I didnt have to let one of enright/broughton/lower go for round 6.
    Same goes for midfield where I left out Liberatore to manage round 4.

    Good luck sleeping :)

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    April 7, 2011 at 9:28 pm

    To me, its all about the fun you have with the people in your league.

    Most of my league are friends / work mates and if nobody cared about their matchups then it would be half the fun!

    There have been some absolutely classic moments in previous years such as:

    – Me obtaining a victory when my work mate set two emergencies (didn’t know the lower one counted) in the one position.

    – Matching up against my girlfriend in a final. That week was hell!

    – Helping out that new guy just so that he can beat the guy above you on the ladder this week.

    Focus on the eliminator / position / etc. has always resulted in my team actually doing worse in the long run too I think. End up running out of trades faster.

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      April 7, 2011 at 11:11 pm

      Good call Spector. About 10 years back I was seriously in contention for the car (was in the top 5 with two rounds left) and had a trip booked to NZ. It ruined my trip as all I could think about was this trade vs that trade, etc and finding a net cafe to monitor it all. So I say do it for fun and if your league puts any premium on winning the GF, then go for that. If it puts the premium on highest score, then go for that instead.

      I’m always in a league with my brother and we love bragging rights the following year depending on who finishes higher. Realistically, only one person can win the car and one can win the Eliminator. Take the pressure off and give yourself a 15-1 chance rather than a 250K-1 chance.

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    April 7, 2011 at 9:49 pm

    Go for the league win, the best part of DT is beating others then bragging

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    April 7, 2011 at 9:59 pm

    Dude – stick to your original plan. A lot of massive DT nerds have put in countless hours this year devising plans to get through multi-bye rounds. With due respect, if you’re looking at donuts round 4, 5 or 6 (not to mention rounds 16 & 19), or haven’t mapped out at least a rough plan for who comes in for who depending on when they have byes, you won’t be challenging for the FJ.

    You’re ahead of the game you’re playing – why abandon it to be behind the curve in a different game?

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      April 7, 2011 at 10:34 pm

      Very intelligent response there ghostmonk, has certainly tipped the scales to the league side

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    The Gambler

    April 7, 2011 at 10:10 pm

    I personally think it’s too early to be thinking about taking out the whole thing… That might sound silly, but there are a LOT of rounds to go. In the past I have started off very badly and through the middle of the year really ripped it home to end up in the top 400 or so… Which might not be THAT great, but my point is, there is still plenty of time. You’re off to a good start, but as they say – it’s a marathon, not a sprint!

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    April 7, 2011 at 11:06 pm

    I’m going for league but my overall is not tO bad finishing in the top 1k this week I think that a balance can be found because it’s suggesting that going for league u have an inferior team on the field, if you really don’t care about overall donuts are no drama in the multi bye rds for me I would be stoked to average 2000 for all the multi bye rds that’s a win I rekon

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    Max Power

    April 7, 2011 at 11:06 pm

    I get the impression just from reading your article, that the league is what you really care more about.

    Let’s face it, any individual no matter what their DT knowledge, has an extremely small chance of winning overall. But a far greater (1 in 16 all things being equal) chance of a leauge victory. In your current position I would suggest your real league chances are much better than 1 in 16. Add to this the $2.5K prize your playing for (not too shabby) and I would recommend you stick to your original plan.

    ghostmonk’s points are very good, and well made. I would add to them by suggesting that it would take more than just 2 trades now to make the necessary alterations to your squad, the result of using the trades required this early could put you in a hole that you won’t be able to recover from anyway.

    The likely scenario if you change strategy now is that you won’t win overall, you won’t win eliminator, and you won’t win your league, what you will do is regret stuffing up your year.

    If you’re really in doubt, here’s a little trick. Take a coin….Heads=League, Tails=Overall……toss it, catch it, cover it……just as you’re about to reveal what it is, you’ll find yourself hoping for one result over the other….chuck the coin away, and follow your heart.

    Good Luck.

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    April 8, 2011 at 1:12 am

    trading buddy for dawes??? looking like a key part of collingwood, hating buddies frees against and gives me a lot of money to do some upgrades.

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      April 8, 2011 at 3:01 am

      Shirley? You can’t be serious? Thought about what Buddy will do against Tigers magoos?

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        April 8, 2011 at 10:51 am

        making buddy captain this week

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    April 8, 2011 at 8:53 am

    hey everyone should i keep boak or trade to get embley? i still have 23 trades

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    April 8, 2011 at 9:33 am

    hey guys

    first time poster, just wanted an opinion on something which has to do with the topic, and i think will come up for me a few times this year. Im a bit of a rookie.

    if you are going for overall, how much value do you put on a trade at this time of the year? as in money value. For example foley to curnow trade would net you around 120g, and would estimate that by the time i trade whoever it is i have out they would be around about the same price after averaging around 80 for much of the year. So my question is 120 grand enough to burn a trade? and if not how much before you would?


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      April 8, 2011 at 11:33 am

      Good question DC. It’s not just the $120K that you net by making that trade now. You also have to consider the additional points you could generate each week if you use that $120K to upgrade somewhere else now (or in the coming rounds).

      For me, I don’t think it would be worth making the trade. I don’t have either Foley or Curnow. But I wouldn’t be trading Foley out (if I had him) and I won’t be trading Curnow in. I might be wrong but I think trades will be even more valuable this year than they have been in previous years.

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        April 8, 2011 at 12:04 pm

        Cheers Les, and im thinking along the same lines. Would have either on my bench, hopefully just making money, but saying that with byes a lot of my bench will playing i’d say.
        I think i might just sit tight, and hopef foley eventually comes good, he’ll be pretty good cover on the bench anyways

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    April 8, 2011 at 10:35 am

    For me leagues wins are the most important part of DT, ranking is just a bonus. Who would want to get flogged bye a mate who is going for the league win when, when your goind for overall and will probably fall short. I’m not going to take shit from my mates so the league win it is, and if you finish ranked higher then you’ll have something else to bag them out with :)

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    Phil Ken Sebben

    April 8, 2011 at 1:58 pm

    Hey guys, what is the prize for the ‘Eliminator’?

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      Max Power

      April 8, 2011 at 5:45 pm

      Not sure it’s been announced yet.

      I recall it being pretty crap, considering how hard it is to win. I think last year it was $1000.

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    April 8, 2011 at 3:30 pm

    I made my team just for league wins and somehow ended up ranked 821. I suspect that will change when the multibyes come tho.

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    April 8, 2011 at 6:33 pm

    After talking/listening to many fellow DT addicts, I decided to follow my heart & pursue ultimate glory.

    Yarran > Tapscott
    Beams > Curnow

    I’ve been so impressed by those 2 over the last couple of games I just couldnt ignore them.
    And I have a feeling Yarran is going to get 46 tonight & Beams is going to subbed off again.

    Until next time, Irish.

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