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Mad Monday: State of The Game

Today on Mad Monday: Griff takes an in-depth look at the issues which have affected the AFL Dream Team landscape over the past two seasons. From the Sub rule, to new clubs and the re-introduction of byes, the game has changed. Welcome to: The State of the Game report.

Mad Monday: State of The Game Report

Welcome to Mad Monday: State of The Game Report

Today, I aim to take an objective view of the state of AFL Dream Team. The main purpose of this article is to look at the major changes to the game of AFL in the past three seasons, and how it has, and will, affect AFL Dream Team in the future. It is not to criticise the creators of AFL Dream Team, nor is it designed to criticise changes made by the AFL. It aims to offer realistic, easy to implement solutions for the 2013 season, based on these issues.

There have been three major changes to the AFL structure over the past two seasons. These are: the introduction of Expansion Clubs, the introduction of a Substitute Rule, and the re-introduction of Byes (which have occured in two different formats; Multi-Bye Rounds and Rolling Bye Rounds).

Let’s take an in depth look at all three.

Issue 1
Expansion Clubs

Gold Coast Suns and GWS Giants

For the past two seasons the AFL has seen the introduction of two teams to the competition; the Gold Coast Suns and the GWS Giants.

Affect of Expansion Clubs:
With team lists approximately containing 47 players each, an extra 94 players can now be selected from the total talent pool. Most of these players in their debut season have also been rookie priced.

Expansion Clubs – What it means:
Thankfully for coaches, expansion clubs have worked in our favour, with a large majority of the playing lists being priced as first year/rookie players (including Daniel Harris and James McDonald). Therefore, it can be argued expansion clubs have made it (a) easier to select rookies who are likely to have decent job security, and (b) therefore it has been easier to fit a higher quality team under the salary cap in the past two seasons.

Unfortunately for AFL Dream Team coaches, next season there will be no debut clubs offering a plethora of rookies to choose from, so the advantage from the past two seasons won’t exist. Instead, they will simply offer more players to chose from.


Issue 2
Introduction of Substitutes

My head hurts bro!

Prior to the introduction of substitutes, 22 players from each team were eligible to be selected, and therefore would play four quarters of AFL each week (injuries allowing). Since the introduction of the substitution rule however, only 20 players can been guaranteed full games (per club); a two player drop.

Affect of Substitutes:
Across the past three seasons (2010-2012), there have been an average of 47 players listed (per club) on either a senior or rookie/veteran list. Before the introduction of substitutes, this meant that 47% of all players on a club list were available to play a full game each week. Since the introduction (2011 and 2012), only 42% of players are available to play a full game, with both a green and rest vest affecting two players. It’s important to note that this 4.5% drop is NOT caused by the introduction of expansion clubs.

What is affected is the total number of players who miss out of full games. Previously, 352 players (16×22) of the total talent pool were named to play a full game each week, leaving 400 who would miss out. Since the introduction of substitutions (and the introduction of expansion clubs), there are only an extra 8 players who will play a full game every week (360 players, or 18×20), but those who will not play has blossomed to 486 (a 21% increase).

Substitutes – What it means:
The substitution rule has added significant difficulty in selecting players who will score to their full potential by getting full game time. The best rookies are now susceptible to only playing half a game, and injured players who previously may have been in a condition to come back on late in the game can now have their day end in the first quarter.

Although substitutions only directly affect 36 players per week, this figure represents 9% of the total amount of players selected-to-play. Making it worse, these are most likely fringe players or promising rookies who coaches don’t feel comfortable giving a full game to. This can result in a reduced scoring output, but also lower job security for some of the better rookies (Eg, Gaff in 2011, Morris/Ellis in 2012). In the past two years the prices of rookies with good job security in expansion clubs have offset this disadvantage, but again, it will be far more significant in 2013 when 70% of a (starting 22) team aren’t priced $150,000 or lower.


Issue 3
The Byes

Damn you Demetriou!

In 2011, with the introduction of a 17th team, we were exposed to Rolling Bye Rounds. Each week one team would take a break and players would battle it out on the PlayStation at home whilst the other sixteen teams would battle it out on the field. This year, we were exposed to the far more devastating Bye scenario, the Multi-Bye Round. In this format the Byes were all grouped together over three weeks. They sucked! Not only for Dream Team, but also to watch.

Affect of The Byes:
Rolling Bye Rounds:
Through the introduction of the rolling bye rounds, every single player was rested a minimum of two times throughout the season.

Multi-Bye Rounds: Through the introduction of the Multi-Bye rounds, every single player was rested only once in the year, but all eighteen teams were rested over a three week period.

The Byes – What they mean:
Rolling Bye Rounds:
Although annoying, the obvious strategy was to not pick more than two or three players from each line from the one club. This allowed all players from say, Collingwood, to be benched during their bye round(s), without the possibility of coping a donut (non-scoring player). This was aided by the extended bench spots in the Forward, Midfield and Defensive lines (in the 2011 season only). Overall, they increased the strategic difficulty of the game through selection, but the extended benches countered this and made damage minimal.

Multi-Bye Rounds: In this scenario it was mathematically impossible to not receive donuts, with the lowest possible number across the two weeks being two (taking into account Dual Position Players and additional trades). In reality, most coaches received closer to ten donuts in this three week period. Although the additional trades helped, they were not enough to get through the MBRs unscathed. Overall, they sucked major big ones. Speaking of major big ones, Andrew Demetriou has flaged the possibility of six Multi-Bye Rounds next year – this is a major threat to the enjoyment, and integrity of AFL Dream Team. It lowers the skill required to get a high score over a season, and replaces it with luck, specifically in those weeks.


 Negotiating These Issues



High five!


The most significant factor to the 2013 season will be the AFL’s approach to Byes. As such, it is probably best to analyse how to navigate them last due to their complicated nature. Instead, let’s look at the affect of substitutes and expansion teams. In regards to the latter, it is reasonable to expect that the competition will remain steady for a good part of a decade at eighteen teams. It is also reasonable to expect that the AFL will likely hold firm on the substitution rule. Given this, the main element that will need to be addressed will be the stat relating to players who are likely to play full games.

Given that there is now a near 5% increase in the number of players that will not be playing full games every week (over the competition), or 9% of those selected each week, it could be argued that there should be a 5% to 10% compensation to coaches to ensure they aren’t adversely affected by subs. In the past two years of the sub rule this has not been needed, as we have been substantially compensated by so many rookie priced options from the Suns and the Giants in their debut season. But next year that won’t happen!

As a player being subbed is more likely to affect team structure than trades, I believe this compensation should come from the total number of players allowed in a team.

Subs Suggestion (without Byes): 32 Players + 24 Trades. (2 player increase).

A 7% increase in player positions would lift the total from 30 to 32 (or near enough). Perhaps an additional bench spot in defence and in the forward line to combat slower price increasing rookies due to substitutions, and to reduce the risk of overall lower scoring is the answer?

When it comes to Byes it’s not as easy to come to a solution mathematically, specifically for Multi-Bye Rounds. Should the AFL deem Rolling Bye Rounds the best option (which would be best-case-scenario), an additional bench spot in every line should help limit the damage, as well as extra trades! Currently there are four trades made available for every five players in a team. Therefore, an extra four players would result in an extra three to four trades.

Rolling Bye Rounds Suggestion: 36 Players & 28 Trades. (4 player & 4 trade increase).

If we are faced with Rolling Bye Rounds in 2013, increase the playing squad from 32 players to 36, and increase a total amount of trades to 28.

Although this suggestion appears a bit extreme, it would more closely reflect AFL playing lists (in size), and the deeper benches would also help combat the effects of Long Term Injuries. Imagine being able to bench Scotland, Murphy, Waters or Ablett when they are injured and the prognosis is five weeks, and waiting it out instead of being faced with trading them out to avoid receiving a donut. It also increases the chances to make more unique squads, and beginners will have a higher chance of selecting the correct rookies, making the game less complicated.

When it comes to Multi-Bye Rounds however, given there would be six rounds of restricted teams for selection, there are three obvious options. 1) Don’t run AFL Dream Team during these rounds, (2) Leave things as they are and simply suggest ‘it’s a matter of luck’ or (3) increase the amount of trades and available players to allow for minimal damage. As option one and two would just not be possible or fair and would affect the games enjoyment, option three is the only true way forward. Again, increasing the depths of benches and supplying an additional trade during these weeks (similar to this year) would seriously lower the strain on teams.

Multi-Bye Rounds Suggestion: 36 Players + 30 Trades. (6 player & 6 trade increase).

If we are faced with Multi-Bye Rounds again in 2013; increase playing squads from 32 (based on adjustments due to substitutions and expansion clubs) to 36 players, and increase the number of trades to 30 (an additional trade per MBR).

Although both the team list and trades available appear high (drastically so), the amount of damage that was done in a single week where one third of the competition was rested was extreme this year. 2013 would be twice as bad. To enusre new players to the concept of Dream Team don’t give up because it’s too hard, and to keep some form of stratergy involved for experienced players, instead of luck, this number seems reasonable. So how would this all work?

Looking Forward to 2013


I said never again!

The AFL is not going to budge on Byes, neither are the AFL players. They are going to occur, and AFL Dream Team needs to adjust to (a) keep interest for its players, and (b) to reflect the changing nature of the AFL. Without adjusting the playing squad of: 7 Defenders, 6 Midfielders, 2 Rucks and 7 Forwards, which reflect the 22 players in an AFL team, both trades and bench spots are the only fair adjustments that can be made without dramatically changing the structure of the game.

A Defensive and Forward bench of around 4 players (yes it reads as a lot) would not only allow for more team depth in tackling Bye rounds, but it would also open up the options to take risks regarding drafting Dual Position Players, injury prone players (Sylvia, Higgins, Grimes etc), or non-elevated rookies. Additionally, a 3 player Midfield bench would increase options for DPP links to both the Forward and Defensive lines, as well as adding that extra depth needed for injuries and suspensions around byes.

MBR based AFL Dream Team Structure:

Defenders: 7 + 4
Midfielders: 6 + 3
Rucks: 2 + 3
Forwards: 7 + 4

How could all these players fit under the salary cap? A simple adjustment of the magic number would help fit all the extra players under the salary and increase an emphasis on selecting rookies. It means players like Dane Swan and Gary Ablett will still be the most expensive players, but a starting value or $550,000 instead of $615,000 would be more likely. Picking 14 rookies/bench players may seem like a huge task, but sites like DreamTeamTalk exist to help you pick rookies, and the AFL have a credited doctor to do the same. More bench spots will equate to more varried teams, and there is always the ‘coaches choice’ option for new players.

Trades would still be limited over a season; meaning you still have to select a good team, and those who use them early will still have to limp into league finals with their set teams like they do every year. League matches (and the Eliminator) could be played fairly through all Bye situations, and elements of luck still exist, without being catastrophic.


Public Forum

AFL Dream Team is by no means a democracy. It is a game created by Virtual Sports, based on the statistics provided by Champion Data, sponsored by Toyota. The public are minor stakeholders and can only make suggestions on changes they would like to see. But what if you could directly make changes? What would you want to change? Have I got the balance right? Or should there be any changes at all? Comment below and share your: State of the game!

Keep Dreaming! – Griff

Born Adelaide, Lived Darwin, Resides Canberra. A Crows fan as a child, I have became a big supporter of the GWS Giants in their foundation year. I love my footy, multimedia design and beer(s).



  1. Avatar


    July 23, 2012 at 8:38 pm

    Has anyone noticed that all the top league ladder sides all have birds as their mascot? The Hawks, Swans, Crows, Magpies & Eagles are at the top of the ladder.

    Time for Carlton to become the Blue Birds if they want success!

  2. Avatar

    Atto the Assassin

    July 23, 2012 at 9:35 pm

    I think VS should keep the changes simple and don’t create anything new. Assuming that there are going to be 6 rounds of MBRs, why don’t we just mix a bit of 2011 and 2012 for 2013?

    1. We have 2011’s field setup. (add a reserve def, mid and fwd)

    2. We have 2012’s trading style. (2 trades a week with exception for the bye rounds with 3 trades a week)

    3. Maybe bump up the amount of trades a little bit. (30 max)

    I don’t know what you all are going to think of this, but like everyone else, I’m just throwing ideas around.

    • Warnie


      July 23, 2012 at 9:42 pm

      That is looking a very likely scenario to me. Well played.

      • Avatar

        Atto the Assassin

        July 23, 2012 at 9:47 pm

        Cheers Warnie! Oh, and great article Griff, raised lots of questions and started a huge conversation!

  3. Avatar


    July 23, 2012 at 9:54 pm

    Here’s another couple of random ideas I have had bouncing around in my skull lately:

    1. In addition to three emergencies, it would be cool to be able to nominate a ‘utility’. This player could cover a donut in any line, provided the donut was caused by a late withdrawal. If squads are 33 as they should be, there will be more depth in most teams and this would be a reward for depth plus reduce the extent to which luck impacts negatively on scores – which is bad for ‘casual’ players and addicts alike.

    2. Just like the AFL coaches have to, each week DT coaches could be required to nominate a green and a red vest. You’d get whatever the red vested player scores in the first half, and whatever the green vested player scores in the second. It would add another level of statistical analysis for those who could be bothered, not make too much difference for those that couldn’t, and make a few players more relevant to DT (lads that start well and never finish off, or junkers who don’t average high enough to make a squad in their own right). It would also effectively reduce your total playing squad to 21 players, bringing scores down a little which is a positive I think. Cracking 2000 should mean something. These days you can be suicidal with a 2050 or so. Plus, it is more like the real game and that ought to be a goal of rule changes.

  4. Avatar

    The x Factor

    July 23, 2012 at 10:16 pm

    to be honest I can’t be too bothered with all these wonderful new ideas……

    so many good ideas but as warnie’s stated the reality is it’s not gonna be much more than a couple of extra spots and a couple of extra trades…..

    so yeah, I just try not thinking of these cool crazy ideas so I don’t get too false hoped. :)

  5. Avatar


    July 23, 2012 at 10:19 pm

    My ideal scenario is 33 players, 6/8/2/6 structure, and 30 trades.

    Increased engagement, rewards skill, provides more unique midfields and more FUN! I’m already out of trades, and I don’t feel I’ve wasted them on complete rookie mistakes. You can see on the forums that interest has fallen dramatically with players very low or out of trades

    Its just been the nature of my DT season. Scotland “out” for 4 weeks, trade him to Bootsma, Bootsma scores 36, gets dropped the week later and Scotland comes in that week. I then trade Bootsma to Shaw the following week. Thats two trades down the toilet because of mis information by Carlton IMO.

    Traded Waters also, theres another gone. Fyfe>Whitecross, Shaw to Scotland earlier in the year, Ablett to Rockliff, Goodes to Beams. Thats 7 trades due injury, + another from Broughton after round 2.

    When this chaos includes the MBR, I was never going be able to hold onto my trades late in the season.

    I’m looking forward to 2013, mainly with the prospect of a return of mid pricers!

    Note: Ranked 1,318th

  6. Avatar


    July 23, 2012 at 10:19 pm

    Given that each team still plays 2 games within each 3 game MBR. Surely there has to be a way to make these 3 weeks somehow count for 2 DT rounds. Limit trading between those teams sharing the same bye week for the 2nd and 3rd week, perhaps? Each team’s first game counts towards the first DT week of scoring and each team’s 2nd game to the 2nd round.

    To try to negate the effect of vests to an extent, perhaps the lowest score a player gets for a round could be counted for a quarter of the score. It would also help with donuts, as every player, vest or not would end up getting less than 20 points for this player, and it’s no more scaling a score than awarding double points for the captain. If the captain gets the lowest score in this scenario, then either count the VC score as double, or let the captain’s double score stand, but then the 2nd lowest score gets “the vest” score.

    • Warnie


      July 23, 2012 at 10:32 pm

      The MBR idea there is going to be too complicated to implement and to explain for the masses. Also I’m so not a fan of any sub scoring things… players should only score what they actually get and only if they are working your 22. Part of the game is luck (or educated guesses) when selecting these. If you pick players who are likely to start as sub, deal with the consequences. Of a player gets a red vest, it’s no different to injury really. Deal with it.

      • Avatar


        July 23, 2012 at 11:16 pm

        Well it could be made simple in that we have a partial lockout in week 1 and then a full lockout in week 2 that carries over to week 3. So you basically have the same team for 2 consecutive rounds, and there are 2 weeks over the 24 round season where you can’t change your team.

        Allow the entire bench as emergency cover for those 2 weeks and away you go. There’ll still be a few people who’ll be unlucky with injuries/suspensions and being left out. But we had that this year and couldn’t cover them either.

        I’m not too fussed either way as far as far as subs go. I tend to agree that you stick with what you get. It was just another idea to throw out there…

  7. Avatar


    July 23, 2012 at 10:44 pm

    1 trade left – Four Options
    1. Cloke to Sidebottom (F7)
    2. Williams to Van Berlo (M7)
    3. Townsend to Malceski (D7)
    4. Keep trade

    • Avatar


      July 23, 2012 at 11:32 pm

      It had to happen :rolls eyes:

  8. Avatar


    July 24, 2012 at 5:59 pm

    Here’s my thought. The Dream Team Test match!

    Every player has an equal amount of byes, so overall rankings for DT coaches average out over the bye periods.

    The unfair parts are league match ups and eliminator when you have half your players out and your opponent has none. Pure luck based on the match up.

    So. Just have league matchups and eliminator run for three weeks over a multi-bye period, and then halve the team total at the end to decide the winner. Every player has the opportunity to play twice over the three weeks, so each team in the match up/eliminator has its donuts averaged out for a fair contest. No luck involved! Keep everything else, (benches, trades) the same. You can blow trades to try and gain an edge over the three weeks but it will at best only get you one league win and probably hurt your overall chances later.

    It would be a DT test match of three weeks! Imagine the extended rivalries that would form! Imagine the bragging rights of grinding your best mate into the turf over a three week contest!

    It’s a simple solution for VS, match ups are fair, no mucking around with trades or extra benches, all rankings run as normal and the luck factor is removed in leagues and eliminator. DT stays as close as possible to the game we love.

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