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The 5 Biggest Changes to the Way We Play DT

44 trades… hmm! Tbetta takes a glance into his crystal ball and predicts the way the dominoes will fall for coaches on the back of this huge fundamental change.


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.


Rookie Bandwagons

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:

Round 14:

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:

Round 17:

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



  1. Avatar


    January 20, 2013 at 4:01 pm

    Perfect summary of what is ahead Tbetta. As previously stated I am not a fan of 44 trades, but it does bring new challenges and strategies, and the smart players should come out in front.

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      January 20, 2013 at 7:27 pm

      Been quiet all season just reading everyone’s opinions – which is awesome by the way and part of the enjoyment of DT.

      Its tikee to start getting serious though.

      If you don’t embrace the fact the game has changed you are destined to fail.

      Looking at improving on 381st last year.

      As always starting squads are crucial.

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    January 20, 2013 at 4:07 pm

    Good points raised, I share your thoughts especially with breakout players. I will be looking at one in midfield as there are some good mid-pricers to choose from. I don’t think we should be picking too many of these players as most will fail, however if we’re lucky we may just find that piece of gold. Gaff is currently mine.

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    January 20, 2013 at 4:12 pm

    Broughton 59, 36 and DNP :0

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    January 20, 2013 at 4:47 pm

    Great article mate. I also am looking forward to the changes. It is basically a completely different game, which still contains everything we love – just a little differently.
    Sure it will make things easier in a lot of ways, but us passionate DTers will still have an edge :)

    I have a feeling a lot of people will be trying to play it like the stock market – Buy low & sell high – but I anticipate this only working 30% of the time, and will personally be trying not to do this too much!

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    January 20, 2013 at 4:49 pm

    Does someone have to follow you for them to be able to see a tweet you sent to them?

  6. Avatar

    PurpleArmy (aka Space Goats)

    January 20, 2013 at 4:59 pm

    Awesome Tbetta, gonna have to look at this page a few times before the season begins. Thanks for the write up :)

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      January 20, 2013 at 7:33 pm

      +1.Have begun writing some points for the Black Book..Good stuff mate.

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    January 20, 2013 at 5:46 pm

    Great write up T-Betta, summed it all up perfectly.

    1-4 week injury, not sure whether to trust the clubs or your sources again? Thanks and good luck, next please!

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    January 20, 2013 at 6:05 pm

    Absolutely spot on Tbetta.
    In saying that though, there will still be injuries and suspensions to deal with but as you said, the replacement for those will now be different as they may be selected as a replacement knowing they are only going to be in your team for a short time. That may be because they are about to explode in price or they may be having a nice little run of easy games coming up.
    There is still that little fella in the back of my mind though telling me that rookies (even if they only average 60) will still make me far more money and more quickly than what a mid pricer will going from 70 avg to 90+.

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    DT Tragic

    January 20, 2013 at 7:03 pm

    2 permanent weekly trades certainly does seem overkill, but I think it will help us with the bigger issue of clubs naming players who are not going to be playing.

    2 trades will allow the majority of us to have an emergency playing on every line, which usually gets harder to achieve as the season unwinds.

    Last year us DTers were baying for the blood of AFL coaches who carried out this strategy throughout the year, but I do not want to be married to the iComputer all weekend so a rolling lockout was not a user friendly option to counteract that.

    I definitely think these new rules will make the good DTers even better, but will also keep others in the game for longer.

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    January 20, 2013 at 7:11 pm

    ” Any tactical changes that you think I’ve missed?”

    Ye, the fact that it becomes almost essential to get Ass Coach.

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      January 21, 2013 at 12:08 pm

      Get on it! Only $20. Otherwise, head over to Fanfooty and delve into their break-evens.

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    January 20, 2013 at 9:02 pm

    Great article Tbetta some great info there mate well done, will be bookmarking this page…. Just a side note if anyone can help..was reading this article on iphone and at the bottom i stuffed around and hit normal web view instead of the app view….says u can change it back but cant work out how lol…..Maybe Warnie or one of the lads can help…cheers…..

  12. Avatar


    January 21, 2013 at 9:45 am

    How valuable a team is possible with these new rules?

    Last year, with 24 trades, teams often went from $8.8m to $12m, a rise of more than 35%

    This year, with 44 trades, is it possible that teams will go from $9.1m to over $22m, a rise of nearly 150%?

    I expect sideways trades an such like, to defend your league position, will soak up some of these trades, I wonder what final team value we should be aiming for?

    Any thoughts?

    • Avatar


      January 21, 2013 at 12:07 pm

      Definitely not. Mainly, there’s much less available cash cows this season given there are no expansion teams, which makes it a lot harder to make money, especially after you’ve already cashed in all your best rookies.

      However, the rules makes it easier to generate cash over a whole season, but you might have to make it through other avenues like sideways trading. The fact that we now have 8 midfield slots now means that some of that extra cash can be attributed to strengthening your guns across that line, as well as some of the extra trades – getting a Super Premo often will cost you a DDU rather than just a simple downgrade-upgrade.

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    January 21, 2013 at 1:06 pm

    There is a “Fast-start” strategy I think needs to be considered with the new rules.

    Essentially I’m working on most starting teams having at least 1 mid pricer and a couple of rookies of the $120-$150k bracket plus the usual $50-$100 k starting bank.

    The idea is

    Step 1 (pre round 1):
    chop the mid pricer
    swap those higher price rooks for $87k versions
    use up all your bank
    bring in an extra gun

    Step 2 pre-round 3):
    take the guns round 1&2 points then trade them out
    bring in your mid pricer (or another mid pricer who may perform better in round 1&2)
    bring in the best performing rookie of the $120-$150k bracket

    get the extra points in round 1 & 2 to get a jump on the comp
    get a look at the performing mid pricers
    get a look at the performing rookies

    there may be more than 1/2 high performing rookie players and you won’t be able to get them in
    if you cop an injury round 2 you have already committed your pre-round 3 trades
    requires you to find bottom dollar rookies who wil play round 1 to fill out your team or you miss out on points.

    Anyone got any thoughts on if this could work or not?

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      January 21, 2013 at 5:49 pm

      No because you only get 2 trades per week haha! How many trades do you reckon you can make pre-round 3???

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        January 21, 2013 at 8:00 pm

        Err….. 2????

        pre round 3
        1. trade out the extra gun for your mid pricer
        2. trade in a high price rookie for one of the el cheapo one you had in their place for round 1 & 2.

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    January 22, 2013 at 1:09 am

    no doubt this will allow for ‘one week punts’. that’s why i’ll be starting with K Jack as he kills GWS and obviusly trade him out for a proven premo……

    • Avatar


      January 22, 2013 at 1:10 am


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