By Matt F.
The preseason rumour mill has been running for months now, with players going under the knife, in moderated programs, or just taking it easy. This uncertainty surrounding our SuperCoach stars has the serious potential to cause selectors to pull their hair out on a non-stop basis. However, with only a couple of weeks until round one, teams have started playing some contested footy.
Only now are we starting to see some interesting data appear which gives us insight into intelligent selections regarding our SuperCoach sides. There can be a million articles saying some player is going to start a certain position or change their role, but until you see it in action its all just a fugazi (cue Matthew McConaughey impersonations). Today I’m going to try to shed some insight on how your team should structure.
In the overall ranking rat race that we all aspire to be in, the priority is to get a full premium side as soon as possible. This sounds so simple, but many miss the boat on this simple task. The easiest way to get a full premium side quickly is to start with as many premiums that you can (duh). These players will remain in your side the entire season, barring injuries, suspension, or disappointing form. Ideally, your premiums will be the highest scoring players across the season.
Personally, I look at the players who typically don’t miss too many games through injury or suspension, but some players like Macrae and Fyfe can be too juicy to pass up. Since overall ranking is based on aggregate points across the season, I like to try to identify players who will around that mark in their positions. There’s no point selecting a bloke who’s consistently injured or at the tribunal every second week, because then you’ll have to rely on your bench to have good scores to cover your missing player, or you’ll have to burn a trade for a selection you backed in having all year.
Another captivating topic for all SuperCoach fanatics is the discussion about mid-priced players. For the most part, these players are either former premiums coming off an injury-plagued season, or they’re a young player with more opportunity/a chance to play an increased role. Mid-pricers can be so attractive because, if successful, they can have a big impact in your team by scoring as a premium at a bargain price, but buyer beware: there’s the potential for their scoring to remain similar to what they have in the past, thus causing havoc as the selector has forked out an extra 200-300k for someone to score as much as a rookie.
Not only has the selector paid the extra coin for no increase in points, they also have missed out on a potential uber-premium selection, having to downgrade a proven star (Macrae, for example) for a slightly less attractive equivalent (Dylan Shiel). The more mid-pricers a team takes on, the bigger the risk. In saying that, the bigger the reward is, also. It’s one of those things where it can make or break your entire season.
The ideal number of “keepers” in your starting SuperCoach side is 12-13. These are the players that you would back in to be in the top 6-8 scoring players in their position. This means, using the traditional “one up, one down” method required to accumulate enough money to upgrade a player, you would use approximately 14-16 trades to upgrade your entire starting 22 players. Obviously, it’s a lot easier said than done, with the rolling doors of football changing as often as the wind. By spending more money on mid-pricers or expensive rookies, you damage your ability to select as many keepers as possible. For example, here are four examples of midfielders you could select:
- Anthony Miles ($342,000)
- Sam Walsh ($207,300)
- Nick Hind ($117,300)
- Michael Gibbons ($102,400)
Now, many people are attracted to Anthony Miles and Sam Walsh at their respective prices, as they are both seen to have the ability to outscore Nick Hind and Michael Gibbons quite comfortably. However, if you were honest with yourself, what chance do you give Anthony Miles or Sam Walsh to finish in the top 8 midfielders? I wouldn’t back either of them to finish in the top 50 midfielders even. This means that you would have to look at upgrading them to get a full premium side. And yes, they’ll both average more than Hind and Gibbons, but is the extra spike in points for the first 6-8 rounds of the season worth it?
By taking Miles over Gibbons, you’re costing yourself an extra $239,600 in the price differential. Is the extra 30 points difference (assuming Miles averages 90 and Gibbons averages 60) worth it, when it means that instead of having Jack Macrae ($689,700) and his 2018 average of 127, you would have to consider a player like Isaac Smith ($451,100, exactly $239,600 cheaper) and his 2018 average of 83.1). In this circumstance, you would gain 30 points on Miles instead of Gibbons, but would lose 43.9 points on having Smith over Macrae.
Obviously you could downgrade Macrae and Cripps to a Callan Ward and Marcus Bontempelli type of player to offset the massive downgrade a bit, but in the end, Macrae and Cripps are all but certainties to finish the season as two of the top 8 midfielders, whereas Ward and Bontempelli will probably both finish top 15-20, but losing out on the extra 20 points per week for each player is a big risk for the addition of one mid-pricer over a bottom-priced rookie.
Now, in saying this there is definitely a place for mid-pricers. As discussed earlier, you need to watch preseason and JLT form to ensure it’s the right selection. Returning players such as Dylan Roberton, or players with a new role/team like Aaron Hall can really boost early season scores. I’m personally reluctant to select mid-priced midfielders, as this is where a large portion of the league’s highest scoring players are positioned, as well as some of the league’s highest scoring cash cows. Despite this, I think for defenders and forwards, where traditionally the top 8 players are lower in their aggregates for the season, mid-priced players can be a valuable commodity, if chosen correctly.
Dylan Roberton is a popular midpricer at $297,500 this season. Last year he missed a large chunk of games due to his heart condition, but with that being managed well he looks to be right for a round one game, and should slot seamlessly back into his rebounding role at the Saints* (Editor’s note: This was written pre-JLT2, but the point still stands so it’s staying).
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In his last full season (2017) he averaged 92.6, and in 2015 he had an average of 90.6. This indicates that he could be a great selection if he can get himself right. With the new kick-in rule interpretation, Roberton could be even more valuable, as the Saints will look to him and Savage to share the role. In this circumstance, we’re spending just under 300k less than a defensive premium (Laird) and potentially only scoring 10-20 points less. This will mean we can upgrade other players from iffy-premiums to uber-premiums, without having to worry too much about the potential drop off.
When it comes to team structure, one poor selection is enough to derail your entire season. However, one sneaky selection that pays off can potentially help you hurdle thousands in the chase for glory. Personally, I’m running with 13 keepers at the moment, as well as Roberton* and Toby Greene as my two mid-pricers, pending fitness. I feel as though these two players can average 80-90 pretty comfortably, which will help me ensure I have genuine keepers in the majority of my spots.
How do you guys structure up? Let me know in the comments.