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The Talking Point: Late Withdrawals

Popular fantasy selections Sam Mitchell, Lance Franklin and Jonathon Griffin were all late withdrawals from their matches over the weekend, causing grief to DT coaches whose bench cover may be looking a little slim at this late stage of the season.

Popular fantasy selections Sam Mitchell, Lance Franklin and Jonathon Griffin were all late withdrawals from their respective matches over the weekend, causing grief to DT coaches whose bench cover may be looking a little slim at this late stage of the season.

Conversely, those coaches who have been clever or lucky enough to carry solid cover into DT finals will have reaped the rewards – possibly the difference between a league win or being left wondering what on earth you’re going to do until Easter of next year.

While the importance of bench coverage should never be underestimated, it can get a bit frustrating when a club has no intention of playing a certain player, take Sam Mitchell for example, yet name him on Thursday only for him to be a late withdrawal after lockout is in effect.

Given the Hawks knew that he would not play on Sunday, it is disappointing for DT coaches and footy fans that they would initially just select him to play anyway. It wasn’t as though Hawthorn needed to play any mind-games in order to get the win against the Suns.

The late withdrawal of Jonathon Griffin also sparked controversy, in that it was suspected by some that the late inclusion of Aaron Sandilands was conspired by the Dockers, giving them the leg-up over the Tigers in relation to match preparation.

Though the AFL today declared the Dockers innocent of any wrong-doing, Damien Hardwick is not alone in wondering why you would name one of the most dominant players in the competition as an emergency if he is fit to play, regardless of how impressive Griffin has been.

Unfortunately for DT coaches and the integrity of team selection, it is very difficult to prove whether or not a player’s late withdrawal was planned, as most AFL players would at least carry some niggle that the late withdrawal can be attributed to.

Though the Dockers are certainly not the only club that could be accused of using the late withdrawal system as a strategic implement, the AFL quickly dismissing them of any wrong-doing will certainly not make clubs hesitant of playing mind games with team selection in the future.

Therefore, it is important not to fall into a false sense of security and declare yourself donut-proof, just because you have a few trades up your sleeve and 22 players on the field with a green light next to their name.

In future fantasy years, it could be favourable to adopt a more secure trading strategy, particularly in the lead-up to the end of the season.

There could be greater benefit in trading out a non-playing bench warmer for a middle-tier coverage option, instead of making a half-assed upgrade or trading out a player who will only miss one or two weeks.

Whether we like it or not, late withdrawals will continue to plague our Dream Teams as long as the AFL allow it to.

Any questions or discussion via twitter @tomcraigie



  1. Motto

    August 21, 2012 at 9:47 pm

    Out of finals thanks to Hawks. Thats twice now, they devastating my GF team last year with “general soreness”. FMDT
    All hawks players are now on the never again list. Yes Im pissed off.

    • POK


      August 22, 2012 at 8:54 am

      Gonna miss out on alot of points then :)

  2. JimmyBob

    August 21, 2012 at 9:56 pm

    nice work there Tom

    I was one of the lucky few to cop all three on the weekend. covered Sammitch and Buddy quite well, but didnt cover Griffin.

    Maybe having an E on all lines could help in the future, however, I imagine VS wants to Mimic the AFL and name 3 emergencies.

    I can’t see the trend stopping next year and I think I will adopt a conservative trading strategy ( in theory it sounds like a good idea anyway)

    • sepultallica9

      August 21, 2012 at 10:05 pm

      It could be solved (partially) if, just as in the real thing, DPP players can come in for a withdrawn player in either position.

      • Motto

        August 21, 2012 at 10:15 pm

        That is a good idea : )

      • The x Factor

        August 21, 2012 at 10:30 pm

        yeah a bit like fpl subs where there in order but dpp can go to either… actually thats genius! :D

    • Groover

      August 22, 2012 at 12:09 am

      OR if VS wanted to keep the game as close to AFL why dont they give us 3 emergencies (bench cover) and a Green vest player (sub) so we can cover all lines, id think a 50% of total score for a GV player would be fair.
      So for example:
      in defence we have our emergency as usual
      midfield emergency as usual
      GV in rucks (redden for example scores 60) and we get 30 for him to cover a potential donut
      forward emergency as usual

      • MCHammerhead

        August 22, 2012 at 12:43 pm

        I like the idea of selecting a Green Vested player and a Red Vested player.
        But I think they should both be on-field selections.
        EG you might choose 1 fwd rookie and 1 back rookie to take a half score for the round.

        It adds another element of strategy which mimics real life.

      • MCHammerhead

        August 22, 2012 at 12:44 pm

        As far as emergency selections go, i’m happy with 3.
        It’s just part of the luck element of the game.

  3. Ronaldo

    August 21, 2012 at 10:15 pm

    Buddy’s late withdrawal was a godsend for me. I had Tay Adams’ 96 on the bench…my semi-final opponent had nothing…won by 40 points.

    • Motto

      August 21, 2012 at 10:19 pm

      My problem is that Im just not lucky. Spend all year building a really good team and see it all fall apart by late withdrawals in first two weeks of finals.

      Bring on 2013….

    • Waltzing Matera

      August 21, 2012 at 10:22 pm

      good stuff…answers my question that I asked below….

  4. Motto

    August 21, 2012 at 10:17 pm

    Still would have just lost in main league but at least no doughnut. Less annoyance…
    Have trades left and would have used them if known about outs……Not Happy

  5. Waltzing Matera

    August 21, 2012 at 10:21 pm

    Good read Tom……Both my opponent and myself had Franklin and although I would of snuck home without bench cover having a playing emergency versus a doughnut gave me some breathing space…Wonder if anyone out there had Franklin but actually won their game because he was a late withdrawal.

    Completely off topic….I have just started as AFL development manager on Tiwi Islands and wanted to put it out there to any teachers who may be interested in bringing a group of kids up here for a reasonably inexpensive and extremely unique experience….just shoot me a message if your interested in more detailed info

    • Warnie


      August 22, 2012 at 7:19 am

      I would LOVE to do that with my kids at school… however, with $ these days (and all the other stuff already implemented at school with trips), it would be next to impossible. Awesome experience though. Would be great to bring 2 boys for a footy game! An experience money couldn’t buy!

      If I worked in a private school, I would be all over it!

  6. Mumbles

    August 21, 2012 at 10:22 pm

    Complete bullshit.
    Where’s the strategic ploy in naming Mitchell against the Gold Coast.
    I would like a rule that if a player is named but a late withdrawal he can’t play for two weeks.

    • Motto

      August 21, 2012 at 10:32 pm

      At the moment Im all for a life ban……and include the coach and selection committee

      • Tom Craigie

        August 21, 2012 at 11:37 pm

        Players being made unavailable for an extra week could be a bit excessive, I would just like the AFL to be bolder its supposed investigations. It’s the same weak excuse they have for dismissing tanking. While it might be difficult to prove 100% whether tanking or a dodgy withdrawal is going on, if it’s blatantly obvious and beyond any reasonable doubt then the AFL needs to be brave enough to act on it.

        • SLAVE

          August 22, 2012 at 1:06 am

          Late withdrawal has to miss a game :O
          Honestly – isn’t this all a bit harsh fella’s?

          You guys do like to watch footy too I assume – all this dreamteam stuff is just fluff, and it’s meant to be a bit of fun.
          The AFL is never gonna crack down on this cos DT doesn’t earn them cash, bums on seats do. Having Marquee players at the game attracts people to go watch it, so they’ll tolerate the mind games forever and a day….. nuf said.

          Sepultallica9 – great point – I hope they bring that in, having someone like Dusty being able to cover both lines as an emergency would make it so much easier!

          • Mumbles

            August 22, 2012 at 6:47 pm

            “You guys do like to watch footy too I assume – all this dreamteam stuff is just fluff, and it’s meant to be a bit of fun.
            The AFL is never gonna crack down on this cos DT doesn’t earn them cash, bums on seats do.”

            Dreamteam is a marketing exercise used by many sporting codes to increase interest in the game
            and television viewing which leads to increased advertising revenue.
            If you think otherwise your a bum on a park bench.

  7. mtooler

    August 21, 2012 at 10:37 pm

    That is a great point above. A late withdrawal misses the game and the next week as well.

  8. Aidan

    August 22, 2012 at 1:57 pm

    How much will Leunberger roughly be next year?

    If it’s average x the Magic Number (Just say it’s 4152) then will it be 56.7 X 4152 = 231,956 so rounded to 232,000?

    Or am I wrong all together?

    • POK


      August 22, 2012 at 4:40 pm

      The magic number must be higher than that because I’ve had a look at this years prices.

      Luke Thompson from the Crows avgeraged 54 last year and started this year at $268,000.

      So let’s say Leuey is priced at between 275 and 280 thousand. But then you give him a 20% discount for only playing 3 games and that takes it down to aboout 225,000. Absolute lock if he gonna be that price :)

      • Aidan

        August 22, 2012 at 6:19 pm

        Cheers for that mate. As you say, if Leunberger is that cheap he will be one of the first picked. If he’s under 300k ish him and Cox will be my ruck combo.

        • Adamant

          August 22, 2012 at 7:55 pm

          I would personally go Jacobs, McEvoy, or Maric over Coxy next year…
          Jacobs + Luenberger combo for me :)

          • Jack

            August 22, 2012 at 8:58 pm

            Nic nat could be a good option too? Will definitely have Luenberger though.

  9. My Brain Hurts

    August 22, 2012 at 2:24 pm

    Why not just make every round a Partial Lockout? Each player on your team would be locked in place when their game starts. Before then, regardless of which day they’re due to play, they could be traded or moved between positions.

    This would introduce some more angst/complexity though… do I use all of the week’s trades before the initial Partial Lockout, or do I hold a trade until Saturday/Sunday just in case??? I’ve played other fantasy sports systems where these things seem to be doable from an IT standpoint.

    Or maybe, as a lesser option, the Friday lockout could remain, but DT coaches could still substitute players that haven’t played between positions (as opposed to trading them out altogether).

    The arbitrary Friday lockout does not apply to real AFL teams, so why impose it on DT coaches???

    • Warnie


      August 22, 2012 at 4:52 pm

      Argh… while this would be a great solution for some people, 95% of coaches would hate it! As if we want to be hanging on for all team sheets (and in the case of the Sandi incident, a few minutes before the bounce) of 9 games a round for 23 weeks.

      No thanks.

      If that was the case, I would honestly shut up shop and not play again – as much as I love it.

  10. Slappers


    August 22, 2012 at 2:26 pm

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