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How to Choose Between Rookies and Mid-Pricers

With the Team Picker now available to Assistant Coach subscribers (And updated Fanplanner for others… Shhh), Dylan has sent in this piece to help us nut out the merits of selecting Mid-Priced players versus Rookies when it comes to cash generation.

Mid-Pricer Ball

Hey guys, Dylan – Coach of Hird5 here. As ‘Team Picker’ became available tonight, I thought I would give you a little help in deciding which types of cheap players to choose. (WARNING: This article may contain maths!).

Many coaches on AFL fantasy sites play favourites. You know… that unspoken acknowledgement that the Australian Cricket Selectors still suffer from. Admit it; we all do to some extent. And we can all also admit we haven’t won the car… yet. I played favourites last year choosing GAJ over Piggy simply because I hate Collingwood. Favouritism is detrimental to DT because we are putting personal opinion into our decision making. While for the half-hearted coach this means nothing, to the dead-set full-on, arguably mentally unstable, 100% passionate, DT-living-and-breathing percentage of DT coaches, personal opinion destroys our team. After spending much of last year in the top 10k, finishing in the teens really bummed me out. I discovered a combination of personal opinions had let me down. Hargrave over Lake, Scotland to Broughton, the list goes on. In particular, I found my knack for ignoring mid-priced players worrying.

Picking Your Team

When choosing our DT line-up, many coaches (including myself) adopt the ‘Guns n Rooks’ approach. This is where you stack your line up with Premiums across all your positional lines and then fill the blank spaces with the cheapest spuds we can find. This, however, overlooks a key aspect to DT that many of the top ranking coaches already adopt, and that is the magic of Mid-Priced players. These are players who are either Fallen Premiums (Luke Ball in 2013) or Wonder Kids about to go bang (Dangerfield in 2012). Typically, this range can be anything from 200-350k, depending on playing position. The reason Mid-Pricers (MP’s) are so important is that they are players that not only have senior experience, but will be locked in for Round 1.

It’s All About The Money

What we have to remember is that DT is a virtual business. It is essentially pitting our business skills against one another to find that combination of purchases and sales within a given budget that will give us the greatest return. Like business decisions, personal opinion clouds good judgement of DT investments. DT in its simplest form is a game where we try to make money… lots and lots of money. Ideally, we want to pick the players that will make us the most money so we can pack our team with Premos through upgrading. Theoretically, Rookies have more room to improve and increase their value.

However, the benefit of choosing fallen Premos is that they have previous high scoring experience. If they replicate this high scoring they will make similar profits to the rookies. For example, Luke Ball is a previously high scoring DT player. He will is priced at what is essentially a stock-standard mid-level player at $343,100. If he scores similarly to what he’s produced in the past, his profit margin will be huge.

The trade off with here is that if you buy too many MP’s you lose flexibility in your salary cap. 10 MP’s will naturally cost much more than 10 rookies, which means less Premos in your starting squad.

For example, Ball and Andrew Embley will be priced at $343k and $264k respectively, and will therefore comprise $607k of your salary cap. Comparatively, Jaeger O’Meara and Jack Viney will cost you around $215k for the both of them. That’s $392k you can’t spend elsewhere. So are MP’s at all worth it? To figure this out I used the 2013 Magic Number (roughly 5,150) and multiplied it by predicted point averages for each player that I was interested in.


Fallen Premiums

In 2011, Ball averaged 96.3 from 21 games. He had similar tallies in previous years and it is safe to assume he will again near this level. For simplicity, let’s say he will average 95 in 2013. Embley averaged 94 from 21 games in 2011 and Calvin has already pointed out he has averaged similarly in previous years. So, let’s use Calvin’s prediction that he will average 88 this season. To estimate their end of season price we multiply their predicted average by the Magic Number.

Player Ave. x Magic No. = Price
Luke Ball: 95 x 5150 = $489k
Andrew Embley: 88 x 5150 = $453k

Basically, (and ignoring changes in the Magic Number throughout the year and the effects of the 3-game rolling average) Ball’s price will increase by roughly $146k. Likewise, Embley’s price-tag will swell by $189k.


To predict the average scores that rookies might achieve, we must look at last year’s cohort. Of the top 10 rookies from last year, only two averaged above 80 (Greene and Treloar). The majority of the top 10 were in the mid-to-low 70’s. Dylan Shiel averaged 73.4 and Taylor Adams averaged 75.3. So, let’s assume that Viney and O’Meara will score similar to Shiel and Adams respectively:

Jack Viney: 73 x 5150 = $376k
Jaeger O’Meara: 75 x 5150 = $386k

Viney and O’Meara will cost us approximately 103k and 109k respectively in 2013. This means that Viney will increase $273k and O’Meara will increase $277k.

But Wait… That’s Not The Final Answer!

It would seem like it is a simple choice – but hang on a minute… Think about what you’re using your rookies for. You’re using them as Cash Cows. How can you access the cash they make? You trade them out. When will you trade them? Around the time the Multi-Bye Rounds arrive. This means that the values we just calculated aren’t fully representative because they are calculated for the end of season. Therefore, we need to calculate what they would be at the time of the MBR’s.

By the time GWS had the bye in 2012, Shiel and Greene were 91.5% and 71.5% of their end of season values respectively. After looking at a few more players I decided that most of the consistently playing rookies would be about 70% of their final value by mid-season as a conservative estimate.

Final Profits

Luke Ball: = $146k
Andrew Embley: = $189k
Jack Viney: 271k x 70% = $190k
Jaeger O’Meara: 281k x 70% = $197k

The reason Ball and Embley have not been multiplied by 70% is because they are what I consider Keepers that are used as one of your non-super-Premium Mids that you may or may not trade out come finals time.

What Does It All Mean?

So what does this all mean? Essentially the statistics are telling us that there are Mid-Priced players who have dropped in value that are definitely worth picking up for 2013. From a numerical stand point, Ball will likely score 20 points per game higher than the majority of the rookies but will make a smaller profit. That being said, Ball will be guaranteed a game and will play round 1 and he will likely miss out on the vest.

The situation with Embley indicates that he will make just as much money for you as a gun Rookie but with the added benefit of being guaranteed to play every game. This statistical observation indicates that choosing MP’s like Josh J Kennedy in the forward line or Bock in the backline may be more beneficial than choosing a Joe Daniher or Lachie Plowman type.


  1. Choose players that will make you the most money – leave opinions out of it.
  2. Use the above formula to decide which players to choose or pass on.
  3. Don’t completely neglect Mid-Priced players.

Final Helpful Notes

  • The stats suggest picking Embley over Ball
  • Cheap rookies will generate more cash profits. For example, picking Lachie Whitfield at $184k will not generate as much cash as a basement-priced rookie. To generate the same amount of cash as O’Meara ($197k), Lachie will need to average an extra 31 points per game!
  • Be careful of Mid-Pricers that are not proven DreamTeam guns like Ball or Embley.



Follow me on Twitter: @yunglux





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