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DT Mailbag – Pre-NAB
by tbetta 11 months ago

The days are quickly counting down to the start of the NAB Challenge, so I took to Twitter (@Tbetta9 and @DreamTeamAFL) for questions for the first mailbag of the year – these were a few of the responses. Hopefully they can help spark the creative juices when it comes to moulding your own squad!


“Given there are limited trades in AFL Dream Team in comparison to some other fantasy platforms, who are a few players that you would deem too risky to start with, but you would give consideration to with a greater number of trades at your disposal?” – Maisy

Limited trading is a great re-addition to the game, reigniting a lot of the tactics that we’ve come to enjoy and expect over the years. As you’ve implied, the strategy between 2013 and this year will change significantly now that our trades are capped at 30.

Given that the ideal structure in limited trade scenarios is something that approaches a Guns & Rookies mindset, the riskier types will be some of the value picks and mid-pricers that you simply can’t squeeze into your starting squad. You should be seriously entertaining taking 2-4 mid-pricers into Round 1, and with high-value picks like Suckling, D. Swallow and Sandilands already in the mix, it’s difficult to take too many mid-range types.

I’m talking about Shane Savage for instance, a promising mid-price option in his new home a the Saints. Unfortunately, but the time you’ve selected your midfield Super-Premiums and all the promising rookies in that line, there’s not much space left for a mid-pricer. Same goes for players like Lachie Hansen, Toby Greene, Andrew Gaff, Jack Watts and so on – they’ll all improve on their averages this year, but are too awkwardly priced and it’s too uncertain that they’ll qualify as Premiums in their respective lines by years end.


“With so much value in the midfield, it is tempting to choose many/all of Watson, Cotchin, Murphy and Thomas (clearly Beams is a lock), but should you be fitting all of these guys in considering the limited trades? Are you happy/confident enough that guys like Cotchin and Murphy will be Keepers (top 12 mids) or will we need to use a trade to upgrade at some point?” – Lloyd

You’re right, it’s very tempting. I can definitely see all of Watson, Cotchin, Murphy and Beams averaging 100+ individually in a vacuum, but what’s the chance that, as a quartet, they all bounce back into Keeper territory? Probably unlikely.

The Guns & Rookies theory needs to be applied here. Basically, you want to have 4-6 Premiums and 4-6 Rookies sitting in your midfield rolling into Round 1. Alongside Beams, who as you said is an absolute ‘lock’, you need at least another 1 (and probably 2) low-risk keeper(s) at a minimum. I’m talking players that aren’t under any injury cloud whom you’re 100% certain will be a top 10 MID by year’s end.

To answer your question, you need to find balance by coupling sure-things with a few calculated risks. Beams, plus 1-2 of Swan/Ablett/Pendlebury/Barlow (Stevie J’s age and discipline worry me here) and 2-3 of Watson/Cotchin/Rockliff/Murphy/Thomas/unique is a good blueprint to work off at this very early point. An all-value approach is nice in theory, but can very easily backfire and soak up a large portion of your trades if things go awry.


“What’s your thoughts on Tom Mitchell? I’ve currently got him sitting in my side, but not totally convinced…” – Short & Sweet

Titch is an interesting prospect this year, very hard to peg. Normally I’d simply avoid him with his stigma of risk, but with the Premium pool so shallow in the forward line, he slides back into consideration.

My first worry is obviously the second-year blues. I learnt the hard way last year with players like Greene and Zorko that the negatives associated with picking pricey second-years often outweigh the few positives. In saying that, this is actually Mitchell’s 3rd year in the system (having not played at all in his first year at the Swans), so perhaps he doesn’t even qualify for a sophomore slump?

Secondly, Sydney’s elite midfield means there’s limited minutes available in the guts. As a result, he may be forced to exist in a predominantly-forward capacity, limiting his output significantly like it did towards the end of 2013 – his last four scores read like 58, 74, 81 and 54 as a small forward. That’s a far cry from the 101.9 DT a game he was running at prior.

On the other hand, the kid is a bona fide ball-winning machine. It’s very possible he’s considered one of the premier midfielders at the Swans, and that he’ll play predominantly through the midfield and everything will be all rainbows and unicorns for Mitchell and all his fantasy coaches. For me, the risk of regression at a hefty $492,600 is too great, and I’ve overlooked him at this stage.


“How much of your salary cap should you be using with your starting squad? Do you recommend keeping some coin aside or just using as much as you can to get the strongest possible team?” – W. Chong

Great question – there are three possible scenarios:

  1. You keep a large amount in the bank ($300k upwards) for pre-Round 3 upgrades (before the price changes occur) or fix-it trades.
  2. You keep a small amount in the bank ($200k) as a contingency.
  3. You use as much of your cap as possible.

Either option 2 or 3 is acceptable, with option 1 a big mistake in my opinion. It’s a bit cute and little clever in theory, but the downside is that you go into the first two rounds with a sub-standard team, missing out on keepers that you might have been able to afford, that probably won’t require ‘fixing’. Also, you’re basically guaranteeing two pseudo-upgrade trades before Round 3, giving you very little room to move if you run into any issues that actually need patching.

Option 2 is my preferred method, because it gives you the flexibility to fix up any injuries/bad calls before the first price change.

For instance, say you’ve selected Sandilands at $270,800, but he gets injured in Round 2. If you have only pennies in the bank, you’re very limited with who you can afford – meaning you’re compromising on who you replace him with (there’s basically zero ruck options under $270k are start-worthy), or you’re forcing yourself into a 2nd trade to acquire the funds to buy a decent fill-in.

However, if you have $150k in the bank, you can simply trade in a Jacobs or a Maric type – saving your second trade, or at least giving you the freedom to use it wisely (such as swapping a failed rook for an in-form rook prior to the all-important first price change).



Any questions about this article or the Real Dream Team in 2014? Email me at or keep it short and sweet on Twitter at @Tbetta9.


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