Keepers & Bargains

Written by Father Dougal on March 17 2019

Up until now, we have only had two names for how to approach our initial setups. Guns and Rookies is decently defined. Just how many non-guns and non-rookies you can have is unclear, but at some undefined point adding another mid-pricer turns your team into Mid-price Madness. Mid-price Madness is pretty much anything that is not Guns and Rookies.

That’s clear, but it is not a very useful definition. So, just two accepted approaches, or at least named accepted approaches. Me being me, I’ve decided to take, and name, a third option. As you probably guessed from the name of the post, I call it Keepers and Bargains.

So you have invented a new strategy huh?

Nope. I am giving a name to a strategy lots of us already use, but don’t, well, have a proper name for. Names and words influence how we think and communicate. If we don’t have a name for something we have a difficult time talking about it. By defining and giving a name to the formerly unnamed strategy henceforth known as Keepers and Bargains, we, or at least I, can talk about it when doing rate my teams and other posts.

I’m dubious about there being concepts we do not have words for. Name one. Prove it.

Okay, but remember you asked for it.

Oh, um hang on…

Too late! So, in the SCT universe there is a superhero, Wombat Woman, and a sidekick, Bilby Boy. Bilby Boy is Wombat Woman’s sidekick. Wombat Woman is Bilby Boy’s what?

I, um, argh….You Bastard!!

Yup. No word for that. If we were speaking German we could mash a bunch of words together to make a new word, and it would be thepersonsomeoneisthesidekickof but thank God we don’t do that sort of thing.

Down with that sort of thing!

Right! Anyways, I want to be clear I’m not trying to claim to have invented Keepers and Bargains, I’m just naming it.

Fine! (Muttering) There has got to be a word for that…..

Just like Guns and Rookies, Keepers and Bargains has a name that accurately describes it. It is a team of players who are keepers, bargains, and sometimes both. We all know that not all mid-pricers are the same. There are a lot of reasons for a player to be mid priced, and some of those players it is far from mad to take.

”Real” mid-pricers are players whose expected output is, well, middle. Zach Tuohy for example. He is priced to average about 80 and he will probably average about 80. Won’t go up in price, won’t score enough to make him worth a spot. Taking him would indeed be madness. He is somehow in 1% of teams; presumably friends and relatives.

But, Zac Williams on the other hand, who costs $52,600 less than Tuohy, is in 29% of teams because his owners expect him to average 93 or more this season. Since he has averaged 93 in the past, is pretty reasonable to expect that. Williams is a bargain. He is likely to be a keeper as well.

Keepers and Bargains is not just bargains, if it was that would be just “Bargains and More Bargains” That would not be a very good plan, and I suggest you not try it. We are certainly going to want to players who are priced at or even above their likely output. Dangerfield, Gawn, and Grundy for examples. We want as many of the “Captain option” players as we can afford. Bargains help us afford more of them.

“But what about Cows?” I hear you ask.

I SAID, what about Cows I hear you ask!

(Sigh) What about cows?

Glad you asked. Rookies are bargains, very good bargains, who cost very little. They are almost never keepers, but that is fine. They also have a lot more profit potential than bargain mid-pricers. A player has to average about 38 points more than they are priced to in order to make $150k by Round 10.

Rookies are priced to average from about 19 to 39. Not too hard for a rookie to average the 57 to 77 needed to make $150k or more. (Actually, 77 is sort of hard, which is why expensive rookies are not idea, but that’s another topic.)  You want as many of the best bargains in your team as you can get, up until you have more left over cash than you want. Hmm… “I wonder where we have heard something like that before?” I hear you ask

I SAID, I wonder where we have heard something like that before? I hear you ask!

(Grumble) I wonder where we have heard something like that before? Might it be the first rule of Cow-quisition?

Why, yes that’s right!  Since rookies are usually the best bargains, and certainly the cheapest, they are still the backbone of and starting points for our teams.

You keep saying rookies and not cows? I asked about cows.

Yeah, see, I am thinking that there are some non-rookies that are, in practice, cows.

(Gasp) Blasphemy!

You say that a lot. And maybe it is, so what? I’m on a defining things roll, and I got to thinking. Rookies are rookies. That’s easy. I’m thinking cows are players who we expect to use to make a profit from, as if they were a rookie. They can be rookie priced, or they can be more than rookie priced as long as they can be reasonably expect to make $150k – ish or more. Like rookies, to make $150k by R11 they need to average about 38 over what they were priced to average.

Most bargains who average 38 points over what they are priced to are keepers, but there is still room for cows who are more than rookie priced. Of course there is a ceiling where a player who scores 38 over their PTA (Priced to average)  is a keeper and won’t be sold.

Tom Liberatore is priced to average 54.6. Call it 55 That means if he averages 93 you can expect to sell him for the same $150k profit you would for selling a dodgy forward cow you payed $123,900 for and who averaged 59. Of course a dodgy forward cow could go to say 64, but Tom could go to 98. In his case, he could go 110, as he has done that before. That’s 55 over his PTA, and forward cows do not average 78!  

We know one big game can boost price a lot, and who is more more likely to have a really big game when it will push them to a high price? Forward cow, might get a ton or even a bit more. Libba’s known ceiling is 171. He could certainly have a 130+ match and pump his score way up. Overall, Tom is arguably a better a cow than say Petruccelle or for a midfield example, Gibbons. Down side is he costs more. Upside is way more points and playable on field.

Darcy Moore might have been a better example, in that he just needs to score 81 to make $150k by R10.

You make your case with numbers, that is so annoying when my assumptions are challenged that way.

Heh, Indeed. So, discounts that are not cows are either cheap guns, or what are usually called stepping stones. Cheap guns are simple, a player who we want anyways is discounted for some reason. Max Gawn last season for example. The as yet unknown players who are going to have breakout years are other examples, but we do not know who they are. Taking them fit with Keepers and Bargains, but does not have to be. Keepers and Bargains is not about trying to pick breakout players, it is finding players who are underpriced and not being afraid to use them.

Brodie Smith, for example, is priced to average 60.5.  So, if he manages an average of 98.5, keeper! But say he averages 85? Well, you still get 85 points a week, at the cost of 60.5. Not bad. And you can still sell him for $82.5k profit, which is not bad, if not exciting, but you got the points. I’m thinking he stays until his bye then gets upgraded, assuming he does not end up a keeper, or throw a big score out before R 11. Not a compelling case but not a bad one for the low end of what people are hoping for from him. If you don’t have another $150k to get a gun Defender, and don’t want to have $200k in the bank and a dodgy cow, well, he fits. 

How about $200k in the bank and a good cow?

If there is a good cow not in your team, he should be in your team. I would totally take $200k and a good cow over Brodie. Stepping stones are a way to use money when you are out of cows and can’t afford guns in all your remaining spots.

One basic part of the game is getting as many points as you can for as few dollars as possible. Bargain players let you do that. Fill your team with cows, then add in the good discounted players. Then the guns. If you have leftover cash you do not want to keep, make upgrades to the discounted players!

So, how to tell a Guns and Rookies team from a Keepers and Bargains team? Well, it make sense for a G&R team to have one mid-price player. After all, it is pretty likely that once you have a team of 29 guns and rookies, you are likely to have a middle amount of cash left, and it makes sense to spend it on a bargain mid-pricer. But, if a team has two or more mid-pricers, other than fallen established premiums, they are now choosing to forgo a gun or a rookie, and therefore are using Keepers and Bargains.

So, the 10,000 beer question, which is better?

That’s going to change every year, depending on the players available. Neither one is inherently better. If there are enough quality cows to go G&R, then I would totally do that. If there are not enough cows to go G&R, then I would totally go K&B. This season is looking like K&B.

You gonna do a team reveal?

Oh yeah, although I’m likely to be last or near again, since I have been writing other stuff. I at least have a team at the moment, which I didn’t last season.

What type of team are you going with this season?

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26 thoughts on “Keepers & Bargains”

  1. Awesome work as always FD. I have a follow up question but it’s probably more a subject for another article, is it possible to define what these mid priced bargains need to score to be a success (or par)? If they average 38 pts above their price and make 150k they are a huge win because of the bonus points on field over a rookie. But what about the Brodie Smith example you used where he averages 85 and makes 80k, I agree with you that it seems about par but would love some numbers to back it up. I know this may not be possible as it’s dependent on rookie scores, premium scores and individual trade/cash situations.


    1. Hmm. It is a good question. I have an idea of how to try and answer it, but it may not survive being thought through, or could just take a lot of thinking. I’m not sure I can get to it before First Bounce though. Have to see….


  2. If Brodie Smith averages 85 then it will be more than he’s averaged in 4 years (last year obviously doesn’t count), and $85k profit against a $320k outlay is an L, which only occurs in what looks like the best case scenario. He feels like another Lumumba.


      1. You said it yourself FD, drop down to a rookie and spend the change elsewhere. There are enough backline rookies to get away with only running 3 premos (or 2 and williams for many)


    1. I think something that gets largely overlooked, although FD alludes to it a couple of times, is a rookie/bargains ability to have a high three week average.

      We don’t need Brodie Smith to average 90-95 for the season to make money, we just need a purple patch giving him a high three week average, and trade him out when he spikes. He’s proven in 2017 that he could average 114 over three weeks.

      Collins is another example. He’s proven he can score 100s, with two in a 14 game career. If he averages 65 until Round 10, but manages a three week average of 80 during that period pretty much anytime from Round 5 onwards, he’ll make 150K.

      Currently I can’t afford Walsh, but he seems like the kind of rookie that could score a 120, and bring his three week average up to 85-90, which would justify his price. The difference being Collins is proven and Walsh is unknown, so it depends on how each coach views Walsh’s ceiling.


      1. Chipps.

        What we do know about Walsh is that he was incredibly consistent over his whole junior career.

        He just never had a bad game . like Never!

        Watching in him in JLT he was already one of Carlton’s best.
        The kid is built for AFL and looked very comfortable, Always putting in second and third efforts. He tackles , finds his own ball and likes the ball forward of centre. ( several goal assists already). He is also pretty quick. ( he ran down A Saad in JLT 2).

        I know it’s usually not the go to pick the pricey rookies.
        But trust me this guy will be worth it.
        In a year with so few genuine best 22 rookies, He should play ( nearly) every week and average 80+

        He is a lock for me at M6.

        Find the cash now Chips, or you will be scrambling to get him in R 3.


  3. I think Brodie Smith is a curios case, while a Liberatore can certainly average 93 to make that $150k by round 10 and do it quite consistently which justifies his selection.

    I feel I’m not actually picking Brodie Smith to hopefully average 99.5 and get to the bye and then trade him (or expect him to do enough to be a keeper)

    I’m actually picking him because of his game by game ceiling; his scoring history is a roller coaster and can easily go 110+ but also has plenty of sub-50 games in him.

    Perfect world would see him knock out 3-4 110+ games in the first 6-7 weeks and then cull him for a fallen premo as soon as possible to try and get an early upgrade before anyone else.


      1. Understand that point, but all sorts of players can put together a 3-round average of 100. It’s our job as SC’s to figure out those who can keep it up and those that will revert back to their norm. We know Brodie isn’t a 100+ average SCer based on his previous history. I doubt coming back from injury has changed that.


  4. There has to be some impact on the GnR strategy due to free trade movement. Record number of trades prior to preseason should see teams acquiring good role players whom are not getting a go at their previously contracted club filling the gaps that rookies once would of, that’s not to say rookies won’t play as clubs tend to like them to get a taste early so they know what is expected but I certainly think the ability for clubs to acquire mature AFL experienced players will impact the Rookies games played. For this reason I’ll be going keepers & bargains….although the mid season draft may help with cows later in the season


  5. When Adelaide has a player that plays behind the ball and was 2nd overall for effective kicks per game, ranked 4th for intercepts per game and 3rd for turnovers per game in season 2018, then any runner playing along side must be worth a punt – Rory Laird’s stats.

    Wayne Milera, Seedsman and Gibbs may be the spanner in the works that limits Brodie Smith from producing those two to three consecutive games of 100+ and limiting the sub 70 scores. In 2017 Brodie averaged 82, with 5 sub 70’s and a further 5 scores in the 70’s from a 22 game full season.


  6. All this talk of rookie droughts and Bargains….

    I keep coming back to 1 question.

    Rookie JS v’s Bargain injury risk?

    Most of the Bargains are underpriced because of Injury.

    B Crouch

    All these guys are capable of averaging 30 odd points over their price. Or at least having a purple patch and gaining the $100k+ you need to upgrade/ replace them.

    But how many will stay on the park?

    Then you have another problem with rookies.

    Yes a number will get named R1.

    But how many will hold their spots, or even score well enough to make the same coin?

    I currently have 11 keepers 5 bargains / 13 rookies and a loop in my side


    Are the only guys I see as Best 22.

    The rest need to play well or we are all in trouble. 🙁


    1. My 5 bargains for this year are..


      Williams and Rocky.

      Both are potential keepers as they have both done it before.
      everyones on Williams but no one want’s to touch Rocky.

      I’m all over him.!

      He tried to play hurt last year to prove something at his new club.
      He looks fit again and settled into Ports midfield.
      No one has his ceiling at that price. NO ONE!

      He is still young and capable of returning to top 6/8 midfielder this year.

      If he does break down early , I trade him for B Crouch 🙂


      Feel more like Stepping stones, when there’s no rookies?

      One or more will be D6 / M8 / F6 at years end.

      Thanks FD for the Sermon.

      Seems to me this year its….

      Bargains or Bust!


    2. I tend to agree FT. Most people have 3 Power rookies and 3 Geelong rookies, all of which have shaky JS given the players that are out. Throw in Scrimshaw, who is one lazy game away from the VFL. Feel like the extra for Smith, Libba, Moore and Collins is as much about JS as it is scoring potential.


      1. Normally I would avoid these players but in 2019 I agree Chips. Smith seems less risky than these dodgy rookies.


  7. I still might go Ridley over Brodie at D4.

    Free’s up over 100K

    Watch out for the Power rookies in Duursma, Drew, Butters and Rozee.

    They all may start but who’s still there R 4/5 is anyones guess.

    Probably Rozee and Butters. But they’re the priciest !

    Scary year for Rookies indeed.



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