You make me dizzy, running circles in my head
One of these days I’ll chase you down….
A quick perusal of the various Rate My Team threads on this esteemed website will reveal that there is a certain sameness to Supercoach lineups at this time of year. That’s hardly surprising – there’s still a full month until a ball is kicked in anger, lots of players are still battling pre-season niggles, and we have next to no information on rookies at this stage. (That’s right, I do not count club time trials, intraclub games or AFLX as reliable sources of pre-season info!) The easiest strategy right now is just to pick a bunch of the most expensive players, a couple of mid-priced hunches, and then fill in the gaps with the freshmen.
But as we get closer to that first lockout, there comes a time when every coach contemplates abandoning this vanilla strategy, and adding some spice to their teams in an effort to get ahead. The most obvious – and riskiest – way of doing this is trying to capture the elusive entity known as the BREAKOUT. Get a premium set of scores for a sub-premium price, and you’ll be laughing all the way to the bank – or at least a high ranking at season’s end.
The BREAKOUT can be a difficult beast to define, but there are a few basic criteria:
- Most importantly, they boost their average by a considerable margin from all previous efforts. Gradual season-by-season improvers do not qualify for consideration as a breakout.
- They have never previously been regarded as a premium player. Players coming back from an LTI, and players with inconsistent scoring histories i.e. ‘fallen’ premiums, do not count as breakouts.
- They are regarded as a mid-priced option at the start of their breakout season. That means rookie wunderkinds (see: Barlow, Michael) don’t count as breakouts either.
With these ‘rules’ in mind, here’s a snapshot of notable breakout seasons from the recent past:
|Avg in |
|Patrick Dangerfield||2012 (4th)||80.3||118.9||$435,400|
|Tom Mitchell||2015 (3rd)||83.8||104.5||$405,600|
|Sam Docherty||2016 (4th)||87.7||108.7||$473,200|
|Josh Kelly||2017 (4th)||87.1||114.3||$473,800|
|Clayton Oliver||2017 (2nd)||70.3||111.5||$382,500|
|Zach Merrett||2016 (3rd)||88.5||111.5||$477,400|
|Nathan Fyfe||2011 (2nd)||72.6||108.0||$353,100|
|Elliott Yeo||2017 (6th)||75.2||102.1||$409,200|
|Michael Hibberd||2013 (3rd)||73.8||95.9||$395,100|
|Tom Rockliff||2011 (3rd)||85.9||113.5||$418,200|
|Steele Sidebottom||2012 (4th)||83.5||106.2||$452,400|
|Ben McEvoy||2011 (4th)||63.4||101.2||$308,700|
|Todd Goldstein||2011 (4th)||65.8||113.2||$320,000|
|Chad Wingard||2013 (2nd)||51.7||98.6||$276,500|
Now, this is of course only a small selection of the league’s breakout seasons over the years; however, the players listed above are undeniably premium stock, and there is enough data here to draw some general trends.
- With the exception of Yeo, all players were in their 2nd, 3rd or 4th season in the league during their breakout year. A mature-age breakout is a very rare beast indeed.
- Most players averaged between 70 and 90 the year before their breakout, the exceptions being Wingard and the two ruckmen.
- Again excluding Wingard and the rucks, all players were priced in the
$350K – $500K bracket at the start of their breakout season, aligning with their sub-premium scoring average from the previous season.
So we can take these trends and try to apply them to this year’s group of players, in an effort to identify some potential breakout candidates. I have used some discretion here to keep the list to a manageable size. Several players were eliminated because while they meet the above criteria, their on-field role doesn’t lend itself to a sharp increase in scoring, e.g. key defender types such as Lever and Marchbank, and I gave preference to players who finished 2017 in a good vein of form.
There were also a couple of players who may get some interest but didn’t quite meet the criteria, like Luke Dunstan, who finished 2017 in blazing form. However, while most of the guys listed below have been well-discussed already this pre-season, there are still some surprising names popping up who I think deserve a closer look:
|Years in |
|Connor Blakely||FRE, M||$490,300||3||89.2|
|Kane Lambert||RIC, M/F||$472,500||3||86.0|
|Toby McLean||WBD, M/F||$470,200||3||85.5|
|Ryan Burton||HAW, D||$460,200||2||83.7|
|Jack Sinclair||STK, M||$459,500||3||83.6|
|Jordan De Goey||COL, M/F||$434,300||3||79.0|
|Christian Petracca||MEL, M/F||$433,300||2||78.8|
|Darcy Parish||ESS, M/F||$419,000||2||76.2|
|Charlie Curnow||CAR, F||$408,100||2||74.2|
|George Hewett||SYD, M/F||$405,800||2||73.8|
|Callum Mills||SYD, D||$403,100||2||73.3|
|James Sicily||HAW, D/F||$402,800||3||73.3|
|Brayden Maynard||COL, D||$394,800||3||71.8|
|Lachie Weller||GCS, M||$394,300||3||71.7|
|Jayden Hunt||MEL, D||$389,600||2||70.9|
|Andrew McGrath||ESS, D||$388,400||1||70.7|
Look who’s going crazy, now we’re face to face my friend!
A word of warning: It’s a very fine line between bagging a BREAKOUT, and getting lumped with a stale midpricer that just will not go away. One of the reasons that “Guns ‘n’ Rookies” is such a popular strategy is that it actually takes out a lot of the guesswork involved in picking a team, and therefore greatly minimises risk. G’n’R necessitates spending big on the most reliable players, and only outlaying a minor amount on the rookies, the players we have the least information about.
But chasing a BREAKOUT is about high-risk, high reward. You’ll need luck, but you’ll also need courage. If you can grab a couple of breakouts, and surround them with reliable uber-premiums and the right cows, then you’ve found the formula for Supercoach success!
Are you considering including any of these breakout candidates in your starting 22? Is there anyone I’ve missed who you think is set for a Rolls Royce season with a Toyota price tag? Comment away….
Coming soon: Schwarzwalder presents a series of in-depth articles on breakout candidates on a club-by-club basis. Look for that around the end of Feb……….
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