Tales From The Left-Field: You Make Me Wanna Breakout

Written by on February 14 2018

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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 Dangerfield2012 (4th)80.3118.9$435,400
Tom Mitchell2015 (3rd)83.8104.5$405,600
Sam Docherty2016 (4th)87.7108.7$473,200
Josh Kelly2017 (4th)87.1114.3$473,800
Clayton Oliver2017 (2nd)70.3111.5$382,500
Zach Merrett2016 (3rd)88.5111.5$477,400
Nathan Fyfe2011 (2nd)72.6108.0$353,100
Elliott Yeo2017 (6th)75.2102.1$409,200
Michael Hibberd2013 (3rd)73.895.9$395,100
Tom Rockliff2011 (3rd)85.9113.5$418,200
Steele Sidebottom2012 (4th)83.5106.2$452,400
Ben McEvoy2011 (4th)63.4101.2$308,700
Todd Goldstein2011 (4th)65.8113.2$320,000
Chad Wingard2013 (2nd)51.798.6$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.

  1. 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.
  2. Most players averaged between 70 and 90 the year before their breakout, the exceptions being Wingard and the two ruckmen.
  3. 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
2017 Avg
Connor BlakelyFRE, M$490,300389.2
Kane LambertRIC, M/F$472,500386.0
Toby McLeanWBD, M/F$470,200385.5
Ryan BurtonHAW, D$460,200283.7
Jack SinclairSTK, M$459,500383.6
Jordan De GoeyCOL, M/F$434,300379.0
Christian PetraccaMEL, M/F$433,300278.8
Darcy ParishESS, M/F$419,000276.2
Charlie CurnowCAR, F$408,100274.2
George HewettSYD, M/F$405,800273.8
Callum MillsSYD, D$403,100273.3
James SicilyHAW, D/F$402,800373.3
Brayden MaynardCOL, D$394,800371.8
Lachie WellerGCS, M$394,300371.7
Jayden HuntMEL, D$389,600270.9
Andrew McGrathESS, D$388,400170.7

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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21 thoughts on “Tales From The Left-Field: You Make Me Wanna Breakout”

  1. Nice article, Chillo. Toby McLean already locked in forward line and Dunstan has been in and out.

    As you briefly mentioned, a big indicator for a break-out is a strong finish the season before, also a change in roles and/or a high ceiling and there are HEAPS of players like that this year. Now, who is game enough to select them?


    1. I’m very bullish on McLean this year. I think he and Dahl might have swapped roles at the end of last year, and Toby will outscore Luke this year if that continues. But as you say, it all comes down to whether I have the nards to follow my gut!

      Anatomy was never my strong suit.


  2. Lambert, McLean and Curnow currently under consideration, although leaning away from Lambert purely so as to not have ANOTHER R14 BYE player.

    Definitely too risky to be going in with more than 1 of these players in any given line. At this stage it’s Curnow (only $408k), but if the cash is available, he could easily become McLean ($470k).


  3. FWIW I heard Ryan Burton on the radio yesterday, mentioning that he’ll be down back again this year he thinks holding the fort with Sicily.

    Just for anyone thinking he’s going into the midfield.

    I’ve been wanting to add Sicily now im unsure.


  4. My nerdism is exposed. I run a spreadsheet of players under 24 with 20-50 games, then look look at their final 6 rounds from the previous year to see how they handled the fitness requirements of a long year. Then monitor pre-season for intent.

    Nailed my breakouts last year, it was my premiums that cost me dagnabit!


      1. So this is just an example but since he is in the list above…
        Burton is 20 yo, played 24 games with an average of 83.7 over 19 games but finished the year with a 3 rd ave of 96 scoring 93, 90 and 105.
        3 tons with a top 112 but 4 scores under 70 need to be considered. If he tidies up those low scores and maintains the end of 2017 form, he should be a mid to high 90’s player this year


        1. another example cause this is fun is Luke McDonald. Only 22 yo with 74 games under the belt and a 2017 ave of 83.7 from 22 games yet last 8 games averaged 91! 4 tons but 4 scores below 70.

          Is dual position Def/mid for 2018.


  5. great article Chillo.
    I may actually start McGrath, Maynard, Mills and Hunt / Sicily down back.
    D5 might be Brayshaw if I do.

    an 80 average target would do me nicely. The other lines a lot more boring.


  6. Petracca seems am obvious breakout contender and is highly likely to be in my fwd line. Plus I’m thinking De Goey could become a top 10 forward this season and is a chance for my team.


    1. When you consider the interrupted start to his career, there’s no doubt Petracca is underpriced. But can he put it together this year? If you think he’ll play 20 games, then I’d say he’s a good choice.


  7. Sicily Mills and Curnow for me.

    And I have selected a grand total of zero of them, backing Stringer above them all.


  8. Great article Chillo!

    De Goey, Sicily and Weller are who I think most likely, but I’ve had a terrible success rate of picking a breakout player, so everyone should avoid!


  9. For completeness (and not to try to steal Arzi’s thunder!), here are the averages for each of the players mentioned above from their last 6 games of 2017, compared to their season averages. Please note that I’ve excluded Blakely’s 7 against GWS, where he popped his shoulder early in the first quarter and ended his season.
    Blakely 112 (season 89)
    Lambert 101 (86)
    McLean 92 (86)
    Burton 86 (84)
    Sinclair 87 (84)
    De Goey 83 (79)
    Petracca 75 (79)
    Parish 80 (76)
    Curnow 93 (74)
    Hewett 79 (74)
    Mills 82 (73)
    Sicily 97 (73)
    Maynard 73 (72)
    Weller 66 (72)
    Hunt 68 (71)
    McGrath 62 (71)
    The standouts in terms of a “fast finish” are Sicily, Blakely, Curnow and Lambert. The obvious common thread for the first three is a mid-season role change, while Lambert makes the cut courtesy of an outstanding finals series.



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