For the SuperCoach purists among us, it’s been a long and gruelling pre-season as we look to atone for our 2016 performances.
I’m a banker by trade, but at the heart of everything, a footballing tragic with a very healthy penchant for the “art” of SuperCoach.
I’m a numbers man; a finance nerd and here to share the theories, insights and decisions that will ultimately help you engineer the perfect team in 2017.
Although yet to taste the spoils of the ultimate Holy Grail, $50k prize money, I have developed pedigree among the SuperCoach fraternity finishing 24th (2015) and 58th (2016) in the overall rankings.
Here are my 10 rules to SuperCoach success:
1. TREAT ROOKIES LIKE ROYALTY
Undoubtedly the most important principle of SuperCoach is the art of selecting the best suite of rookie players to grace the hallowed grooves of your bench. These are the players priced under $150,000 who will form the key to your trades later in the season.
Look for highly prized draft picks, pre-season bolters and proven performers returning from injury (Essendon’s David Myers is just $134k). Think of these players as your supercharged investment scheme — “buy low, sell high”. They will dictate all facets of your future upgrade plans and, if called upon, step up to your team with aplomb.
2. GET INTO BIG DATA
Silicon Valley, start-ups and modern corporations are obsessed with one thing — BIG data. If you, like many of us, have aspirations to win the $50k kitty, it’s imperative that you too become driven by data. The first step is the JLT Community Series (what used to be the NAB Challenge) — watch as many games as you can; study who gets more game time, who is playing in a new position and who is underdone. Read as much as you can during the pre-season, this is the only information you’ll receive before we embark on a six-month pilgrimage towards the Holy Grail.
Captaincy selection cannot be taken lightly. These days, a captaincy candidate at an AFL team will experience a gruelling selection process, often defined by the votes of their peers, with only the true cream rising to the top. Your SuperCoach team should be no different. Refer to rolling three-game averages; historical match-up performance and, crucially, the presence of any known taggers to ensure your captain delivers a monster score. If all else fails: P. Dangerfield.
4. LEARN THE LOOPHOLES
The true SuperCoach tragics will attest to the satisfaction of executing an astute vice-captaincy or bench player loophole. It’s the act of gifting an untried rookie or injured player, who will score a guaranteed zero, a berth in your starting line-up. This will enable you to revel in the performance of your carefully appointed emergency player. You’ll hear more details as the season begins but right now the key to setting your team up to make the most of these loopholes is to scroll through the AFL roster to find a candidate with the most Sunday timeslots who ultimately never plays.
5. CONTESTED BULLS v DISPOSAL ASSASSINS
SuperCoach is a game built for contested warriors and artful dodgers who dispose of the ball with medical precision thanks to Champion Data’s unique scoring formula. The focus during initial iterations of your team should be to build a blend of core players who, at the conclusion of 2017, will lead the AFL in their statistical category. For the contested stuff, consider Josh P Kennedy; while from a pure efficiency perspective, consider the likes of Sam Docherty or Heath Shaw — those who never waste a disposal.
6. AVOID MID-PRICE MADNESS
Each and every year, there are be a range of heavily discounted players staking their claim for a spot in your team. This year it’s Dayne Beams, David Swallow and a host of Bombers. In the SuperCoach world it is “caveat emptor”, which means “buyer beware”. Some undervalued players will rekindle their career-best form but in more cases than not these mid-priced heroes will cause you headaches and in severe cases, derail your entire campaign. Focus on building a team that only includes established (and upcoming) premium players, while carefully cultivating your rookies, who will inevitably make way for more superstars.
There’s no greater certainty, outside of Patrick Dangerfield and Nat Fyfe, than a popular premium player will experience a slump. The greatest example in 2016 was Scott Pendlebury — a name synonymous with consistency. Some trigger-happy SuperCoaches lost patience with Pendles and burnt a vital trade after becoming dissatisfied with a small sample of injury-affected scores. However, like a phoenix (or Magpie) rising from the ashes, Pendlebury repaid the faith of those who retained him and finished the year as the second-highest scorer overall. Moral of the story: never, ever, doubt a champion!
8. BYE, BYE, BYE
The byes, scheduled this year for Round 11—13, are the premiership quarter of the SuperCoach season. Many players may wilt, but the astute, meticulously prepared coaches will treat this as the launching pad into the business end of the season and an assault on the overall rankings. Each decision after picking your Round 1 side needs to be made with consideration of your team structure for the byes. The golden rule for the first bye weekend is survival. Find a way to get 18 players on the field, irrespective of price. The remaining bye weeks are when you’re end-of- year prospects will live or die by your decisions. Seek upgrades, bubble boys and opportunities to fast track the arrival of your best 22.
Trades, all 30 of them, are like gold. It may sound generous, but use every one wisely. In an ideal scenario, trades should only be used to create “liquidity”, that is downgrading rookies to create value and using the newly acquired bounty to upgrade to premium players to your squad. Injuries and other unforeseen obstacles will inevitably drain the trade bank but never, in your wildest dreams, consider a “sideways” trade — trading out a player who isn’t injured for another of the same value. This is forbidden in SuperCoach folklore! The quest for the $50k is a marathon, not a sprint, and I like to compare my recent runs to the Melbourne Cup. Why? I wait, and wait, and once I see that clock tower — I pull the trade trigger and go for it!
No one achieves greatness without a bit of help. Sharing knowledge and working together is an essential ingredient to success in business, life and all other pursuits. Surround yourself with a brethren of coaches, whether it’s on social media, the workplace or your SuperCoach league chat. These loyal pundits will help ease the decision-making stress that plagues SuperCoach gurus every week. One great trick is to glean as much real-time information from the AFL aficionados of the Twitterverse. @FantasyFreako — and of course @superfooty — are the pick of the bunch. (Don’t forget @SC_Talk & @SchwarzwalderSC as well! – Schwarz) 😉
Written by Dan Begala, originally appeared in Herald Sun on 24/1/17
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