Elite Analysis

Written by on February 11 2020


I actually wrote this last year but it got lost in the post, so I don’t think it’s been seen before by the community.  FD and I decided it made for a decent supportive piece to his outstanding current project on TLAs.  I hope it proves useful.


I’ve looked at the history of elite players, by position, over the last nine years inclusive (2011-2019).  There are some significant statistical trends to consider when selecting your potential premium performers.  So let’s have a look at what I’m on about …

Across each line, I have considered the history of every player who has had at least one elite season.  Definitions for ‘elite’ in this analysis are as follows:

  • DEF: averaged 100+ in at least one season in their career (and a min. 20 games)
  • MID: 110+ (as above)
  • RUC: 105+ (as above)
  • FWD: 95+ (as above)

The Topline Results are as follows:



Sample size = 23 players

The average age for an elite output is 25.78

The average season to deliver it, is in their sixth season playing AFL (6.89)

Mode: most common season to deliver is 7th season

Range: as early as 2nd season (Luke Hodge) and as late as 14th (Kade Simpson – keep going son!)

Median: 6th season

Draft: 15 of the 23 players identified were first round draft picks – 65.2%



Sample size = 31 players

The average age for an elite output is 23.4

The average season to deliver it, is in their fifth/sixth season playing AFL (5.92)

Mode: most common season to deliver is 6th season

Range: as early as 2nd season (Clayton Oliver and GAJ to name two) and as late as 11th (Pendles and GAJ)

Median: 5th season

Draft: 16 of the 31 players identified were first round draft picks – 51.6%

Most elite outputs by an individual player:

11 – Gary Ablett Jnr

7 – Pendlebury, Selwood, Dangerfield



Sample size = 8 players

The average age for an elite output is 26.1

The average season to deliver it, is in their 7th season playing AFL (7.2)

Mode: most common seasons to deliver are 6th and 7th seasons (four each)

Range: as early as 4th season and as late as 12th (Goldstein)

Median: 7th season

Draft: 5 of the 8 players identified were first round draft picks – 62.5%



Sample size = 16 players

The average age for an elite output is 24.72

The average season to deliver it, is in their 6th season playing AFL (6.5)

Mode: most common seasons to deliver are 6th and 7th seasons

Range: as early as 2nd season (Menegola) and as late as 11th (Mundy and Deledio)

Median: 6th season

Draft: 9 of the 16 players identified were first round draft picks – 56.25%



The chart below can be used as a checking tool for both potential breakout players and those premiums you’d like to see continue onto, or at, the elite level.  If players are producing premium SC scores and are comparatively ahead of the curve (eg younger, played less games/seasons), then barring injury or changes in circumstances, we might expect them to kick on, much like GAJ, Pendles and Selwood did for a number of years.  Unless you are 100% convinced, you might be better off placing them on your ‘watchlist’.

The average age of players is statistically significant, given that EVERY elite score is counted, so the sample size is much larger than simply the number of players studied.  For example, GAJ’s age for each and every one of his eleven 110+ scores is counted.  The season stage and number of games played is the average for each and every player’s elite output.  Obviously some players develop faster/slower than others, but if a player is already passed these stages in their career and is not quite producing what we want, then he is far less likely to start producing now, than someone who has reached the elite level ahead of time.  They are more likely to continue to produce, but the numbers do tend to fall off after their third year of elite performance (for MIDs), two years for DEFs and FWDs and finally, RUCs until the last two years anyway, don’t seem to be able to back it up consistently!

Obviously, there are some exceptions but history suggests not starting with players who have already passed their peak (ie are on the downside of their bell-curve), unless there is a hugely positive change in their circumstances (eg change of role, team-mates leaving, new club or new coach …).  At season’s start, all prices are at their absolute premium (given that the $/point rate continually falls as the season goes on).  This fact suggests it might be better to place them on your ‘watchlist’ and pick them up as a Fallen Premium, given that (statistically) this is more likely to happen than not.

The % of draft picks is statistically significant too, given that the propensity for elite performers to be high draft picks is much higher than the % of players in any given position being a high draft pick.  Bit of a mouthful that, but basically, if someone you are considering as a starting pick was a high draft pick, then you should find that reassuring!


Here are some thoughts:

When I wrote this last year, I made a number of predictions (but more were wrong than right), but let’s have a look at each line, based on the accompanying charts.


Those players who are ahead of the DEF averages (age, season, games) and should therefore improve comparatively to last year (but not necessarily to be Top6) are:


This is assuming that their roles either stay the same or become more SC-friendly.  I should also highlight that I have concerns re: Tom STEWART not being fully fit too.  I have omitted Lloyd and Laird because of last season’s output and I am not as yet convinced they will return to their previous scoring.  If things look like they may have returned to normal in the pre-season, you can probably safely include them (eg Jordan DAWSON, playing on a wing or HFF).


The ones I see as most likely to improve further are:

Patrick CRIPPS, Zach MERRETT, Tim TARANTO, Josh KELLY, Clayton OLIVER, BONT, Jack MACRAE, Josh DUNKLEY and Tim KELLY.  Now they can’t all be Top8 but …


Looks very bleak indeed.  Of the FWDs worth having, I can only see Lachie WHITFIELD and Isaac HEENEY improving on 2019 and being Top6. Petracca, Gresham, DeGoey, Parish, Macpherson and Lipinski should all improve, but will they make it to Top8?  Not convinced on any to be honest, so I’m going deep under-cover priced.



So, a lot of people on SCT used to talk about how RUCs never seem to back it up which is evidenced by an analysis of the last seven years (2013-2019).  The chart below is full of information based on the top performers in each SC position.

The first column details how many players (on average) back it up the following year (over the last 7 years), then how many did last year.  It seems surprisingly low for all positions not just RUCs (a third, or 0.71 of 2), but both DEFs and FWDs (only a third of DEFs, and less than two FWDs, incl. 0 in 2019!) and MIDs (less than half, or 3.5 of 8).  To an extent, these can be accounted for by injuries (across all positions) or more likely, changes to SC positions (all bar RUCs).  Again in 2020, we can’t possibly have more than one FWD (Walters) back it up in 2020, given that none of the other five are FWD-eligible in 2020.  But it doesn’t make things easy for us does it?!

What is quite useful for planning purposes though, is that looking at the historical averages by position, it makes sense to prioritise your premo picks in the MID and RUC positions.  Given the lack of potential elite scoring FWDs this year, I would then prioritise DEFs over FWDs and have offered a rough guide to the MAX. no. of premo picks I would suggest starting with by position.

I hope that all proves somewhat useful, as does the chart below, which I am posting again here as I find it an enormously helpful checklist when selecting my initial Premiums.

Happy planning SCTers.  Any questions or queries, please just ask.



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16 thoughts on “Elite Analysis”

  1. Love it! Just love it.. great stuff AS. I’m intending going with GG.com in the ruck but does the fact that one of them has just been locked away for 7 year’s . Is there any chance that may affect his mindset/output. I still think Dusty started very slowly at the beginning of last year and if I I’m not mistaken from the look of vision with Serena Williams, looks as though he’s chucked on a couple of kilos.


  2. Mate I’m bookmarking this one, I did the exact age analysis last year on fewer years and less players, absolutely love it!


    1. Great stuff AS… do you have a figure for the average age players have their last elite season? Like an age where a drop from elite is likely a point of no return?


      1. I don’t unfortunately. I cannot find the original data which has driven me crazy. It also meant integrating 2019’s figures into the original findings took a while!
        If there’s something/someone you wanted to look at specifically, I’d be happy to give it a crack. It would come with some FD-like disclaimers though! 😉


  3. Great stuff AS. Confirms my strategy this year of 6 mids and 2 forwards. Been contemplating replacing Laird with Ryan. You analysis seems to suggest that Ryan will improve while laird will probably stay the same. Cheers…..M


    1. Pleasure mate, but be careful! The stats are there for you to make your own value judgments. Stats are stats, but reality can sometimes be very different. While my Premo selections haven’t changed much if at all on my MID, RUC or FWD lines since SC opened this year, my DEF choices seem to change hourly! To the point that I’m now leaving it until after the Marsh Series. Brand new coaches at both ADE and FRE suggest that this might be a wise move.

      Good luck!


  4. Very impressive stats AS.
    This site has stepped up a notch this season with excellent analysis on players.
    Keep it up!


  5. A lot of work has gone into these amazing stats. Great job. A wealth of information which will help us all create our hopefulky perfect SC team


  6. What’s that famous quote I keep remembering when I log in to the latest SCT analysts,

    Oh, that’s right, “Miracles performed daily, the impossible takes a little bit longer.”

    Onya AS, FD, etc, etc, etc…….



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