Guns and Cows

Written by Father Dougal on March 14 2022

Hi Everybody!

Last year I wrote about how Supercoach is, at heart, a money management game, how cheap points are important, how we have to work with what the SC Gods give us, and other related stuff. It was longish. 

Anyways, there is an old saying: “In theory there is no difference between theory and practice, but in practice there is.” Last season I got schooled in that difference. The main thing I did wrong was not be Zen and work with who was available, but try to force players into the role I wanted them to have, like Tom Phillips. I also lacked the courage to just take all the guys my brain said made sense because it felt too different, which I am really annoyed at myself about.  So….

The very most basic thing we have to do is actually understand the players available as individuals. Not in relation to other players or who is the best whatever, but just how well is each guy likely to score, how much cash they might make, how likely they are to be playing.  

For all the players? That’s a lot!

In practice we don’t need all. Well, or we should look at all but sometimes we can see a player is not SC relevant very quickly.  Then we have to look again after the pre-season.  There is a lot of info out there after all. 

So I can just come to this site and get everything I need!

Rather shameless plug little guy, but not wrong. 

Can I have my pumpkin seed now please? 

Anyways, looking at players for who they really are and not who we want them to be is a Big Thing. 

Are you going to go on and on about all the different categories players can fall into now?

Well, not on and on. The more I think about it, the more I feel there are really only two relevant categories. Guns and Cows. 

That’s it, just two types of players? 

Well, two types of players we want to own. I suppose players we don’t want would be a category but I’m not gonna spend time on that. 

Guns are players you want to have in your team at the end of the year. 

Cows are players you want to sell after they have gone up in price. 

That’s so simple even I understand it!

That’s so simple I wonder what is being left out. Every complicated problem has a solution that is simple, straightforward, and wrong. Thus, I am skeptical. 

You are always skeptical! 

This is the way. 

…..okay……is the Hamster also skeptical?

He is eating a pumpkin seed.

This is the way. (Munch) 



Every player on a starting team should be either a Gun or a Cow. 

What about a C/VC loophole?

Sigh, Well, more and more I think those are a bad idea to plan for, but that’s a personal choice. I’m gonna go on like all players are Guns or Cows and if someone wants to spend a bench spot on a loophole that’s up to them. 


Guns. At the end of the year, we would ideally have a best 22 of all guns.  Very ideally we would have the top 6 scoring defenders in defense, the top 8 scoring mids in the midfield, etc.  That is not realistic. Nobody is going to have a perfect team. The winner will not have a perfect team at the end of the season. The winner will not start with a perfect team. The idea that we have to end up with all “top” players in each line is not really true, and I suspect trying to only pick gun players who will be in the top whatever is not actually a good thing.  


Because since perfect teams are not realistic, we are better off making the best imperfect team we can. 

“The perfect is the enemy of the good!”  

Wow, yes, right.  Let’s think about the 20-22nd players in our sides. Not in order of being added but in terms of productivity and contribution. Worst case is some cow we were never able to upgrade. Also bad is ending up with someone whose average is well off the top; like an 82 forward or defender who we had to pay full price for. Those happen when you run out of cash, and have to get the best you can afford. 

Now, if we were at round 17 and could get a defender who was averaging 90 but had a super low injury affected match three weeks ago, so we could get them at the cost of a 70 average? We would be all over that guy as a cheap way to finish off our defense. Very few managers could afford to pass and then pay full price, or even more than full price,  for someone scoring at 100 at that point in the season.   

Maybe if he was the 22nd player? 

 Yeah, possible but not likely. Also, if it was possible, odds are it was from good money management previously in the season. 

So, if we would pay 70 for 90 round 17, why would we not pay 70 for 90 on round 1? Or even less then 70 for 90, and plan to keep them and make use of the cash somewhere else?  

You’re about to bring up Ziebell again aren’t you?

Yeah. Looked like safe for an 85-90 average at a cost of about 50.   The $250k or so saved would buy another 45 or so points somewhere else at the start. 


For Example:

Moe, Larry, Curly  and  are forwards who cost $525,000 and will average 97. Total cost of $1,575,000.  Output is 6,402 points for the season. 

Groucho is a forward who costs $300,000 and will average 85.  Chico and Harpo are forwards who cost $575,000 and will average 105.   Total cost of $1,450,000 and total output of 6,490points.  

That’s more total points still with $125,000 left over.  If spent decently that’s worth a conservative 400 points more.  And, if things go well, at some point in the season you could still upgrade Groucho. But you don’t have to in order to make him an overall good pick. Yes, a forward with an average of just 85 at F6, but overall you are much better off. 

Oh, and I rounded off the prices so that Moe, Larry and Curly were a bit cheaper per point than Chico and Harpo, just to be extra careful. 

And now you’re going to bring up Impey, I just know it.

Yup!  Or a conservative version of him, since he and Ziebell were much cheaper than $300,000 for a more than an 85 average. But really, if it works for one it works for more than one. If F5 & F6 are at an 85 average but you score even more points overall? Still the way to go.  Add in a defender with the same numbers, still better. 

How far can this go?!

The practical limit is the number of those guys available.  They are sort of like cows in that way. We want all the cows and we want all of the highly discounted guns.  Then we fill out the team with the best scoring guns.  If by some miracle we we have so many cows and discount guns we can’t fit them all in we can just take the best ones. 

Which is not very likely to be an issue in reality because there won’t be so many actual cows and highly discounted guns.  

And we don’t know for certain how a player will do as in the examples.

Also right. In practice, we have to make educated guesses about how well players will do. 

But, the point, which I want to get back to, is that any player you are ok with being in your final team is a gun. The whole discounted gun thing was a bit of a distraction from that, but also does illustrate that we should be open about who we can consider a gun.  Trying for that theoretical perfect team gets in the way of having a really good team; good enough to win it all?

Is this where I bring up that Supercoach Mumma, who won last season, did start with both Ziebell and Impey? 

Yes, well done, thank you.  Even though he got hurt, Impey scored well while playing, and had gone up enough in price he could be replaced by someone good without a huge cost. 

Is this how we transition to talking about cows?



So, cows are players you sell, or more accurately, plan to sell, once they have gone up in price. It does not matter how much the cow costs as long as the plan is to sell them. The mechanics of price rises does put a practical upper limit on how much a cow can cost though. Since a cow needs to average at least 32 more than they were priced at to make the $150k we use as a milestone, at some point going up that much turns them into someone you would not want to sell. 

Are you sure 32 is the right number?

Because of deflation, the slow finish to the last few dollars of value, and the magic number being different every year, the actual number is a bit wibbly wobbly.  No player goes for the same score over and over, and when they have a high or low score matters a lot in when they peak and how high that peak is.  How fast deflation is also varies some…..I just realized with with so few cheap cows deflation may be slower than normal…..not sure that matters….

You are distracting yourself and this is already long. Sum up please.  

Right.  I have heard 35 used as the number which is more conservative and also ends in a multiple of five, which people seem to like. If you prefer 32 or 35 really does not matter a lot, the point is they need about that much increase to make the kind of money we are shooting for. 

So, if a player is average 100 you are not likely to be trading them, at least not unless things are going very well, so 100-32 = 68. So a player priced at a 68 average is probably a gun and not a cow.    A player priced at 58 would be getting to 90, which is still gun territory, as we talked about above.  A player priced at 48 would only be getting to 80, which is more of a cow’s score, although in a bad enough season they could be F6. But that would not be the plan. 

That middle range is confusing me!

Well, if a player is priced to average 48 you are planning to sell them at upgrade. But, if they turn out to average more, you can always change your mind and keep them. 

But…but what are the rules?!? I want rules!

Well, another quote: “The code is more what you’d call ‘guidelines’ than actual rules.” See, theory and practice again.  Once we understand the basics we can look at the specific case to make our decisions. 

Examples at least? Please?

Sure. Let’s take Rowell. He is priced to average 63.  So, to be a good cow he needs to average 95 or more. If he does average 95 or more, it may be worth keeping him on, depending how much more and what else is going on in your team. But, we do not need to decide how much he will average to decide if we want him in the team, we only have to decide what we think his floor is. If we think he will average at least 95 then we can bring him in as a cow.

But what if he does better than that?

Then we suffer the horrible consequences of his scoring better.

What Horrible….Oh….!

Right, you see. Cow. But if pulls a Ziebell, great! 

How about Berry?

Priced to average 49.3. So, if he averages 81 he’s worth it. 

And Coniglio? 

He seems likely to average at least 90 and could totally average 100, so he is a very, very discounted gun. 

And  JHF and all the other right about 200k guys?

Well, JHF is priced to average 38 so he needs to go at 70 to pay off. Which is a bit of a lift for a first year player who may be in the forward pocket, but certainly possible. He really just needs to do ok and then have one high scoring match without following it up with a terrible match. 

And Hayes at $102,400?

He is priced at 18.8 and so he needs to average just 51 to be worth it. The bigger issue with him is that he might need to make more in order to get the cash out when downgrading from him. 

So, all money makers are cows and how well they have to score in order to make that money is just a function of their starting price.


So about how to build a team, in your opinion?


Start with the Cows. 

Figure out who all the good cows and then take them. That’s the Fourth Rule of Cow-quisition. Take all the good cows. 

Then go to the Guns. 

Figure out who the best Guns you can afford  and take them. 

That feels a bit light in some ways…..

Ah, you mean that is how to do it in theory but you want to know how in practice?  Fair enough. 

Ok, so we will have little idea of who the best cows are until partway into the first round. So, yeah, that makes the first step a bit hard. Let’s assume we are where we are now with at least a decent idea of which cows might be available. We can at least know which lines are very light on cows and which are full of cows. Then we can apply the answer to life, the universe, and everything, the rule of 42!

I have not heard of the rule of 42? 

Because I just named it! For every line (other than rucks) you want no more than 4 spots needing upgrades, and no less than 2 spots available for upgrades. In other words no more than 4 cows and no less than 2 cows. 


Because you want at least two slots to pick up the discount guys that will show up over the season and/or the guys who turn out to be top scorers that we didn’t predict at the start of the season. You want at least a little flexibility. And, you don’t want to have to try and fill in more than four slots over the season. Added to that, having a line with that many cows has a lot of risk in terms of avoiding donuts. Cows are a lot more prone to losing their place in the best 22 and of rest and rotation. 

But you can do more or less if you really want….Wait, “The code is more what you’d call ‘guidelines’ than actual rules.”  Got it. 

So, for each line decide if there are any must have types. If there are, take them. If you have at least two on each line, great. If not, pick the top twos.  Same with rucks aside from not having to take any at this point, if there are no clear must take options. 

Then make sure you have 2-3 clear captain candidates. These guys are not price sensitive, you just want top scorers. No matter how much they cost per point, when you double their points they are worth it. I’d still avoid guys who are wildly overpriced but that will still leave enough options. 

Then fill in with the best cows until you run out and then fill in with more guns. And then fiddle. 

Is that is? 

Yeah, I kinda think so. 

How do I know which are best?

Well….sorta kinda…..Lowest projected cost per point and is not unacceptably risky.  And their projected average is good enough.  Who is likely to score well enough to be worth keeping, which of them are not too high injury risks and then which costs least. And even then a slightly higher cost/point might be better if they have a higher projected average. 

That’s sorta kinda vague?

How can it not be? We have to look at all the candidates and then decide based on all sorts of things that change every year for every player. This is about picking teams and if I try to get into picking players that’s like a ton more and a bit out of scope. And written about already in a lot of cases. 

Throw me a pumpkin seed here, at least some examples?

Ok, ok. So…we are way short of defense cows.  I would not dare have less than 3 guns and if there are four guns you like I’d be very prone to take four. Does depend on the rest of the team but not less than three guns.  As it happens there are a lot of good gun options down back. 

Forward, there are a lot of cows. So many cows. There are also two must haves: Dunkley and Coniglio, and one near must have in Butters. Lots of other good gun options but with so many good cows there, stick to at most three and if you are not a butters fan, stick to two. 


Read my team reveal. I’ll go through my own thinking in as much detail as I can stand writing about, which includes the above and goes on. 

So, pardon me for bringing this up, please not “The Box,” but – midpricers? 

No longer a thing. Guns are Guns, Cows are Cows. You gonna keep him? Gun! Cost is irrelevant. All that matters is if you think they will score well enough to be a keeper. Determining who is a Gun matters a lot of course. If a player has never been one before that’s a risk. How much risk do you like? Up to you. Do you think you can sell him for $150k? Cow! Cost does not matter, just if they will make enough cash to sell for enough profit. If they are not a Gun or a Cow, then they are Not Supercoach Relevant, and do not get picked.  Do you see any reference to Mid-pricers in that? 

No, no I do not, none at all….. 

Right, because it is silly to group players by cost rather than by role. I talked about this group of players before but will again. Ziebell, Impey, Daniher, Heppel.  Four guys costing between $212,800 and $319,100. And if you had them all at the start of last season, that would have been great. All of them were pretty clearly solid options. Not sure things, but solid options, good risks.  But, if you had them all in a Rate My Team everyone would point and yell “Interloper” and “Mid-Priced Madness”  and the groupthink would have both pushed you to go more Guns and Rookies and been wrong. 

I would very much like to ask a another question and not go into The Box. If that is ok? 

I like my  box! I lined it with cedar ships and torn up toilet paper and made a little nest to sleep in! 

Sigh. Ask away. 

Is there any value to the idea of Mid-priced Madness? Where did it come from? 

Well….most players who are neither a Gun or a Cow are mid-priced, and you do not want them. Also, too many breakout candidates in one team  is very risky, and breakout candidates are usually mid-priced. So, those are good thing to warn against. But, the warning should be “Don’t take too many breakout candidates” and “Don’t take any players who are neither Guns nor Cows.”  The warning should NOT be “Do not take too many mid-pricers”

That was longish and you did go sort of all over the place. Maybe you should say something about being happy to answer questions in the comments? 

Yeah, I am, as always, happy to discuss and answer questions in the comments.  

Oh and open to anyone reading, I am running Two Leagues this season.

Pound the Priest ( 425644 ) if for anyone who has ever finished in the top 2500. And I am not checking, so please be honest. But…

Craggy Island ( 640540 ) is for anyone who has never finished in the top 2500! So Something for everyone! (Nobody in both.)


Thanks for reading!



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13 thoughts on “Guns and Cows”

  1. Great read FD! Loving your preseason articles!
    Would love to hear where you personally think George Hewett fits into this discussion.
    Is he a good discounted gun end-of-year D6 option, or an overpriced cow in your opinion?


    1. Thank you!

      Hewett is priced at 73, so he can’t be a cow. He’d have to average 105 to make enough cash, and at that point not being sold! So anyone taking him should be taking him as a Gun. If he he averages 88, then he might be ok as a cheap D6. If he gets to 93 he’d certainly be ok as a Cheap D6. Problem is I have no idea what he will average! So, given there are other good defender options I am not currently planning to take him. I see no problem with others taking him if they are confident in his scoring.


      1. Thanks FD!
        Looking at how to best fill my D4 spot which is where Hewett currently sits and stuck between paying up for Sicily or going down to a Chapman type, or taking both.
        Think I’m looking at 2 options atm.
        T/U: leave it the way it is (Hewett D4, 3 mid premos, no Rowell, 2 def rookies onfield)
        Could also potentially squeeze enough cash to get him up to Sicily
        T/U: go a little risky (extra def premo, Chapman D5, 2 mid premos, Rowell, 1 def rookie onfield)


      2. The other reason Hewett is a stay away for me is his bye.

        If for whatever reason things aren’t working out with a similarly priced mid pricer and you have extra trades you can at least sideswap them at the bye and get 1 game of premium scoring. To take the edge off.

        For me I’m going with McInnerny (Swans) in that spot. He has a wing role that should be good scoring. Did well in the preseason. Has DPP which is handy and has the round 13 bye

        Worst case is he’s a 400-450k stepping stone to one of the round 12 bye mids you don’t have. Ie Walsh, Cerra, Parish, Merrett, Steele, Kelly, Wines ect)


  2. Thank you Father.

    Such a wonderful sermon, so much to ponder. A quick question if I may ?

    What are your thoughts on the price of trades decreasing now we have more ?

    I know we may have to deal with Covid outs and the like. I’m also presuming most smart coaches aren’t going to sideways Guns. I would rather field a rookie than burn a trade. So keeping that in mind.

    ( excuse my maths, I will try ) so if we had 30 @ $150k that’s $4.5 mil.

    Now we have 35 so 4.5 mil divided by 35 =$128.571.42

    Is the new trade price now closer to $130K ?

    I guess what I’m trying to get at is, of course we still want our base Rookies to make $150k plus. Maybe we can be a bit more lenient with the $200K-300K guys that keep a rookie off field and will hopefully score better. Maybe they don’t have to make quite as much $ as a rookie to still be viable ? Certainly something to think about going forward.

    Thanks again FD

    I can’t wait to see what sort of a team you’ve put together this year.


    1. Thank you!

      That is a very interesting question…. I think 150,000 is more what you’d call a ‘guideline.’

      I do tend to think that getting a bit less from a high priced cow is ok, but I try not to plan on that. If I shoot for $150,000 and get $140,000 from say Rowell, I’ll still be happy with the points I got along the way. But if I shoot for $130 then I might just hit $130, and that’s pretty not happy.

      I fear the high prices we are paying for cows will make it a lot harder to upgrade and so I am not sure I would drop the target as we might need those trade to get the same cash.

      Not sure I can really back any of those thoughts up, but my feelings are to not change that number. I’d be open to other points of view though.

      I am planning to manage my team like I normally would and not change my approach because of the extra trades. I’ll use them if I need to but not my plan.


  3. Thanks FD.

    I tend to agree. My plan for the 5 Trade Boost is one for the price changes if needed. Then only use them if there are 2 good rookies on the bubble the same week . This allows a 2 down 1 up. Maintaining our upgrade cadence. I may use another the second or third week of byes for upgrades , and try and save one for late season carnage. We really won’t know the best strategy for trade Boosts until we live it. Can’t harm to have a rough plan though.

    Thanks again for your insight.

    Cheers FT.


  4. “we are better off making the best imperfect team we can”

    This is the single best piece of advice you will ever get in supercoach, once you actually understand it.

    Historically, players who win the competition start with, and end up hanging on to players who others reject as not meeting their ideal team.

    What benefits do these players have?

    1) Priced under average by a decent margin.

    2) Score good points throughout the season woth exceptional job security

    3) Are never bad enough that you need to burn a trade to upgrade them

    4) Never really make enough money that you picked them solely as a cash cow

    For me the kinds of players who stand out as potentially in this category in 2022 are

    Lachie Neale
    Paddy Cripps
    Matt Rowell
    George Hewett
    Justin McInerney
    Jarrod Witts
    Reilly O Brien

    Don’t get me wrong. You’d be making a big mistake if you chose all of them at round 1.

    But if you’re still carrying one of them come round 17 it means they’ve outperformed in bang for buck terms right through the season.

    It’s also let you use those trades on more serious bushfires.

    Obviously we all want to trade out our players at the perfect time for maximum cash growth and at the perfect time to get a fallen premium.

    Reality tends to give us fires, floods or covid instead.


  5. Outstanding …….. just outstanding!

    MJ and FD really are the kings of analysis.

    One of the best hidden messages from this piece – don’t get caught being influenced by “groupthink.”



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