Rookie Errors

Written by Schwarzwalder on January 2 2019

(Written & Created By AllSaints)



Why should we always start with our ROOKIE selections? Because Father Dougal says so.



In all seriousness, let’s try to better understand why FD’s right.

I love figures. Let’s start by having a look at some figures. To start with it’s important, and SCTers often ask, what is the $-value of a trade. Let’s face it, we’re all here to win the $50k first prize, so let’s take a look at the value of the top 20 performing teams in the 2018 Supercoach season. The average value of each of these sides at season’s end was $13.2mn, give or take a few bob. Over the course of the season these top-performers have therefore increased their team value by an average of $3.2mn. each. Initial rookie selections are therefore a hugely important aspect when considering your cash generation; so is recognising the value of your subsequent trades that will help you to finally get there. If we assume come RD23 that none of them had any trades left, then the value of a trade is simply:

3 200 000 (cash generated) / 30 (number of trades) = $106 667 per trade

Of course, it is not that simple. Nothing ever is. What it does do however is highlight the fact that to generate that sort of value in your team, it is critical to start with enough premium rookies, or prime-beef Cows to get your cash (and SC pts) generation off to the best possible start. The chart below shows the best 18 ‘rookie-priced’ cash generators who played in Rd 1.

TABLE 1: Round 1 starters

There are a few things of note here:

i. The vast majority, two-thirds, were priced at the standard rookie price ($123 900) or below

ii. There were only two premium-priced rookies in the top 15

iii. Only 11 of the 18 were picked in the 2017 National and Rookie Drafts

iv. The remaining 7 were already on Club lists and two of them had played AFL before, back after an injury break (Ben Jacobs) or having been delisted from another club (Holman)

v. It is also interesting to note their respective positions:

a. Two DEFs and two DEF/MIDs (4)

b. Five MIDs, two DEF/MIDs and 3 MID/FWDs (10)

c. One RUC/FWD, and (1)

d. Five FWDs, one RUC/FWD and 3 MID/FWDs (9)

If you were starting with a loophole ROOKIE and 14 premiums (incl. potential premos), you would have required only 15 rookies at RD1. Of course, we are not going to be shrewd/lucky enough to pick them all (personally I started with those in yellow, 11 of them, giving a total gain of $2.594mn or $235 855 per player, assuming I sold them all at their peak price, which of course I didn’t!).

The point is that if you try your hardest to identify THE BEST ROOKIES at season’s start and start with over 60% of the best ones, you are going to be off to a great start in trying to achieve your goals.

Now let’s have a look at ALL the rookie-priced money-makers over the course of the entire season. The table below shows the top 36-listed players ranked by their maximum capital gains (that is, at their peak SC price) in 2018.

TABLE 2: The Money-Makers

Again, there are a few interesting points to note:

i. There is an abundance of downgrade options to take advantage of

ii. But only one post-byes

o Perhaps they didn’t have the time to generate enough cash to make the list; think Adam Kennedy (GWS)

Let’s look at it another way. Below is a table of the volumes of rookie-priced cash-cows, by Round they first played and the consequent Round we would need to act (ie on or pre- their bubble to snap them up).

TABLE 3: Rookie Timing

Although half of them started in Rd1, the other half (18 of them) started subsequently. That is way more than sufficient to cover your starting rookies and D/G trades for the year (36 in total). BUT, it was almost impossible to pick them all, with 4 starting in both Rounds 4 and 6, it is inevitable that some were missed, some were bought pre-bubble (we know who we are!) and perhaps that volume came a little too early. Let’s hope for a more even spread in 2019!

Again, you are not gonna identify/select them all, but 60% will do. Note however, that as the season goes on, decent CashCow opportunities will tend to diminish. Rd11 and 15 last year delivered a spike. I wonder if this is an anomaly, or whether some AFL coaches specifically identify the byes period to introduce rookies to play out the season from there? It will be worth keeping an eye out through this period in season 2019.

This also has other implications. Whilst your original rookie picks may be predominantly good, we are likely gonna have the odd donut amongst them too. Don’t beat yourself up, instead make sure you identify them and quickly. From Rd5 onwards (earlier if they’ve been dropped or are injured), you might want to trade them OUT for better emerging rookies on the bubble.

Why? To put it simply, because you will be better off.

The chart below shows the 20 worst rookies and their growth curves relative to their starting prices (all indexed at 100) over their subsequent games. Let’s call them spuds.




FIG 1: Rookie Spuds1

On average, spuds will increase at startingly diminishing returns after just their second price rise (on average just 6.5% or less each week), and will have made 60% of all the gains they will ever make you. A prospective cash-cow on the other hand, will offer you an aggregated $$s gain that will ensure you achieve your required $/trade value (rather than miss it by holding on), whilst also offering more SC points (as an onfield Cow improving your weekly SC score), and likely, better JS. That’s what we call a WIN-WIN-WIN situation.

Basically, it has got me thinking that IF you do happen to start with a few spuds, it’d make sense to trade the worst (and possibly second worst) for a rookie(s) that fits the above criteria when you spot a decent one on the bubble. Definite food for thought remembering that decent rookies are ever harder to come by as the season progresses.


Conversely, there were a few of us cursing that we sold the decent rookies too early (think T Kelly, Doedee and Fritsch). The chart below helps explain why we might have felt like that.


FIG 2: Rookie Dudes2

Indexed at 100, based on their relative starting prices, the real good Cows tend to plateau (or even fall) once they’ve made you around $200k (6 or 7 games in), before going up again. Why? Because at that stage in their growth they are priced around the $320k mark and need to score 60pts EVERY WEEK, just to maintain their price. One thing we know about rookies is just how inconsistent they can be, so one bad score (I’m looking at you Nick Holman) means that they suddenly have a scary BE and some of us tend to panic sell. This is the only thing I did get right last year and held on to both Doedee and Fritsch because I looked at the longer-term. Despite the odd high BE, they were both still significantly under-priced relative to their season’s average and just one decent score (a return to their mean) would see their BEs drop dramatically and their price tend back up to better reflect their average. To put it another way, if they’re averaging 75, they will eventually be priced around $375k, 80+ $400k+ and 90+ eventually to $450k+. Think Tim Kelly, with a season ave. 93.2 he was priced at $463.9k in Rd23, almost a perfect reflection of his average.

All that said, if you can afford a fair dinkum upgrade trade to a genuine premium, then why not go for it. All I’m saying is, consider what you’re losing first. Your best rookies (if they’re on your field of play) should be the last to go.


In summary then:

– If you’re picking a loophole, then the first thing you need to do is find what you deem to be THE BEST 15 ROOKIES available and selected in RD 1, regardless of position

o Get this right and you’re well on the way to a successful season

o The SCT crew are brilliant at identifying the best ones – so listen up!

– However, if the ones you pick turn out to be spuds, don’t be afraid to trade them for another that looks awesome on the bubble, as this will be positive for your season

– et positive trade value, greater cash generation and more SC points)

– Just because you’re downgrading doesn’t mean you need to upgrade too – take your time

– If they turn out to be awesome, don’t be afraid to hold onto them until their price better reflects their average, rather than wasting trades in a hurry to get to full premo. So long as they’re on your field of play, they remain relevant.

– Full premo doesn’t win prizes, but it helps

– But trades and cash in the bank help too

We won’t know with 100% certainty who those 15 rookies are until the teams drop prior to Rd1, but we can have a bloody good idea of who we think they might be, should they be selected. Pre-season reports, analyses and the JLT series performances will help further cement those thoughts. In the meantime, we need to think about those other 14 spots in our team, starting with the premos, the elites, the ubers, the pigs, call them what you will. Some off-season analysis on this crucial subject to follow.

In the meantime, happy cow-hunting.


** Big effort by AllSaints to get this analysis happening! – Schwarzwalder **


Leave a comment / Scroll to bottom

17 thoughts on “Rookie Errors”

  1. Great analysis & wise words! Thanks Schwarzwalder & Allsaints … now to start my team .. again as its the new year! 😉


  2. Sainter, good to see you are alive and well. I have done the following further analysis…the result is at the bottom.

    1. Worked out the std deviation of all rookie price movements in 2018
    2. Multiplied that by this year’s blessed number.
    3. Divided that by the average round number that number 1 draft choices over the last ten years debuted !!
    4. Added the approximate times my head spun reading your article
    5. Multiplied that by the square root of Pi
    6. Then multiplied that by the answer to the meaning of life.

    Finally, it became clear, and the result is………

    ……. I need a new abacus !!

    Seriously, great work again. I really like the bit about not trading a good scoring rookie just because he is on a big B/E…(looking at you T Kelly and Fritsch !!). I will only be trading them if the likely price drop looks prohibitive, AND there is clearly a better option…especially another rookie.


  3. I have made a similar comment earlier. I just thought it would be better served on this page.

    My biggest Conundrum in SC.

    Lets say you go full Guns & Rookies.

    You find a few underpriced Premos and you’ve now got 13 keepers.
    So to get to Full Premo you need to make 9 upgrades.
    To make an upgrade you need a downgrade.
    So you need to find 9 ( hopefully playing) downgrades.
    That’s at least 18 trades down.

    So you now have 12 trades. 3/4 for early rookie corrections.
    And 8/9 for Injuries. For a 23 game season.
    A whole lot has to go right.

    Thats why every year I’m tempted by Midpricers

    I must stipulate that I would only choose a Midpricer that has scored well before in SC ( T Greene) or I feel is going to be given a change of role.( Miles ) I would also only go 1 or 2 for your whole team.

    Every midpriced player you choose, that plays well enough to be a keeper, actually saves you 2 trades. No up or down.
    It also frees up a rookie for you to cash in.

    So lets say Toby Greene. Finishes the season playing 20+ games averaging 100+. That would be a big win at only $355K.

    Lets say he averages 95 till round 9,Then gets injured again, This would cost me a trade, but he would of made you $140k and I would still call it a win.
    Only if he scores less than 90 ppg or he is injured early do you really loose.

    If the SC gods shine down on us round one, and there’s a whole bunch of low priced rookies with great JS. I may find myself with left over cash.Then I will not hesitate to upgrade these guys to true premiums.
    Somehow I can’t see that happening though.


    1. If we had the answer FT, we’d all be vying for the $50k 😉
      It does feel like this year could be bad for Rd1 rookies, but at this stage last year I felt like that too.

      My answer would be to plan for it and a bit like your premos, rank them from Lock to Probable to Maybe to Never, so you’ve got a ‘list’. It might also be worth splitting them into possible keepers and just upgraders. That way, you don’t have to worry about the byes for your upgraders but should ‘consider’ the byes of your possible keepers in your premo selections.
      Let’s just hope there are a shi!tload of decent-priced rookies come Rd1 team drops.
      Miles has to be a lock. Never injured just couldn’t get game time and Zac Williams for mine. An achilles is NOTHING compared to a knee reco.


      1. Miles and Williams are locks.

        Williams should average 95+ that good enough for a keeper in defence.

        I’m hoping Miles will average slightly more. If he does he will stay at m8 as my last upgrade. Hell if I can afford a M9/ F7 swing man. I might just keep him.

        Greene is possibly the biggest risk. Prone to injury and bouts of Flogdom. He will be the first one upgraded if rookies allow.

        My current team is pretty even over the byes. Its going to take some smart trading to find the best Fallen Premos that fit that bye structure. With the Byes being later this year. I plan on only having 3 /4 upgrades to make over the byes to get to full Premo.

        Navigating your upgrades whilst maintaining an even bye structure will be key.

        Thats why that list I made above (Want List) is important. If you highlight the bye weeks in different colours you get a clearer picture of who to target when.

        The forwards are going to be tough weeks 12 and 13.

        As you pointed out. Where are the r14 Bye Forwards?

        The only one I can think of is Toby fricken Greene!


        1. I think all 3 are locks. (Greene, Miles & Williams). Obviously a lock at this stage of the season still means they need to have a good JLT.
          But like you guys pointed out Greene & Williams will be top 8 in their position if fit, and Miles (although not a keeper) isn’t coming back from injury and has consistently averaged ~100 when given the chance, which he’ll get.

          I actually think Miles is a smokey to average 105+.

          Also, I’d add Mumford to the list if he wasn’t suspended for the first 2.


    1. thanks Matteo. Loved doing it and if it proves(d) of value to the SCT family, then it makes it all worthwhile.


  4. Brilliant!
    Now I know how to structure my starting team to maximise my chances of winning.
    You guys are great you give me relevant supercoach info and advice.
    Sorry for humping your leg but I’m now reinvigorated for supercoach because of this site


    1. Thanks David. I see Schwarz and FT are all over your request … as ever.
      If you re-read the last paragraph you’ll see that it’s almost impossible to say who they’ll likely be. What I would reiterate though, is that you stick around and gather info from this awesome community right through to first bounce.
      You should get a pretty clear picture by then. Thanks again and good luck 🙂


    1. A lot of guess work with the rookies right now. Will have a clearer picture after the Pre-Season comp…..


    2. David

      Here a few that have been highlighted, as likely starters in the
      “Rate my Team” thread.

      Defence :Collins ,Wilke, Wigg, Scrimshaw, Rozee, Duursma,
      Mid: Walsh, Stocker, Bewley, Constable, Atley, Hind.
      Ruck: Fort ,Sweet, Clark.
      Forward: Setterfield, Blakey, Parker, Cavara, McAdam,Corbett, Hill.

      How many actually make R1 is anyones guess.

      There will undoubtedly be quite a few others that get selected, so its worth watching the JLT closely.

      Happy planning.


  5. I am certainly no expert at this caper after fluking a top 1% finish in my second year and then being humbled by 2 years of embarrassingly poor results after that. I get the Rookies proposition but I have learned that all our SuperCoach chatter at this time of the season creates a Rookie Fever where the ‘potential’ of many rookies grows way above the probability of them playing early games leaving the likelihood of several donuts.
    Increasing team value is obviously important over the course to upgrade but points keep you in the hunt. Points matter!
    My thoughts are to focus more on the mature age ‘rookies’ who have done well in the VFL, SANFL or WAFL, then some seemingly underpriced quality players (possibly from; Miles, Scully, Roberton, Hall, Greene etc) and get some points from players on field while a few younger rookies show that they are getting games and are likely to be mid-term “creamers”. I am more inclined to hold back on the young rookies, hold some spare cash and “buy on the bubble” rather than punt on the pre-season hype.
    In the past where I have used young ‘hyped’ rookies from Round 1 I have had donuts and disappointment and burned several trades churning ‘spuds’ out and bubble-boys in.
    I would be keen to see SCTers selections or comments about mature age rookies and underpriced ‘quality’ players.


    1. I hear ya! Even the professional journos are making educated guesses at this stage. And in the end, we’re all at the mercy of the coaches and selection panels of the 18 clubs.
      After following SCT for over five years now, I’d say there aren’t too many surprises with the rookies (come Rd1). There’s usually enough rookies named to keep your team structure intact……



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *