Total Points v Average – Which Way Do You Go?

Written by Motts on March 16 2021

As in the past few years, I am now looking at generating a discussion on when selecting your guns, and chasing overall glory, is it better to go off total points or averages? In theory, they should be the same … right? And, for some players it is. But in many cases, it is not, as players can have really high averages, every year, (yes, I’m looking at you Josh Kelly – actually, most Giants players for that matter!!) but they miss several games and thus do not end up scoring the highest points in each position, possibly also costing you trades in and out, and in again … hmmm, this is sounding like a different kind of article … better stop it there!

At the end of the day, total points scored not great averages is what wins this caper. There are other factors that need to be considered in making your starting choices and these should include:

  • Your appetite for risk. Are you a risk taker or a safer player? If you like risks, you’ll look at those sparkly exciting players with awesome averages … but caveat emptor!!
  • Has the player had a role change that may lead to them scoring better – particularly key for players available in DEF or FOR and listed as duals, or even in one or the other roles, but widely expected to be playing a lot of MID time
  • Are there enough viable rookies on each (and all) lines? Remember, rookies determine your structure, not premos.
  • With the above, if there are few viable rookies on one line and a lot on the other, you may start more premos on one line than the other eg DEF looking pretty bare this year and FOR rookies more plentiful / viable, so perhaps you’ll be starting more premos in DEF than FOR?
  • Are there other players in the team that play a similar role, and thus potentially steal points off each other and limit each player’s scoring potential? I’m particularly looking at Pie defenders here and Bulldogs mids!
  • Is the player a key position player (KPP)? This is particularly important when looking at DEF and FOR players, as it usually limits their scoring potential – with the odd exception.
  • Finally, do you think the player is due for a breakout year? Look at their points scored in each of the preceding years and yes, their averages – combined! It’s great if their averages are jumping by 10 or 20 a year … but not so great if they miss 3 or more games every year.
  • And finally – CHECK YOUR BYE STRUCTURES – for players on each line and across all lines!! Round 14 is already looking really ugly. Don’t compound it further by building your team with all your key premos all having the bye that round!!

So, that said I am including this spreadsheet in the same format as previous years, with a tab for each position and generally, at least twice the starting number of players in each position for your consideration – with both averages and total points tables. Go and have a look and continue reading …

  • NOTING – 2020 was a funky year, as we all know! Less games, shorter quarters, teams playing away from home and in “a bubble” and scores were generally accelerated – so make of the scores / averages what you will!
  • And for something different, below each table I am including last year’s file as well for your viewing pleasure – it may help you in your decisions!
  • Note the players shaded in green – these are the ones who were listed as the top starting options in 2020 and again in the list for starting in 2021
  • My picks – I have highlighted in yellow shaded cells and surprise, they are the ones who play just about every game!
  • Some of the more popularly mentioned breakout contenders in 2021 on the various forum threads have also been included in each position – how will they go?



  • No surprises that the top 12 all played every game in 2020
  • You can’t start all of them though, so three, maybe four at best – so which ones is key, and which are upgrades?
  • For me – there are three (3), and only three, that should be your starters – can you guess?
  • Oh, one other key choice here – you may just want to pick defenders that will take their teams primary kick in role – the rule change for playing on from a behind allows better scoring for those players!


So, the same question – when selecting your starting premo forwards, are you better off going with total points, or highest averages?

If you aren’t starting Danger, then you aren’t serious … so we can exclude him. That said, I’m also aware of the argument to start him as a mid and move him forward when you upgrade rookies … so that is valid too.

  • This position is probably the hardest one to pick and get right and is subject to the most player position changes every year
  • On that note, key here is generally having those players that have M F status (and maybe the odd R F!), or at least a forward only, that we know or believe will play large mid time
  • Dunkley is one that I think screams “watch” – who knows what will happen in that Bulldogs midfield
  • There is one player here that defies the “don’t pick KPP players” rule – can you pick him? … It’s Hawkins! Every year he finishes in the top options. Now, the Good Father would probably indicate that he is getting into the “too old” category and thus not an option … but do you start without him?
  • Depending on the rookie availability, the Hawk is probably worth not starting, but should be considered for a place in your final 6!
  • Are you game to start any of the potential breakout candidates?


Arguably one of the most difficult lines to select as there are many options across the clubs, and they usually cost you the most – so getting them right first up is potentially paramount to a successful year.

If you’re a risk taker, you’ll also be looking at trying to find that elusive breakout player. Who will be the next MacCrae, Cripps or Oliver? – are you brave enough to start any, or all, of Rowell, Serong or Walsh?

  • Are there any injuries to consider from the off season?
  • Can you afford the players … are there enough rookies across all lines to let you run that one extra mid or breakout player?
  • For me, the top ones speak for themselves and are in most teams being posted on the Rate My Team threads. You can’t really go wrong with any of them as your starters I think … and it may just come down to a question of BYE PLANNING
  • There is one player listed in the top averages that looks interesting, based solely on his limited games played – BUT, he is also in that stacked Dogs midfield! How may can you have?
  • Fyfe, Kelly and Treloar. Do yourself a favour … DON’T!! Great averages, but total points and games limited due to injuries … are they worth the risk?


Not a lot needs explaining here – you need Gawn and Grundy – daylight to the next best ones … and remarkably they are consistent with games played … and even if missing one or two they make up for it in how well they score.

  • Marshall injured takes away that option
  • NicNat is always a possibility – he’s that good! BUT he does miss games and is being managed – dare you risk him?
  • The dreaded round 14 Bye is a bit of a problem … but manageable if you plan your trades, upgrades and bye planning well! Do yourself a favour and download the Bye Planners and plan out many scenarios and option!
  • You may be a risk taker and want to choose not playing one of the big two and investing the dollars saved on other lines and play another premo there … that may work, good luck!
  • There may potentially be some value in this with the impacts to the Pies on and off the field – how will it impact Grundy?

So, remember, your rookies determine your structure, not your premos!

Remember, trades are gold! In general, you will want to be starting 13 ‘premos’ (12 at worst). This means 9 upgrades, minimum, which generally means 18 – 20 trades. You will get injuries and you will need corrective trades (cough, splutter Jelly anyone?). So, starting the right premos is essential.

OK – that’s it from me … hopefully this article has been useful and generates some great discussions! Post them below and let others share their thoughts (dare I say pain??) Good luck for your year, bring on TLT and please lets find some great rookies!!


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14 thoughts on “Total Points v Average – Which Way Do You Go?”

  1. Usually to start a season with the premo players, I’ll try and start with consistent 22 round players and base off their total points. Due to many previous seasons an example would be Mitch Duncan as he played very consistent and wouldn’t miss a game.

    As the season went on, it more became based off averages as players brought in usually had a couple of poor performances or injury therefore dropping in price. They then only had to play about half the season in the team and I wasn’t as concerned about potential injuries.

    Josh Kelly was a great example of this as 2017 he finished 8th in total score after missing only 1 game. However, he hasn’t finished in the top 50 any other season, but has averaged 114+ his last 4 seasons. It shows his average is great score but you need to time it correctly as total points are almost ignored.


    1. Yep the article and the attached file is provided to give some easily looked at data in the file with several of the past years included and saving people to research the information.

      It is also there to try and highlight the differences between the total points scored as opposed to averages, which is what everyone tends to focus on.

      At the end of the day, you really want those staring 12-13 premos you have to be there for the full year – and thus you want to try and pick those ones that generally don’t miss games.

      The rest are your targets!

      Now, we can’t predict injuries of course (look at Lloyd as the start to this year!) and if we could predict that sort of thing, well, we wouldn’t be here (apart for fun of course!!) and would be putting out lotto numbers in!!

      Hopefully this info helps everyone, at least with their starters and maybe choosing one player over the other?

      Short is an interesting one – sort of promising and great pre season but maybe not enough back up data to say he is the best choice???

      Of course, we can never predict the breakouts (CD favourites?) it seems – so that’s the lottery!!

      Rule changes may sway some of the data and if this concussion/ injury sub comes in God (SC one!) knows how that impacts!

      Of course the real coaches in the game and their game plans and use of players also make this caper hard (fun!)



      1. I’m curious, how do you have 12-13 starting premos/keepers? I feel like to do this would require no mid-pricers and purely guns and rookies?


        1. yes generally Kieran that is the case.
          This year, with the artificially increased prices of the premos due to the shortened matches and rounds last year (and thus accelerated scoring) and also the seemingly dearth of rookies (again due to COVID last year) then it may be harder to find 13 “premos”

          The principles remain though … for me, when picking your guns in your initial starting team … wherever possible, do not just be merely lured in by averages … as they can be misleading, without seeing how well the premo has scored over a number of years, and how many games they play every year.

          As with everything though, luck will play its part!


    2. Something to keep in mind with injuries is teams only being announced the day before. This makes players like Jelly or Cripps more problematic as they get rested out of the blue, and you have less time to react.

      If someone gets KO’d, then you have all week to plan. But if Sunday teams are announced and half your team has played already, it makes planning much more limited.

      I still want to pick Jelly though.


      1. I have mentioned several times in posts….2020..jelly and zerrett both averaged 114 or so….one scored 250 more pts than the other.


  2. I admit, I go by averages because I’m lazy. But I do generally know who has missed a lot of action so will avoid them.

    Great write up, thanks Motts!


  3. While we have a gathering of great minds, can anyone tell me where I can find the kick in stats from the official practice matches?……similar as to how Ziebell’s were shown?


      1. Excellent – thanks Chips.

        Just note, a few teams did not play their usual “kick in” experts, or they played limited time … so exercise a little caution on a few of these.

        Players in clubs that are definites include, Ryan at Freo, Hurn at the Weagles, Stewart at the Cats, Brodie Smith may be firming at the Crows with a few of the injuries and Laird playing in the mids, Doc is usually favoured at the Blues I think (but I’m sure the Blues number 1 supporter in Motts will correct me if that wrong!!), Ridley a strong favourite at the Bombers, Daniel at the Doggies.

        Short may be firming at the Tigs – and this may aid his progression in the defence premo category – as long as he can stay on the park for more games.
        The one that is firming as a big interest is the Roos – will it be Ziebell or Macdonald, or as these stats suggest, will they share it??


  4. Great stuff Macca.
    I started Short last year at $350k he was remarkably consistent. He is still young and I can only see the new rules helping his game. Unless Hoult make some Lazarus type recovery, I can’t see him going backwards. As FD has pointed out he is probably floor priced and I feel he comes with little risk. He’s been in my side since January. Of course he probably won’t score 170 again this season but 22 games at close to 100 is a fantastic result at his starting price.
    Also on Hawk. Surely Cameron will affect his out put. Lynch certainly took points of an ageing Jack Riewoldt. I’m not sure he will even finish top 10 this year.
    Thanks for the great article. I personally won’t start any top priced premium that has any sort of injury history. Thanks again mate.


    1. Yeah mate I hear you on Short. I think his price is a little high for me (as are many due to the year last year) but I also think his history has him missing games for various reasons.

      The fact that he will more than likely take the kick ins will aid his scoring – but I’m thinking he is one of the target upgrades for mine.

      Yep, Hawk is not recommended to start with but it’s surprising how he has stayed at the top, as KPP. I’ve never had him in my team but probably should have each year. Cameron playing this year though does throw up some question marks – will it reduce his scores, or make it even better as defences now have to focus on two of them not just him??

      Don’t you just love this game??!!



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