We’ve assembled some of the sharpest KFC SuperCoach minds to help you navigate the last two rounds of 2020.
Whether you’re low on trades or need a ‘Hail Mary’ to win a preliminary final in Round 17, our experts have the answers.
Scroll down to read their thoughts on some of the key questions SuperCoaches will confront in the penultimate round of the campaign.
BRAINS TRUST: KEY KFC SUPERCOACH QUESTIONS ANSWERED
1. Do you need to save trades for the possibility of players being rested in Round 18?
@lekdogsc — Host, Jock Reynolds podcast: You’d probably want at least one trade heading into the final round in case of resting but to be honest, you can’t worry about it too much. If you have a rookie on the bench in each position it might be enough to win you that final or push that rank up a bit. It’s a standard 22-player round in Round 17 so the best preparation you can do is mental prep, accept that someone will be rested and it might not hurt as much when it happens!
@hunterpunter_1 — Best finish, fifth overall: Ideally you would have at least one trade up your sleeve for the final round because players being rested could definitely be on the cards. The bye before finals does help. If you are losing your league matchup though, I wouldn’t hesitate in using your last trade to get the win.
@HoneyballAUS — Creator of fantasy website Honeyball: Definitely having a trade or two up your sleeve for Round 18 is a good idea, but more for injuries than resting. I’m inclined to think there won’t be many, if any, players getting rested for a few reasons. Firstly, there’s the pre-finals bye which teams will use to freshen up players, plus ladder positions are super tight, from the jostle for top-two (which is relevant with Port, Brisbane and West Coast in the mix for genuine home finals), top-four and top eight, so the top 10-12 teams don’t have the luxury to flirt with form.
@nacheers — Two-time top-1000 ranked coach, round winner: It depends on your situation. If you are in cash league then you may as well go for broke. You don’t want to have regrets for not pulling the trigger. In an ideal world you would hold one trade as long as possible or until an injury strikes. As long as you have some cover on each line then you should feel confident. Currently some rookies are scoring better the premiums anyway and if you have two then you can always loop them.
@laughingracoon — Two-time top-40 ranked coach: History says that the bye immediately after Round 18 reduces the probability of restings. Therefore, assuming you have bench cover and one trade for a potential injury, I’d prefer to use any extra trade(s) to bolster a weak spot in my team, rather than save one or two more for a ‘maybe’ situation. The disclaimer here is that every team is different with its own issues and risks.
@Adrian9Johnson6 — Ranked 276th after Round 15: I have always played KFC SuperCoach with the mantra, ‘score big this week’. Essentially what that translates to is, double downgrading is rare and saving trades for the sake of it isn’t an option. This doesn’t mean I don’t plan ahead or target certain players, but when playing for overall rank, I believe it’s important to trade aggressively. If you save trades solely for the possibility of players being managed and that doesn’t ultimately come to fruition, you’ve missed the opportunity to capitalise on maximising output.
@bricemitchell — KFC SuperCoach stats guru: There will be a “rest week” between Round 18 and the AFL Finals series, so I don’t foresee too many restings in Round 18. That said, it is wise to save at least one trade for the final round, although it is always team dependant, based on the risk profile of your team, and the amount of bench cover you have. I plan to have 0 or one trade left for Round 18, but I will have at least one playing rookie on each line and a completed team.
2. Several rookies outscored premiums in the byes. Does it really matter if you aren’t ‘full premium’ for Round 17?
@lekdogsc: 2020 ‘full premium’ is different to previous ‘full premium’ so if you can get away with upgrading your rookies to any sort of fallen premo (or just plain average players) I still think it’s worth it. Rookies are more prone to dropping poor scores than anyone else, you’d hate to lose your league because Jake Riccardi scored 26 against the Saints in Round 18. At least if a premium lets you down you can blacklist them forever without many regrets.
@ hunterpunter_1: The benefit of premium players is their consistency and higher ceilings. My philosophy is to always aim to have 22 premiums on field. Fielding rookies in the byes in the best 18 format has had less risk attached due to the ability to drop off your lowest scorers. Now back to the standard scoring format, a poor rookie score on field could be detrimental to your chances of the win. If you’ve got the trades and cash, I would recommend trading a rookie to a premium.
@HoneyballAUS: That’s going to happen from time-to-time but more often than not it won’t, so I wouldn’t be taking that gamble moving forward. If you’ve not ‘completed’ your team yet, I’d still be following the downgrade-upgrade formula aimed at getting rookies off-field for premiums.
@nacheers: No it doesn’t. I have potentially got myself in a situation where I have spent big to get proven premiums and may just loop my F6. Especially in the forward line, last week Irving Mosquito and Jake Riccardi outscored Andrew Brayshaw and Christian Petracca, then this round Jy Simpkin went down with concussion. You never know what luck can swing your way. I feel the forwards are the position that I would be leaving until last to upgrade as they have been so inconsistent and players like Riccardi and Aarts have shown they can push out 70-100 scores. Having a defensive rookie or midfield rookie on-field may end up losing you points.
@laughingracoon: Yes, it matters. Round 15 was obviously an outlier and your premiums on average will outscore your rookies by about 50 points a game. My advice would be to trade hard to reach full premium. If you’re short on cash and trades, perhaps look for value in “premiums” such as Hurn, Josh Kennedy (Sydney), Goldstein, Simpkin (watch due to concussion), Jack Martin and Walters. They may come with increased risk, but all these players present excellent value based on their capability.
@Adrian9Johnson6: ‘Best 18’ during bye rounds enabled teams to capitalise on a handful of overperforming rookies, but one trade-off of that will be that it has disadvantaged stronger teams. Izak Rankine (130), Justin McInerney (120) and Jake Ricciardi (94) are outliers in a large sample size typically producing mediocre scores. Rookies have far greater scoring variability, with scores in the 40s always a very real possibility. When KFC SuperCoach reverts to best 22 in the final two rounds, teams with multiple rookies left on their field – particularly in the FWD line – will be caught out.
@bricemitchell: We were (mostly) able to “hide” poor premium scores and take advantage of good rookie scores in the ‘best 18’ weeks. Round 17 and 18 may not be as forgiving, and an on field rookie may expose your team to a score of 40-50. Ultimately it will depend on what you can do to the rest of your side to maximise your points in Round 17 to offset an on field rookie. If you can “loophole” the best score from two rookies, that would be ideal.
3. Which cheapie would you take a Hail Mary on for the last two rounds if you had enough trades?
@lekdogsc: Joel Selwood if he’s playing! At just $375k Selwood is unbelievably cheap. He has delivered plenty of poor scores in 2020 but the ceiling is still there, he posted a 151 against Hawthorn in Round 2 and 143 against Brisbane in Round 6. He averages 107 against Richmond, who Geelong face in Round 17, with recent scores of 103, 117 and 159 against the reigning premiers. In Round 18 the Cats take on Sydney, a side that Selwood averages 105 against with recent scored of 69, 145 and 122.
@ hunterpunter_1: Chad Wingard looks to have increased opportunity in the Hawthorn midfield after an injury to James Worpel, scoring 111 in Round 15. His DPP flexibility can also be beneficial if team line-ups don’t go your way in the final round. He has also scored over 100 the last time he played his next two opponents in Western Bulldogs and Gold Coast. For the final round I like Josh Kennedy (West Coast) as a pick that could turn a league matchup in your favour. Hasn’t had the greatest year but can score big on his day. He’s cheap after scoring an injury-affected 11 in Round 14. In Round 18 he plays against North Melbourne, a team he has scored 129 and 174 in his last two against.
@HoneyballAUS: Tough one. I’m not sure if he fits the ‘cheapie’ criteria but Luke Davies-Uniacke could be a ‘Hail Mary’ downgrade mid option to generate some cash. He’s got the CBA role locked in and has two juicy opponents in Fremantle and West Coast (they’ve been leaking points in midfield lately with their injury issues) in the last two rounds. He scored 129 in Round 16 and looks to be gaining in confidence after injury.
@nacheers: Leading up to finals Joel Selwood will want to be primed. He is 375k, a proven KFC SuperCoach player and scored a 143 earlier in the season. If you are struggling for cash he might be an OK option to loop at M8. Fwd/mid option which is completely based on one game but looked great last week is Blake Acres (129pts) at 364k. Jeremy Cameron might be a sneaky option up forward. He is 328k and a Coleman medallist. Four scores above 90 and playing Crows, Dees and Saints. One last option, who I tweeted about on Sunday is Kyle Langford. He has gone 105, 124 and was the third-ranked Essendon player against the Cats with a 79.
@laughingracoon: I usually take a risk-averse approach to KFC SuperCoach, but if you’re into high risk and looking for a cheap ‘Hail Mary’ to conquer a superior league opponent or achieve an unlikely top-1000 finish, I’d try and find a low-ownership player that can pump out 150-200 when stars align. Of the cheap players in that ilk I like Josh Dunkley (4 per cent ownership, Haw-Freo to come), Dayne Zorko (2 per cent, Syd-Carl) and Tom Rockliff (1 per cent, Ess-Coll). Alternatively, you could trade to your bench a dirt-cheap high-variance scorer like Tom Lynch (plays the bottom side Adelaide in Round 18) and try to emergency loop a lucky big score.
@Adrian9Johnson6: One of my biggest takeaways from this SC season has been coaches in that illusive Top 100 overall didn’t get there by taking ‘Hail Marys’, they nailed their starting line-ups. Coaches starting with the likes of Neale, Macrae, Lloyd, Petracca and Greenwood gained a significant advantage over those who instead opted for Fyfe, J. Kelly, Hurn, Rozee and Ceglar. You might be thinking, ‘Oh thanks — Captain Hindsight’, and that’s fair enough, but my point is this: Coaches who start with durable (and proven) premiums and then upgrade to riskier prospects will more often than not outrank coaches who opt for PODs to start the season and ultimately fall into a perpetual cycle of chasing points. Irrespective of my what-could-have-been season, some speculative yet affordable picks for the final two rounds include, Jarrod Berry (3 Rd Avg: 113.7), Reilly O’Brien (3 Rd Avg: 115.7) and Charlie Dixon (143 last round).
@bricemitchell: There’s a few cheap options in the FWD line that I like, which could all fire on their day including Blake Acres ($387k*), Chad Wingard ($375*), Connor Rozee ($321k*), Jack Ziebell ($297*), Tom Lynch ($341k), and Jack Riewoldt ($357k). My preferred options are probably Acres and Wingard, as key forwards don’t seem to have the same ceiling in 2020, compared to previous seasons — Unless your name is Tom Hawkins. Acres started his 2020 season with 46, 89, and 28 (injury-affected). Since returning from injury, he has scored 129 and 113, and looks like a solid selection at $387k. Freo have North and the Bulldogs to finish the season. Wingard looks set to get more mid-time in the final two rounds with Worpel out for the season. And while “mid-time” does not guarantee points, he could score well regardless with games against the Bulldogs and Gold Coast. Warning, it could prove to be a rollercoaster ride even with two games to go!
*Approx Round 17 price.
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Originally published as SuperCoach brains trust: How to spot a finals bargain