Expert Q&A: 2020 AFL Fantasy winner talks guns & rookies, TOG & PPM
Sydney-based 48-year-old Christian pastor Trent Sutcliffe plays plenty of Fantasy sports but he achieved the AFL Fantasy holy grail of taking out the top prize in 2020, despite trading in Mark Blicavs for a final round score of 37.
The Sydney Swans and St George Illawarra fan, whose Fantasy team is called Aluniesheis after his eccentric daughter, plays AFL Fantasy, AFL SuperCoach and NRL SuperCoach, but ditched the latter two once it was clear he was in contention for the Toyota Hilux and cash prize.
He’d previously been more focused on NRL SuperCoach but utilizing his key principles, analysing time on ground (TOG) and points-per-minute (PPM), made the right calls to lead him to AFL Fantasy glory.
HB: What’s your key strategy?
Trent: My strategy has always been guns and rookies and never buy on speculation. I want to see evidence of a role change or improvement at the end of the previous season or in pre-season. Luck plays a big part, when a player gets injured or is on a run of scores. My luck was being able to trade a player who was injured without affecting my structure, like Jeremy Howe and Gawn.
HB: What helps you form those decisions?
Trent: You’re always trying to find any sort of marginal reason that a player may improve. My strategic principles are to look at TOG and PPM in both formats and isolate potential scoring improvements and role changes. Next, I look at team balances and where scoring improvements might come from. For example, for the last five years Adelaide have never had a player spend more than 80% TOG. This means with their PPM it does limit their upside, so players like Rory Sloane and Jackson Hately will increase in overall value, but slower than we might hope. Fremantle are the same.
In a positive way there’s value in Hawthorn or Adelaide’s defence if Rory Laird, for example, plays midfield time. I try look at how a team plays and how this affects scoring. For example, Sydney don’t have a third midfielder who scores. The reason is Sydney’s half-back flankers join the midfield chain and run the ball out, mostly Jake Lloyd. Before you buy a breakout in Sydney’s midfield, you need to see a change in the way they play.
The opposite is true for Geelong and Hawthorn where their wingers and mids get back and start their attacking chains. They’ve multiple mids who score over 90. This means if there’s injuries and role changes, like Guthrie in 2020, then scoring will follow because they’re fitting a team structure.
This means I’ve a few questions about each team’s structure in pre-season. As an aside, game structure is risk mitigation so I avoid players who’ve missed a bulk of pre-season, especially mids like Adams or Tom Mitchell.