Expert Q&A: 2020 AFL Fantasy runner-up on early season cash gen & holding guns

Adelaide-based 30-year-old qualified teacher Shaun Brown pushed Trent Sutcliffe all the way in the 2020 AFL Fantasy season, eventually finishing runner-up and landing the $8,000 second-place prize.

The money certainly came in handy for Shaun who enjoyed his honeymoon last year, where he forged a deal with his new wife allowing him to play AFL Fantasy during the trip!

But timely research was only one part of the success of Shaun’s Treddas Spreaders, who offered us insights into his 2020 success, particularly those early season dilemmas relevant to now.

HB: What do you think went right for you? Luck/strategy?

Shaun: Early in the season I focused heavily on money generation and having a full playing squad of rookies. The key to AFL Fantasy is money generation and I made a focused effort on ensuring I was generating the most money possible early in the season. I traded out injured premium players such as Dustin Martin for mid-price breakouts with low breakevens such as Bailey Smith and Jy Simpkin early into the season and this turned out to be good in terms of generating cash.

I started with Josh Kelly and he was a late out in Round 3 which caused me to straight swap him to Lachie Neale. Without that late out I would not have been able to get Neale into my team and without Neale last year, there was no chance of winning. 

HB: What strategic principles helped you get ahead?

Shaun: I held on to players like Jack Crisp for the whole season against every urge in my body to trade him out. He was scoring 60s, but I held on to him with blind hope that this would turn around. This faith repaid me in the final few rounds where he averaged an adjusted 129 points in his last five games. Therefore, it is important to hold your premos and remind yourself that you did the research and you picked them for a reason. The proven players always find a way to fix their averages.

HB: Do you have a philosophy on how many premos, mid-pricers, rookies?

Shaun: My philosophy changes each year based on the data available. In AFL Fantasy you need to be flexible and have an open mind.  I also had success using mid-pricers in 2020 and believe this season there are some similar opportunities to explore. Nailing some mid-price players in the starting squad gives you a huge head start on scoring and allows you more trades to focus on rookies. Occasionally you can hold a mid-pricer for the year and in this case you have a huge advantage over the guns and rookies approach.

"It is extremely important to get the right rookies into the team and breakevens are a big part of this process."

Shaun Brown

HB: Do you target points of difference, do you trade proven players or speculate?

Shaun: The highest scoring teams over the duration of a season are generally similar so it only takes 1 or 2 PODs to make up a lot of points. A POD can also be someone you DON’T trade in or someone you trade out. That is more my style of play. I like to bet against popular players such as not starting with Whitfield in 2020. My advice would be to look for these high ownership, popular players that attract tags or have an uncertain role to start the year and take a punt leaving them out of your side.

HB: How about breakevens?

Shaun: It is extremely important to get the right rookies into the team and breakevens are a big part of this process.  The breakevens of the premium players are not relevant unless you plan to trade them out. I look at future performance and ignore the past performance when trading in players. Messing around with premiums with low break evens to make quick money to then trade them again is very problematic. You are using trades to make little gains when you could be ensuring a full squad of rookies on the bench.

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HB: Are you one to mull over trades all week or just spend an hour or two on it? Keep a spreadsheet or notes?

Shaun: I play around with trades all week long. Coming up to lockout on a Friday, my texts are going off between my mates and I with our various trade scenarios.

HB: How do you pick a VC/C?

Shaun: This year I’m studying the fixture carefully to ensure I’ve the right players in the early games to VC. I look at matchups, weather conditions and previous stats to choose my C. I’m happy to pay up for a solid captain.

HB: Many thanks and good luck!

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