Expert Panel: The three fundamental keys to success in AFL Fantasy

Ahead of the final round of the 2021 AFL Fantasy season, we thought while we’ve still got your attention to discuss some of the key lessons from this year and fundamental pillars to success.

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Thus we’ve assembled an AFL Fantasy Expert Panel to espouse their three fundamental keys to success, referencing what went right and wrong in 2021.

Honeyball has chatted with the AFL Fantasy Freak himself, Jacob Leopardi, along with last year’s fifth-place getter Nick Millar, who is currently ranked 391st overall, along with Tommi from @AFLFantasyHelp with an impressive current rank of 69th.

It’s never too early to start planning for next year, so hopefully these dot points help!

Jacob Leopardi @AFLFantasyFreak

Jacob Leopardi with Elliot Yeo
  • Nailing a starting squad

Whilst nailing a starting squad isn’t the be all and end all of your season it certainly helps build a solid platform to work with. If you can nail a lot of the underpriced premiums/mid-price players, it puts you ahead of the pack and increases your freedom at the trade table. The main principles you want to focus on are chasing value and therefore everyone in your starting side should be selected based on improving on their previous seasons output. Typically, you want to avoid paying full price for anyone, but you do need a captain option. The easiest way to solve this issue is to pay up for a set and forget ruck combo as this is the zone where there are generally less solid value players and for a long time now it’s been clear who the top two guys are. Some examples of underpriced premiums from this season include: Macrae, Walsh and Laird whilst some of the better mid-priced guys include Hind, Parish and Hall.

  • Blocking out outside noise and how I trade.

With more AFL Fantasy content out there, it’s easier than ever to get sucked into other people’s opinions and not stick true to your own thoughts. It’s important to back yourself in! When trading through the early stages you want to focus on bringing in those mid-price value selections that you’ve missed. Whilst you may start the year with a couple unique guys, for the most part you want to stay relatively vanilla in order to stay with the pack. I usually start planning for the byes about five weeks out. During the byes I’ll target players from the week prior to make sure the guys I’m bringing in can cover for the following weeks. Post byes the strategy is to pick up “best 22” players who might be at a cheaper price. I follow a value principle when trading right up until the last few rounds. At this point value and cash generation is redundant and therefore I bring in who I think are the best options irrelevant of price. I also focus more on match ups, ceiling and ownership a lot more in the later rounds.

  • Staying disciplined

It’s important to recognize that the AFL Fantasy season is long and therefore there’s no need to worry if your rank isn’t where you would like early on. There’s plenty of time to make ground and if you stick to the principles in point two and stay disciplined you should be able to climb rank from week to week and have a successful season. With the game becoming more competitive than ever injuries and luck pay a big part in how well you can do. For the most part these principles will land you up around the mark of the top coaches. 

Nick Millar @Time_Millar

Nick Millar on his tour with his #5 cap
  • Use the community

The AFL Fantasy community is great. They’re (mostly) nice, intelligent, passionate people with way, way too much spare time on their hands, and this means you as the budding AFL Fantasy coach can be really, really, really, lazy, and that suits me, to a tea. Guys like the esteemed big bee (that’s us, Honeyball!), the Traders, the Pod Pod, Plus 6, Coaches Panel, Draft Docs + Category B (although more for the gags) , AFLRatings, SuperFooty, Mick Whiting, Footy Rhino etc, they do all the legwork, watch all the games, analyse all the stats and come up with the best details for you to cherry pick without having to do anything at all. Sometimes I don’t even watch much footy (especially if the Lions lost to the Cats, I hate Cats’ fans, sorry, not sorry). Just be sure to follow the right people, find the ones who you can trust and whose theories match yours and check it occasionally. A word of caution however, if you write a Fantasy article on one of the popular platforms, don’t read the comments, some of the community… well they don’t bear talking about.

  • Don’t get cute

It’s easy to spend forever looking at trade options and working with stats and prices and trading out this player and moving that player and reversing and reverting your trades every 8 seconds as you chase the ultimate winning trade move. In reality that doesn’t exist, or it’s rare enough to not be worth chasing. Find a good move early in the week and as the great man Fonzy once said “SIT ON IT”. Make changes if relevant news comes out but otherwise your first thought is often your best. At the end of the day it’s a game about backing yourself and being happy with your choices. Second guessing and looking at 400 different options won’t help.  Don’t try and think too far ahead either. Any plans for next week will likely be ruined by the upcoming week of footy (and those jerks at @FantasyAFLGods), let alone the week or month after that.

  • Don’t Fight the Phases

At its core, AFL Fantasy is simple:

A – Nail the starting side (it helps to share your side with others in cases you miss things on specific players, or browse other’s starting sides on Twitter for ideas/comparison),

 B  – Chase value in the mid-season to get your rooks off the ground. Yes, it can be tempting to bring in an uber but two mid-pricers on the up is better long term,

 C – Guns at the end. Don’t think your team is completed with mid pricers or underperforming premos. Get the best guys possible in the last few weeks. It’s at this point may be able to buck the system a little and leave an overperforming rook (e.g. a Bramble or a Sharp this season) on the field while you pull in guns elsewhere.

Tommi @AFLFantasyHelp

  • Research!

Research is vital whether it be in the middle of the season or at the start of a season. Research will ensure you have all the knowledge needed to be able to improve your team. Some reliable sources I recommend include the Traders, Honeyball or other reliable Instagram pages such as myself, AFLFantasyFire and AFLFantasyy.

  • Utilise loopholes

Loopholes are vital to success in AFL Fantasy. Whether it be a bench loophole or vice-captain loophole make sure you are using them, just remember not to put a player named as an emergency as your loophole because you might end up with a very low captain’s score!

  • Trust yourself

This for me is something I haven’t done throughout the year and has cost me dearly, where I have had options between Parish and Touk, keeping or selling Cumming and many other examples where I have chosen the logical answer over what I thought was the right choice, so always remember to go with the way you feel is best.

HB: Outstanding advice and thoughts, lads. Thanks so much for your wise words!

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