How to pick a premiership KFC SuperCoach team
You've signed up for KFC SuperCoach, have a killer team name and uniform and you're ready to start your charge to league domination, and maybe even the $50,000 grand prize. Now what?
Staring at the team screen with 30 blank boxes - and more than 700 players to choose from - can be daunting.
Here's a simple step-by-step guide to picking a winning team.
Just like an AFL list manager, you only have limited funds to work with when selecting your squad. A $10 million salary cap sounds a lot but it will disappear fast, so look for players who provide value for money as well as scoring potential. Players returning from injury are often attractively priced, but come with some risk, so you don't want too many.
You need a balance of superstars, mid-range players and kids who are ready to emerge.
Note: You can make as many trades as you like before Round 1, so decisions made now aren't final. Expect to make some changes as we get hints on form, injuries and likely Round 1 selections over the pre-season. It's possible to save a partially-finished team, but make sure you have a full squad of 30 players saved before Round 1 lockout to be part of the action.
1. START IN THE RUCK
The ruck is the third of the four positions on the SuperCoach player menu, but this is the place to start because these decisions will impact every other position.
The easiest - and potentially smartest - call is to pick Demon Max Gawn and Magpie Brodie Grundy. They have been the highest-scoring rucks of the past three seasons by a big margin - last year Gawn had the highest average of any player (140) and Grundy had the sixth-highest (120).
They are likely to deliver big scores every week and save you a lot of stress. The sticking point in selecting both is that it will use up almost $1.4 million - 14 per cent - of your salary cap on two players.
There are other elite ruckmen who come a bit cheaper - Todd Goldstein and Nic Naitanui have a good scoring history - but if you're going to take the risk of starting without Grundy or Gawn the best move is to pick a bargain big man who you hope can score similar to the top tier and free up a big pile of cash to spend in other positions.
Braydon Preuss ($303,000) could be the best option in this category as he prepares to take the role of No.1 ruckman for the first time at GWS. Essendon's Sam Draper ($379,100) or new Swan Tom Hickey ($261,100) are also cheap - but risky!
Whichever path you take, don't spend more than $150,000 on your bench ruckman as they are unlikely to be called on. Fremantle's Josh Treacy ($102,400 FWD/RUCK) will be a popular pick.
2. FILL YOUR BENCH
The next step is to pick your bargain basement players - aim for under $130,000 - in defence (two), the midfield (three) and forward line (two). These are your bench players who will rise in value once they start playing and can fill in if one of your first-choice 22 is injured.
The most important goal when picking a SuperCoach team is to find bench players who will get game time. Many teams have unravelled because there are too many cheapies who aren't even playing.
Check out our ROOKIE BIBLE for a guide to the bottom-priced players expected to push for senior selection. Historically, first-round draft picks are safe bets, especially midfielders. Mature-age recruits are also good options because they are often signed to fill a specific role in the team - James Rowe at the Crows is a safe bet.
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3. SOME MORE CHEAPIES
To fit your team under the salary cap you'll need to start some of these cheap players on the field - so it's even more important they are getting games!
Pick two more in the midfield and one more in the defence and forward line. You can up your budget here a little bit to include players like top draftees Will Phillips ($188,300 MID) or mature-age recruits like Connor Menadue ($201,500 DEF).
With all your rookies it's OK to take a bit of a guess now and pick players to fill these roles who might not make your final team. Just remember to check back in before Round 1 to make sure you have the best cheapies - they aren't much use to us if they're aren't scoring any points.
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4. GET SOME BIG GUNS
Now for the fun bit. It's time to splash some cash on the biggest - and most expensive - players in the game.
Due to their high price, you can only have a handful in each position - 2-3 in the backline and forward line and 4-5 in the midfield.
You need to spend wisely. Look for proven performers over multiple seasons - a breakout year could be a sign of things to come or it might be a flash in the pan. Players such as Jack Macrae, Jake Lloyd and Patrick Dangerfield have been high scorers for several years, so you can bet they will be again in 2021.
Reliability is a key factor. Players who appear every week save you trades and headaches throughout the season. You can't go past Brisbane's Lachie Neale - he has missed just two games in the past seven seasons.
5. FIND A BARGAIN OR THREE
There should be a couple of spots to fill in each position (apart from the ruck) and a bit of money left to spend (your ruck choice will have a large bearing on how much).
These positions are where you can take a punt on a mid-pricer - players who are massively underpriced based on their scoring potential, but who usually come with a large element of risk as well.
They might be coming back from a serious injury, like Jack Ziebell, looking for a fresh start, like Jackson Hately, or a young player ready to take his game to the next level, like Shai Bolton.
Their prices can range anywhere from Joe Daniher's $223,300 to Jy Simpkin's $499,700. What they all have in common is the potential to score way above their starting price - if everything goes their way.
These guys can make your KFC SuperCoach season, or break it. So you don't want too many.
6. A NOTE ON DUAL-POSITION PLAYERS
Some players in SuperCoach can be picked in more than one position - they are known as dual-position players, or DPPs. Their real value in your team is they can switch between those positions during the year, potentially allowing you to cover for an injury without using a trade.
They also allow us to pack our sides with extra high-scoring midfielders by picking them in defence or the forward line.
As a general rule if high-scoring players are available as MID/FWD or MID/DEF, pick them in defence or the forward line - so put the likes of Dangerfield and Dustin Martin in your forward line, where dependable high scorers are harder to find. That leaves spots in your midfield for pure mids like Neale, Nat Fyfe and Tom Mitchell.
And if you can find cheap DPPs who are likely to play, stick them on your midfield bench. They can be hugely valuable as the season plays out.
7. ANOTHER NOTE ON TRADES
After Round 1 you'll have 30 trades throughout the season - a maximum of two per week, or three during the bye rounds - to fix and improve your squad.
If you take a gamble and it doesn't pay off, it's not the end of the world. But a strong starting squad will set up your entire season.
8. GOOD LUCK!
Keep an eye on pre-season games to refine your team before Round 1, and we'll have plenty of expert advice to help you make the best selection calls.
The next step is to convince your mates to join your private league so the real battle can begin.
Originally published as How to pick a premiership KFC SuperCoach team