In my previous article, Buyer Beware – Part 1, I found a strong correlation between the number of games a footballer plays, their average score, and how many future games they might play. This seems to suggest that savvy AFL Fantasy coaches should stick with highly durable players with excellent job security.

However, savvy coaches also know that there’s value to be found in the ‘bargain bin’ of discounted players. And the question remains – are these discounts really worthwhile?

Rules? What Rules

The first thing to clarify is the formula AFL Fantasy uses to decide discount each player should get:

If a player takes part in fewer than 10 games, a discount will apply in the form of three per cent per game. Discounted players are priced according to the higher of their last two season’s averages. If they miss a full season, the discount can be up to 30 per cent (the price will be calculated on the player’s previous season average).

There are some exceptions however; the AFL Fantasy at their discretion may not discount certain players – usually uber-premium players such as Gary Ablett Jnr last year.

There’s Gold in them Hills

This year one of the most popular picks for sure will be Nic Naitanui, who has received a 30% discount on his 2017 average due to injury. At $417,000, it prices him at approximately 59 points per game.

Given his 2016 Average is 84.5 it’s not difficult to see the upside and why he will be in most peoples teams. But is it really the steal of the century? Let’s look at other players who have sat a season out:

Improvement on their discounted average after a Season Out

From this chart, we see that players who have sat the season out will on average improve by 16.32% on their discounted average. If Nic Naitanui follows suite, this means he will (all things being equal) average 68.63 in 2018. However, with the above figures remember to use discretion: the better players are likely to exceed the average which is lowered by players of lesser ability. For this reason I think Nic Naitanui will exceed 69; in fact a player most similar to the current Nic Naitanui situation might be Jarryd Roughhead – who was able to post some respectable scores on his return. All the same, I think it will take Nic Naitanui some time to warm up to his previous potential, and also the risk of re-injury is very real; In fact, players who sat a season out only play 8 games in the following season on average.

Other popular choices of discounted players include:

Player Position Price Previous Average Priced At
Jaeger O’Meara MID $438,000 70.6 62
Brett Deledio FWD $530,000 91.7 75
Robbie Gray FWD $572,000 97.6 81
Max Gawn RUC $605,000 106.5 86

Please Note: “Priced At” is only an estimate, as it depends on a hidden value (known as the magic number) which I have tried to derive based on incomplete data.

Summary

From the above figures, players who sit the season out have two things in common with a premium rookie (such as Cameron Rayner or Andrew Brayshaw). Both are likely to:

  1. Play a similar number of games
  2. Improve by a similar amount on their start-of-season average

I will address this further in future posts.

Tell me what you think; will you have Nic Naitanui? Are there any other ‘bargain bin’ players you’re considering who you believe can buck the trend?