How to Play
AFL Fantasy is a game where you coach an AFL team. You must pick 30 players. This is broken down by 8 defenders (6 on the field), 10 mid-fielders (8 on the field), 4 rucks (2 on the field), and 8 forwards (6 on the field). Only players playing on your field earn points for you. However, if players on your field don’t play they can be replaced by a marked “Emergency” in the same position on your bench. For example, if you have Player A in the mid-field, and an ’emergency’ Player B on your bench in the same position, if Player A misses on the game, then Player B’s score will count instead.
There are two special spots – “Captain” and “Vice Captain”. Captain’s earn double-points. And if the captain isn’t playing, the vice captain will ‘act as captain’ and earn double-points.
You start with a salary cap of $12.6 million. Player prices are dependent on their previous AFL Fantasy points scored.
A player receives 3 points for a kick, 2 points for a handball, 3 points for a mark, 4 points for a tackle, 1 point for a hit-out, 6 points for a goal, and 1 point for a behind. If a player gives away a free-kick they lose 3 points. And if they are awarded a free-kick, they get 1 point.
Each round after the round, AFL Fantasy calculates the number of points each player has scored using the above formula. It then uses a special formula to determine whether the players price rises or falls. The score the player must reach to maintain their current price is called their “Break Even” point. For example, if a player has a break-even of 60, but scores 50 their price will drop. Or if they score 70 their price will increase. You can think of players like stocks in the stock market – if they perform above expectations their price increases. Or if they perform below expectations their score decreases. And like stocks there are ‘growth stocks’ – players who are low-priced but have a lot of potential. Then there are your ‘mid-pricers’ – players just starting to mature but have not yet reached their peaks. And finally there are ‘blue-chip stocks’ – or players who have already hit their peaks and score well week-in and week-out. AFL Fantasy is about maximizing the number of points earned during the season – and requires a mix all of these players.
Choosing your team
When you first open AFL Fantasy you are greeted with a green field – and empty boxes where the players go. For a first time player it can be daunting. There is an “Auto” button – which automatically creates a team for you based on popular selections – but there’s no guarantee it doesn’t include monumental mistakes (such as injured players). You’re better off choosing a team from one of the various experts in the AFL Fantasy world as a starting point – especially one who explains why they chose the players they have.
However, to learn the game you should create your own team. The best way to do this is to map out who you believe will be the best 22 players at seasons end. While you cannot select this team under the salary cap at the start of the year you can structure your team with a few of these players around the ground. And fill in the other spots with players you think will improve the most so that your team fits within the salary cap.
While everyone has a slightly different strategy – this is the strategy I’ve arrived at after some trial and error.
Rounds 1 to 4
During the initial rounds I concentrate on getting my rookie players right. They are the ‘engine-room’ of your team which will drive your growth allowing you to complete your team. Unless injured, I tend not to worry about my premium players during this part of the season. Even if they initially under-perform, remember cream rises to the top. There are many instances where a premium player has been ‘rage traded’ away only for them to go bang the following round.
Rounds 4 to 8
Until round 8 I look at whether the average for a rookie is nearing their break-even (which suggests that they have grown as much as they’re going to). It is at this time I will ‘trade them out’ (i.e. sell them), and use that money to ‘trade in’ (i.e. buy) a new player. If you trade to a player of a lower price, this is called a “downgrade” – and it is the fastest way to generate money in AFL Fantasy. If I have enough money in my bank account (usually after multiple down-grades) I will ‘upgrade’ a ‘maxed out rookie’ to a premium player so I’m closer to my ideal team. Please see Dylan Holt’s video on Making Money.
Rounds 8 to 10
During these few rounds I like to ‘downgrade’ and build up a bit of a war-chest in order to survive the bye-rounds. When deciding which players to trade out, keep an eye on the up-coming bye rounds so that you don’t get caught out by not being able to field enough players.
Rounds 10 to 14
The bye-rounds are about survival – minimizing the number of players who will not play during those rounds (giving a zero – called a ‘donut’ in AFL Fantasy slang). You can guarantee during these rounds there will be some spanners in the works – players who get injured, rested or dropped. However, I try to keep a focus on trading towards my ‘ultimate’ team using the war-chest I accrued during the previous period – and trading to players who have already had their bye-rounds.
Rounds 14 to the end
From round 14 you should be looking to ‘complete’ your team. Once your team is complete (usually near the end of the season), you can start chasing averages and ‘side-ways trading’ (i.e. trading similar players for other similar players whom you believe are improving).
Some players find it more satisfactory to win their league competitions – which are usually filled with their friends. And others go for ‘overall score’ – which is their overall ranking from everyone in the competition. The players who score the highest cumulative points during the season for the entire competition are eligible to win cash or prizes. Generally I don’t find them to be mutually exclusive – if you have a good overall ranking you will probably find you are dominating your leagues also.
Tell me what you think; AFL Fantasy can be confusing for the uninitiated. Is there anything that needs better explanation? Or do you have a strategy that you swear by? Please log in and leave a comment below.