There’s something in here for every level of Fantasy manager, from the rookie to the expert. I’ll start by stating the bloody obvious. To have any shot at being successful you need to get the maximum number of points for the $6M you’ve got to spend, and more specifically the 15 you put on the park each week. Obvious right. But with Fox making it harder and harder each year to get a quality first 15 out, getting into the detail on this is key:
Squad Mgmt is Essential – With no more wildcards long gone are the days of picking the back three of whichever team are playing the Kings and then being able to wildcard yourself back to a balanced 15. If you gear too much towards one team or one week you’ll get caught out further down the line when injuries pop up. This happened last year and pretty much put pay to Bossman’s title challenge as he had 14 men out for a few weeks running. You need a strong 23, all of whom can start and get points. This makes squeezing out every single $ of value essential once you get into bye weeks. It makes your week to week transfers crucial, so pay attention to strength of schedule for the next 2 to 3, or 3 to 5 games, not just the next one. This is especially important this year as in the run up to the last few games the Lions are touring NZ, and as much as the ABs mgmt are currently saying it won’t impact Super Rugby selection you can bet if Beauden’s the only fit NZ 10 there’s zero change he’ll be playing the week before the tour test matches.
Understand Player Value and Form – Whilst the Fox player value calculation is a closely guarded secret (I’m doing them a favour there as I’m pretty sure they make it up as they go along with some players) there’s few general rules. For every $100k of transfer value you should be getting about 10 pts in average pts scoring. If you’re paying more than that then you’re paying for near term form over the last 3 to 5 games, rather their longer term seasons average. That’s great if you think that form can be maintained, for instance if someone’s coming back from injury, or finally getting a run in the team. Otherwise beware, as that players price is likely to drop and you’ll have a harder time with your transfers. If you’re paying less than that, then you’re picking someone up who’s dipped in recent weeks, so you need to take a view on whether that’s temporary, or whether there’s a reason for it and you can snap up a bargain. That is a general rule, but there are plenty of people where their pricing makes no sense at all – I put that down to the Fox Factor (#FoxFactor) and I’ll highlight a few below, although we’ve already talked about a few in the NZ, AUS and SA division previews. See below for a few examples:
- Over-Priced – This is most common and you can see this all over the place, where players are priced at way above the $100k to 10pts benchmark because they’ve had a big last 3 to 5 games. As the Fox pricing puts a larger weight on recent form, you can get big variations in price vs their season average. Players like:
- Faddes: $373k vs 28.1 avg
- Crotty: $470k vs 34.9 avg
- Jaco Kriel: $564k vs 39.1 avg
- LuaTua: $501k vs 35.4 avg
- Ash Dixon: $400k vs 28.1 avg
- Haylett-Petty: $508k vs 36.8 avg
- These aren’t the most overpriced, but some of the more obvious ones, and it’s because their 3 to 5 game average is way about their season average so their price has shot up. No doubt they’re all great fantasy players, but if they get the same points this season then you’re paying a lot more for them in that position than someone else who will get the same points over the season. However, there’s always exceptions to the rule, just check out Howard Minsi. Terrible recent form, below his season average, yet still really expensive whether you look at recent form or his season points. This is the #FoxFactor – i.e. completely screwed.
- Under-Priced – Finding under-priced players it a lot more difficult. The best way to do that is find players where Fox haven’t bothered to do their due diligence on them and have just priced them at $112k. There’s always a load each season, and again we’ve highlighted quite a few already in our various blog posts. There’s also those where they’ve only played 2 games, and as the players price only moves after 3 total games, you can pick them up for a quick spike. However, there are a few kicking around that stick out who have player more than 2 or 3 games:
- Eto Nabuli: $171k vs 23.9 avg
- Pat Lambie: $319k vs 39 avg (based on 3 games)
- Robert Du Preez: $166k vs 30 avg (based on 2 games, so here’s someone who if he gets 30+ points in his next game will shot up)
- Renaldo Bothma: $112k vs 34 avg (again based on 3 games, and owned by 27.1% of managers)
- Franco Mostert: $130k vs 24.7 avg
- But again, there’s exceptions to every rule, just look at Nick Phipps, under priced at $185k for his season’s average of 22.3 points, but terrible recent form. No idea why his price is what it is, it should be a lot lower. #FoxFactor
Prioritize Positions – I break my team down into three buckets of players. You may or may not agree, but generally these rules hold true and are the foundation for a good season and how I approach my team:
- Stars: Hooker / Outside Back / Backrow – these are the guys who are getting you nearly 40 or 40+ pts on average and invariably who you’ll pick your captain from. Spend most of your money here. Don’t throw is after overpriced players, like some of the above, but these are the rockstars that deserve the big bucks that you need to build you team around.
- Leaders: Fly Half / Centre – these guys are important to your team, most likely you’ll stick with them for the bulk of the season and you’re looking to get a good 30+ pts on average, ideally 35+. There are some exception – Kerevi / Ngatai / R Ioane – who have been able to turn it on for large runs of game, but you need to ask yourself whether you’re will to pay the premium and whether they can keep that up coming into a new season.
- Teamsters: Prop / Lock / Scrum Half – generally speaking what your looking for from these guys is 20 pts a game. There are some exceptions – Pieter-Steph du Toit / Etzebeth / Holloway – where these guys take it to another level, or sometimes backrow listed as locks who are by their nature more likely to get points. But in general, you’re trying to maximise value here so you can spend money on your stars. Again you’re looking for players that you can start for the bulk of the season irrespective of match-up, to give you more transfer options.
- The Bench: Generally you need two things from your bench 1) cheap players who are 2) going to see game time. Ideally in teams that throw the ball around. This way they’ll have a nice bump in price and you’ll have more ability to get creative with transfers after the first few weeks. The Bench will be heavily influenced in the first week by the Team Sheets – see below. So have a shortlist of preferred players for each bench spot, ideally 2 or 3, and then go with whoever looks like they’re getting the starting nod, as they’ll most likely get a run of 2 or 3 games unless they’re total crap. The only exception is usually in the hooker position. Because it’s so key sometimes it make sense to spend a little more – $200k+ – to get a good back-up and save you a transfer for weeks when you starting hookers on a bye, rested or injured.
- Position vs Position Trade Off: The above is some general guidance, but obviously you need to take a view at the season progress. Last season Pieter-Steph was just too good to ignore even if you had to pay $500k to get him in. There are also backrow, hooker and outside back players who will emerge as stars this year, who started on the bench and as squad players. That’s where you as a manager make a difference, and your ability to bring these form players in, and flex your squad depends on solid team selection, transfer strategy and having some money in the bank to be able to pull it off. If you’re look at the position vs position trade off just try to benchmark players by the average top points for that position and the money you’re having to shell out – i.e. if you spending big on props / locks to get you another 5 pts on average across the season, that’s money that could be better spend on a backrow superstar, or this season Damian McKenzie.
Captain, Captain, Captain – this is key. Clearly have a captain strategy. Whether that is sticking with one of your stars through thick and thin, or trying to play the weekly match-ups. Personally I tend to lean towards the former, and last season I stuck with McKenzieor Folau dependent on schedule, byes and inuries. If you’ve picked someone that should be a top 10 or 20 points scorer then stick with them as they’ll have off days, but you don’t want to miss the occasional 100 pt jackpot. Hooker is a relatively safe choice across the season as they are so consistent, but you’ll miss out on the big payoffs.
Check the Team Sheets – again bloody obvious but every year I don’t check all of my starting 15 and get caught out – usually when I’m trying to do my team after a boozy Thursday night out and I know I won’t be up for the early start UK time. This is absolutely critical for week 1 when you don’t have any form to take into account and selection is more up in the air. SuperXV.com isn’t a bad source for team previews, but sometimes miss last minute changes, so check for tweets in the couple of hours leading up to game time.
Get Lucky – There’s no doubt about it you just have to be lucky sometimes. By doing all of the above you minimise the amount luck that can impact your team positively or negatively, BUT, it all helps. Just ask Bossman and Mark.
With that in mind I’ll be posting my starting 15 about 12 hours before kick-off Wednesday night UK time.