N00bTeam - AFL Dream Team 101

So you've never played Dream Team before, but your mates at school/work/family are always banging on about donuts and cash cows so you've decided to take up their challenge. What is this Dream Team stuff anyway?

The Very Basics
Dream Team is a game where you (the DT player) select a virtual team of 30 players. Each week you select 22 players from that 30 to score points based on their real life performances. These 30 players must be selected in positions (backs, midfielders, rucks and forwards) with each player having a defined position (or occasionally multiple positions, but we'll get to multipositioning later). The playing 22 will be 7 backs, 6 mids, 2 rucks and 7 forwards and there are 2 reserves in each position. Each player has a price which is based on their average point score from the previous year. The total price of all your 30 players must be below the salary cap of $7,962,500. Sounds simple, right?

Simple Strategy
You also get to select a captain who scores double points and a vice captain who fills the captain's role if your designated captain doesn't play. The easiest thing to do for captaincy is to just pick the player with the highest average. If you want to get more involved, read Calvin's Captains on DTTalk. There is no point spending much money on your reserve players. However, you will want a reserve in each of the main positions (back, mid, fwd) selected as an emergency who will cover any starting players who do not play. Unless one of your on-field players is injured, they will not be in your 22, scoring points. A general rule is to not pick anyone on the bench who is more than $150K. This allows you to spend more money on your point scoring players.

However, you do want your bench players to be playing in order to provide cover for injuries or to improve your trading prospects. Look at young players, especially high draft picks. A player who isn't playing cannot score you any points. Thus, make sure that the players you pick are (1) At least on the fringe of their team's best 22, (2) Not injured (3) Not suspended. You can substitute in a reserve if one of your players has a short term injury or suspension (or is just dropped, because they are shit), but if they are out for more than a few weeks you will need to trade them out.

Trading well is what separates great from good dream teamers. Sometimes you need to use a trade to replace an injured or non-selected player. But other times, trading can significantly improve your team. First rule of trading: Don't trade before the teams are announced. Teams for the coming weekend of matches are announced at around 5pm on every Thursday. It really screws your team if you trade a player in to cover an injury, and he is immediately dropped.
Player prices vary through the season based on their form.

A young player who started off as a cheap reserve who gets regular game time will increase in price. You can use this to your advantage by trading him out for a different cheap reserve who is yet to go up in price, netting you a cash profit. You can then spend this cash profit to upgrade a mid-range starter into a premium player who has had a few weeks out of form. Player prices change based on their last 3 (non-zero) scores. So when a rookie debuts, you have 2 weeks where he will remain at base price in which to determine whether he is good enough to trade in.

Initial Team Selection
Don't just pick a player because he is your favourite player or plays for a team you like. Every player you select should have the potential to be either (1) a "keeper" who you do not need to trade out at any stage and will knock out consistently high scores or (2) a "cash cow" who will increase significantly in price and be traded out during the season.

A simple way to determine whether a player is worth picking, is to use the "Raines Rule". With the RR you balance the possible risks inherent in picking the player (is he injury prone, old or on the fringe of his team's best side?) with the rewards (what type of average can he achieve if everything goes right, is he going to make a stack of money for you or be a keeper?). If a player is injury prone and on the fringes of his team's 22, with an average short of being a keeper then even if he is severely underpriced, he may not be worth it.

Even with your keepers, look for players who are going to improve their average. This means you will be buying them for less than they are worth, and consequently can have a better team.
This year, if players are selectable in multiple positions you can swap them between those positions if you have another dual position player who is in the other position. This can help you cover donuts or potentially improve your trading prospects. However, a spud who is dual positioned is still a spud. Only use dual positioning as the reason to pick a player when deciding between two otherwise equal options.
DT=Dream Team
donut= a score of zero points
cash cow= a player who will go up significantly in price
spud= a dud player who will never score decent points
SC=supercoach (the inferior version of DT)
gun= one of the top players in his position, a superstar of DT
keeper= one of the better players in his position, a player you would be happy to have from Rd1-Rd22
lock= a player who you are certain to have in your team (referring to preseason discussions)
on the bubble= a young player who has played 2 games and whose price will go up after he plays another game. If you want to get him in, do it now
junk time= the last few minutes of a game after the result is decided (a player who scores good DT points in this period is referred to as junking it up)
abc= Ablett, Bartel, Corey. Not in widespread use since Corey dropped his output, but these 3 were 3 of the biggest guns of the past few years

If this is your first year, you probably won't beat the 200,000 or so likely players overall. But you can still win something by beating your mates in your league. You can have 3 leagues, which run in a head to head format, where each week (from Rd 4 to 18) you play against a different player. At the end of this, there will be a finals series in the same format as the actual AFL series for both the top 8 and bottom 8 (as separate competitions).

You can use the 'coaches box' chat to exchange jibes with your mates to psyche them out, or for general whining. There is nothing more dull than a quiet coaches box in a league. The Rushed Behind is running a league which is free to join for readers of this blog (or those invited by readers) with the code 192161. Enter this as the code when you join your second league. If you make your own league for your mates, then make sure they all get the code to enter.

Most Important Advice
Have fun!

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