What it takes to finish top-five in KFC SuperCoach
Keep it simple, be patient and have a plan for every scenario.
That's how those who have ranked in the top-five in KFC SuperCoach say they got there.
Last year's winner Jason Barnett prefers a more relaxed approach than many KFC SuperCoaches, waiting until the last few weeks before making his all-important team decisions.
Not that that's been easy with the title of reigning KFC SuperCoach champion.
"Everyone said last season, 'how did you do it?' My main answer was to keep it pretty simple at the start of the season," Barnett, who coaches the Croz Bees, said.
"Then you can take risks as you go on and there's less weeks to go for them to backfire.
"I won't be doing anything too drastic at the start of the season.
"There might be a few common players I don't pick or one or two lesser-known players."
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Shane, whose team General Soreness led the rankings with one round to go last season before finishing fourth, spruiks the importance of contingency planning.
What if you were to pick Joe Daniher ($233k) after a faultless pre-season, only for his injury issues to return in Round 2?
Or what if Zac Williams' mooted midfield minutes don't eventuate?
Having a plan for those types of issues helped General Soreness emerge as one of the best KFC SuperCoach teams in Australia last year.
"Out of 30 picks, chances are one or two of them are going to be wrong," Shane said. "Understand where your risks lie and make sure you've got some contingency plans in place for them.
"I'll take that definitely into this year, because I think this year we'll be forced into some risks by the looks of things, in terms of the availability of rookies.
"We're (being) forced into some injury-prone players and players that have had a couple of years of injuries or poor performance that are now looking appealing.
"Your Jack Ziebells, Joe Danihers, (Jarman) Impey with a role change. All these guys come with significant risk of maybe not staying in the best 22, changing out of the role, injury or not performing."
Chasing the flavour of the month for a quick cash grab is another mistake Shane tries to avoid.
"Early days I used to think I was missing out so I would quickly trade and jump on to the latest hot thing that was going around in terms of SuperCoach that'd pumped out a big score," he said.
Barnett's other warning for KFC SuperCoaches ahead of 2021 is to take a long-term approach to reaching full premium status.
KFC SuperCoaches had seven extra trades to play with last year, enabling them to take a more aggressive approach to finishing their teams.
But with the trade limit crunched back to 30, strategy will be crucial.
"I reckon views got a bit skewed last year on how you could complete your team," Barnett said.
"It was pretty easy to get it to that full premium.
"But when you ramp it back to 30 trades, it's not as easy and I think everyone has probably forgotten that a little bit."
Barnett expects to follow the "guns and rookies" approach with his team, although he's favouring West Coast's Liam Duggan ($448k) over popular mid-pricer Zac Williams ($458k) in defence.
"I'm looking to spend about $450,000 on some makeshift premiums that I'm not going to trade out. Duggan and maybe someone around that (Isaac) Heeney mark as well," he said.
The 2020 winner says he's worried about the lack of appealing premium midfielders and forwards and is unsure whether he'll pay top dollar to start with Lachie Neale.
"His average at the end of the season was better than a lot of Ablett's best seasons and Gawn's best seasons. It's going to be pretty hard to back that up," he said.
Check out Shane and Jason's tips on 10 of the most popular players of 2021 below.
JASON AND SHANE'S THOUGHTS ON:
Max Gawn $751,400 RUC
Jason: Just locking him in for the captaincy option.
Shane: The issue I have got around Max Gawn is if you don't start him, how do you get him? By all means don't start him, but just understand that he probably isn't going to come below $600,000. Getting a $600,000 player in is going to be somewhere around the two or three trade mark, everything going well. If you think you're going to get him in at some stage and you're thinking about doing it in less than two trades I think you're kidding yourself.
Will Phillips $198,300 MID
Jason: As long as he shows something in the pre-season games then you'd probably just lock him in. If he's scoring around the same as the other (rookies) you've got think twice.
Shane: I don't think he's going to be the Walsh/Matt Rowell we have seen in the last couple of years but he's worth taking the punt on if he's got a friendly role.
Josh Dunkley $560,200 FWD-MID
Jason: I've got him ahead of Sidebottom. I think he's a little more interesting than Dusty. I'm not thrilled about him but he'll probably end up being F1 by the time the season starts.
Shane: He's currently not in my side. I love everything he brings but I am just a little bit cautious about his role and cautious about how many Bulldogs are going to go through that midfield. I think he's going to end up in the top-six forwards … but I'm just not sure I'm going to start him.
Jake Lloyd $656,400 DEF
Jason: A little bit less (crucial than Gawn) because you generally don't end up putting the captaincy on him. But I think you still just get him in. I think it was too hard to get him in last year if you didn't (start him).
Shane: D1, lock him away and pay the money … At the end of the day we look at averages, we look at all these things but total points are what matters in SuperCoach. Lloyd just delivers on the total points, so does Gawn, so does Neale.
Rory Laird $564,800 DEF-MID
Jason: He hasn't left my team yet. He'll be there Round 1. May even start him in the midfield. Just because I like so many (defenders) and not as many midfielders.
Shane: He's currently at D2. I would put him into the midfield if I thought I needed him in the midfield to free up more space in the defensive line.
Matthew Rowell $495,100 MID
Jason: It depends how he's pulled up after all his issues. But if he does come out and repeat his scoring it's going to look like a pretty obvious pick. I haven't got him in at the minute but I'll probably watch him in a couple of pre-season games.
Shane: I am really worried about a second-year player who played five games with a shoulder. Even though his 170 was fantastic, and what was the other one? 140-odd. He's an absolute jet. At $495,000 you're picking him as a keeper and you want a 110 (average) out of him. I reckon he can do it. I'm just not sure I want to take that risk off the bat. I'd rather pay up for him later because I don't think he's going to price me out.
Will Gould $123,900 DEF
Jason: If he plays Round 1 I think he'll be in pretty much every team. Just in general any rookies that are playing, as long as they have got reasonable job security, are in. But time will tell.
Shane: I'd love him to be picked because that would make the defensive line a lot easier. He's currently one of about half a dozen I've got on the watch list for the D5, D6 and bench spots. Hopefully not as high as five.
Lachie Neale $721,800 MID
Jason: Leaning towards not having him. He's had little niggles, but I'm not so put off by that. Just last season he was so good that I don't know if he can back that up. His average at the end of the season was better than a lot of Ablett's best seasons and Gawn's best seasons. It's going to be pretty hard to back that up. He's obviously going to be one of the top-eight mids at the end of the season but just for that price and just that little niggle helps me probably not pick him.
Shane: It's the same rule with Gawn. At what price do you think you're going to get him for and how many trades is it going to cost you to get him in? And will the timing be right? Take him out of the picture, lock him in at the start and you know what it's cost you.
Zac Williams $458,600 DEF
Jason: Everyone is sort of on Zac Williams but I am trying everything I can to not do that. I'm thinking if I can try and get Duggan at this stage, locked in at D6 for the year, I'd be happy with that.
Shane: I hope I am wrong, because I reckon I will probably end up starting him. He's currently not in my side but he's pretty hard to ignore. I just feel like he's going to burn. I don't know what it is, I just feel like he's going to burn us with either role, injury or both.
Joe Daniher $233,300 FWD
Jason: Around that price range I have got Ziebell and Impey ahead of him. But I can see a world where you can pick all three, especially if rookies aren't picked for Round 1. I haven't ruled out Joey.
Shane: As a Bombers man I have got to overcome a lot more than your average SuperCoach to pick him. If he's fit and firing pre-season, I don't think you can afford not to have him. The realistic thing is the second he hits a $150,000-$200,000 price rise you have just got to get off him straight away. I'd be looking for him to deliver me 5-6 good games, then he's gone.
A MID-PRICER YOU LIKE …
Jason: Keeping an eye on (Zak) Butters, because again I'm not real keen on a lot of the forward line. He might take that Heeney spot if he's getting the midfield minutes. If I had to touch (a midfielder) I'd maybe go (Dyson) Heppell.
Shane: I really want to pick Tom Green. I'm just not sure I've got intestinal fortitude to do it. The kid's a beast. He's currently in my side. I'm not sure he'll stay there because there'd be less risk with some other picks. But if I do go one mid-pricer I think it will be either him or (Jye) Caldwell.
Originally published as What it takes to finish top-five in KFC SuperCoach