Bad bye buddy: 2012 Dream Team and Supercoach bye strategy

2012 brings a new system of byes over three rounds, which requires a whole new approach to team structure.

2102 AFL Dream Team and Supercoach bye week strategyNote: I am not going to be blogging regularly in 2012, but this issue necessitates a long explanation.

As many of you would know by now, the AFL has decided in its wisdom to welcome the new 18-team competition with a new way of distributing byes. Instead of stringing them throughout the season as they did last year, now they will be concentrated in three weeks, across round 11, 12 and 13. This is a much more NFL way of doing it. Unfortunately, for fantasy purposes this brings up all sorts of problems in how to deliver a solid fantasy experience.

Dr Dream Team let slip the essentials of the new rules today in a tweet. In short, there will be a return to a squad of 30, the positions reverting to 7-6-2-7 with two bench players per position, with trades left at 24 but three trades allowed in round 11, 12 and 13. For a detailed rundown on the new rule changes for season 2012, go to the Dream Team Talk blog and read their analysis, which is excellent as always. Now, let’s get on with the implications.

For those of you who try to avoid donuts like Cyril avoids tacklers, all hope is not yet lost. It is going to be possible to avoid the dreaded donut in 2012, even with this restrictive trade system and six teams missing each week through the bye period. It can be done in as few as six trades, assuming you get lucky with availability and injury of players in your squad.

The first thing to understand is that you should not have to trade in the week before round 11 to avoid a bye donut. This is the mistake that many noobs will make, especially when they realise with a panic that they haven’t structured their teams correctly. By that time, it’s too late.

Structure – that hated new AFL buzzword – is the key to minimising the necessary trades. The structure you need to aim for going into round 11 is as follows:

Backs: two R11 byes, three/four R12 byes, four/three R13 byes
Mids: two R11 byes, three R12 byes, three R13 byes
Rucks: two R11 byes, one R12 bye, one R13 bye
Forwards: two R11 byes, four/three R12 byes, three/four R13 byes

As you can see, for round 11 you will theoretically be able to get away with no trades in the week preceding, and have a full 22 players to run out on the park, albeit with no emergency cover. Remember: every emergency you enjoy in rounds 11 through 13 in 2012 means a donut elsewhere in your team somewhere during the bye period.

Now, here’s where it gets more complicated. To survive in round 12 and 13 with no donuts, you have to set up three of your positions for players with ruck and forward positional designations. One of these must go in the rucks and have a round 11 bye, and the other two in the forwards with a round 12 bye and a round 13 bye respectively. This is required because otherwise in rounds 12 and 13 you have a “wasted” emergency slot, which would mean two donuts in other positions.

Let’s use an example team that I prepared using the Fanplanner.

12 Monkeys Fanplanner squad in the Dream Team competition coached by m0nty. Salary cap left: $23,400.

Brendon Goddard, Heath Shaw, Brett Deledio, Matt Suckling, Greg Broughton, Brian Lake, Matthew Buntine
Billie Smedts, Jordan Lockyer

Dane Swan, Gary Ablett jnr, Sam Mitchell, Marc Murphy, Michael Barlow, Anthony Morabito
Anthony Miles, Dylan Shiel

Ben McEvoy, Drew Petrie
Jonathan Giles, Orren Stephenson

Lance Franklin, Dayne Beams, Nick Riewoldt, Patrick Ryder, Matthew Kreuzer, Israel Folau, Jason Porplyzia
Tommy Walsh, Ahmed Saad

This team has been set up with a bye structure of 2/4/32/3/32/1/12/3/4 = 8/11/11 (in the format of R11/R12/R13). Note that Petrie is the R11 R/F in the rucks, while Ryder is the R12 R/F and Kreuzer is the R13 R/F in the forwards. So, in round 11, with all eight bench players having R11 byes and no trades required (cross fingers), we have the following team and bench players.

Brendon Goddard, Heath Shaw, Brett Deledio, Matt Suckling, Greg Broughton, Billie Smedts, Jordan Lockyer
Brian Lake, Matthew Buntine

Dane Swan, Gary Ablett jnr, Sam Mitchell, Marc Murphy, Michael Barlow, Anthony Morabito
Anthony Miles, Dylan Shiel

Ben McEvoy, Orren Stephenson
Jonathan Giles, Drew Petrie

Lance Franklin, Dayne Beams, Nick Riewoldt, Patrick Ryder, Matthew Kreuzer, Tommy Walsh, Ahmed Saad
Israel Folau, Jason Porplyzia

All well and good. But what about R12? We have four backs with R12 byes, three midfielders, one ruck and three forwards. Ah, but one of those forwards with a bye is Ryder, so he can be covered by Petrie. The three available trades can be used to cover two of the four backs and one of the three mids, by trading in players with R11 byes. Our R12 team would look a little something like this:

Trades: Smedts => Sierakowski, Lockyer => Adcock, Morabito => Rockliff.

Brendon Goddard, Brett Deledio, Matt Suckling, Brian Lake, Matthew Buntine, Jed Adcock, Will Sierakowski
Heath Shaw, Greg Broughton

Gary Ablett jnr, Sam Mitchell, Marc Murphy, Tom Rockliff, Anthony Miles, Dylan Shiel
Dane Swan, Michael Barlow

Ben McEvoy, Jonathan Giles
Patrick Ryder, Orren Stephenson

Lance Franklin, Nick Riewoldt, Drew Petrie, Matthew Kreuzer, Israel Folau, Jason Porplyzia, Ahmed Saad
Dayne Beams, Tommy Walsh

I’m going with a rather unlikely best case scenario that you can make two upgrades versus one downgrade, but you get the idea. Now we come to R13. We have three backs with R13 byes, three mids, one ruck and four forwards. Again, one of those forwards is Kreuzer with R/F eligibility, so we can cover him with Petrie. Thus we have a R13 that goes like this:

Trades: Suckling => Grimes, Mitchell => Pendlebury, Saad => Dell’Olio.

Heath Shaw, Greg Broughton, Jack Grimes, Brian Lake, Matthew Buntine, Jed Adcock, Will Sierakowski
Brendon Goddard, Brett Deledio

Dane Swan, Scott Pendlebury, Michael Barlow, Tom Rockliff, Anthony Miles, Dylan Shiel
Gary Ablett jnr, Marc Murphy

Orren Stephenson, Jonathan Giles
Matthew Kreuzer, Ben McEvoy

Dayne Beams, Drew Petrie, Patrick Ryder, Israel Folau, Jason Porplyzia, Tommy Walsh, Cory Dell’Olio
Lance Franklin, Nick Riewoldt

Thus it can be shown that it is theoretically possible to get away with as little as six trades to avoid a donut, and maybe half or more of those can be legitimate team-building trades as opposed to “wasted” sideways trades.

As to whether it is worth it to structure your side so harshly just to avoid donuts, that’s a whole other question. Best left to the comments, actually. So, will you be following this strategy, or do you not care so much about donuts? Do you think you can get a better overall ranking by bypassing the need to have three R/F players and eating the donuts? Is the winner of DT/SC going to follow this technique or not? This will be a hot button issue in the fantasy offseason, so let me know your thoughts in the comments.