A couple of innovations introduced by the operators of the Dream Team and Supercoach competitions have tongues wagging in fantasy footy land.
The boys over at DT Talk have started their podcast early this year, and they have a bit of inside goss on changes to DT and/or Supercoach this year. One of these is a “partial lockout“, which will come into effect for extended weekends like rounds 1 and 2 with the Thursday kickoff, plus maybe the split round 14. The idea is that between Thursday and Friday of Round 1 you will still be able to trade, move players around, select captains and vice captains… in fact all of the normal functions, except none of them can involve players who have already started their AFL game. Most of the impetus for this feature has to have come from the madness and maelstrom of the last two Thursday starts in Round 1, which rendered the Dream Team and Supercoach servers unusable for most of the day before first lock out. This problem was due to a huge upswelling in demand by fantasy footy fanatics, which was not matched by a similar upsurge in investment in server resources by the AFL and/or Telstra to carry the traffic load on behalf of VirtualSports. While that’s still probably going to be true in 2010, and probably for a lot of Friday too, at least there should be some pressure taken off the servers for a window of time. Don’t kid yourself though, it is still going to be a bunfight on both the Thursday and Friday. Perhaps the best way to succeed in 2010 fantasy footy will be to set your alarm clock for some ungodly hour on Friday morning to ensure you can actually set your team up the way you want it! It will be interesting to see at what point on Friday the hammer falls and the servers whimper as they retreat into a coma.
The other innovation – though the DT Talk lads are still being coy about the details in the face of rampant speculation in blog comments and on message boards – is that you will be able to swap players with multiple positions within your team without burning a trade. This is a feature that is well-established in American competitions, especially in baseball. There are several ways it could work. The best way would be that you could do it in conjunction with a trade, i.e. if you have Phil Davis as a BAC/FWD in the backs but you want to sell Trent Dennis-Lane who is only a forward, that you would be allowed to move Davis from the back to the forwards at the same time that you sell TDL as a forward and buy a back as his replacement. I doubt that that complex sort of transaction will be possible, though. A more likely scenario is that you will only be able to take this opportunity if you have matching pairs of multi-positional players in your team already, such as Davis in the backs and Jarrad Waite in the forwards, or vice versa.
This change has a number of implications, if you decide to structure your team to use it. Doing that requires committing yourself to two or more dual-position players, which might be argued to be a limiting factor if you are ignoring better single-positionals. What would be the point of committing to two such players? The major benefit is in preventing donuts. A rookie-priced player like the aforementioned Davis could be put on your back bench and a Waite in the starting forwards, but if you have a situation where you have only 6 backs playing with Davis one of the ones missing out, but 8 forwards in games including Waite, you can even up the numbers to 7 and 7 to avoid the dreaded zero by switching Waite to the back to cover for Davis. This scenario is unlikely to come off, granted, but it can also be used when a player is just not delivering start-worthy scores, a la Taylor Walker last season, but is still valuable as a bench cash cow. Someone like Davis as a tall defender – who looks like playing a lot of games after Andy Otten‘s injury – would be a prime candidate for this kind of usage, and for this reason he is likely to be the most popular player to be teamed up to exploit this rule. Matthew Lobbe as a FWD/RUC rookie is the other who will likely be used in this way, in conjunction with Drew Petrie or Matthew Kreuzer.
The combinations which don’t include a midfielder slot are more likely to be useful under this rule, I feel, because fantasy coaches have bigger expectations about how much a premium midfielder will score than the other three positions. You could put a Ryan O’Keefe in the centres and pair him up with Patrick Dangerfield as FWD/CTRs, but the problem is that you’re guaranteed to have to use a trade on one of them because ROK is not going to cut it as a centre premium keeper even averaging 95 to 100, while Dangerfield’s ceiling is not going to be anywhere near a center keeper either. Swapping two starters is not the best way to use this rule, I feel, because you’d like to be in a position where all of your starters are potential keepers in their position. If you think Dangerfield is worth the trouble then it may pay off, of course. A similar strategy could be worked out with Brendon Goddard and Rick Ladson as BAC/CTRs. Maybe I’m being too cute with my paranoia over this strategy with midfielders, you tell me.