The all premium back structure

Here’s a little proposal. Instead of assuming that you have to have a combination of premiums, mid-prices and maybe a rookie or two in each of the three non-ruck positions for your AFL Dream Team and Super Coach plan team, how about trying a structure where you buy wall to wall starting premiums in your backs, with a few guaranteed rookies on your bench?

I toyed a little with this concept prior to the 2008 season but got scared off with the rise of certain mirage-like rookie backs who then proceeded to let us all down. Yes, I’m looking at you Scott D. Thompson, Albert Proud and Lachie Hansen. This year I may go all the way and take the sorry excuse for a set of rookie defenders out of the equation.

BACKS
7 premiums from: Joel Bowden, Chad Cornes, Brendon Goddard, Andrew Mackie, Sam Fisher, Grant Birchall, Jason Gram, Corey Enright, Nathan Bock, Jarrad Waite, Heath Shaw, Andrew Welsh, Adam McPhee, Chris A. Johnson
2 rookies from: Jay Neagle, Tom Collier, Ricky Petterd, Matt Maguire, Nick Salter, Jack Grimes, Jack Strauss, Nick Suban, Mitchell Brown, Tom Lynch, Alex Rance, Aaron Kite, Greg Gallman

CENTRES
2 premiums from: Daniel Kerr, Brent Stanton, Shane Tuck, Jared Brennan, Nathan Van Berlo, Matt Priddis, Rhyce Shaw, Joel Selwood, Bryce Gibbs, Travis Boak
1 mid-price from: Paul Hasleby, Ben Cousins, Trent Cotchin, David Myers, David Wocjinski, Ben McGlynn, Albert Proud, Ben Ross
5 rookies from: Daniel Rich, Mark Coughlan, Patrick Dangerfield, Steele Sidebottom, Jason Davenport, Andrew Foster, Sam Blease, Brendan Whitecross, David Zaharakis, Hayden Skipworth

RUCKS
2 premiums from: Dean Cox, Troy Simmonds, David Hille, Hamish McIntosh, Drew Petrie, Brad Ottens, Aaron Sandilands
2 rookies from: Tyrone Vickery, Daniel Currie, Nick Naitanui, Ayce Cordy, Ben McEvoy, Shaun McKernan

FORWARDS
2 premiums from: Steve Johnson, Quinten Lynch, Ryan O’Keefe, Robert Murphy, Alan Didak, Adam Goodes, Jason Porplyzia
2 mid-prices from: Scott Lucas, Des Headland, Shaun Higgins, Alwyn Davey, Tom Hawkins, Rhan Hooper, Anthony Corrie, Ed Barlow, Patrick Veszpremi,
5 rookies from: Chris Yarran, Jack Ziebell, Hayden Ballantyne, Sean Rusling, Scott Gumbleton, Ben Reid, Beau Dowler, Jay Neagle, Nick Salter, Mitch Thorp, Nick Heyne, Matthew Lobbe, Tom Lynch, Rohan Bail, Michael Walters, Neville Jetta, Tom Rockliff, Taylor Walker, Aaron Kite

Five forward rookies is the thing that will probably turn a lot of fantasy coaches off this structure. It was possible to select five forward rookies in 2008 that would have got your team a long way towards a top 100 finish – Cyril Rioli, Josh Hill, Kurt Tippett, Ryan Gamble and either Chris Mayne or Austin Wonaeamirri – though admittedly those last two took a while to get senior games, so a quick cash cow upgrade from Cameron Stokes would have been optimal.

By concentrating all your money in the back and rucks, you would have to take a lot of risks in the centres and forwards with this structure, there’s no getting away from it. As can be seen from the debut averages post, where debutante defenders are almost all terrible to start with, who is to say that this isn’t a valid long-term strategy? This structure doesn’t allow for a whole lot of mid-prices, and the premiums in the centres and forwards have had the top 10 just about lopped off for reasons of salary cap pressure, meaning that captain choices are limited early.

In summary, the pros are:
Hopefully never have to worry about trades in backs or rucks, long-term injuries notwithstanding
Back emergencies don’t have to earn money, just be warm bodies to fill temporarily open slots
Concentrate the cash cows in positions that are historically much more lucrative
Can wait for exorbitantly priced centre and forward premiums to dip on the rollercoaster

And the cons are:
Miss out on the one or two solid mid-price backs that bob up every year
Also miss out on several mid-price centres and forwards
Captain options limited in early rounds
Placing a lot of faith in your rookies to perform early

Of course, you don’t have to start and finish with those same seven premium backs. If one of them gets injured early, that would be the perfect opportunity to downgrade to that mid-price back who everyone is getting on as the smokie who came good, a la Garrick Ibbotson in 2008.

Have you been considering something similar? How far are you prepared to go to avoid the mayhem that injuries, tagging, lack of selection and the odd VFL banishment did to the most popular fantasy backs last year? Am I on completely the wrong track here? Tell me in the comments.

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