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Cash cow culling call: when to reap your rookies

When to reap your rookies

Wondering how long you’ll have to keep Gumby or Forkie? Here’s some analysis to help your scheming.

Planning for your fantasy football season involves many pieces of predictive analysis, one of which is planning how long you have to keep your “cash cow” rookies before you convert their price increases into cash to upgrade other players. To use as an analysis tool, I took the top 30 rookie price improvers from AFL Dream Team in 2008 and tracked their price increases in the following graph:

2008 AFL Dream Team rookie price improvers

I do not claim to be a gun statistical analyst, so I can only go by what the naked eye tells me. My guess is that somewhere between weeks 6 and 8 is the sweet spot to reap most of your rookies. There are freaks like Bradd Dalziell who will take longer (or would have if the end of the season hadn’t intervened), and there are players like Nathan J. Brown, not graphed here, who will barely move enough to earn you any decent coin. However, it looks to me like week 7 is the median point at which you should start to offload your basement-priced players.

A corollary to this is that if you look closely, you will notice that the tapering of the graph into the plateau really starts to bite between weeks 6 and 7, so if you are looking at a bubble boy who about to burst after week 6 of the progression of a nicely-priced cash cow who is scoring 50s but still has a breakeven of 20 or so, it might be the economically smart thing to do to forego that extra improvement in the old cow’s price in favour of the steeper graph of the young calf.

For 2009, this graph should be helpful in figuring out whether you really want to take a chance on rookie-priced players who have injury or selection issues hanging over their heads. For instance, you can probably afford to take the bet that Scott Gumbleton‘s troublesome knee, shoulder and hamstrings can last for six to eight weeks, particularly as coach Matthew Knights has committed to playing him if fit. Training reports on Gumby are glowing, there’s no denying it, but he remains an injury risk. The other issue with Gumbleton is how much this new Gumby’s Box structure will feature Gumby himself. With Adam McPhee able to rotate between half-back and half-forward, we could see a version of Buddy’s Box from 2007 where five talls rotate through four spots plus the bench. In Buddy’s Box, the fourth tall was usually Ben Dixon, whose statistics for a game often consisted of three marks, three kicks, one goal two, and about 50% time on ground. You would expect Jay Neagle to be the fourth corner of the Box if that is indeed the structure that Essendon go with, but if a significant part of the rotation is Matthew Lloyd/Scott Lucas/McPhee/Gumbleton, it will be Gumby who is the decoy runner.

West Coast Eagles Training Session

A similar dynamic will be going on at West Coast this year. With Quinten Lynch roaming up the field just as Lloyd did in 2008, and Ben McKinley staying at home to kick bags of goals, Mitchell Brown enters the Eagles forward line at an interesting stage of development. With either Ashley Hansen or Josh J. Kennedy as the roaming centre-half forward leading up on the wide wings of Subiaco, as the Eagles love to do, we could see Q’s Box over in the west as well. Coach John Worsfold hasn’t made noises about committing to Brown but judging from training reports he’s going to be hard to deny a spot, given that he is giving Darren Glass a bath in most marking drills. Even coming off a knee reconstruction, six to eight weeks seems a small set of games for him to deserve… if he makes round 1.

Those who are looking at Steele Sidebottom and Dayne Beams, as many of you are, should take a look at Collingwood coach Michael Malthouse’s record with playing draftees. The aforementioned Brown played all 22 games last year, but we’re talking here about two midfielders, so the analogy doesn’t hold. Sharrod Wellingham is perhaps a better example, blooded in the Anzac Day game in round 6 in the Malthouse tradition, then given round 7 off and returning for a solid six-game stint. If neither Sidebottom nor Beams look up to the task, however, they could develop Shannon Cox syndrome. Cox was a perennial emergency, getting call ups as a late replacement in rounds 11, 12 and 21 and not being named in the Magpies 22 until round 22. I think both players are better than that, though. Another good example is Scott Pendlebury, who wasn’t named until round 10 in his debut year of 2006 but got eight games in a row. Expecting either of these boys to be named in round 1 is perhaps asking too much, but they certainly firm as excellent mid-season trade-down targets. If either are named in round 1, though, get on board.

Have you been scouring older players’ resumes looking for coaches who give their draftees consistent games in their first year? What’s your policy on rookies, just watching the breakevens or do you have deadlines you like to keep? Tell me in the comments.

* Note: “Forkie” is Daniel Rich, so named by the Lions players because his arms look like forklifts…



  1. Chad

    January 25, 2009 at 8:23 pm

    Hopefully Beams will be right round 1.

  2. Virgil

    January 25, 2009 at 8:43 pm

    This shows why it is important to get on the guys who’ll be playing from Round 1. No point in starting the year with a player like Cotchin last year, or Hill this year. By the time he got his first game there were players who had already made a substantial amount of cash.

  3. Dan

    January 25, 2009 at 8:43 pm

    I follow a rule of selling when the Break Even Score is near to their Average Score

    Break Even Score = 65, Average Score = 61
    Then consider selling

    Break Even Score = 40, Average Score = 61
    Then hold

    Re: Eagles Forward Line

    Hansen wants to be a goal square gorilla it seems 🙂

  4. XztatiK

    January 25, 2009 at 9:18 pm

    “He is giving Darren Glass a bath in most marking drills.”

    …not hard.

    Handy graph monty! One with all cheapies included would be interesting too eg. Palmer, Dew.

    Engines are the key. Cyril dropped off a bit half way through last year while Cale Morton (huge engine) just kept getting better.

  5. abs of steele

    January 25, 2009 at 9:55 pm

    I really hope Beams plays well in the NAB. If he does I’m confident he’ll play round 1 and be a nice cash cow.

  6. NT.Thunder

    January 26, 2009 at 12:16 am

    It’s all well and good to have a rookie starting RND 1, but ensuring he plays at least 3 games, and close together is another thing…….Y have Dalziell rnd 1 if he scores 100 covering for Power when he’s next game may not be till late in the year……Alot to think about! Be carefull Hawks lovers….

  7. MiGZ

    January 26, 2009 at 12:29 am

    u missed Palmer and Cale Morton monty.

  8. ryz

    January 26, 2009 at 12:39 am

    haha why us hawks lovers?

  9. m0nty

    January 26, 2009 at 1:46 am

    Those two weren’t at basement rookie price, Migz.

  10. ETOH

    January 26, 2009 at 9:59 am

    Off topic but SEN said Cotchin has a dodgy achilles/calf, if anyone was considering him.

  11. Heater

    January 26, 2009 at 10:38 am

    I’d be very surprised if Beams does not play R1. They guy has been cutting it up on the training track and in scratch matches (yes, I know that is training and not the real deal but he is an in and under player; something the Pies don’t have a lot of!)

    As a Pies fan I’m tempted to have both Beams & Sidey as I think the latter’s engine is something MM likes. Whatever happens both will get a game this year as our midfield needs an injection of youth…..!

  12. ryz

    January 26, 2009 at 10:56 am

    yeah, i definately was. how serious? ill have a look around bf and that see what i find

  13. ryz

    January 26, 2009 at 11:10 am

    yeah, i was definately considering steele beams but not sure who to leave out of my midfield for dayne. possibly cotch now you say his fitness is questionable and ill play dayne / rich?

  14. Chad

    January 26, 2009 at 11:31 am

    I spose the top 16 draft picks having a higher price tags means it will take less time for them to top out?

    2 players scoring 60
    Player a starts at 90k takes 7 weeks to get to 260k

    Player b at 120k takes 5-6 weeks to get to 260k

  15. ETOH

    January 27, 2009 at 6:51 pm

    heres the bigfooty thread aout cotchin if anyones interested

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  17. freosteve

    February 2, 2009 at 12:31 pm

    I am impressed Monty, this is your best year of blogs to date. Makes you wonder how hard people hits the stats, another reason I think the overall budget is too big – DT should give you less money really testing out your risk taking.

  18. Porps_is_HOT_loz

    February 5, 2009 at 9:56 am

    If Beams does well in the NAB Cup, I think he will get a game ahead of Steele.
    They rate him higher.. pretty sure ?

  19. Alex

    February 8, 2009 at 2:28 pm

    How do you work out the break even price?

  20. tlang

    February 10, 2009 at 11:11 pm

    Nice reading Monty and good food for thought too about the 2 pies.

  21. Muppet Executioner

    February 16, 2009 at 1:38 am

    Austin WONAEAMIRRI was a great perfomer – I had Cale Morton all year and he just kept delivering the goods. Cyril became a tad irrelavent to the Hawks forward set up as Dew got fit, as they tended to straighten up later in the season rather then thread it along the boundary inside 50 which they did a lot of in the first 9 or 10 games. Though he did a “bit” in the finals….

  22. D. Rich

    April 1, 2009 at 3:15 pm

    i will probably go a bit better than brad dalziell this year, to be honest with yous

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