AFL Fantasy 101: Team Structure

“Team structure…” a preseason staple that gets tossed around frequently, at times rather loosely. Guns ‘n’ rooks, mid-price mayhem, a balance of both… “Is there a superior team structure to start the season?” Is a frequently asked question within the fantasy community.

In this article, we’ll define team structure and work through what to consider when putting together our all important starting squads of 30!

Team Structure 101

To get an idea of the ins and outs of team structure, let’s take a closer look at ‘Team Vanilla’ posted by AFL Fantasy on Facebook a couple weeks ago.

For the purposes of breaking down team structure, lets use the following price brackets to categorise all 30 selections.

  • Rookies: Players priced at <$350K.
  • Mid-Pricers: Players priced between $350K and $750K.
  • Premiums: Players priced >$750K

*I would argue that an “uber-premium” category should be added and applied for players >$850K… You gotta separate the sheep from the goats! As such, we’ll run with a revised version as follows:

  • Rookies: Players priced at <$350K.
  • Mid-Pricers: Players priced between $350K and $750K.
  • Premiums: Players priced between $750K and $850K.
  • Uber Premiums: Players priced >$850K.

Based on this revised version, here is the breakdown of Team Vanilla’s team structure by position:

RookiesMid-PricersPremiumsUber Premiums
Rucks 111

As can be seen here, half of the starting 30 are classified as rookies… For context, most starting squads will have between 13 and 16 rookie priced selections to begin the season. This number will obviously depend how game coaches are to select mid-pricers and players seen as ‘value’.

What to consider when putting together your squad

1.Rookie Stocks

Whilst sometimes overlooked, it is the rookie stocks available on each line that affects our team structure the most. Coaches with long memories will cast their minds back to R1 2022 where our defensive rookie stocks were about as useful as tits on a bull… Heading into R1, it was slim pickings with the only real “reliable” cash cow option being Paddy McCartin… We had big Sammy De Koning dropping 30’s, a raw Josh Gibcus and the space cadet himself Sam Skinner suffering from a severe allergic reaction to leather! Many coaches were running with only one rookie on field in the back line and punting on mid-pricers with supposedly better job security like Wayne Milera… We all know how that turned out *facepalm*.

Generally speaking, we see a bit more stability in the midfield when selecting our rookies. 2022 was no different with the likes of Nick Daicos, Jason Gorne-Francis, Joshy Ward, Jackson ‘Mead for speed’ and Connor McDonald getting early games and pumping out some decent scores for us! We also had the likes of Nic ‘Alpha’ Martin, Tristan Xerri, Jack Hayes and Joshy Rachele down forward.

As you may have already pieced together, this then becomes a conundrum for coaches with slim pickings on one line having a flow on effect on the structure of the rest of your squad. The 2022 case study is a prime example of why coaches went in rook heavy in the mids/fwd line and as a result, needing to use more $$$ to pay up for glorified defensive rooks like Wayne Milera…

2. Value / Mid-Price Tempters

As is every season in AFL Fantasy, we are always tempted by players considered to be good value… This ranges from genuine mid-price selections (such as James Worpel and Dom Sheed in 2023) all the way to under-priced premos such as Tommy Mitchell. Naturally, coaches are always trying to save a few $$$ and these ‘value’ selections with potential upside allow coaches to strengthen their squad elsewhere – whether that be going up to a better premium or shoring up rookie / bench selections.

3. Cash Generation

If there’s any advice you take away from this article it is: Cash generation is king! At its simplest, the aim of the game is to generate cash as quickly as you can so you can upgrade your team quicker than everyone else. With low break evens to start the season, your rookies will be you main provider of cash generation which inevitably gives you more options when looking to upgrade to someone better or downgrade to another rookie.

Squads running with a kamikaze mid-price mayhem strategy may keep up with the big dogs for the first few weeks… However, once those rooks fatten the best teams leave the rest behind through superior cash generation.

Final Takeaway: Is there a ‘superior’ team structure?

The short answer? Yes. In a perfect world you’re running with a 0-0-0-30 structure with the 30 representing uber-premos only… Realistically though…

I wouldn’t say there is a superior team structure that will give you a leg up on the rest from the outset, however, I would strongly advise keeping the above points in mind! Running with a mid-price heavy starting squad is likely to come back to bite you given their hit and miss nature… However, if you do manage to select a few gems who outperform what they are priced at you’ll be one step ahead of the rest!

Equally as important, you need to ensure you have semi-reliable rookies on your field and at least green dots sitting on the bench to bolster cash generation, particularly in the early rounds as we scramble to trade in players who we missed out on. We shouldn’t be wasting trades on getting rid of rooks who didn’t get a run first up!

Ultimately, it is cash generation that gives you the best opportunity to get your team structure to ‘Premo Paradise’ before anyone else which gives you a shot at winning this thing!

So there you have it folks, some food for thought when putting together our all important starting squads. What team structure are you running with? Which ‘value’ selections are tempting you to go against the grain? Let me know in the comments! Thoughts, feedback and banter welcome!

Cheers legends,

Fantasy Fanatic #70


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