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SuperCoach: The biggest lessons from 2020

As the KFC SuperCoach season draws to a close, it’s time to look back at what went right and, more importantly, what went wrong.Learning from your mistakes is the best way to improve yourself as a KFC SuperCoach.Our experts learnt a lot from the 2020 season, and their lessons may help you plan for next…

As the KFC SuperCoach season draws to a close, it’s time to look back at what went right and, more importantly, what went wrong.

Learning from your mistakes is the best way to improve yourself as a KFC SuperCoach.

Our experts learnt a lot from the 2020 season, and their lessons may help you plan for next year.

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The 2020 SuperCoach season has been a crazy ride and it’s hard to know how much to take into next year — there’s not much point taking detailed notes on how best to use 37 trades. But some things are always important, like not trading top-priced stars after one game … like me, who punted Marcus Bontempelli and Luke Ryan before Round 2. But my lessons aren’t all negative.

Get the pillars right and build around them

One thing I’ve learned this year is that to keep up with the pack, and stay sane, you need the handful of SuperCoach uber scorers in your team — the elite group who are streets ahead of other players in their position. This year that is Lachie Neale, Max Gawn and Jake Lloyd, and you could throw Jack Macrae in there too.

Those guys aren’t cheap but it’s worth paying up for the big guns and finding value to fill your side around them.

Of that group the only one in my starting team was Gawn, and getting the rest meant playing aggressively and sometimes trading a rookie out before they had reached their top price. I moved John Noble to Lloyd in Round 6 and missed out on another $100,000 of cash generation – but I have all of Lloyd’s points since then (he has scored almost 500 more than Noble in that time).

History matters

I got sucked into the Jack Viney hype after his massive Round 1 score, but I should have paid attention to his SuperCoach scoring history. In seven seasons Viney has never averaged over 100 with the past six falling between 90-97. This year is shaping as a slight improvement — 99.2. I ended up trading him out again before Round 16 for $447,000 — a $6k profit on what I bought him for.

Don’t pick Fremantle players

Last year picking David Mundy in my starting squad derailed my entire SuperCoach season, this year Michael Walters has blown it up. I thought the departure of Ross Lyon would mean a more attacking game plan and more midfield time for Walters to show his stuff, and that was right over the first eight rounds when he averaged 112 points a game. But a return from a hamstring injury — and me trading him in — coincided with a shift to the forward pocket that seems to have annoyed Sonny as much as his SuperCoach owners as his average plunged to 71. I’ve also been kicking myself all year for starting with Luke Ryan then trading him out then watching him become a star. The solution is simple — never pick a Docker again!


Start with Jake Lloyd — at any cost

Remember how we doubted whether Jake Lloyd could maintain his possession numbers in shorter quarters? And whether Jordan Dawson’s improvement would stymy his scoring? They seemed logical worries after Round 1 — when Lloyd posted 77 points against Adelaide. Since then he hasn’t scored less than 101, reeling off 15 consecutive tons. A starting price of $591,400 seemed a lot to pay for a defender but not having Lloyd made watching Sydney games near impossible as he accumulated points at will.

Don’t trade out a player who’s about to face the bottom team

I can’t remember making a worse trade in my decade or so playing KFC SuperCoach than Bailey Smith to Michael Walters in Round 12. It cost about $128,000 and as of Round 17 has cost me more than 100 points — despite Walters playing an extra game. Smith had gone 76, 88 and 68 in successive rounds before it was announced before Round 12 the Bulldogs would share a bye with five other clubs. I jumped off to benefit from Walters playing an extra game and Smith monstered Adelaide with 150 points, while Walters has been stuck forward for more than a month.

Choose the Bont. It will save a lot of pain.

I started with Marcus Bontempelli and then jumped off heading into Round 2 as the spectre of three possible tags loomed large. One thing I’ve learned well this year is if you’re complaining about a player’s score, it generally means they should be in your team — Jy Simpkin, Jake Lloyd and Bontempelli have been that for me. The Bont’s efficiency attracts significant KFC SuperCoach scaling and it’s always going to be better to just have him. It saves you wondering why he’s racked up 30 points from only a few disposals.

Always have a DPP at R3

I’ll leave you with the greatest lesson I learned this year. I scrimped on my R3 due to only having about $4000 left when I chose my starting side. Gold Coast’s Matt Conroy was only $102,400 and seemed the perfect loophole option. The only issue was when Sam Draper made an instant impact for Essendon, I would have had to throw my structure out to get him. Meanwhile, coaches with Tristan Xerri (RUC-FWD) or Charlie Comben (RUC-FWD) at R3 moved them onto the forward bench, brought in Draper cheaply and watched his price rise. Even if you have to pay a little more, a RUC-FWD is a must at R3.


Never trade in a rookie before they’re on the bubble

Taking a closer look at rookies this year, I’ve been guilty of getting sucked in by promising state league and under-18 numbers and potential job security of rookies, subsequently jumping on speculative cheapies before they’ve played a game. The worst example was Collingwood defender Mark Keane, who I picked over Tobe Watson (he had been confirmed for a debut and I was unsure whether Watson would be named for a second game, damn 24-hour teams…) based on a pre-season game where he scored in the 80s. Keane’s stint in the senior side lasted just one week, leaving me a man down in defence since. Ned McHenry — who I traded in before his debut in Round 2 — had a prolonged stint in the Adelaide side, but averaged under 40 points from 10 matches. Two-week price changes have made picking rookies even more difficult this year, and in 2021 I will definitely wait until a rookie is on the bubble before taking the plunge.

A favourable draw/opponent doesn’t guarantee big scores

Like many SuperCoaches, I couldn’t resist bringing in Geelong superstar Patrick Dangerfield leading into the restart with a favourable draw to come. Sure enough, he spat out scores of 101 and 75 in his next two games against Hawthorn and Carlton. Adding insult to injury was the fact I used three trades to get Danger, including trading out Luke Ryan, one of the best PODs of the season. In a similar vein, I rolled the dice on Toby Greene last week up against Adelaide, who managed just 63 points. True premiums will score well regardless of their opponent, as Dangerfield has shown later in the season with 120-plus totals against Brisbane, West Coast, Collingwood and Port Adelaide.

It’s not the end of the world to hold injured premiums

With less rounds and more trades at our disposal, giving injured premiums the flick — even if they were set to miss just the one round — seemed like the way to go. However, two of my premium holds left me in arguably a better place overall. Having plenty of cash in my reserves when Nat Fyfe went down, I patiently held and upgraded around him through his two hamstring setbacks, which saw him miss three matches. When he returned, Fyfe went from a popular selection to a point-of-difference with scores of 112, 130 and 121. Weeks later, I applied the same logic to Max Gawn, holding him for three games and fielding rookie Sam Draper, as I figured it would be difficult to get Gawn back if he continued his hot form in the run home. My team was able to capitalise on scores of 135 and 150 when he returned to the Demons side before his ownership rose steeply. In both cases I thought my ranking would take a significant hit, but I was able to hold ground and then shoot up once Fyfe and Gawn returned. I should have done the same with Josh Kelly last round, instead of trading him to Greene.


Patience is the key

It always has been, too. But, again, I lost patience too many times this season. After a poor start, I was playing catch-up early on. Instead of sticking to a solid plan, I deviated too much. The extra trades available didn’t help, but a number of sideways moves, while they may have helped initially, didn’t improve my position long term. And every good KFC SuperCoach knows – sorry about the cliché – it’s a marathon, not a sprint. Sticking to a plan and building your team, even if it means taking an early hit, is the key to catching up. That early hit might be an injured premium, and we need to more patient with them, too. In the search for quick points, I traded Jack Viney to Tom Michell ahead of Round 6. The Hawthorn star finished with 122 points on debut, followed by scores of 83 and 104. Viney went 123, 120 and 118. Sure, it’s worked out in the end with Mitchell surpassing Viney but my team would’ve been better off – for points and long-term balance – if I used the trade to continue the upgrade process. Luckily, I’ve told you to play the game this way all along – it’s time I start listening to myself.

Pay up for the stars

It seems obvious, but we’ve all been seduced by value. Sometimes you nail the mid-pricer or the underpriced premium – starting Hugh Greenwood this season was one of my big wins. Ha, it was my only win. It was the right call to pick Andrew Brayshaw in Round 1, too. It was just the wrong call to trade him out following the COVID break. But I didn’t start with Lachie Neale, Max Gawn or Jake Lloyd. It hurt. And there’s nothing to suggest next year is going to be any different. Rookies are your friend, so pay up for the top-line stars.

Durability is important

Again, it’s something we all know. But despite our best efforts, it’s hard to overlook the what ifs. What if Josh Kelly played every game? What if Nat Fyfe got through a whole season without injury? What if Zac Williams returns to his best and doesn’t miss a round? You get my point. What if we knew Neale had missed just two matches since 2013? We did.


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