After bringing up the rear with the position previews, I’ve been moved up the order to “opener” for the team reveals.
The advantage here is that it will now appear everyone is copying me if we have similar teams. Below is my pre Team List Tuesday line-up, it may not be my final line up going into Thursday evening but I’d expect only minor changes to the rookies from this group.
As many guns as I can get early, and I’m currently sitting on eight players who I think would be part of my final team. If you’re looking to get your team value up to about $12.5-$13million, that puts each trades value at around $90-100k. If I can lock in as many guns as I can get from the start of the season, those trades can be saved for generating cash from the rest of my team. It might only be 2-4 trades saved, but those will be vital post Origin when I’ve historically run out of them right when I need them (thanks for getting suspended Fitzy & Tapine)
For almost all of the guns I have picked, I don’t expect them to lose more than $100k during the season and the extra points they will generate over the lower level guns or mid-rangers I could pick is invaluable. The gap between players like Cook, Tedesco & Fifita over the rest of their positions is large enough that I don’t want to be chasing points from Round 1.
I posted this chart earlier in the pre-season on Twitter, as I wanted to have a look at the distribution of 2018 averages by 2019 position. It’s called a box & whiskers plot. The “box” represents the middle 50% of scores, with the line between the light grey and dark grey sections being the median. The “whiskers” represent the upper and lower 25% of scores. It’s a great way of quickly looking at how spead out or how concentrated a set of data is.
The reason for putting this together was to spot the guns who are must haves and also see where my best bet for a POD was. There’s a bit of muddiness in FRF due to players like Taupau, Sam Burgess and Ryan James are in the 2RF section, but they were still well below Fifita for season average.
Additionally, you’ll notice that Trbojevic and Tedesco sit outside the upper “whisker” for Fullbacks. Basically their scores were so distant from rest of the scores at fullback that they don’t fit the rest of the data. If you didn’t have at least one of them (preferably both) you were handicapping yourself and had little chance to regain any lost ground on the leaders.
In the end it’s cemented my decision to go with the top scorers at FB, FRF and HOK, and chase PODS in CTW and 2RF, which have the widest distribution of scores and a bunch of players to pick from in the upper 25% of scores.
Ponga at five eighth is mainly due to the fact it will be easier to move down to a Milford or Moylan if they start hot, than it will be to go up from either of those if Ponga averages 70+.
The Risky Picks
Brandon Smith could average 25 depending and be an auto emergency nightmare, but he’s priced at a 27 average and finished the season scoring 33 a game so there might be a bit of cash to make there. I’d rather go cheap and be wrong here.
Clint Gutherson could be a stroke of genius but given the Eels history has a chance to be a disaster. Right now he’s holding his spot until there’s more clarity around where John Bateman will line-up for the Raiders. If he’s the starting lock for Canberra as has been rumoured, Gutherson will probably be shown the door and I’ll revisit him after the first two rounds.
Starting with Esan Marsters when most don’t have a $400k+ CTW is also risky as I’m most likely handicapping myself in the second row. I just feel that having one stable CTW is important with so many rookies as I don’t want to be looking at four scores in the 30s for the first few weeks.
Papali’i, Garner and Burr could also be gambles, but they should be easy enough to pivot out of if things go pear shaped. If Papali’i averages 60mpg at lock I think he’s a fantastic choice, he averaged 56 in 75mpg in the second row last season (taking out his 8 minute game in Round 2) and hopefully can pick up his workload in slightly fewer minutes.
Mikaele and Hunt are base price placeholders in the front row until team lists are out and I have a better idea of who’s likely to get minutes.
I know I should make room for Nathan Cleary. Leaving him out contravenes my “guns ASAP” strategy outlined above, but the extra $160k generated by going with Michael Morgan enabled me to lock in my final front row from Round 1. Hopefully, the gap between Morgan’s average and Cleary’s over the first month or two of the season is less than 10ppg.
If I had Uncle Nick’s salary sombrero….
I’d also have Angus Crichton, Lachlan Fitzgibbon and Jamayne Isaako in my side.
Crichton had a very good 2018 but his attacking stats were down (just three tries), and that shouldn’t be an issue on with the potent Roosters. Fitzgibbon is one of the best attacking backrowers but I can’t find the space for him, plus I also want to re-unite Pongibbon™ in my team this season. As much as everyone wants high base stats forwards I think there’s room for one low floor/high ceiling backrower.
If you read my CTW preview on the weekend then you’ll know why I’m keen on Isaako, but I just couldn’t stomach having $1millon+ locked away in two centres this early in the year. He’ll definitely be one of the first players I target when I need to cull a cow, or even earlier if he somehow finds his way to fullback.