WHEN it comes to playing AFL Fantasy, there are a few tips that you will need to know to ensure you get the best results possible throughout the year. Over the years, these tricks have assisted people playing the game for the first time, right through to even the greatest Fantasy coaches.

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1. Pay up for the superstars

Superstar players in Fantasy have this title for a reason and you get what you pay for. Players like Brodie Grundy (RUC, $906,000) and Lachie Whitfield (MID/FWD, $844,000) are the most expensive players in their respective positions and will be once again in 2020. Do not try and be clever and avoid these types of players, and don't forget you'll need to select a player as your captain to score you double points. So, as we say in the Fantasy business … "you're not just getting one Grundy, you're actually getting two."

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2. Fool me twice, shame on me 

A wise man once said, "fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me." Although this wise man was referring to a relationship break-up, in Fantasy it's basically the same and refers to not being burnt by a player who has burnt you before. Players like James Sicily (DEF, $620,000) caused headaches for coaches last year due to injuries and poor scores. Although some may see him as a cheap option this year, those who felt the pain he delivered last year will be much more cautious. Don't fall back into the same traps as you'll only have yourself to blame and be even more heartbroken than ever before.

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3. Find discounts

It's simple, why buy a jumper for $80, when pretty much the same jumper (that might be even better) is cheaper down the road? Players like Tom Mitchell (MID, $671,000) and Sam Docherty (DEF, $563,000) have both averaged over 115+ at some point in their career. These two are top-notch premium players who suffered injuries which resulted in them missing the 2019 season. This means they are heavily discounted and should be some of your first players picked. 

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4. Play the breakevens

A breakeven is a score a player needs to reach to maintain their price. If they exceed that number their price will increase, and if they fail to hit the mark, their price decreases. This is critical part of Fantasy. This will guide you, letting you know when it is time to offload rookies and when it is time to pounce on a fallen premium.

5. Don't do a 'Relton'

This year marks a decade since we saw Relton Roberts named to make his debut for the Tigers in round one. His name didn't pop up at all during the pre-season, but when we saw the rookie named to play on Thursday night, everyone panicked and selected him based on no evidence at all. To do this we traded out better rookies that had been in our team all pre-season. He was a much-loved player and an under-utilised talent but only played two games with scores of 38 and 18. The message is simple: Back in your research and don't panic at the last minute. 

6. Durable players are gold 

To avoid stress throughout the year and anxious moments when teams are selected, target players who hardly ever miss games. Not only will this save you one of your two trades each week, your hair will turn grey or even worse, fall out. Jake Lloyd (DEF, $795,000) will help you sleep easy as he has only missed one game in the past four years and led the defenders last year with an average of 107. 

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7. Monitor role changes in the pre-season

Watching the Marsh Community Series is an important part of a Fantasy coach's pre-season. During this time, there are many things to monitor but the biggest one is role changes within the club. In the last five games of 2019, Port's Dan Houston (DEF/MID, $596,000) averaged 103 due to a role change that saw him spend more time in the midfield. With Ollie Wines' recent injury, maybe he'll start 2020 in the same form and be much better than the 80 he averaged in 2019. 

8. Mid-priced players

How many mid-priced players is too many? Some people will say avoid at all costs, and that it's better to fill your team with rookies and premiums. However, Craig Wegener – the winner of AFL Fantasy in 2019 – started with plenty such as Wayne Milera, Jordan Ridley, James Cousins, Dom Sheed and Lincoln McCarthy. Whilst many of these names never paid off, it just proves that even if you miss the mark early, you can always climb your way back to the top. 

9. Have a full playing team

Heading into round one, make sure you have a full team playing. Every rookie holding down a bench position needs to be playing in round one. Cash generation is imperative in Fantasy and when rookies play, their price increases as they fatten up into a nice cash cows until you trade them out to start the process again.

10. Follow your instincts

Do you have an inkling that a certain player is going to have a breakout season? Or maybe your second cousin's ex-girlfriend's brother works at a club and has some inside information that Alex Rance is coming out of retirement to play in the midfield at the Tigers. Use it! Back yourself and back your instincts this season. Although at times it feels safe to follow the crowd, make your own mistakes and not the same mistakes of others.

Listen to the AFL Fantasy Podcast with The Traders at Apple Podcasts, Spotify and Google Podcasts.