2020 has brought about many challenges for everyone and AFL Fantasy participants are not exempt.

Fantasy coaches have had to take on Gillon McLachlan’s advice from back in March to be agile. Various adjustments have been made to the game and a fixture like we’ve never seen before have meant that those displaying agility have thrived over the past few rounds.

As the season hurries towards the finish line with the last five rounds playing out over the next four weeks, those chasing premiership glory or the Toyota Hilux will need to be on top of all of the intricacies to get the best out of their team.

There was a lot to learn during the first fixture cram. With finals in our sights, the stakes are higher. Leagues with an eight-team finals structure will play their finals series from rounds 15-18.

The adjustments made prior to round nine will continue through to the end of the season.

What you need to know

  • Team announcements will be made at 6.20pm AEST on the day prior to each club’s game.
  • Averages will be awarded to players on a bye who played in the previous round. Players with a bye will be locked at the start of the round, therefore if you wish to trade or captain them, you will need to do that prior to the round starting. This also involved any movement on field or on your bench (including emergencies).
  • A rolling lockout will be in place for the remainder of the season. The last game of each round will be essentially the ‘full lockout’.
  • Fantasy Classic: Three trades available to use or lose every round for the remainder of the season.
  • Fantasy Draft: Restricted free agents (RFAs) will be processed at 10am AEST the day after the final game of the round.

Timing your trades

One of the key learnings from the first fixture cram was to make a trade plan for each round based on the fixture.

As the rolling lockout means that moves can be made throughout the round provided those you want to change haven’t played, being across the schedule is important.

A simple tip is to only make trades that you need to.

If you are trading a player out who plays early in the round, make sure you’re going to someone you’re certain will play. It sounds simple, but the best moves are ones made when you have the team information in front of you. Sweating on a selection could have you short.

At this stage of the season, there are very few rookies left on the ground in Fantasy Classic teams. They are still super-important for bench cover and that last little bit of cash generation over the final rounds to make those luxury moves you’re keen on.

When making decisions on your trades, consider when teams play but also their upcoming schedule.

West Coast will have a busy period, playing games off three, four, four and three-day breaks. This could mean some of the older players may be managed. Nic Naitanui may be in line for a rest in one of his upcoming matches.

NOTE: Trades are reversible throughout the rolling lockout; however, be aware that you may be unable to rollback your team if dual-position moves have taken place and captains locked in.

Bye round averages

Rounds 14, 15 and 16 are scheduled as bye rounds. In the past we have had to plan our teams around when players are on a bye. Due to the unknown nature of the fixture, rather than having to deal with a zero for a player on a bye, their 2020 average will be awarded for those in the 22 the previous round.

ROUND 14 BYES: Adelaide, Brisbane
ROUND 15 BYES: Geelong, Gold Coast, North Melbourne, Port Adelaide, St Kilda, Western Bulldogs
ROUND 16 BYES: Collingwood, Richmond

You are able to trade in/out players on a bye. Maybe this week you want to target Lachie Neale, the highest scoring player of the season, to get his guaranteed 103. Alternatively, Zac Bailey has been a good performer of late but is his 65 this week enough? Could you move him on?

A player’s average should be kept in mind when trading.

Those that present value often have an average reflective of a poor season. Maybe it’s a better call to look for the value players who have already had their bye and only look to the top premiums from those yet to have their bye.

Players receiving their average on the bye will have price changes reflective of the score awarded.

As bye players will be locked at the start of the round, if you wish to trade on out or bring one in, you will need to do that before the first lockout of the upcoming bye round.

Captains and the vice-captain loophole

You will be able to name your captain (and vice-captain) as normal.

If you’ve used the VC loophole in the past, you’ll understand that with multiple partial lockouts, you can choose which game you want to place the VC on rather than being the first (Thursday night) game as we’ve experienced in the past.

Generally you should look to have your VC from the first 2-4 games. This will be dictated by who your non-player is to bring on the field and place the captaincy on… and when they play. If you don’t have a non-player, then you might as well just lock the C on who you think will score the most for the round.

Captaining Lachie Neale (on a bye this week) will get you a guaranteed 206. However, captaining a player on a bye will mean you can't use the VC loophole.

There is always risk with running the VC loophole and that is amplified by the fact teams may not be known and the possibility of multiple ins/outs from round-to-round.

There’s a bit to think about, but being switched on with when games are scheduled – especially start times – and having a plan will hold you in good stead.

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