Captaincy roulette is when you change captains week to week and it occurs because you are aggressively seeking out the best scorer, or you don’t have a reliable gun you can count on.
I fell into the captaincy roulette trap in 2015 and the results provide a good illustration of the danger. In the first seven weeks, I used five different captains. Five! That is probably more than I used in 26 weeks in 2014. Round 2 was the only time I played the same captain two weeks in a row. I managed to captain Farah, Reynolds and Segeyaro for their worst scores of the season at that point and that culminated with my nadir: Ben Hunt’s epic round 7 flop (17 points).
There were a number of factors that had given rise to captaincy roulette in my team: CS9’s unpopularity at the beginning of the season, Farah’s limited minutes, the multitude of good/not great alternatives, and injuries or suspension to captaincy options.
The whole problem with captaincy roulette is that you are just as likely to come up red as you are black. And if you then change your selection the following week, once again you are just as likely to come up red as you are black.
A player scoring well or badly one week has very little correlation with what he will do in the next, but setting a captain shouldn’t be about week to week scores, it should be about captaining an average, which means taking the good and the bad and achieving a net position of 60+ a week. Locking in a top scoring captain is one of the best luck mitigating strategies you can make and fantasy is a lot about managing the impact luck can have on your team.
The 2015 season saw me create a near perfect storm of bad captaincy choices. Here was my roll call of infamy over the first seven weeks of the year.
My average captaincy score was 43.4, so rather than getting an extra Cam Smith, I was getting an extra Joel Thompson, and nobody wants to have Joel bloody Thompson stinking their team up.
None of these players sustained their bad score from the week I captained them, some bounced back with their best score of the year the week after I captained them, so all I succeeded in doing is losing points. Over the course of the first seven weeks, my captains scored 109 points beneath their season’s average. Coming up bust on captaincy roulette cost me about 100 places to season end rankings (I finished 322nd in 2015). That is quite significant and also highlights how much of an impact the little things can have on rankings.
Let’s take a look at the structure of my team at round seven for a minute because it is a fairly good illustration of the problem, and one that I was very conscious of avoiding in 2016, a year in which I captained Cam Smith in almost every round he was available. My guns over $450k follow, with my concerns at the time:
James Segeyaro – his match conditioning towards the end of games looked poor.
Simon Mannering – he concerned me because his scoring had slid off since round 4.
Ben Hunt – he concerned me because he had just scored 17.
That’s it. Those were my choices. Not having a player like CS9 created too much doubt and in my quest for points I routinely came up empty.
The take home message - invest in a captain and stick with him rather than chasing scores from lots of different players!