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Fantasy sports is one of the most popular methods of fan engagement in nearly all leagues- NFL, EPL, MLB, NBA… and the AFL. For most people, it’s more that just a game. It’s an obsession. A way of life. And last week, this obsession was encouraged with the re-opening of the AFL Dream Team – the Australia Football League’s version of Fantasy Football.

I’ve never played any form of Fantasy sports but I think I’ll give it a try this year… and according to every male I know (since they all have a Dream Team) the most important aspect of constructing a proper Dream Team is watching the NAB Cup.

The NAB Cup is a mini-tournament that takes place in the weeks leading up to the first round of AFL games. The NAB Cup is the AFL version of pre-season, with one caveat: it’s basically a showcase for the newbies. See, when playing fantasy sports, you’re given a salary cap – just like all the real teams in the league – which means you can’t afford to have every single all-star on your team. You need to get good players for cheap, and that’s where the rookies come in. But if you want to win, you have to see them play so you can make the best decision. Which is where the NAB Cup comes in.

Most clubs use their new guys in the NAB Cup, for two reasons. One, they want to rest their veterans and make sure no one is injured before the season starts. If Adam Goodes, who has been having some knee trouble lately, went down in the NAB Cup, for example, there would be tears from more than one Sydney Swans employee. And two, they want to test the new guy. These games will be the first that the young’ns play at the professional level and teams need to know that these guys are up to the challenge. If they’re not, there’s no way they’ll be put on the list for the real season.

The NAB Cup is the best way to evaluate new talent and see the fruits of the draft and pre-season training labours.

As for the talent I’ll be watching for my team?

Jaeger O’Meara – Gold Coast
He’s already been with GC for one year (playing in Reserves) and will, hopefully, be moving up to the senior list this year. Plus, since Gold Coast is a young team, they have very few solid players which means this guy will get some great playing chances an hopefully rack up some points in Dream Team.

Lachie Whitfield – GWS
As the number one draft pick this year, everyone will have their eye on him so he’s a maybe for my (yet to be created) team at the moment. But playing for a young team and being the quickest guy the enter the draft in recent memory (in speed as well as decision making ability) makes him a solid candidate.

Jimmy Toumpas – Melbourne
Melbourne needs so, SO much help. This guy might be it. Plus, he’s a great kick which is great for Dream Team points.

Dean Terlich – Melbourne
Like I said, Melbourne needs help. Terlich also trained with the Swans, the current reigning premiers, for a year before winning Best on Ground in the SANFL Grand Final. He’ll make the senior list and get some playing time. Plus, flanks get the ball a lot.

Dean Towers – Sydney
Another guy that may or may not contribute to Dream Team depending on how he performs in the NAB Cup. The Swans are the current champs so you can expect that they’ll keep their strategy pretty similar to last year (why would they change it?) but the guys in the back line are getting old… this young gun might be exactly what they need.

Do any of you readers play fantasy sports? Any tips or tricks?


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