What Should I do with Rory Laird?

One of the most talked about players of the preseason was Rory Laird. The Adelaide Crow was the most expensive player in SuperCoach, AFLFantasy & DreamTeam. However, after one of his lowest career scores, the fantasy community is asking, what should I do with Rory Laird?

Embed from Getty Images

It was a less-than-ideal start, I’m not going to lie. A 57 in AFLFantasy/DreamTeam and 50 in SuperCoach was between 50-80 points less than what owners would’ve loved to experience. But it’s what it is; great fantasy coaches adapt and react to situations, and, for a third of the competition, the opportunity is now about what happens from round two onwards. So before deciding whether they should be holding or trading Laird, you need to ask yourself a few questions.

Was that a once-off?

Regardless of the format, it’ll be hard to consider moving him off if you believe it was an isolated game. One bad score doesn’t dictate your season. For example, in 2021, Touk Miller scored 68 in AFLFantasy/DreamTeam and 80 in SuperCoach in round one. However, by the time the season was over, he’d boast an average north of 120 across all formats. The biggest fantasy lament you could have had is ‘jumping off’ after one poor score.

I’ve played all salary cap formats for over a decade, and every year, the season’s opening round always throws up some odd games and scores. However, the overwhelming evidence, in my opinion, would lend itself to suggesting that this would be an isolated match.

Rory Laird and GWS’ Toby Greene stated that the extreme heat was like nothing they’d ever experienced. Laird told SEN SA,’ I found it very difficult on the day.’ Across the last quarter, both teams had multiple players suffering from severe cramps. Does this, in isolation, explain the poor score? Of course not. But it does give important information.

In that same interview, he went on further by saying ‘GWS didn’t put a hard tag on me, but they had an emphasis around stoppage (for us) not to get any connection, not only with me but we found it pretty hard throughout the whole midfield to connect. Watch that game back, not just the fantasy scores, and what do you see? Complete dominance from the entire GWS midfield. Tom Green, Callan Ward, Stephen Coniglio, Finn Callaghan and Josh Kelly beat up the Crows midfield.

Where is the Adelaide midfield strongest? Contest & pressure work in tight, but the Giants midfield got to work and denied them of this game style. It’s not a surprise that this, alongside the extreme heat combined with Laird having a dog of a day.

If you think Sunday’s game was an isolated incident, you cannot trade him. You built your starting squad with him in mind and created the space with your salary cap to include Laird. So don’t exaggerate the pain of a poor score by trading him. One poor score will not define the season for you.

Was it a mistake for your team and style?

Nobody likes admitting a mistake, but was starting Laird a mistake for you? This question shouldn’t factor in Rory’s scoring but rather be more about your overall squad structure. One of the reasons to trade Rory that I could empathise with is it enables you to ‘fix’ your team and it’s structure. After seeing the week of data, you realised you made some significant mistakes. But Rory, while the most financially valued piece, I’d encourage you to investigate all other options in your squad before making him the ticket to ‘freedom.’

This week, your greatest trading priorities should be one of the following. Dealing with the injuries like Tristan Xerri or Tom Stewart and getting the right cash cows you failed to start with, like Kade Chandler, these are the #1 priorities.  

If you’ve got no injuries and nailed the cows, then attention should start heading to any ‘miss’ of your midprice picks. Players like Jacob Hopper or Dom Sheed should be in the trading gun ahead of Rory.

If Laird is the worst pick in your starting squad, then your set! Your team is in exceptional shape. Do you have to hold Laird? Ofhe’drse not, but trading him shouldn’t be done because he’s the problem. Rather by trading him, he becomes the ‘solution’ to fix up your other issues. So trading Laird isn’t about him’ but a necessary sacrifice to fix other problems.

Do you plan to trade him back?

Let’s run the thought gauntlet. If you were to trade Rory out of your side this week, what are you hoping to achieve? Trading him now does not remove that score in the 50s. While in AFLFantasy, it does not regenerate that loss of almost $50k. Trading him now further accentuates the loss and sets you a step back. On any given week, Laird can be the top-scoring player of the round; it’s the primary driver behind why you started with him.

Yes, Laird has lost cash in this format and will let’s do so in DreamTeam & SuperCoach. But ‘value’ was never, nor should it ever have the driver behind selecting him. Rory was never a one-week play. You started him because you wanted to maximise his scoring capacity for as many weeks of the season. Don’t throw that away now just because you copped his basement score of the year.

There wasn’t one ‘hardcore’ coach that wasn’t planning on having Laird in their squad at some point in 2023. The slow start has made it marginally easier for him, but they still have the challenge of trading into him and his lowest price. So in 3-4 weeks, will you, current owners or non-owners, be able to capitalise on getting him at this basement price?

The financial value isn’t the only variable you need to consider; it’s the value of a trade. How many trades will it take to return to Rory at this ‘lower’ price? It’ll be the one to move him out and a bare minimum of two to get back into him. So arguably, it could take as many as four or five total trades to move him out and ultimately back in? Is that worth it for you? If you prioritise trading him back in, which other premiums at their basement price are you missing out on?

I didn’t start him. Am I a genius?

For non-owners, the luck of the dice has fallen your way. But remind yourself that it’s the luck factor that’s played out. At quarter time, Laird was 29 in SuperCoach and 27 in AFLFantasy. It could have been even higher if he’d converted his two shots on goal. Every person going against Rory was looking at yet another 120 score down the barrel, and the question of ‘how will I get this beast into my team’ was already oozing.

Thankfully, non-owners, the path to Rory has become significantly cheaper for you. In AFLFantasy, he’s already had $48,000 clipped off his starting price, and with a breakeven of 174, he’s likely to slip a minimum of $20k even with a good 120 score. If he averages 100 over the next three rounds, his price will drop to approximately $887,000. That’s a decent slice of his starting price, but the challenge will still be making sure you can afford him at his possible lowest price.’

For SuperCoach & DreamTeam, while you’ll happily take the poor score, it’s not the preferred round for it to have happened. Furthermore, these formats operate off a three-week price cycle, so while it’s a helpful start, this poor score will only be a variable in just one week.

Was starting Rory a mistake? Too early to say! Was going against him the right call? Also, to early to say. Only at the season’s end will hindsight give us the clarity we need to know what was the right approach.