Welcome to the 2020 AFL Player Movement Period

After a extremely long but hectic 2020 AFL season, attention turns to how teams will shape up for next year. As usual, HPN will try to take you through the trade period, and evaluate which deals are fair, who snags a bargain and which clubs become fixated on a desired player and end up overpaying.

This week HPN launched the Trade Calculators – with usability at front of mind. Instead of the old cumbersome list, you can now just type a name in or scroll. The same page now contains a career calculator and a short term calculator – the latter showing how the trade affects next season only.

You can also add players from multiple clubs to the ins/outs for each side of the trade. There wasn’t time between the Grand Final and the start of the trade period to spec out a five team trade calculator, but it’s probably for the best that Adam Cooney and the Trade Radio folks aren’t encouraged too much further.

The values driven in the calculators all come from the reworked PAPLEY, which HPN briefly described last year.

What else is new?

This year, HPN has developed two new tools on this linked page.

The first is a visual representation of each player’s PAPLEY predictions over the next five years. Rather than just talk about, let’s see what that means.

This shows each player’s rough aging curve over the next five years. It’s pretty fun to play with.

The second tool is a lot more speculative, and maybe even more fun. Introducing the HPN Salary Predictor Tool.

The HPN SPT uses past performances over past seasons and applies best, worst and “close” predictions to how much “value” each player will earn over the next five years.

This method utilises PAPLEY to distribute PAVs across the league, and apportions shares of the Total Player Payments cap for all teams, with adjustments made to unused players and rookies. As TPP and PAV are both fixed systems, both having defined aggregate values, their interaction should be a reasonably fair representation of how much value each player “should” earn.

The distribution of salaries for the past few years match up relatively well with the number of players in each salary band announced in the AFL Annual Report. This means that even if it isn’t accurate on a player by player basis (which it isn’t intending to be), it is a fair representation of the market for players.

All players scheduled to produce less than the AFL minimum wage for a given year have been slotted in at that level, currently at $110,000.

The best case scenario takes a players’ best year out of the three last years OR their mPAV value from this year, prorated for an entire full season. This takes into account the view that a list manager may focus on a player’s production in a prior year despite a subsequent down year, or that a player may do well with limited opportunities.

It does not account for role changes across years, which may cause more significant fluctuations.

For example, GWS received first round compensation for Zac Williams moving to Carlton, indicating that Williams received a contract in the top 5% of players over the age of 25. This indicates his salary is between $700,000 and $800,000 per year, based on the salary ranges published in the 2019 AFL Annual Report. According to the HPN Salary Prediction Tool, Williams’ future value tops out at around $680,000 a year.

However, Williams is likely to more into more of a midfield role at Carlton, which may increase his ability to provide value in games, due to a higher involvement in the play.

Likewise, the worst case scenario takes the worst prediction for each player across these time periods. This is the “buy low” part of the tool.

Who are the most valuable players this year?

After running the numbers, here are the most valuable players across the rest of their careers according to PAPLEY. Any player with more than 147 future PAVs is worth more than pick one alone.

A lot of young players feature at the top end of this chart – and for good reason. Young players who demonstrate average or above average ability early in their careers are solid bets to develop well, but the margin for error is high.

The older a player is, the more accurate the predictions are.

For a shorter term view, here are the players predicted to the best in the 2021 season.

What about list sizes?

No-one exactly knows what list sizes will look like in 2021, but that’s not as bad as it seems at first glance. HPN believes that discussions on list sizes are pretty constant between the AFL, AFLPA and the clubs, and there isn’t a world of doubt there for the people who need to know.

For those watching from the couch, it’s probably fair to assume that lists will have about 42 primary and rookie listed players – a drop of two from previous years. Things may change, but this is a fair starting point.

What to expect from HPN over the player movement period

Like most years, HPN will try to keep up with most player movement, but may be unable to be as rapid or deep in previous years. HPN will try to update our twitter feed after any trades, and produce rolling updates or posts across the day here – but they may not be incredibly timely.

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