A complicated look at uncomplicated topics to ameliorate your day.
The NAB Challenge and NAB Cup are only days away. Before we know it there will be fantasy request emails in our inbox and leagues created. It is only early but it is worth having a quick look at some left field options for this season before we are enamoured with the latest next big thing in fantasy for the pre-season (which can be very misleading – cue Patrick Karneszis from last season).
Inevitably, every year there are a few categories that will dictate which direction your season takes. They are:
Bargains – First year and rookie players who make a few hundred thousand dollars and can score up to 100 per round for us. (Think Brett Goodes, Tom Mitchell and Jaeger O’Meara)
Mid Pricers – Players who have come off an injury who can come back and perform at an 80+ level and grow in price or players coming off an average/first season who are well priced. (Think Josh Kennedy and Chad Wingard)
Guns – Elite players who we need to get value for money from and must average well over 105 per game. (Think GAJ and Pendlebury)
The strategy with bargains is very simple, pick those players that will play early and will play often. Regardless of how effective they are, it is likely we will obtain a large price increase and be able to off load them around mid season for a great return. There are normally a few standout juniors who are easily identified for this category.
The strategy with the mid pricers should be to identify certain players who are likely to jump significantly in average and therefore price. This may be due to a change in teams, which could lead to better performance, or a return from injury, which has led to a large price decrease. A player may be of value but have a scoring ceiling and not be likely to jump in price which is not as useful as a player which a high ceiling who may be very beneficial.
Choosing the elite category is also crucial. It is important to keep these top line players most or all season barring injury. Last season we saw Patrick Dangerfield start slowly for his standards and drop in price but have a better second half of the season and finish with a pretty good average. We saw Ablett and Pendlebury score well all season and although they dropped in price they averaged close to 130 per game. These choices should be long term.
We all know about GAJ, Pendlebury and co. We will soon hear about Tom Boyd, Luke McDonald and Jack Martin. Looking away from the elite and well publicised juniors, lets have a look at some alternative options and whether they present viable options for Round 1.
Jed Lamb – $244,500 – He struggled to cement a spot in a Sydney team that made a preliminary final. He has now jumped over to GWS where he will see much more game time and probably float through the midfield. He has to be a serious consideration for the final playing spot or a bench spot. He will be fighting it out with players like Martin and Billings at similar prices.
Mitch Clark – $249,200 – The injury prone big man has been unable to play many games for the struggling Demons. If he can get on the field and a few of his mates can do the same they should be much more competitive with Paul Roos at the helm. Dawes, Howe and Clark present as a core forward line group who can score some points. Monitor his pre-season and make a late call. He does have the ability to average 80-90 and jump to the high 300,000s.
Shaun Higgins – $254,600 – A perennial heart breaker for fantasy players. He has promised and teased for many years. Coming off a serious foot injury and very few games last year, you would be brave to select him in your starting line up. If you do, hold your nose and hope he can put up some 70s and 80s in an improving side and be worth the selection.
Joe Daniher – $272,900 – At his price I would have to avoid him but he will be popular. He showed glimpses last year and with an off-season to build up his body he is likely to play a substantial number of games this year. No Crameri and Gumbleton to compete with, Hurley going down back with Carlisle, and Bellchambers being out will force Ryder into the ruck more. It presents as being a great opportunity for Daniher but I would be wary. If he has a big pre-season and NAB Cup he will be hugely popular.
Dylan Addison – $284,100 – On the move to GWS but I worry about his scoring ceiling. He has shown he can put up the odd big score but his average is not high enough to warrant a selection at his price. He will probably play most weeks and increase in price but the chances of a $100,000+ increase are not high. Other options are preferred.
Lachlan Hunter – $284,700 – A promising player who has shown he can cut it at AFL level. He has phenomenal VFL numbers and in a WBD side that is going to be pushing the top 8 teams he may be a useful scorer. Monitor his pre-season and he may be a good point of difference player if you can sneak him into your team.
Billy Smedts – $290,900 – The Geelong juggernaut has lost some star power in the midfield with Chapman and Corey departing and players like Bartel spending time across half-back. This will open up playing time in the midfield but whether it is Smedts or Duncan, Caddy or Christensen instead it is hard to say. Monitor his midfield time in the NAB Cup.
Taylor Walker – $299,500 – Walker was almost the hottest forward option going into last season. He started unconvincingly for fantasy players and was cut down with the ACL tear. He has been rumoured to be a chance for Round 1 but those reports may be a bit fanciful. Should he be back early in the season he must be a great chance to be picked up after his first two games. His price will not have changed and he will be valuable. It is likely that every other man and his pets will be doing the same but it presents as a must even this far out.
Eddie Betts – $362, 700 – One of the higher mid-pricers but a few things in his favour. Eddie moves to a team with no forward line depth in the small forward department. Betts was in All Australian form at times in the last two seasons at the Blues. He has no Garlett and Yarran to work with at the Crows and he will want to impress. I think he may be a Wingard type from last year as we have seen him score goals in the past. He doesn’t venture into the midfield which may ultimately stop us from picking him but he has a watch on him over the pre-season.
Luke McDonald – $182,300 – He will be the first picked in every side so you too should probably have him. He is the Brett Goodes from last year, the solid cheap backline option who should average 80 and play every game barring injury. One of a few no brainers.
Tony Armstrong – $285,900 – Armstrong has flirted with us the last couple of years at the Swans. He again presents at his new home at the Pies as an option. Could he fit in the back line and play the Heath Shaw role? With Toovey back and that backline full of stoppers like Maxwell, Reid and Brown, the rebounding defender that Buckley puts his faith into will be interesting. I can the artist formely known as Harry O (cannot spell his new name) playing more as that wing sweeper player and a spot opening up for an Armstrong type. Whether it is him or Sinclair or another player is yet to be seen. I wont be picking him but if he is ever going to average 75 and be a useful option it might be this year.
Alan Toovey – $303,800 – Back from an ACL and a very reliable player. He is not a fantasy juggernaut but at the price he may be a solid pick and increase 50-100K. Maybe one for Pies fans to cheer.
Matt Suckling – $312,200 – Another coming off an ACL and the supremely talented left footer will slot straight back into the Hawks backline. It may just take away some focus from Birchall and make Birchall a lock but Suckling is a damaging left footer who is at a price to buy. He is not going to get Birchall type numbers but he could hover around 80 all season and be a great pick up.
Jono O’Rourke – $123,900 – Pick 2 in the 2012 draft, so clearly he was an elite junior. He has only played 1 game and with his slight frame, the hope is he has bulked up to cement a permanent spot. If he has he may be a great selection. He obviously has talent and at this price could be the best bargain pick up you make.
Xavier Ellis – $159,100 – Heading over to the West to get an opportunity and shake up his career. He has struggled to break into the Hawks and we have seen players like Kennedy and McGlynn go up to the Swans and make a name for themselves. Whether or not Ellis is capable of that remains to be seen. If you think he can his price looks too low. I will be avoiding him but I cant talk anyone out of him at such a low starting price.
Claye Beams – $183,400 – Another injury related layoff but a talented player. He is cheap enough to be worth the gamble should he show he will play early on. Keep an eye on Beams as he is a little bit of a smokey selection.
Dom Tyson – $216,800 – Tyson moves over to the Demons and looks to slot into the midfield. The Dees handpicked this youngster and gave up a lot to get him (including pick 2). He was initially a number 3 overall pick and with a couple of years in the system he will be ready to blossom. He has to be seriously considered.
Jack Martin – $222,300 – Besides McDonald he will probably be the biggest bargain priced talking point. In recent years he would have been as low as $120,000 but with the new grading system he is over $220K. From what we hear, he has to be picked. Use a little extra cash and if he is to have an O’Meara type season he is certainly worth it.
Dale Thomas – $341,800 – Thomas fought injury last year at the Pies and it saw his price drop. He heads to Carlton and all signs point to him being ready for Round 1. He was once billed as the best player in the game by Ross Lyon after a sublime stretch of footy a couple of years ago and since has been solid, good and great but not spectacular or consistent. In saying that, his price is very low. He can put up huge scores and should he be fit, he should average above 80 in a winning side with the likes of Judd and Murphy to get lots of attention. Monitor his fitness and injury concerns before making him a selection.
Billy Longer – $279,100 – He makes the move from Brisbane and had no hope of cracking a spot behind Leuenberger. He may thrive at his new home and at that price if you like him he is an affordable option.
Aaron Sandilands – $310,700 – Injury prone big man is at a low price but if he is injured and only plays 50% of the games it is pointless. If you can see him playing 18+ games he is a good selection, otherwise look elsewhere.
Hamish McIntosh – $332,900 – Another injury prone big man who hasn’t really pulled on the Cats jumper in recent memory. At his best he is an All Australian ruckman and might be a big price jumper if he can get on the park.