Once again it’s been a terrific NAB Challenge in watching our hopefuls, some Rookies emerge and some Guns remind us they are worth every dollar.
While history has proven to take some preseason performances with a grain of salt (Karnezis, Lumumba), others give us confidence in jumping on them for Round 1 and today I share my locks – the absolute must have’s in everyone’s team to start Round 1 and I’ll finish by showing where they fit in the overall team.
Heath Shaw – it is laughable almost that Shaw is now the most ‘reliable’ premium defender and a must have, considering years ago he was on most peoples ‘never again’ lists. But his average last year of 96.1 pts, his consistent role at GWS, and his NAB Challenge scores of 99 and 118 going at 109 points per 100minutes is undeniable. He had a top score of 147 last year so we know he can also go big. Lock him in at D1.
Tom Rockliff – the fantasy pig might not have played a NAB challenge match but has stated he is ready for Round 1 and reports coming out today say he smashed through training. He is underpriced after an injury ravaged season last year and if he isn’t the #1 player in Fantasy/DT this year I will be incredibly surprised. Lock for every version of the game including the #1 pick in any draft leagues.
Gary Ablett – once again it does not matter that he has not appeared during preseason. The word from the Suns is that he’d always be ready for Round 1 and today at Captain’s Day for the AFL Season Launch he once again affirmed he is right to go. He is underpriced. He is a Fantasy God. He is a lock. Don’t make the mistake of leaving him out. You will be reminded in Round 1 against the Dons how godlike he is.
Stefan Martin – I totally understand the hype around Max Gawn as the next big ruckman, but do yourself a favour and remember why Stefan Martin was the #1 player in all of Fantasy last season. He averaged 114.1, occasionally sharing the load with Leuey. He is the closest to Dean Cox a ruckman could get, acting as a midfielder with possessions around the ground, with total ruck dominance as well. The scariest thing is that many including me see some upside now that Leuey is gone. He is a beast and I’d be inclined to take him #2 in draft versions of the game behind only Rockliff. Lock at R1.
Todd Goldstein – Ok now I’m getting controversial because what I am saying is that you need to lock in both Martin and Goldy. That means everyone has the stock standard top 2 players in their ruck department, and there is no space for Gawn, and no space for value. And I mean it. Goldstein is an incredible player, with amazing durability and can just ruck all day every day. He is a Fantasy champion, averaging 113.8 pts last season, #2 in the league only behind Martin, and will in my opinion certainly do it again this year. It might be controversial, but I am telling you to lock in Stefan Martin and Todd Goldstein and not look at your rucks again this year.
Michael Barlow – Certain to return to his midfield roots after a year playing more forward than anyone would like. He has come out in the NAB challenge and shown immediately what he will deliver this year in the mids with a 125 in game 1 and other scores of 90 and 93, in only 77% game time in shortened matches. This is the equivalent of 124 pts per 100mins and is exactly what you expect of a gun mid. Except we pick him as a forward at his underpriced value and we all laugh hysterically with happiness. Lock.
Sam Kerridge – Just has to be in your team, especially in DT at his ridiculously low price, but even in Fantasy. His move to Carlton and a general move into a running mid instead of a lockdown player (where he learnt his midfield trade at Adelaide) is just heaven for fantasy coaches to watch. Scores of 88 and 105 at 113 pts per 100mins in the NAB challenge just scream break out. But beside the stats, watching him line up at centre bounces and roam from back to forward, tackling and wracking up points screamed pick me even more. Lock him in your Forward Line, or in the mids to provide the DPP link.
Callum Mills – Incredibly it seems Mills is the most lockable rookie for the start of the season after a blistering NAB challenge off the half back line for Sydney where he averaged 74 pts from only 78% game time, and has certain job security with an injured McVeigh and the loss of Shaw and Jetta. He might cost a little more than you’d like from a rookie, but Lock him in as M6 or M7.
NOT A LOCK – BUT BLOODY CLOSE
Every 2nd Essendon Rookie – It seems that the Essendon dramas are only going to save our Fantsy arses by providing a plethora of cheap Fantasy options. None of which will score huge each week, but all should have fairly good job security and pump out just enough (40-60 pts) to make you some money early in the season. In order I like Dea, McDonald-Tipungwuti (Tippa), Brown, Kommer and Hartley. There’s a nice DPP link with DEF/FWD status for both Tippa and Brown to provide some flexibility too.
Aaron Hall – Not sure what else this guy can do to impress. Finished last year running through the midfield for GoldCoast in the absence of Ablett, Prestia, Swallow and OMeara and averaged 108.6 in his last 5 games. Comes out in the NAB challenge playing that exact role in the absence of the big names again and goes 107 and 130 in his last two matches for a total preseason average of 131.6 pts per 100mins. He is a underpriced forward, and the Suns wont have Swallow, Omeara and maybe Prestia to start the season. He is locked in my side, and I recommend it for everyone.
Matt Crouch – While his brother stole the limelight before the NAB challenge as the underpriced mid option, Matt really showed his ability to step into a permanent midfield role at the Crows with a stunning 81, 105 and 100 pts across 3 games in only 67% game time, running at 137.5 pts per 100mins. He was everywhere when on the ground and I think everyone would be mad not to lock him in their team as the one mid priced breakout option, ahead of Libba, Graham, Hunter, Ross and his brother. If you have more than 1 midpricer in your midfield, then he is a LOCK. He is definitely in my side.
SHOW ME THE CHEATSHEET!
While there is no right or wrong, the purpose of DTFML has always been to help players start the season with a stronger team and be more competitive, and there is certainty that picking the lock in players below will go along way to being that little bit more competitive.
There is an argument that picking the same as everyone else is not going to help you win or be top of the national rankings, and there is truth in this. Firstly, many players are just striving to win their leagues and beat their mates and a good starting team is going to go a long way to doing this. Regardless, we agree there is a real need to find those unique players to give your team an advantage. But there is plenty of space for finding uniques and slotting them in around a bunch of locks who in my opinion you simply have to start with.
Here’s how we see it looking as a framework…
Go play with your team
You can play with your team right now in AFL Fantasy at http://fantasy.afl.com.au