Miracle Men

Every year there are a few surprise packets who come from nowhere to become DT superstars in the space of a single season. On the back of my unique article from last month, I thought I’d have a look at these players in that awkward $200k – $300k bracket that could surprise us in 2012. It must be noted that the risk in picking up players such as these to begin with almost always outweighs the reward of them becoming a ‘Miracle Man’. However if it comes off… you look like an absolute genius. To clarify what constitutes ‘Miracle’ status, I’m going to put it out there based on the following.

Priced between $200k-$300k; players must increase their average by 25+ and have a massive breakout year to finish as below:

For a Defender, Ruck or Forward – 85 + average over 20 games or more
For a Midfielder – 100 + average over 20 games or more

To set up the article, take Liam Sheils, Matt Suckling and Nat Fyfe as examples:

Liam Shiels started 2011 with a price of $221,500 after playing 6 games in 2010 at an average of 53.3. He went onto play 22 games in a high possession Hawks outfit and average 103 and his price rose by almost 60% by the end of the year.

Matt Suckling began the year priced at $212,600 with only 6 games to his name in his career. His average went from 51.2 to an amazing 90.75 playing in the Hawks defence over 20 games. He went from a nobody to one of the few reliable backline options in an otherwise paltry year for DT defenders.

Finally, after playing 16 games in his debut year of 2010 at a reasonable average of 68, Nat Fyfe came out firing to become one of the must have forwards in 2011. His priced started at $282k and was well above the $350k mark by seasons end after playing 21 games for an average of 98.4 in an impressive 2nd year which also saw him earn runner up honours in Fremantle’s Best & Fairest.

Whilst the chances of all of these players having great seasons is akin to GWS winning the flag in 2012; if at least one of them proves me correct – I’ll be stoked.

Todd Banfield

Club: Brisbane
Position: FWD
2012 starting price: $297,700
Age: 21
Career avg to date: 58.7 (41 games)

Earmarked for midfield time in 2012, the flame haired dynamo could be a surprise this season with the departure of Luke Power and with Voss wanting to continue to build his midfield around these young, exciting players. After beefing up and enjoying a fantastic preseason, look for Banfield to increase his output considerably in 2012.

Daniel Connors

Club: Richmond
Position: DEF
2012 starting price: $224,200
Age: 23
Career avg to date: 72.4 (27 games)

This guy is a deadset loose cannon. He could be on this list based on this fact alone: if he can spend a whole season off the drink it should be described as nothing short of a miracle. His record doesn’t make for good reading except for 2010 – where he played 14 games and averaged a premium 92.3 as a rebounding defender. If he can force his way back into the Tigers’ best 22; and stay away from alcohol; we could see him in a lot more teams throughout the year. Now back from his club-enforced ban and working through his ‘personal issues’, watch for him to make an impact should he be called into action for the yellow and black.

Travis Colyer

Club: Essendon
Position: MID
2012 starting price: $232,500
Age: 20
Career avg to date: 59.1 (20 games)

Expect to see a lot more of the Bombers youngster in 2012 as he looks to spend more time in the midfield. Still only 174cm, he may be used in several roles as he looks to establish himself in the best 22. Said to have shone over the summer, watch for him to press his claims in the NAB cup for R1. If he gets enough opportunities, he is a prime candidate for a breakout year.

Colin Garland

Club: Melbourne
Position: DEF
2012 starting price: $288,000
Age: 23
Career avg to date: 54.7 (58 games)

A quiet achiever, Garland has recently been elevated to Melbourne’s young leadership group. After two full seasons relatively injury free, Garland will look to step up in 2012 and become an important cog in the Demon’s defence. Able to play on talls and smalls, he is also capable of racking up possessions (29d & 8 m for 124 points in R23 v GCS). As a side note, if Grimes goes down once again look for Garland to step up and coordinate the backline in his absence.

Nathan Grima

Club: North Melbourne
Position: DEF
2012 starting price: $279,900
Age: 26
Career avg to date: 65.1 (42 games)

Whilst considered more suited to SC than DT, Grima easily sits inside North’s best 22 at Half Back. Unable to put together a full season to date, he hasn’t had an opportunity to establish much consistency in his first few years in the AFL. With Brady Rawlings now gone, the Roos may look to Grima a bit more to bring the ball out of defence. Watch him in the NAB cup to see what role he will play in 2012. If he stays fit and can get some consistency going, he could be well worth his price tag.

Chris Masten

Club: West Coast
Position: MID
2012 starting price: $278,800
Age: 22
Career avg to date: 62.5 (51 games)

Plagued by injury; lack of opportunity; and constant subbage in 2011 – it appears that Masten is finally set to set the AFL alight in 2012 as he prepares for his breakout year. He is smashing it on the track and will look to use his skills and speed to his full advantage in the upcoming season. When he was given a chance last year, he dominated in the midfield (as shown by scoring 140 and 115 v the Lions and Crows in R23 + R24). With Brad Ebert now gone, a spot in the best 22 is Masten’s for the taking. He may however face competition from young guns Koby Stevens and Andrew Gaff.

Also on Masten, refer to tBetta’s DoDT article for more info about this guy. Whilst he appears to be a sh*t bloke, his DT potential is hard to ignore.

Dan Nicholson

Club: Melbourne
Position: DEF/MID
2012 starting price: $266,600
Age: 21
Career avg to date: 53.8 (9 games)

Nicholson was drafted in 2010 as a mature running defender/outside midfielder. And at the age of 21, he is better equipped to handle his 2nd year better than others. Impressing everyone at the club with his elite running in the preseason, he is doing everything right at this stage of the year. Rumoured to be training with the midfield group; along with the departure of Scully; Brad Green returning to the forward line; and Colin Sylvia just hanging around, expect Dan to get more senior opportunities in 2012. Throw in his DPP eligibility; and Nicholson is an interesting proposition. A sub in 3 of his 9 games last year, he should be given more time on the field in 2012 to prove himself.

Sam Reid

Club: Sydney
Position: FWD
2012 starting price: $278,200
Age: 20
Career avg to date: 56.5 (20 games)

Played 19 games last year and held down a spot at CHF for the majority of the year. Established himself as an impressive youngster with great hands, he will play every game in 2012 barring injury. Seems to have bulked up in the offseason and is looking fit; Reid will look to increase his kicking, consistency and overall output this season and could prove to be the next power forward of his generation ala Jonno Brown or Nick Riewoldt.

Gary Rohan

Club: Sydney
Position: FWD
2012 starting price: $226,800
Age: 20
Career avg to date: 49.5 (16 games)

Coming into his 3rd year, the lightning quick Swans red head is tearing up the preseason and is ready to take the AFL by storm. After injuries cruelled most of his 2011 campaign, he is injury free and primed for a big year. With sources indicating he will play in the forward line, along with time on a wing – Rohan looks set to significantly improve on his career average in the upcoming season.

Nick Suban

Club: Fremantle
Position: DEF
2012 starting price: $272,100
Age: 21
Career avg to date: 56.4 (46 games)

Was a popular mid-price option last year however broke his leg after 4 games. Returned later in the year but had no real impact. Looks to play along the half back line for the Dockers in 2012 and may spend some time pushing forward onto a wing. If he can stay fit and adjust to Ross Lyon’s game plan, he could prove a great option in defence.

Mitch Wallis

Club: Western Bulldogs
Position: MID
2012 starting price: $244,800
Age: 19
Career avg to date: 55 (6 games)

The youngest of our miracle men, Wallis should get plenty more opportunities in 2012 after debuting last year. Impressing in the midfield at times, he showed he has potential with 3 games of 70 + from his 6 games. With the defection of Callan Ward, Wallis should play a lot more this season. If given the chance, he should improve his output dramatically.


There are also other popular breakout prospects such as Tony Armstrong and Josh Caddy; as well as mid-price bargains Brian Lake, Hamish McIntosh and Jason Winderlich. However I’ve restricted this list to the more unique and largely untried players for interest’s sake.

How about you – did you pick Shiels, Suckling or Fyfe to start with in 2011? Do you have the mettle to pick one of these guys in your side? Feel free to put forward your feedback or thoughts on possible 2012 Miracle Men.

Cheers for reading,



  • Awesome again McRath… Plenty of food for thought.

    Shhh on Nicholson… Has been on my watch list for a while… Will be a gun this year ( fingers crossed )

  • howard from the dogs was getting talked up on afl.com, whats his chances of breakout ?

    masten is on my do not touch list

  • Havent actually read the Herald Sun article today but is this just copied? Or has the Herald Sun copied this? Hmmm

    • Ummm no… This article is from a credible source, that knows his DT better than almost anyone and not some work experience kid with a footy record and a bunch of darts!

      Not sure the HS would have the smarts to follow such a quality site as this anyway ;)

  • Mastin isn’t he off the X-Factor?

    Every year he is the next big thing tearing up the training track.
    Well I am staying well clear this year. DOUCHEBAG

  • Great write up again McRath – loving the quantity and quality this year.

    One I have had on my watch list for a while is Matt Bate from the Dee’s – from all reports has been killing it in pre-season whilst training with the mids. New coach used to playing with an attacking game plan…

  • Nathan Who? Just stay away from Narny please people….

  • McRath!!! Connors was my little secret. Good to see he is named for Friday night. I will be watching him attently during NAB Cup to see if/where he plays with a beer in hand (that’s me, not him hopefully!).

  • I can see something in Matsen and my eagles-fan dad says he’s gonna be a gun, and I’d like to have him in my team due to the stats given in the deck of dt article, but too much risk involved and there are better players around that price to go for as your mid-pricers like Winderlich. If he goes gun NAB cup and stays fit he might find his way into my team bu atm it’s a no.

    • I watched him when he was vested last season and at half time he did a few kicking drills (and he killed it!!!!!! hit the guy on the tit everytime).
      Then when he started the second half couldn’t hit a target to save himself.

      Maybe he’s been down on confidence the last couple of years.
      A shit moustache and f**kwit fringe will do that.

      • pure gold skull.

      • a sht moustache and a fk wit fringe doesnt seem to bother his girlfriend who would make the wags dt side easy
        a waste of a number 3 pick so far but he has to be considered ,he just has too even if its only for a seconnd

  • Daniel Connors will not be in Richmond Best 22.

    The only half decent season was when he was allowed to play loose man in the HBF.

    Players with better disposal have taken his spot in the HBF.

    Most likely delisted after 2012 as he current contract will expire.

  • I picked Suckling last year, missed Fyfe and Shiels.

  • I had Fyfe last year, I’m thinking maybe Ben Jacobs this year – I will be following him closely in the NAB Cup.

  • Already have Colyer a jet to be

  • Super write up…

    Gary Rohan, get on board and thank me next season!

  • Rohan burnt me last year in my draft league so now I have a no ranga policy…

  • What is the difference between Supercoach and Dream Team? I have never played Supercoach and just want to know what the basic fundamentals are?

    • How good a disposal is does not matter in DT. In SuperCoach I’m pretty sure players lose points if they make errors. In DT a kick to the opposition is no worse than a kick to a teammate. SuperCoach also takes into account things like clearances and inside 50s, contested possessions and that sort of thing.

      DT is much simpler. Counting a player’s SC more while watching the game would be bloody difficult.

  • is Steve Johnson worth $530,000?

  • I’m tossing up for my single mid pricer this year for the backline. Unsure who to go for out of:

    1) Conca
    2) Nicholson
    3) Jacobs
    4) Armstrong.

    What you reckon lads?

    • Conca.

    • ive got both Armstrong and Conca. gonna monitor there roles etc over nab cup and whoever looks more promising is in my team

      • Armstrong is still battling injury, and, considering how much he’s struggled with soft tissue problems, probably worth steering clear of. He would’ve been given first crack at Tadgh’s role, but now he’ll probably have to fight his way in once fit, making him more likely as an expensive downgrade option (if he’s killing it in his first couple of games).

  • All kudos to the facilitators of this website in recruiting McRath and Warnie for providing the quality output they’re renowned for.

  • If you want a laugh, check out who the Herald Sun think will breakout this year: http://www.adelaidenow.com.au/sport/afl/finding-the-next-big-thing-in-supercoach/story-fn88cf0r-1226271191584

    Players include: Nathan Brown (Pies) and Lewis Johnston (Crows) among other questionables. I’m definitely gonna lock Brown in now!

    • Most of those aren’t that farfetched actually.

      Also this is a dream team site not supercoach.

  • Masten trains the house in pre-season so often that it is a running joke on the BigFooty West Coast board. Still I’ll keep an open mind…

    I reckon Rohan will be the most likely. That guy is Brendan Goddard v2.0.

  • Christian Howard(WB)

  • Beau Waters tipped for more Midfield action? Anyone had thoughts about him?

    • still injured and wont play nab cup so hes down my list a bit. could be a decent option though when hes back up and playing

      • He may play round 2 of the NAB cup – so could be worthwhile getting on as he can average 85+ with all the free marks and kicks he gets around half back and down the wing…

  • If I read one more of these articles introducing yet another 10 players to me to consider, I’m sure my brain will explode! Seriously though another great article Mcgrath! Mental note to self, next year start with a notepad instead of trying to remember who to watch and why… I just have a blur of names and rumours and “killer preseasons” and “seen training with the midfielders” and AHHHHHHHHHH KILL ME NOW!!!

  • Hi all, has anyone got any info on L Tapscott.

  • Should do a review in this at season’s end…

  • Kane Lucas (Carlton) #12 draft pick 2009
    10 career games (2 seasons)
    DT career average 56 (ish)
    2012 DT price 206k
    Missed most of 2011 through injury and only managed 2 sub affected games.

    Look for Lucas now in his 3rd year to be a regular in Carlton’s midfield rotations and have a break out DT season. He’s apparently having a ripper pre-season and if he can fire during the NAB Cup, don’t be surprised to see him line up for the Blues in Rd 1. Could be this years Fyfe if he can cement a spot in a very strong midfield and avoid injury & the Sub Vest. @ 206k well worth the risk IMHO

  • Out of the guys named as miracle men from last year, the most games any one of them had played was 16 games.

    So would be looking at guys with similar amounts of experience for comparisons. Masten and Bandfield a few others have already played close to 50 games or more in some cases. It’s not really comparing apples with apples. That’s not to say these guys won’t improve.

    I’d be highlighting Nicholson, Rohan, Wallis and Read out of that lot.