Essendon and AFL Fantasy

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It was a historic day for the AFL yesterday after 34 past and current Essendon players were found guilty of doping and suspended for the 2016 season.

As a result of the sanctions, the AFL will allow the Essendon Football Club to upgrade their 6 rookie listed players and sign an additional 10 ‘top up’ players for the current AFL season. We won’t know who the additional 10 are for a while yet but one or two are likely to be Fantasy relevant.

From an AFL Fantasy perspective, the news and actions are huge and coaches will need to rethink their strategy for season 2016.

Best 22

A good place to start the Fantasy analysis is to identify who is in Essendon’s Best 22. Here’s my take…

Esserndon's Best 22

Looking at it on paper, the biggest issue for Essendon is their lack of quality ball winners. So who will step up?

Picking Premos

Brendon Goddard (Mid. $552,000 AF. $578,600 DT) is now the most revered player at the Bombers. With the lack of midfield fire power, he’ll need to spend plenty of time on the ball with rests spent up forward. If Goddard had forward status I’d probably pick him but as a Mid only, I feel that those heavy tags will be too much to bear.

The incredibly skillful Zach Merrett (Fwd/Mid. $501,000 AF. $524,800 DT) is set for a huge year. In 2015 (just his second AFL season), Merrett averaged an impressive 90.5 Fantasy points per game playing predominately as an outside mid. With an inside midfield role beckoning, he’ll improve his Fantasy output and finish the year as a Top 6 averaging forward. A unique pick that you should seriously consider.

Mid-Price Temptations

Even prior to yesterday’s penalty, Craig Bird (Fwd/Mid. $321,000 AF. $343,500 DT) was shaping as one of the tastiest mid-pricers this season. Now, he’s all but certainly a lock for most teams. With his ball winning and goal kicking abilities, the Bombers will rely on Bird to be a leader this season. He’ll average 85+ with little problem. Don’t miss the boat.

Like Bird, Matthew Leuenberger (Ruc/Fwd. $301,000 AF. $315,500 DT) is sort after in the Fantasy world. The big fella will be Essendon’s No. 1 ruckman this season and they’ll be relying on him heavily! He should average 75+ which is pretty hard to ignore given his price.

David Zaharakis (Mid. $415,000 AF. $434,400 DT) is an interesting one. He’s definitely got the tools and in the past he has proved that he can average over 95 Fantasy points per game but he’s a link player, not one to go out and win the hard footy. Personally, I’d rather Libba, O’Meara & Brad Crouch for circa $100,000 less but some will take a liking to him.

Rookies A Plenty

One of the biggest considerations when picking any rookie is job security. All of a sudden, a sh*tload of cheap Essendon players will see plenty of action in 2016. So which rooks are the must haves?

Mitch Brown (Def/Fwd. $194,000 AF. $121,300 DT) has always been a lock. Nothing changes except now, he may have a licence to be more attacking from defence. Monitor Brown during the NAB Challenge to see whether he deserves a spot on your field or confirm that he’s just a bench warmer.

Michael Hartley (Def. $125,000 AF. $121,300 DT) is a mature age centre half back ready to make a name for himself. He averaged 68 Fantasy points for Coburg in the VFL last year and was a joint winner for their best and fairest award. Expect him to average around 60 Fantasy points per game this season suiting your D7/D8 position.

Essendon will want to play and develop Darcy Parish (Mid. $260,000 AF. $206,800 DT) as much as possible this season. The highly rated, country kid wins plenty of the footy and is much tougher than he looks. Parish averaged 96.5 Fantasy points in the TAC Cup last year and according to Adam Cooney, he’ll make an impact straight away (source). $260,000 is too much to pay for him in Fantasy but I’m liking Parish for Dreamteam.

Aaron Francis (Def/Mid. $221,000 AF. $202,300 DT) has Fantasy game. He’s arguably the best mark from last year’s draft crop, he tackles hard and is a good user of the footy. Francis just needs to work on his endurance. I think Essendon will use Francis like Langdon at Collingwood and I suspect he’ll average 65-70 this season. I want to see him play in the NAB Challenge before jumping on board.

After two injury wrecked seasons, Nic Kommer (Fwd. $125,000 AF. $128,200 DT) is on track for an AFL return. The small forward’s hardened body will be handy for Essendon at some point this year but he’ll need to be put through the paces over the preseason and find form. Kommer is cheap but he wont score well.

Other Clubs

No Ryder and Monfries at the Power pushes Matthew Lobbe (Ruc. $431,000 AF. $451,100 DT) and Sam Gray (Fwd/Mid. $427,000 AF. $446,900 DT) up the pecking order. Lobbe is historically a great tackler and his Fantasy scores took a hit last year with the dominance of Ryder. Expect him to average 85+ this season, which might be good enough for your R2 spot. Sam Gray deserves your attention after averaging a whopping 117 from his last three games in season 2015. No Monfries should see him become a regular in Port’s 22. I’m super interested in Gray but his price tag makes the decision tricky.

Melksham was reportedly set for a half back role at Melbourne this year thus someone like Salem or Bugg may now have a greater role but both are not worth starting in Fantasy or Dreamteam.

Carlisle’s spot at centre half back is a huge void to fill for the Saints. Fisher, Delaney and young Hugh Goddard will need to share the load. Nothing Fantasy relevant here.

With the Bulldogs losing Crameri, million dollar baby Tom Boyd might get a game! Don’t pick Boyd.

Jeppa’s Lineups

I’m happy to share my teams with you at this point because I know it will change a million times before Round 1 lockout.

AFL Fantasy 

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AFL Dreamteam

DT Team

I’m happy to discuss my current teams in the comments below pending your questions.

Click here for yesterday’s post with plenty of Essendon discussion.

FOLLOW ME ON TWITTER@JeppaDT for all thing AFL Fantasy and more!


  • No Luey mate?

  • Hey Jep, I appreciate you posting your teams, it’s nice to see. I know you’re a WA boy but an Eagles one, as a freo supporter I don’t see the love for Barlow. With the inclusion of Bennell and the continuous improvement of the Peel midfield boys who might get a couple of games especially with the easier run at the start of the season I see him playing like the first half of 2015 as a half forward averaging ca. 80, which wouldn’t justify his price tag. Also, I must be out of the loop with the love for mullett.. Hopefully a DOT article on him

    • I reckon choosing Barlow as a FWD/Mid depends on what happens with the niggles that Bennell and Fyfe seem to have at the mo. Monitor…

      Jeez it’s gonna be a long pre-season…

    • I hear you but not having Barlow scares me and I reckon he’ll finish as a Top 6 averaging fwd

  • Strongly considered downgrading Libba to Zaha in AF, even if he’s still the third best option at exactly 415k by a fair gap. Other than that the only shift it’s really brought on to me is Hartley who I hope you’re right on. Also considering both Berger and Bird in my forward line, but I’d already been thinking about that prior.

  • Thanks Jeppa… how do you get access to the team selector (or do you have special access)?

  • On a side issue to the now non-availability of 12 of the Essendon squad, has anyone asked the new coach how he’s going to cope? Tough on Woosha too.

  • What is you reasoning behind Mullet? He will be lucky to get a game this year!

  • Thanks Jeppa T.Duryea was my POD in defence this season, Now the whole world knows :(

  • Anyone know much about Bombers possible rookie upgrades?

    Here is the 2015 VFL list.

    I thought Marcus Marigliani was a stand out in last years pre season games. Was a tad surprised he didnt get an upgrade. Will he get one now?

    We’ll know soon enough Im guessing, the will have to get their teamlists sorted.

  • Hooker/Hurley/Fletcher (ret)

    Who is going to replace these tall defenders?

  • Is Real Dream Team open for 2016???

  • Anyone else think Stevie J at GWS could go bang?

    • personally, I’m looking at the other 2 GWS fwd eligible players around his price point

      • yeah saw them as well, haha just say their names, Greene and D.smith. But which one will overcome a shitty 2105.

        Throw in a sneaky peak at A.Hall who had an amazing second half of the year.

    • I doubt I’d have the balls to choose Stevie J, simply too big a risk. The guy IS a freak.

      With GWS decent young midfield he’s probably going to be a key forward. Be nice to see his role. Sort of player they may throw in the mids because of his experience. Funnily Im thinking about Chappy who was sent packing a season or two too early and had a great first couple of years at the bombers.

      If they let Stevie J open up at GWS, he could just go bang.

    • He’s in my team until I see the NAB to prove otherwise. Unsure how everyone is forgetting he averaged 118 two years ago. The bloke is a freak and heavily underpriced. Johnson > Smith for me.


    So, who might the bombers chase after on the delisted players?

    Or will they all go for young players?

    Crowley? Seems an obvious one.

    Will those delisted Essendon boys (O’Brien, Aylett, Dalgleish, Steinberg, kavanagh, browne) get recalled?

    colin Sylvia (lol)

    Dont forget they will want players to cover only for the year, so there is every chance they will ask a veteran to come back for “another go”.

    • James Kelly from geelong seems to fit that category well.

      • Adcock is on Western Bulldogs list

      • Adcock has gone to the Bulldogs and will likely be elevated to the senior list after Crameri was banned. I reckon Essendon will go cheap and bring in young kids, remember they still have to pay the banned players and will likely be fighting off law suits all season.

        Also there’s zero expectation that they will do anything this year so they may as well blood some young guns and still get a #1 draft pick. Realistically even the most die hard fan has to accept this year they are the whipping boys

        • Yeah, Im sure they will blood kids. I still think they would grab a veteran if available, or give an young but AFL experienced player from the scrapheap a go. Im very curious. I know this is all speculation.

    • Shags, glad to have you back in business!

      I’m keeping a close eye on Zac O’Brien from Brisbane and as far as I’m concerned he was delisted. Over the past two years in the NEAFL he’s averaged 32 and 33 disposals respectively, and a nice 6 marks and 5 tackles over both years, equating to averages of 117 and 126 DT points repetitively over the past two years.
      He’s also had some solid scores when playing in the AFL. I remember in 2014 when Rocky didn’t make the final game of the year, and ZOB stepped up on the bench scoring 100.

      He definitely has potential, and if he’s priced in the 150-250k range then I’m willing to take the risk in AF.

      • Thanks Benjo. Its usually about Feb that I start thinking DT. But the Essendon catastrophe brought me in early.

    • I can’t wait to know an official list… especially as the prices/positions will be needed to be worked out for them. Sure to be some gold there.

  • Are some of those rooks based on extreme Jeppa knowledge ? ;)

  • Your a legend Jeppa finally someone got it right, A historic not an historic, annoys the shit out of me.

  • Just to add to the fantasy criticism here Warnie ;) when will fantasy follow suit with dt and ditch the second ruck and move that spot to the middle? more midfield rookies, I love it :) love your work boys.

  • Thanks a lot for the articles Jeppa always quality analysis and you really make an effort to reply to people here and on twitter, means a lot to us hardcores.

  • Hey cheers for the article mate! Is there anywhere to access a free team picker for AFL Fantasy? 😊

  • Does anyone really think Goddard is going to cop a hard tag when most of the time Essendon are going to be pretty easily beat- doesn’t make sense to me!! Also can’t see Woosha under too much pressure this year or for a couple of years really-not his fault!!

    • nah i dont think he would cop attention. Would be a waste of time if Essendon struggle big time next yr. Therefore he could be a very sneaky option for the mid

    • I hope so, as a frequent non-owner watching him rack it up completely uncontested is agony.

  • Isn’t Parish the little 75Kg skinny twig? Afraid to select someone who will get snapped in two.

  • Who is Keough? Haven’t heard anything about him as of yet!