In the last few years we have managed to find a few unique selections that have paid off big time for those brave enough to look outside the norm. The players I will throw up in this article will not be for everybody but consider this – Kieran Jack, Nick Riewoldt, Stefan Martin and Steele Sidebottom have all appeared in this series of posts and have all been under 10% ownership when I have thrown them up as a viable option for selection. To put 10% ownership in perspective, that is less than 2 teams in a league that will own that player on average. For me it is one of the highlights of Fantasy when your slightly oddball pick lives up to your homework and analysis and delivers that big score to win you a head to head match up. Although it sucks when said player throws up a stinker and costs you a round as well haha!
So with a few runs on the board, lets hope I can dig a couple out for us this year. Due to time constraints I have decided to do just the one article this year, selecting my top 3 picks in each position apart from rucks where I will just have one. A little will be based on NAB cup form, a little based on historical performance particularly against early opponents and a little based on gut feel. I will use the ownership percentages and prices from AFL Fantasy only – majority of this info will be applicable to RDT as well.
$475,000 2.2% Ownership 83.8 2014 Avg 20 games in 2014
10 of his scores out of 20 games in 2014 were 90 or above including 6 over 100 and a high of 131
Do you really need me to convince you any more than that sentence above given our lack of defender premiums this year? His average of 83.8 is affected by the 3 red vests he copped between rounds 5 to 11 and he missed a couple of games here as well. Take out his sub affected games and Mackie’s average climbs to almost 90. In the last 6 years Mackie has only missed a combined handful of games so he is perfect for a set and forget D3/D4 that will just show up and play for you week in week out – which we can’t bank on with a player such as Luke Hodge who will definitely be rested during the year to ensure his body is right come September.
The only knock on him I can see is that he is capable of the odd quiet game as his two bottom scores last year of 60 and 48 show – however what premium defender isn’t susceptible to the odd low score? It beats the hell out of Kade Simpson’s 26 and 27 last year yet Kade is currently in over 11% of teams………
$333,000 7.3% Ownership 64.7 2014 Avg 9 games in 2014
The ball is going to spend more time in St Kilda’s defence than most of us will spend on our fantasy teams – yep that much! The long suffering Saints fans are in for another tough year, but one of the guys who should benefit from this is Geary. Plenty of opportunities for +6’s as the Saints try to set up across half back, plus lets face it no-one would play a run with role on a Saints player other than Joey and/or maybe Jack Stevens. Geary has shown the ability to go big in the recent past with 5 x 100’s in 2013 including a high of 123, there is a slight injury concern on him at the moment but if named round 1 I will be locking him into my starting line up. Expecting at least an 80 average from him.
$363,000 0.4% Ownership 64 2014 Avg 12 games in 2014
Before you all laugh at me – during rounds 18 to 23 last year when the Eagles were making a late charge to play finals Butler averaged 88 including a monster 140 versus Collingwood. His early 2014 season was hobbled by injury and 3 green vests, late in the year it seemed to me Butler became the link man from defence to midfield for the Eagles. There seemed to be a real determination to get the ball into his hands – and it seemed to go from him to Hurn more often than not as the Eagles decided to use Hurn’s massive kicking to launch attacks from the wing rather than just clear out from the backline. If Butler is allowed to play the loose role off half back I can see him averaging close to last years last 5 rounds of 88 – it just depends if he can stay fit and avoid a lock down role. Similar to the Saints I think the Eagles will struggle this year which means Butler may be seeing a lot of the ball at half back, it just depends whether the Eagles choose to free up Brad Sheppard or similar instead of the old Butler.
Honourable mentions to Sam Fisher (2.5% ownership) and Jarrod Harrow (2.4% ownership), both of whom I think are great picks this year – in draft games especially.
$542,000 0.5% Ownership 95.7 2014 Avg 22 games in 2014
111. That is Mundy’s average for rounds 1 – 10 in 2014 when you take out his vested score of 48 in round 4 which was thanks to a head knock from McPharlin (seriously the Dockers hurt each other more than they hurt anyone else, remember THAT collision of Barlow and Palmer?) 4 scores over 120 and 15 scores over 90 show his consistency, and I think this might be the year that “Barra” finally averages over 100? Why do I think he will suddenly be better? Simple – I believe he will no longer cop the number 1 tag at Fremantle as Fyfe will take over that mantle. With Fyfe, Barlow and even Hill attracting the tags I think Mundy will be at his freewheeling best in 2015 and should belt out a few more of those 120’s. Freo needs to win the flag this year as their aging stars in Pav, Sandi, McPharlin etc are not getting any better so I can’t see Ross Lyon letting many kids spend time around the ball – this year will be all or nothing from the purple boys imo (and lets face it Ross Lyon isn’t exactly renowned for list building at the best of times…) Look for an average around 105 if everything goes to plan.
$412,000 2.1% Ownership 72.7 2014 Avg 19 games in 2014
In rounds 1 – 5 last year, Hill averaged 97.2 which is almost 20 points per game higher than what he is priced at. Blessed with elite speed and running ability, he has the uncanny knack of being able to find space on even the smaller grounds. He is susceptible to a hard tag however, so he does come with a buyer beware sticker. I still think given Hawthorns depth of stars he will be able to get off the chain as the likes of Lewis, Mitchell, Smith and Shiels will attract a fair share of taggers? At that price if he can average 95+ he would be a great stepping stone to the likes of Rocky and GAJ who by all rights should come down in price after as few weeks of mere mortal scoring. Probably not a keeper or top 20 mid by seasons end, but offers an early season POD at a bargain price.
$571,000 3.4% ownership 100.9 2014 avg 22 games in 2014
10 hundreds including 6 scores of 117 or better and a best of 138 was Trent’s return in 2014 after playing every game. Cotchin has knocked on the door of ultra premo status before, notably 2012 when he averaged over 110. The emergence of Dustin Martin in particular should help free him up more often and I think the Tigers will be a better side this year and that usually reflects in better fantasy scores for the guns. Has spent the odd game playing deep forward – however usually manages to bag a few goals which helps his scoring. Has a big ceiling and could be a great POD option – for me I would prefer starting with him over Jordan Lewis who is over $30k more expensive as I can see Cotch returning to his 2012 average of 110.
Honourable mentions to Rory “Batman” Sloane (4.4%) and Brad Ebert (1.3%) – both are more than capable of big scores and could easily be early season bolters for their respective sides.
LATE MAIL ALERT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
The Bombers somehow managing to avoid any sanctions over the systematic injections program means one of my favourite picks for this year is back on the table……
$565,000 0.3%(!) ownership 99.9 2014 avg 22 games in 2014
Stants has a history of going bang at the start of a season. In 2013 he averaged 122 over the first 5 games and in 2014 he averaged 117 over the first 6 rounds – both an almost 20 ppg higher average than where he ended up each year. This is important to remember as come finals time you do not want Stants in your side – this may be one instance where he is far more Fantasy relevant than RDT. Heppell and Watson will continue to attract most of the tags allowing Stants to run around on the outside picking up cheap +6’s at will. For mine he is the perfect starting platform to then sideways trade to a fallen Rocky or Ablett as your last mid upgrade
$483,000 5.1% ownership 85.2 2014 avg. 13 games in 2014
2 hundreds and 8 scores of 84 or better in his last 10 games in 2014 is probably a surprise to many. With big Stef Martin dominating and Sandi holding up, not many of us would have looked too hard at our rucks towards the back end of last season. However if we had then the flying mullet would have stood out as a great late season pick after an injury kept him out the first half of the year. He started a little slowly with 2 scores in the 50’s in his first 3 games as he worked back to full fitness, but after that he started racking them up.
If Bellchambers is not available for round 1, then I will be restructuring my team and going with Maric and hoping for a 90 average. Actually having Luey and Bellchambers as R1 and R2 is making me uneasy so I will restructure and only have one of those anyway – Bellchambers dpp may be the clincher if both available round 1 and Maric will be my other ruck. Confident of an average around 90.
$494,000 1.6% ownership 87.2 2014 avg. 21 games in 2014
10 scores over 90 including 6 scores over 100 was a great breakout season in 2014 for Dalhaus at the kennel. I assume his ownership is so low purely due to the ‘sexier’ mid forwards this year like Swan, Deledio, Gray and Martin dominating the first 4 spots in most teams, throw in a cheap as chips Mitch Clark at F6 and really there is only one spot on your field left. Salem from the Dees will be a popular F5 I would assume, however if you have dollars left over then Dalhaus would make a great POD F5. Will likely spend even more time in mids with Libba out so I think he is a real chance to increase his average by 10 PPG and knock on the door of ending up a top 6 forward for the year.
$429,000 3.4% ownership 75.7 2014 avg 20 games in 2014
Ok so only 3 scores over 100 last year doesn’t look great for Daisy, but he has battled with an ankle injury most of the last 2 years. Apparently he is over that and will line up for round 1 pain free for the first time in years. Daisy was a premo forward in his halcyon days of 2010 to 2012 seasons, averaging 95,102 and 93 over those 3 years. The grumbles are getting louder at Carlton after Mick has seemingly underachieved after the Ratten knifing – 2015 shapes up for Mick as September wins or bust. Daisy is one of his favourites, and he will be hoping for a return to the form he had when both were at the Pies. Consider as an option to free up cash instead of Bartel or Swan in your starting squads. Will he be a top 6 forward? Probably not, but he is a chance to be a great stepping stone if he can reproduce his from of a few years ago and if you are tight on cash consider him for your starting squad.
$504,000. 1.7% ownership. 89.0 2014 avg. 22 games in 2014
Seeing as the season starts over the Easter weekend it only seemed fitting that I include ‘Jesus’ as my last selection. Last year he had 13 scores over 90 including 9 over 100 and a massive 143 ceiling has him firmly in contention to be in my side come round 1. Port are right in the mix for the flag this year and they have a great spread of stars which means ‘The Hoff’ is allowed to run around by himself a lot of the time. Think of him more as a tall wingman than a key position player, who seems to bob up as spare man in defence with intercept marks on a regular basis. Starts seasons well historically but is also susceptible to running a bit hot and cold, I guess part of picking him is accepting the odd quieter game in return for the big scores. Will be hard for most coaches to fit into starting squads so I struggle to see many taking the plunge.
Honourable mentions to Harley Bennell (8.5% ownership) and Boomer Harvey (4.3%) – Boomer couldn’t keep getting better as he closes in on 40 years old could he? The other big smoky could be Craig Bird (1.1%) who if he can manage to avoid the vest this year could be set for a really big year.
Anyway thanks for taking the time to read this, hopefully this article will at least give you a few new names to consider after looking at their stats. Mackie and Maric will be in my starting team at this stage with the Hoff and Cotch 50/50 to get in. This is obviously written prior to the Essendon saga announcement so that may change a few things as well.
Cheers and good luck for the upcoming season