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Hawthorn, Melbourne, North Melbourne – CBA analysis

DC analyses the centre bounce attendances for the Hawks, Dees and Roos.

“…more mid time”

Click here for DC’s preamble and more on the all important centre bounce attendances.

*Only players who played 5 games or more are included in the CBA lists. All percentages only represent the games played by that player, not the whole season.

More CBA analysis:

Top centre bounce attendees

O’Meara 74%
Mitchell 70%
Reeves 61%
Worpel 59%
Ceglar 59%
Newcombe 54%
McEvoy 50%
Wingard 41%
Cousins 37%
Shiels 30%
Nash 29%

It’s going to be all about Mitchell in 2022. Tom has every chance to be in the top few scorers in the game again and Sam’s decisions are going to dictate which Hawks are relevant.

Titch should be a front runner for M1. He’s priced at 115.6 but averaged 126.2 in his last 10. He’s done those numbers before. It’s not a fluke.

O’Meara and Worpel were the other two Hawks who spent the majority of their time in the middle. It’s hard to see them being moved elsewhere, even though neither of them had outstanding seasons. O’Meara is priced in the mid 90s which is probably about what he’ll produce but he did finish 2021 well with a 108 average in his last five games. Worpel had a substantial dip in 2021 and is priced at just 78.8. Could he bounce back and return to the 90s? I’d expect the role to be there but his lack of marks is always a concern. Nonetheless, I see at least 10 points of upside.

The rest of the Hawks midfield mix is worth monitoring. Chad Wingard spent more time in the middle as the year progressed. He’s awkwardly priced at 88 though, so you’d want him to be a top 6 forward. I’m not sure he’ll manage that.

Newcombe, Nash, Shiels and number 7 draft pick Josh Ward will gobble up the remaining midfield time. You would think Shiels becomes less prominent but Newcombe (430k) and Nash (466k) both interest me. Nash is available as a forward but scored 3x 90s in his last four games of 2022 whilst playing a lot of time in the middle. If he looks to have that role again in the pre-season then the big-bodied Irishman should be a tasty, low-risk option at F5 or F6.

Newcombe was in and out of the side after being picked up in the mid-season draft. His job security worries me but he looks to be a handy scorer and loves a cuddle.

Josh Ward is a ready made player and will get opportunities in 2022. Don’t be surprised if he sees sporadic time in the middle, which could perhaps increase if there’s an injury or two.

Buyer beware: O’Meara, Wingard, Shiels

Black book: Mitchell, Worpel, Nash, Newcombe, Ward

Top centre bounce attendees

Oliver 86%
Petracca 79%
Gawn 75%
Viney 68%
Harmes 55%
Sparrow 27%
Jackson 26%
Jordon 22%

The premiers went with an exclusive midfield group and it paid off handsomely, although it helps when two of those mids are Oliver and Petracca. Oliver had the highest CBA% of any mid in the competition. I see no reason why he and Petracca can’t both average around 110 again. If it ain’t broken and all that…

Viney will probably be the third mid again but Harmes may come under pressure from Luke Dunstan after his arrival. Dunstan is the better scorer but he averaged a massive 73% CBAs at the Saints and won’t go anywhere near that at the Dees unless there’s multiple injuries. There’s a chance he doesn’t play at all too.

Sparrow and brilliant 2021 cash-cow Jordon both had periods through the middle but I don’t expect either to be a factor this season unless the Dees suffer multiple injuries.

In my eyes, the most relevant fantasy question at the Dees for 2022 is whether Luke Jackson continues to chew into Max Gawn’s ruck time. Jackson is fantastic at ground level whilst Max is better in the air and dominates hitouts. I’m expecting their CBA percentages to even up slightly (perhaps 65-35%) but for Max to push forward or sit behind the ball more after centre-bounces to make use of his marking ability. For that reason, he’ll be around the ball a little less and is a pass as a starting option for me. If Gawn cops an injury at some point (hopefully not), then Jackson would be a great trade in option.

One final compelling concept: the AFL is a copycat league. Could more teams follow the Dees and go with a more limited inside midfield group? That would certainly shake-up fantasy scoring.

Buyer beware: Gawn, Harmes, Viney, Dunstan

Black book: Jackson, Oliver, Petracca

Top centre bounce attendees

Simpkin 80%
Goldstein 77%
Cunnington 72%
Davies-Uniacke 57%
Anderson 48%
Thomas 40%
Powell 29%
Campbell 28%
Phillips 26%
Xerri 23%

The wooden-spooners may have struggled in 2021 but they are building a very impressive midfield and many of them are relevant for 2022. Unfortunately, the leader of the group, Ben Cunnington will be missing at the start of the year due to the return of his testicular cancer. Hopefully we see the inside bull back on the field before too long. 

The Hugh Greenwood pick-up as a delisted free agent provides the Roos with a readymade replacement if they want to use him that way, although it also wouldn’t surprise if he spends substantial time playing forward and therefore probably has limited upside at 735k.

Jy Simpkin (priced at 95.5) is now into his sixth year and is seemingly ready to become a legitimate uber-premium after an average of 102.6 in his last 10 matches with 7 tons. That also included a big outlier with a 49 against Sydney in round 22. In fact, that was the only match he dropped below 90 from round 11 onwards. Want a final reason to consider him for 2022? He was one of only seven midfielders to have 80% or more CBAs in 2021. Steele, Merrett, Oliver, Laird, Neale and Cripps are the other names. Expect a 105+ average in 2022 if he keeps that prominent midfield role. 

Simpkin isn’t the only North mid you should consider though. Luke Davies-Uniacke’s career has been somewhat of a slow burn so far but there were signs that he was starting to fulfill his potential in 2021. He averaged 81.6 but only tonned up once! However, he was remarkably consistent, with all of his other scores falling between 63 and 99. If he can develop a ceiling, then his decent floor should allow him to push into the 90s. Cunnington being out means there is space for him to become the main inside bull. 

There are four other options that you should be looking at closely because they all have forward status. Jed Anderson and Tarryn Thomas could both fill spots in your forward line as prospective top forwards. Anderson only played 7 games in 2021 but is an outstanding points per minute player when in full-flight. The two main question marks with him are whether he can play the whole season and whether he represents any value at 794k. He would have to be a top 6 forward at that price. 

Thomas was one of my favourite pick-ups in fantasy during 2021. Although he averaged 81, he stormed home after a move to more on-ball time in round 6, averaging 93 in his last 10 games and 107 in his last 5! It may sound a bit giddy but he reminds me of a Patrick Dangerfield or Nat Fyfe type of player. He is good in the air, tackles well, kicks the ball beautifully and has an eye for goal. If he continues with 40% CBAs or more in 2022 (and he should) then I’m expecting him to average in the mid 90s at least. 

Powell and Phillips both played a fair bit of footy in their first years. Powell is a natural ball magnet but is probably too awkwardly priced to start unless he moves into the midfield full time. Phillips is intriguing at 366k though. The number 3 pick didn’t explode out of the blocks in his first season but I would expect an improved output in 2022. He could be one to consider if the forward rookie cupboard is bare to start the season. 

The elephant in the room is Jason Horne-Francis. The number 1 pick has substantial hype around him leading into 2022, with my Hat Chat co-host Nathan leading the fan club (he’s renamed the club the “Horne-Francis Kangaroos”). The young-gun should play round 1 but is being lined up for a role that would see him play predominantly in the forward line with stints on-ball. He should still be a safe cash-cow to start the season due to his strong job security but he is 290k and the role may limit his scoring a little.

Buyer beware: Hugh Greenwood, Tom Powell, Jed Anderson

Black book: Jy Simpkin, Tarryn Thomas, Will Phillips, Jason Horne-Francis

Follow DC on Twitter, Hat Chat on Twitter and listen to the podcast.

DC is one-quarter of Hat Chat, a podcast that focuses on helping coaches get to the top of the AFL Fantasy rankings. He has four top-500 finishes since 2018, including a 71st overall finish in 2021. Twitter: @DCCaterpillars Hat Chat Twitter: @HatChatAFL

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