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Making Some Sense of Mid-Priced Madness

Jamie has some tips on the mid-priced players on the radar.

Finding the right mid-priced players for your fantasy squad can be a real hit and miss proposition. Select the right player or players and you’re well on your way to a successful season. Choose wrongly, and your season could be shot before it’s had a chance to really begin.

The temptation to have that mid-priced player sitting between your elite selections and rookies on each line is hard to ignore. Yet ignore it you should. Rather than look at these mid-priced players by line, look at them as a group and adjust your lines to account for where the best value lies. Listed below are 10 players valued between $450k and $550k who could provide some real value under the right circumstances.


Hayden Young (Def) $543k

2021 Average 68.9 | B/E 64 | R1 Projected 74 | Ownership 5.4%

After missing the majority of his second year in 2021 through injury, Young returned to the senior side in Round 19 and averaged 79 over the last five games of the season. This included scores of 93, 86 and 91 in rounds 21, 22 and 23, which will no doubt have him on the radar of a number of fantasy coaches. Had surgery prior to Christmas to drain an abscess, which has put him slightly behind his team-mates in terms of his preparation.

George Hewett (Def/Mid) $537k

2021 Average 64 | B/E 64 | R1 Projected 71 | Ownership 4.2%

While never really being a relevant player in AFL Fantasy, Hewett has shown on occasion he has the ability to produce decent scores when given a favourable role. He topped 90 on four occasions in 2021 and has six tons to his credit over the last five years. Following a move to Carlton, most pundits believe he will play a similar role, however, if he is given a bit more freedom by Michael Voss, he could improve his average quite dramatically in 2022.

Darcy Tucker (Def) $514k

2021 Average 61.3 | B/E 61 | R1 Projected 62 | Ownership 1.75%

Following the loss of Adam Cerra to Carlton, the Dockers are giving Tucker every opportunity to take over his midfield spot, and according to all reports he is grabbing that opportunity with both hands. Like Hewett, Tucker has shown some fantasy potential in the past, however, either through injury, form or team set-up, he has never been able to build on that potential. Scored three BCV tons from seven games before being injured in the opening minutes of Round 8 in 2020, although only produced one against the Suns last season.

James Sicily (Def) $510k

2021 Average 0 | B/E 60 | R1 Projected 83 | Ownership 46.08%

With a highest season average of 95.6 in 2018, followed by averages of 83.6 and a BCV of 86.9 over the following two years, Sicily is a proven fantasy defender who is priced conservatively at 15 points under what he should achieve if he stays on the park. From all reports Sicily has hardly skipped a beat during the pre-season, and the Hawks are confident he has recovered from the ACL which kept him out for the entire 2021 season.

Jade Gresham (Fwd/Mid) $514k

2021 Average 73 | B/E 60 | R1 Projected 73 | Ownership 11.61%

After starting the 2021 season on fire with scores of 95 and 107 in the opening two rounds, Gresham suffered an Achilles injury in Round 3 against the Bombers and missed the remainder of the season. Although from all reports he is tracking well, Achilles can be difficult to get over and with so many mouths to feed in the midfield at the Saints, Gresham may be eased into the season playing predominantly forward.

Jye Caldwell (Mid) $488k

2021 Average 76.5 | B/E 58 | R1 Projected 75 | Ownership 12.14%

After being traded from GWS at the end of the 2020 season, the then 20-year-old couldn’t have started off at his new club any more impressively. Caldwell posted a ton in his debut for the Bombers against Hawks and was heading for another against Port in Round 2, before sustaining a hamstring injury which sidelined him for the remainder of the season. However, Essendon showed their faith in the former Giant by rushing him back into their Elimination Final against the Bulldogs, in which he again looked like he could be headed for a fantasy ton early, before fading out in the second half. The loss of forward DPP hurts and it’s anyone’s guess at the moment how the Bombers midfield will line up come Round 1.

Sam Draper (Ruc) $481k

2021 Average 57.3 | B/E 57 | R1 Projected 60 | Ownership 5.14%

As a 23-year-old ruckman heading into his third season and with only eight and 12 games in his first two and with fantasy averages of just 50.6 and 57.3, it’s fair to say Draper is not on the radar for most coaches. However, an outstanding Elimination Final effort against the Bulldogs of 121 has shown he can be fantasy relevant, and appears to have at least piqued the interest of some coaches at this early stage of the year.

Jack Gunstan (Fwd) $468k

2021 Average 31 | B/E 55 | R1 Projected 74 | Ownership 1.79%

Once a regular amongst fantasy sides, following a season in which he managed just the one game for an abysmal 31, Jack Gunston appears to be a forgotten man for fantasy coaches. However, with his ownership currently sitting at under two percent and a breakeven of just 55, he could be a valuable POD if he can get on, and stay on the park. Prior to 2021, Gunston produced averages of 76 BCV, 76, 87 and 85, and even at 30 years of age is at least 10 to 15 points under-valued.

Matthew Rowell (Mid) $464k

2021 Average 55.3 | B/E 61 | R1 Projected 59 | Ownership 42.72%

After Sicily, Matthew Rowell is the most owned player in this list solely on the evidence of three games of a 17-game career. Admittedly those three games were absolutely outstanding, however, he has looked only a shadow of that player since his return in Round 13 last year. Rowell produced just the three scores over 70 and two in the 60s from 11 appearances in 2021, and while the hype around the former number one draft pick looked justified after his first three games, it’s fair to say it hasn’t come close since.

Dan Hannebery (Mid) $456k

2021 Average 58.5 | B/E 54 | R1 Projected 78 | Ownership 1.66%

After only missing eight games between 2011 and 2017, Dan Hannebery has managed just 30 in the last four years and only 15 in his three seasons at the Saints. An endurance beast at his best, Hannebery’s best two seasons from a fantasy perspective were in 2015 and 2016 in which he produced averages of 110.7 and 108.4. Now, while that may be what seems a lifetime ago, he did produce a fantasy average of 98.6 from his first five games for St Kilda in 2019 and like Gunston, if he can get on and stay on the park, he is hugely undervalued.

Safest Bet

Due to their high ownership, Sicily and Rowell are the two safest selections on this list. Even if either or both don’t produce what fantasy coaches expect from them, it won’t hurt your side too much as half of total coaches will be in the same boat. For mine, Sicily should provide the most value of the two as he is a proven fantasy performer and extremely under-priced historically. Rowell on the other hand is pretty much valued at what he showed upon his return from injury last year, and although the latest reports from the Suns are positive, I’m not totally sold.

Risk vs Reward

While all the players on this list provide some risk, the two veterans in Gunston and Hannebery arguably provide the most uncertainty, yet could also provide the greatest reward. A fit Hannebery (as far fetched as that may seem now), is more than capable of averaging in the mid-80s and Gunston in the mid-70s. With break evens of just 54 and 55 respectively and ownership for both at under two percent, could you do it?

Preseason Eyecatcher

Reports started coming in pretty early in the pre-season regarding who would be vying to fill the void in Fremantle’s midfield following the departure of Adam Cerra to Carlton. The two names that seemed to be brought up most frequently were ex-Sun Will Brodie and Darcy Tucker. In a recent match sim, the two were on opposite teams with Tucker earning most, if not all of the praise from observers. At this early stage he seems to be on track for a spot in the Docker’s midfield in Round 1, and has proved in previous seasons he can produce solid fantasy scores if given the opportunity.

Track Watch

It’s fair to say that at this early stage in the year, fantasy coaches need to keep an eye on all player’s progress up until teams are locked for Round 1, however, a few players on this list could provide some real value for fantasy coaches under the right circumstances.

Jye Caldwell and Jade Gresham really need to be spending a decent amount of time in the midfield to provide value, while George Hewett will most likely be in Carlton’s engine room, however, will it be a lockdown role, or will he be given the freedom to hunt his own ball?

Much has been made about Hayden Young’s strong finish to the 2021 season without having the amount of kick ins expected to boost his scores. If he’s fit, and lines up in pre-season games and does take over the kicking duties expect his ownership to rise quickly.

Better Value Elsewhere

Despite his outstanding 121 in the Elimination final last year, Sam Draper hasn’t shown enough from a fantasy perspective at senior level to justify a spot in your team when just an extra $90k will get you a proven fantasy performer in Jarrod Witts. While Brayden Preuss will save you $114k and his Round 1 break even is 13 points less than Draper’s.




  1. Euman

    February 1, 2022 at 8:52 pm

    Brayden Preuss?

    • Euman

      February 1, 2022 at 8:54 pm

      Ah yes sorry wrong price bracket

  2. BzG

    February 1, 2022 at 9:06 pm

    Is there any news about H Schoenberg, T Thomas, C Wingard/C Nash, and J McInerney?

    • Jamie

      February 2, 2022 at 12:09 am

      None of those players in the price range I was looking at. Schoenberg, Thomas & Wingard feature in Deck of DT & Nash was mentioned on latest Traders podcast

  3. brian Smith

    February 1, 2022 at 10:17 pm

    Is Reeves now R1 at HAW?

    • Jamie

      February 2, 2022 at 12:13 am

      Reeves was the 11th player on the list, but left him out as have no idea how Hawks ruck setup will look like come R1. Was discussed a bit on Monday’s podcast

  4. Squid

    February 2, 2022 at 10:02 am

    Looks like a fools gold list in this bracket for the most part but you cover this off pretty well in your summary, good article, I hope people read it properly instead of just noting the names and getting them in.

    Caldwell and Young are the 2 of interest for me as they are young best 22 guys in the breakout zone who have serious fantasy credentials in their as yet short resumes.

    A few others could be decent picks but you’re probably better with a rook and an upgrade elsewhere. Rowell is the tricky one, could go bang, could continue per last year, high ownership minimises risk in picking him but also maximises returns if you don’t and he bombs.

    Tucker is a joke right? I see plenty are into him but he’s probably over half way through his career and priced exactly at what he has averaged basically every single year, classic pre season hype player, they never pay off but people get sucked in every year nonetheless.

    • Jamie

      February 2, 2022 at 2:48 pm

      Tucker has posted decent scores when given a run through the midfield in the past & Cam Guthrie was 27/28 when he became fantasy relevant. Not saying Tucker will emulate Guthrie, but it’s a recent example of how a favourable role can completely change the dynamic of an established player

      • Squid

        February 2, 2022 at 5:36 pm

        Guthrie had previously averaged up to 85, increased year on year to get there too and showed better ceiling as well, Tucker has done nothing ever except be a consistently average scorer. I wouldn’t pick either.

        • Jamie

          February 2, 2022 at 6:26 pm

          But in the 2 seasons prior to 2020 Guthrie averaged in the 60s. Of the players on the list, Tucker best fit that particular category

          • Squid

            February 3, 2022 at 11:57 pm

            Of being mediocre? You’re probably right, Guthrie was still significantly better though and even still if you’d picked him I’d still say it was a dumb move and you just got kissed by the DT gods.

            Not saying it can’t happen but I feel like huge 7th year breakouts don’t happen often and @ over half a million $$$ priced at his traditional average of 60 odd surely there’s too many better options, ie everyone else on the list.

    • Not even a Freo fan

      February 3, 2022 at 7:51 pm

      Tucker definitely is appropriate to be listed here. His end to 2019 and pre-injury 2020 was looking very solid. He can run all day, has good size and plays his besr footy in the midfield. He looked lost in the backline which is why his scores ranked when he got games in recent times.

      Also he just turned 25 and building to his prime, so not sure why you are worried about his age/stage of career.

      He will definitely make money if he starts mid in 2022.

      • Squid

        February 3, 2022 at 11:38 pm

        You’re mad if you go this guy over basically every other value pick this year but by all means go your hardest, it’s your team.

  5. Phteven

    February 2, 2022 at 11:42 am

    Good comments, Squid. Young came onto my radar at the end of last year and had 3 good scores. Should be fully fit this year and has a Fantasy friendly role.

  6. Squid

    February 2, 2022 at 1:09 pm

    Also a gun junior like Caldwell. I see these blokes potentially being relevant for years to come, just got to jump on at the right time.

  7. Burger

    February 2, 2022 at 1:12 pm

    Thanks for the artice Jamie & I’m with Squid re Rowell – in 2 minds

    • Jamie

      February 2, 2022 at 2:50 pm

      You’re welcome. Not writing Rowell off by any means, but just not convinced he’ll go as well as many think this season

  8. PowerAde

    February 4, 2022 at 11:24 am

    you would have to be insane not starting Rowell at his price.

    someone needed to say it.

    • Squid

      February 4, 2022 at 12:38 pm

      Average of 55 across 11 games, I’m not sure you are being rational about this. No one is saying he can’t go bang or picking him is a bad call, indeed I reckon everyone with doubts on taking him would be predicting a handy average increase but that could just be by 20 or so and he really needs to go 90+ and do it consistently to earn his keep relative to points and price gain from a decent rookie and proper premo you could invest in instead.

      So can he go huge? Of course he can but is far from a done deal and not taking him and investing elsewhere may be a better play.

      There is no such thing as a sure thing in fantasy….. Except carnage, there will always be carnage.

  9. Greg

    February 4, 2022 at 12:26 pm

    What about Dan Rioli now at back after good end of season 2021 Also BE only 56

    • Squid

      February 4, 2022 at 12:43 pm

      Way better pick than Tucker I reckon but you’d want to see him locked in down back before you buy.

  10. BzG

    February 4, 2022 at 1:21 pm

    This may prove relevant and was raised as a concern for both WA clubs. It affects Tucker and Young particularly from the article above, but is equally relevant for YoYo and others.
    Neither club has been impacted by Covid, whereas the other 16 clubs have been through it over the preseason.
    What happens if Freo and WCE wait for the season proper to leave their lock-down state. If players contract Covid, are forced into iso, our AF teams could be heavily impacted.
    For me, it’s a wait and see…. for the moment, I’m avoiding Young , Tucker, Darcy, Serong, etc.

    • Squid

      February 4, 2022 at 3:16 pm

      Excellent point, until things change with restrictions in WA significantly Freo & WCE players will almost certainly be effected and more heavily than everyone else in other states.

  11. Team Leader

    June 6, 2022 at 3:04 am

    There are no new ideas; there are only new ways to recycle old ones. We consider them unique, but we draw from a stock of existing concepts and copy, re-purpose, transform, and fuse them.

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