Want to know how much I’ve missed fantasy over the off-season?
I voluntarily offered to cover a practice match between the Gold Coast Suns vs the Port Power! Two teams I have no affiliation to whatsoever. There’s a chance this might be the least watched game of AFL footy all year.
The conditions were pretty gross on the Gold Coast and the game was very scrappy at times but I focused mainly on two things when watching the game.
- The eye-test (how does a player look)
It’s hard to gauge who scores well without stats but it’s easy to see where players are playing and how they look to be moving. That’s what I’ve tried to cover here but as with all pre-season games, take this with a grain of salt, or rather a bowling-ball sized piece of Himalayan rock salt.
The Suns were pretty impressive overall. It certainly seems as though a few of their younger players will take another step this year. Hollands, Tsitas, Witts, Constable, Lukosius, and Bowes were the fantasy relevant players who didn’t hit the park. Hollands is probably the most worrying. Start looking at contingency plans for round 1 if you’re banking on picking him in your forward line. He played in the 2nds game prior to this one.
The Suns midfield rotation looked fairly settled and I feel as though this game was a reasonable indication of who we’ll see in the middle for them to start the year. The centre bounce attendances are below. I don’t see too many other changes before round one.
Matt Rowell, MID, $464k
Rowell played a similar role to what he played last year: all in-and-under and no easy footy. Granted, he did look better than most games in 2021 and seemed to get from stoppage to stoppage pretty well. He would’ve probably had about half-a-dozen tackles and was a factor when it was contested. Those are the positives.
The negatives were that he played heavily managed minutes and got basically no easy ball. I watched Rowell really closely last year after stupidly trading him in after his return from injury. The issues I had with him last year are largely still there. He will average bugger all marks this year if today was any indication, which means he will struggle to hit a decent ceiling score regularly. The more I’ve watched him, the more I’ve realised he’s also a really average kick. It looks awkward. Like, if-Reilly-O’Brien-was-a-midfielder kind of awkward.
He’ll probably still score more than last year but he’d have to show a few more strings to his bow in the AAMI series game for me to start him.
Noah Anderson, MID, $679k
Anderson attended almost 80% of centre bounces in this game. Last year he averaged 47% per game. Did someone say “Third year breakout”? He looked terrific dashing away from congestion. If the Suns are going to play Rowell in the middle, then I reckon they need some more leg-speed. Anderson could provide that. It’s kind of staggering that everyone is talking about Serong but no one is really talking about Anderson. Stop it. Now.
Touk Miller, MID, a lot
Regression? Really? A lock for a top 8 mid and should be in the top couple. If you want to pay up for him I wouldn’t necessarily talk you out of it. Absolute jet.
Lachie Weller, MID/FWD, $669k
If you’re going to put one new player on your watchlist from this game, then make it Lachie Weller. His new role in the backline looks niiiiiice. ‘Aaron Hall in 2021’ sort of nice. He had double-figure kick-ins for the game (Port kicked 19 behinds). That’s basically 30 points without needing to provide any ounce of talent. I could’ve scored those points and I haven’t played any form of organised football for 12 years.
His price is a little awkward but I can see him pushing at least 90 if that’s going to be his role for the year. That would get him real close to the top 6 forwards and he’s priced at less than 80. This was also a wet game, I would expect a few more marks in a drier match. He could produce some big ceiling games if that happens.
Ned Moyle, RUCK, $170k
I know what you’re thinking right now: “Who?”
Fair question I guess. Big Wittsy didn’t play, so young Ned stepped in to lead the ruckline, with new recruit Mabior Chol playing primarily forward. Moyle did pretty well I thought and more than held his own against Lycett and then Sam Hayes. If Witts needs a rest or gets injured again, then he should be able to fill the void. Not the worst R3 option.
Will Powell, DEF, $606k
I was keen to see whether Powell would be the main distributor out of the backline. He isn’t, judging by today’s evidence. Weller has that role to start the year, so there’s not a big enough reason to consider Powell as a starter. Still took a handful of kick-ins though.
Brayden Fiorini, MID, $857k
Looks to be the 4th mid in the pecking order, behind Touk, Anderson and Rowell. Should still score really well but he’s just too risky to start in my opinion (don’t listen to Dos).
Jeremy Sharp, MID, $578k
You couldn’t start this guy but he was impressive in this game and looks set to kick-on after a great finish to 2021. Will be playing on a wing in round 1 and wouldn’t be the worst option very late in drafts.
Port had a bit of a dirty day (as the commentators like to say). They were comfortably beaten by Gold Coast, couldn’t hit the side of the barn when kicking at goal, and lost both Lycett (ankle) and Powell-Pepper (hamstring) during the game.
Once they went a few goals down, Ken Hinkley appeared to decide that he was just going to play a game-within-a-game and get as many players as possible to attend a centre bounce. They had 13 players attend one. THIRTEEEEEN!! (thanks Huddo). That’s over half a team! I’m fairly sure I even saw Ken himself in there at one point. Kane Cornes might’ve got one too. Pretty sure he gave away a free-kick for back-chatting the umpire. Typical.
The CBA stats are below anyway (almost needed to be a separate article). Don’t expect that many players in the middle once the real stuff starts.
Zak Butters, FWD, $639k
Butters attended the first four centre bounces. He was carving it up and then Ken decided to start being a silly bugger and switched him out for Koshi or someone. Nonetheless, it was still enough for me to think that he’s going to be a serious factor in the middle this year. That he started the game there is important to me and should be to you too. It was also encouraging that he was able to have a major impact on the game whilst playing across half-forward and pushing up the ground to stoppages. He was one of Port’s best on the day and should be an option for your forward line.
Connor Rozee, FWD, $567k
Rozee was taken off at half time due to a little ankle tweak. It doesn’t sound serious but he also probably should make his way off your watchlist. He was pretty quiet in the first half and had just two CBAs, even with Ken spinning the magnets. I don’t see a big enough role change for him to be a starting squad consideration.
Oli Wines, MID, $938k
The Brownlow medallist was clearly the number 1 mid for the first three quarters. Should be an uber-premium again in 2022 and will be a super unique starting option.
Josh Sinn, DEF/MID, $268k
The Power’s top pick should be firming for a round 1 debut after today. He has a lethal boot on him and looked to use it offensively at almost every opportunity. Also drifted forward late to kick a nice set-shot goal.
Sam Hayes, RUCK, $190k
If Sam Hayes wasn’t already a relevant fantasy name for 2022, he should be after today. Scott Lycett was unable to finish the game after suffering an ankle injury. If he’s out for the start of the season, then Hayes could be the super-cheap R2 option we’ve been looking for (unless Shane Mumford somehow comes out of retirement again and gets picked up by Port). Hayes should be a big chance for your R3 in any case.
Jackson Mead, MID, $190k
It was hard to tell exactly when Mead came onto the ground but he was certainly more involved in the 2nd half. He ran hard and did a few nice things. Not sure he’ll force his way in for round 1 at this stage but he’ll have a strong chance of playing games in 2022.
Sam Skinner, DEF/FWD, $190k
Didn’t enter the fray until late in the third quarter. Doubt he plays round 1 at this rate.
Lachie Jones, DEF, $368k
There’s been some chatter about Jones playing as a mid. If he didn’t attend a centre bounce today, he never will. Put a line through him as an option.
Ryan Burton, DEF, $616k
I really like Burton as a player and he quietly finished last season with an 89 average in his last five games. His role did look quite fantasy friendly today and he took a couple of kick-ins. Not sure he’ll enter premium defender territory but there’s some “meat on the bone” there (as Cal would say) and I reckon you can bump him up your draft order a touch.
That’s it for the review of this scintillating match. The AFL season is all downhill from here!
Hope you got something out of it anyway.