|Draft range||1st or 2nd RUC|
Why should I pick him?
After taking a massive leap in production last year, Tim English enters the season as the best fantasy ruckman in the comp. Some prefer the value Rowan Marshall presents, some coaches are even rocking both in their starting ruck rotation. However, there’s no doubt that his 2022 production gave us an insight into what we can expect from English for years to come.
At 25 years old, the ascending Bulldog is just getting rolling. He finished last year with the 2nd best points average for ruckmen, narrowly losing the crown to Max Gawn and we all know about the injury issues that derailed English’s season. Being restricted to just 15 games saw him end the fantasy campaign behind the likes of Oscar McInerney and Todd Goldstein for total points – finishing as the 11th best RUC. Even though he wasn’t able to hit the park every week, English still made his presence felt when he was in Dogs colours, recording 10 triple-figure scores and emerging as one of the best fantasy players on offer.
What helps English’s scoring rate is his ability to amass stats outside of hitouts. In 2022, there were 13 other ruckmen who averaged more hitouts than the Dogs’ go-to-tall, but he trailed on Gawn for disposals (18.1) and marks per game (5.4) out of every ruckman in the AFL. There’s no reason why English won’t, at worst, maintain those averages again this season, with a realistic chance he enhances those stats and pushes his average north of 110. The presence of Rory Lobb and potentially Jordan Sweet at times could impact the scores we see English produce, but in my eyes, he’s proven that he can still accumulate even when he’s not at the starting bounce.
Ruckmen usually take a few years longer to develop compared to their shorter footy peers, and as he gears up for his 7th year in the AFL, it’s appropriate to think we could witness the best season of English’s career in 2023. He has a long way to go to reach this comparison, but watching him play reminds me of former Eagle Dean Cox, another player who impacted the game in multiple facets – racking up possessions for fun and producing some eye-popping fantasy scores along the way. I can see a world where English chalks up 20+ touches a game in the upcoming season, and we look back on this year as the start of his tenure atop the AFL Fantasy ruckman depth chart.
Why shouldn’t I pick him?
The fact that Tim English hasn’t been able to play a full season since arriving at the Kennel is worth acknowledging. Making matters worse, concussion issues have been prevalent throughout his career so far, and you can imagine the AFL will only get stricter when it comes to the criteria a player must meet before returning from a head knock. A hamstring was the reason that English missed a month of footy last April and when you’re investing in a player worth over $900K, you want to be able to trust them to feature on a weekly basis.
English also enters the new season as the most expensive ruckman in fantasy. While that won’t have an impact on Draft leagues, those coaches who are purely motivated by chasing a shiny new Toyota may want to deploy their cash elsewhere. Starting Rowan Marshall over English will save you close to $100K, with Jarrod Witts ($100K cheaper), Darcy Cameron ($176K cheaper), Scott Lycett ($279K cheaper) or even Sam Draper ($377K cheaper!!) other options that free up a ton of cash. Having those $$$ up your sleeve and waiting for the right time to pounce on English is a move that has merit, especially following Rory Lobb’s arrival at Footscray.
While he’ll be primarily used as a forward, Lobb did a serviceable job playing second fiddle to Sean Darcy last year at Freo. He averaged seven hitouts a game to go with a career-best haul of 36 goals and he’ll now look to play a similar role with the Dogs. Lobb won’t eat significantly into the ruck workload, but he isn’t the only threat to English’s throne. Jordan Sweet stepped up and became R1 for the Bulldogs as English struggled to stay fit, scoring a decent 61.3 points from 6 games. With his deal set to expire at the end of 2023, I could see the Bulldogs throwing Sweet a bone and giving him a few games, perhaps even with English still in the lineup – it happened twice last season.
Every fantasy coach expects Tim English to finish as one of the top 2/3 fantasy rucks in the game this season, but can he replicate his 100+ average? There’s value to be had in the ruck department, and with a lot of coaches adopting a ‘set and forget’ strategy with Rowan Marshall and English, it might be wise to go against the norm.
Deck of DT Rating.
I feel comfortable saying that Tim English will average more points than any other ruckman this season. That doesn’t mean he’ll score more points than any ruck, with his durability a slight concern. Still, English is only 85 games into his career and hasn’t quite mastered his ruck craft yet. It would be foolish to expect him to go backwards providing he has a clean bill of health and Rory Lobb wasn’t recruited to eat into English’s ruck load. He starting at R1 for me and I’m confident he can average over 20 disposals and 105 fantasy points in season 2023.
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