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Deck of Dream Team

Toby McLean – Deck of Dream Team 2023

DC from Hat Chat looks at the value FWD pick of the year.

Player Toby McLean
Club Western Bulldogs
Position MID/FWD
Price $401,000
Bye 15
2022 avg DNP
2022 gms DNP
Proj. avg 81
Draft range 9th-12th round

Click here for 2023 Fantasy Classic prices.

Why should I pick him?

The year was 2018. Toby McLean had just rattled off fantasy scores of 110, 103, 91, 109, 87, 143, 109, 101, 152, and 89 between rounds 2 and 11. He was well on the way to becoming the Bulldogs’ next midfield pig with his 10 game average of 109.4.

Life was good for Toby.

Then some wavvy-haired, surfer dude, who apparently was his coach, decided that he wanted to change something up in the midfield, because “that would just be totally rad man!”. 

The one they call “Bevo” moved some bloke named “Josh Dunkley” into Toby’s spot in the guts. He then seemingly forgot he pulled that move because he kept getting distracted by his own biceps. 

Toby was banished to the forward line and has never reached the lofty heights of fantasy premium scoring again. 

By the way, what even happened to that “Josh Dunkley” guy?

Bevo loves surfing. And haunting the dreams of fantasy coaches.

Bevo loves surfing. And haunting the dreams of fantasy coaches.

Since playing 22 games in that 2018 season, McLean has played just 34 games in four seasons. Eighteen of them were in 2019, when he regressed to a 68 point average. The last two seasons he’s managed just 3 games and 1 game, after suffering back-to-back ACL ruptures on his right knee. All this means that he comes into season 2023 priced ridiculously cheaply at $401k. That’s the equivalent of a 45 average. Even when he’s been “Bevo’d” in the past, he’s still surpassed that average by 20+ points. But there is hope this season that he might return to the 2018 glory days in the midfield. Dunkley has headed north and Treloar is made of tissue-paper. There are midfield minutes waiting to he gobbled up by a defensive-minded mid.

So let’s sum up:

Toby is available as a forward. He’s priced under 50. He tonned up in the elimination final in 2022. There are midfield spots available. Every decent coach will start him. Why would you not pick him?

Why shouldn’t I pick him?

*Insert story above about Bevo being Bevo here*

Just because it seems logical that a hard-tackling mid should be replaced by a hard-tackling mid, does not mean that surfer-bicep-boy will do the obvious. We’ve already heard that he’s trialing Caleb “Small Potato” Daniel in the midfield during match simulation. Is this a hint that Toby is not at the front of the queue for mid time?

Whilst he’s cheap regardless of role, a 60-70 average if he gets stuck forward would be far from a home-run starting pick. It’s very likely that you could pick a rookie priced player who could produce a 55-65 average, whilst being about half the price. If that forward role happens, then you’ll be wanting to jump off Toby in the first 6 weeks or so of the season. That wouldn’t be an ideal scenario.

Finally, if you’ll allow me to put my sport-scientist hat on, the other major issue for any player returning from back-to-back ACL rehabilitations is the risk of re-injury. Roughly 25% of athletes who return to their sport following an ACL injury will suffer another ACL tear, either on the same leg or the other leg. The risk is substantially higher than for a player who hasn’t done an ACL. Toby has already done two ACLs. A third is not statistically unlikely.

It’s an important red flag at the very least.

Deck of DT Rating.


Let’s be honest. If you’re a big enough AFL Fantasy fan that you’ve read this entire article, then there’s a pretty good chance that Toby McLean is already in your starting squad. Every year there are some blatantly obvious mid-price options. Last year it was Sicily, Hewett and Brodie. This year Toby seems to be one of them. There’s guaranteed upside and minimal risk with the 31% ownership (at time of writing). Don’t overthink it. Just pick him and hope he lasts the first 10 weeks or so. Anything else is an absolute bonus.

Catch more from DC and the Hat Chat lads via their Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

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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