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The AFL Fantasy Team of the Decade

10 years of AFL Fantasy calls for a Team of the Decade.

We’ve reached the end of 2023. It’s been 10 years since AFL Fantasy became its own platform and split away from its Dream Team beginnings for the 2014 season. Might even be a good time to check on the ‘Your History’ tab on the site to look back on your 10 years of rankings! I thought I’d reflect on the best fantasy performers and build a Team of the Decade.

The selection method:

  1. Player positions were added to each match from 2014-2023. 2020 scores were adjusted 1.25x for shorter quarters.
  2. Statistics were summarised for each player in each position: games with position, total points, and average points.
  3. For each position, players were ranked for their total points and average, with their position ranking determined by adding the two ranks together.

For example, Max Gawn scored 17988 total points (3rd for rucks) and averaged 102.2 (best for rucks), giving him a total score of 3 + 1 = 4. Lowest scores make the team! This should give an even balance between the superstar players with high averages and also the consistent performers across all 10 seasons.

Let’s see who came out on top! Note that games played only represent matches where player had their named position status (includes mid-season DPP additions).

Defenders

Sam Docherty
14920 points at 98.8 (153 games as DEF)
D1 fittingly belongs to Doch who redefined the defender line in Fantasy. He averaged 101 in 2016 and backed it up with the best season by a defender averaging 116.6 in 2017. Who can forget that mid-year stretch where he averaged 130 over 13 weeks?! Unfortunately two ACL injuries wiped out his 2018 & 2019 seasons but is still good enough to earn top spot.

Rory Laird
15125 points at 96.3 (157 games as DEF)
Rory Laird is a true set-and-forget star of the decade. He held DEF status for 8 years between 2014 and 2021. Laird was a top-6 defender in 7 seasons! Moved into the midfield full time in 2021 and hasn’t stopped – a top-8 midfielder in 2022 and 2023, and broke all records with 10 consecutive scores of 119+ last year. 9 years of the decade as a best-22 fantasy player (Merrett 7) is a ridiculous feat.

Jake Lloyd
14420 points at 98.8 (146 games as DEF)
Lloyd started with wing and forward time, but found his home in defence. The benefit was us fantasy coaches as he averaged 98.8 over 7 years. Lloyd was a top 6 defender four seasons in a row from 2018 to 2021 and plays one of the most fun to watch fantasy roles in the game. Seeing Doch, Laird and Lloyd together brings back so many good memories.

Kade Simpson
12801 points at 90.1 (142 games as DEF)
A lot of Kade Simpson’s career came before 2014, including 8 years averaging 80+ and a career high 101.3 in 2010. Yet his numbers from 2014 onwards stack up to be D4, named top-6 in 2016, 2017 and 2018. A 90.1 average over the back-end of his career is an impressive feat, particularly in conjuction with Docherty in defence.

Jack Crisp
10586 points at 95.3 (111 games as DEF)
Despite only starting with DEF status in 5 of the 10 seasons, Jack Crisp rounds out the bench. Crisp was a top 6 defender in three consecutive years: 2019, 2020, and 2021. Mr Reliable has played 214 games in a row without missing, and is 1 of 7 players to average 82+ in all 10 seasons!

Tom Stewart
11856 points at 88.5 (134 games as DEF)
Recently, Stewart is known for his massive ceiling scores but low floor scores in Fantasy, but his mature-age career has been great for us. 5 consecutive seasons from 2019-2023 with a 90+ average playing most games. Two-time top-6 defender in 2019 and 2020, and is (surprisingly) still chasing that elusive 100+ season average.

Bachar Houli
11205 points at 88.2 (8 seasons as DEF)
Houli finished two times as a top-6 defender this decade in 2015 and 2019. The 2019 premiership year was his career best with a 102.8 average where he scored 113+ in 9 matches. A consistent performer especially in earlier seasons.

Heath Shaw
12295 points at 86.0 (143 games as DEF)
Heath Shaw’s decade only includes his time at GWS, where he played 143 H&A games. Ranked 11th for total points for defenders, Shaw makes it with his 86 average significantly higher than stalwarts Shannon Hurn (80.7), Brodie Smith (80.1) and Zach Tuohy (74.2). Top 6 DEF in 2015 & 2016.

Midfielders

The midfield is the most consistent position, with coaches wanting full time midfielders in their teams. 9 of the 10 midfielders were listed in every year of the decade.

Jack Macrae (C)
21978 points at 107.2 (205 games as MID)
Consistency is what you get with Jack Macrae. It’s why he is so commonly the first player we pick each year. Macrae has scored 125 tons in 205 H&A games, which is the most by any player this decade. Macrae is the best ranked player across total points (#1) and average (#2) for the entire competition, so he is granted the captaincy.

Zach Merrett (VC)
19568 points at 109.9 (178 games as MID)
Merrett is a fantasy favourite and with a 109.9 average in the midfield, it’s easy to see why. Started as a FWD for two seasons so only 8 seasons counting as a MID, with him being a top 8 MID in 7 seasons. Gets VC duties being the 2nd best player ranked overall (first two seasons as a FWD only).

Lachie Neale
21103 points at 101.9 (207 games as MID)
The dual-Brownlow medallist has enjoyed a consistent career at Fremantle and Brisbane. Neale has finished as a top-8 mid three times, and averaged 100+ in 7/10 seasons. A 101.9 decade average is fitting as Neale tends to be in the low 100 averages each year, although in the shorter quarters of 2020, Neale dominated the game and averaged 122.3 (adjusted).

Tom Mitchell
18802 points at 109.3 (173 games as MID)
The fantasy pig certainly deserved his snout as the highest averaging player overall this decade. In 2017 he broke the total points record averaging 127.2 but went one better and broke it the next year again averaging 129.2. These season records still stand despite an extra game in 2023 – pure piggery.

Adam Treloar
18908 points at 105.0 (180 games as MID)
Treloar is a 4-time best 22 player and is unlucky to not have more. Averaged at least 107 in his five seasons at the Pies, after putting up a two 104 averaging seasons at the Giants. Had an inconsistent role at the Bulldogs, but was a top-6 FWD in 2022 and back to his 105 best in 2023.

Scott Pendlebury
19832 points at 100.2 (198 games as MID)
‘Dependlebury’ broke the all time Fantasy points record in 2023 and now sits at 37790 points (2037 points higher than Brent Harvey). Pendlebury has a career average of 98.7 and shares the record with Gary Ablett Jr with 10x 100+ seasons. The scary thing is that 3 of Pendlebury’s 110 seasons came before this decade. He is a certified Fantasy legend and is a chance to break 40,000 total points in 2024.

Patrick Dangerfield
19319 points at 101.1 (191 games as MID)
Danger’s prime was as good as you will see from a fantasy perspective. His first year at the Cats gave a Brownlow and a 118 average, and followed it up with a 120.5 average in 2017. He added his 3rd best-22 season in 2019 with a 107 average as a FWD. Fantasy royalty especially if you consider his 2012/13 seasons.

Marcus Bontempelli
20347 points at 99.7 (204 games as MID)
Bont has been in and around our teams over the decade but finally reached his full fantasy potential in 2023 averaging 117, which was his first season as a top 8 MID. He played 204 of 216 matches and makes it on field being the 4th ranked midfielder for total points. A couple of handy seasons with FWD status added too.

Luke Parker
20960 points at 99.3 (211 games as MID)
Parker has played more H&A games than anyone over the decade, featuring in 211 of a possible 216. He’s been a top-8 mid just once, but in 2014 he was a FWD/MID – 103.2 average and best FWD for total points good enough to be top-6. Also gained FWD status in 2022 with a 98 average. His midfield averages have been close to 100 in every year, but is usually just short of triple figures.

Clayton Oliver
16040 points at 105.5 (152 games as MID)
Oliver has been a fantasy superstar for his entire career. A 105.5 career average is currently the second highest in history behind Tom Mitchell. Hasn’t played as many games as the rest of the midfield but has finished as a top-8 midfielder in 4 seasons.

Rucks

Max Gawn
17988 points at 102.2 (176 games as RUC)
Brodie Grundy
18104 points at 101.1 (179 games as RUC)
Gawndy formed the famous set-and-forget duo which defined this decade. Even in 2024 many coaches are considering it again, showing their everlasting class. Both players have very even statistics, but ironically Gawn has overtaken Grundy in both match selection and the fantasy world this year. Gawn ranks #1 for ruck average and #3 for total points while Grundy is #2 for both average and total points. Both have been top-2 rucks 6 times each. Gawn gets the nod at R1 due to his superior average and 4 extra fantasy tons in 3 less games. Grundy was snouted in 2019 after back-to-back years averaging 120+ and deserves another massive in 2024 as a solo ruck at Sydney.

Todd Goldstein
18522 points at 89.5 (207 games as RUC)
Goldstein has been the consistent performer of the decade ranking #1 for total points for rucks. Was a top-2 ruck just once in 2015 averaging 113.9. Played 207 of 216 possible H&A games but simply in an unlucky era with two 100+ averaging rucks at the same time! Stefan Martin is unlucky to miss out, with his #5 average/#5 total points just behind Goldy at #8 average/#1 total points.

Forwards

Our forward lines change a lot with many players eventually graduating into our midfields, but there have been a few elite ones that have stuck around!

Dustin Martin
13474 points at 95.6 (141 games as FWD)
We don’t often get superstars like Dustin Martin with FWD status. He’s spent 7 seasons as a FWD and was top 6 in four of those years. Maybe he could add another one in 2024? Dusty’s start to the decade was immense averaging 102.8 as a FWD across 2014/15/16. Dusty was MID only in his award-winning 2017 season for a 113.6 average.

Josh Dunkley
10848 points at 100.4 (108 games as FWD)
Dunkley is a fantasy favourite. Broke onto the scene in 2016 with a 80.6 average in his rookie season and steadily improved. His 2019 season yielded a 111 average from 22 games as a MID/FWD despite only playing midfield from Round 7. He averaged a massive 124 over the final 16 games of the year. Recently, Dunkley has been a popular F1 and finished as a top-6 FWD for the 5th time in 2023.

Dayne Zorko
10294 points at 96.2 (107 games as FWD)
Zorko only started with FWD status in 5 of 10 years, but he made it count. He also posted a 114 average in 2017 as a MID only which isn’t included in his stats here! Zorko has finished twice as a top-6 FWD and once as a top-8 MID.

Toby Greene
11878 points at 86.7 (137 games as FWD)
While his 96 averaging debut season isn’t in the AFL Fantasy decade, it showed us that Toby Greene would be a star player. He put up respectable numbers for a FWD, but has missed a lot of games throughout his career. Was a top 6 FWD in 2019. His 86.7 forward average could be 88.1 but he started 2014/15 with MID status only.

Justin Westhoff
12145 points at 85.5 (142 games as FWD)
He’s probably not someone you expected to be here, but Westhoff’s fantasy career was pretty underrated. Averaged 102 in 2018 with MID/FWD status, a year where he played everywhere – wing, ruck, and forward. Westhoff played 22 games each year between 2014 and 2018 averaging 89. A keeper league dream!

Robbie Gray
13576 points at 83.2 (163 games as FWD)
Gray started the decade as a top-6 FWD in 2014 with a 96.3 average. He improved on that with 96.8 and 97.6 in subsequent years but narrowly missed out on top-6 as Fantasy legends like Dane Swan, Tom Mitchell and Zach Merrett held FWD status. 7th for FWD total points.

Isaac Heeney
13339 points at 83.9 (159 games as FWD)
Heeney has been a valuable player in our FWD lines over the last few years. Arguably hasn’t reached his superstar potential from a fantasy perspective but importantly he has maintained his FWD status. Heeney is 12th for total points in the FWD line this decade.

Devon Smith
11470 points at 84.3 (136 games as FWD)
Devon Smith held FWD status for 8 seasons with stints in the midfield which is exactly what we love in Fantasy. Finished as the #1 FWD in 2018 over Westhoff with a 106.6 season average highlighted by a 8.45 tackles per game average. Smith dropped off in his final two seasons but was averaging 90.1 as a FWD prior.

Utility

The utility position isn’t as easy as the other positions, but I’ve decided to stay consistent with the methodology and pick the best player available. Ranking all players regardless of position, we get Andrew Gaff, ranked 8th for total points (6th for MIDs) and 36th for average (34th for MIDs). He was a reliable pick playing 94% (203/216) of possible H&A games with just two of those missed games outside his 2018/19 suspension and 2022 injury. Gaff was a top-8 mid in 2018 & 2019 where he averaged 110+ in both years, and is 1 of 11 players (all in this team) to score 100 100s in the decade.

 

 

Started playing Dream Team as soon as I was old enough to use a computer! Growing up in the Fantasy mindset inspired my passion for statistics, so now with a degree, I provide new metrics and unique insights into the game. Follow me on Twitter as I dive into new content for AFL Fantasy.

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Nicholas
Nicholas
3 months ago

Jaiden must have started New Years drinks early. This team makes Cal’s team look like pigs. Kade Simpson? Devon Smith? Dusty at F1?!?! Bruh, drink up, it’s a party day, but put the pc down till you’re sober. :)

PowerAde
PowerAde
3 months ago
Reply to  Nicholas

numbers don’t lie

Euman
Member
3 months ago

Cheers mate great read

Peter plaisted
Peter plaisted
3 months ago

What about Shuey

Max
Max
3 months ago

Love the effort.
Surprised no room for Whitfield. Thought most his work was done in the backline and looks to have a raw average higher than most of the backs.

Year Games Average
2013 19 71.1
2014 11 79.2
2015 21 83.2
2016 19 83.5
2017 15 97.9
2018 22 100.1
2019 16 113.8
2020 17 86.4
2021 15 94.8
2022 18 90.8
2023 21 94.7




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