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Deck of Dream Team

Zach Merrett – Deck of DT 2024

Warnie names up the best player of the last decade.

Player Zach Merrett
Club Essendon
Position MID
Price $1,019,000
Bye 0 & 14
2022 avg 112.9
2022 gms 22
Proj. avg 113
Draft range Top 4

Click here for 2024 Fantasy Classic prices.

Why should I pick him?

Merrett is the best Fantasy player of the last decade.

This isn’t my red-and-black glasses seeing things differently, these are cold, hard facts. Merrett has missed just 14 games since debuting in 2014. In his second season he averaged 90.4 … what a second year breakout! Oh, it was better in his third … 117.7! That is a career-high average. Just step back and have a think about that!

Since then he backed it up with another 117 average and has maintained an average of 107+ in every season but one (2018’s 101.4). The bloke is a machine. Reliable in Draft and almost always a top 8 midfielder.

Essendon’s captain turned 28 in the off-season and has been a first choice midfielder for sometime now. He and Darcy Parish are the mainstays for CBAs – even though there has been some flirting with other roles at times (especially to avoid a tag).

The big factors that make Merrett a possible starter for your Classic team is being a captain option, the shift to a more ‘Guns n Rookies’ structure due to the best 18 for the early byes and of course, the Bombers have the Opening Round bye and therefore will have all 23 games counting this year. Playing that extra game and the preferred strategy being to take Opening Round bye premiums, coaches will be looking to the big boys to help get their team off to a big start. The idea of trying to get bulk points in those first six rounds off the back of having more premiums in your team could pay off with a couple of good match ups for the Dons. Hawks, Saints and Dogs should be decent games with Crows an interesting one, but the Swans and Port, based off last year, might be harder.

In Draft, due to his durability, Merrett should be taken super-early. I think English is likely to be the consensus No.1 pick with the possibility of Marshall being next. Midfielders will dominate the early selections. I think Bont will be the first MID off the board, but I’ve get Merrett right up there with him. He’s ahead of Oliver and Dawson who averaged more than him last season.

AFL 2021: Zach Merrett contract, Essendon trade news, free agent, Port Adelaide, Carlton, Hawthorn, Melbourne, Collingwood

Why shouldn’t I pick him?

Even with this different year of playing Classic, paying top price for a player is still something to avoid. Merrett’s 113 average was his only his second best return since 2017’s 117 (in 2020 he average 92.5 but due to shorter Covid quarters, this was adjusted to 115). The nature of the magic number means that unless he beats that 113 by a fair bit, he’s dropping coin.

This is totally relevant to why you wouldn’t pick him, but it may not be as important as it would be in a ‘normal’ season.

Unfortunately Merrett cops attention from time-to-time. Could he cop Finn Maginness in round one? That would be a disaster for a million dollar midfielder. In round one last year, Finn went to him and held him to 29 points in the first half before the tag was broken… 78 points followed to finish on 107. A couple of other notable tags came last year with Mark O’Connor holding him to 80 while North had Kayne Turner on him in round 22 that saw him move forward to try to break it for 90 points.

Tags aren’t always there, but when they do come it affects things … such as role.

Merrett can sometimes get flicked forward or back in order to break the tag… but it is also something that may come off the back of development of players and the Dons’, dare it say it, stacked midfield. In an interview before Christmas, Merrett said that the experienced midfielders will need to make room for the younger kids coming through. Elijah Tsatas was named up, but there were a few that got their shot in there behind Merrett and Parish. You’d think we will see more from Hobbs, Caldwell and Perkins but don’t forget Setterfield and Shiel who also racked up a few CBAs. Let’s not forget Duursma and Gresham were traded in as well.

Deck of DT Rating.


Merrett is a gun and he will be a top midfielder (top couple… 110+ average). But whether he’s a starter or an upgrade target will be a big question to ask yourself. In a normal season, I would consider him as an upgrade target in Classic. But with that extra game and the way we want to get those big points from our premiums/midfielders in those first half-a-dozen rounds, he’s a genuine play. It all depends on if you’re keen to take on the Finn tag in round one. That’s my biggest issue now. I was pretty bullish on starting him, but that has me running scared. In Draft, he’s going at 3 for me … showing my hand a bit here for my league mates, but English, Marshall and Merrett is the way I’d go!

Co-captain of DT Talk since we started this thing in 2007. Best finish was 13th in 2009... that was a long time ago. Follow on Twitter: @WarnieDT

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1 month ago

lock throw away the key

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