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Deck of Dream Team

Jack Steele – Deck of DT 2024

Strap yourselves in for a great read from DC.

Player Jack Steele
Club St Kilda
Position MID
Price $884,000
Bye 0 & 15
2023 avg 97.9
2023 gms 20
Proj. avg 109
Draft range 18-30

Click here for 2024 Fantasy Classic prices.

Why should I pick him?

Jack and I have had a love/hate relationship over the years. In 2020, he was one of my best starters as he shed the tagger moniker and became a bona fide premium midfielder, averaging 90.9 (113.6 adjusted) in the shortened corona-ball year.

I then faded him in 2021, thinking he didn’t represent value as a starting pick. He made me look like an absolute imbecile as he bashed out a ridiculous 121.4 average and finished the season as the best player in the game, alongside Touk Miller. Interestingly, both of those players have followed a similar trajectory in fantasy since. Steele backed up his career year with another top 4 mid season (110.4) in 2022 before sliding back to a 97.9 average last season. It was a frustrating year for Jack but also for the many coaches that owned him during his rollercoaster season.

Those season averages are probably the biggest reason why every coach should be considering Jack Steele as a starting option in 2024. He’s priced 12 points cheaper than his 2022 season, which was the worst of his three year run. At his best, he’s a walk-up 105+ averaging mid and has shown the capacity to be the best player in the game. He’s priced under 100 folks!

Typically, I don’t love “look-at-his-previous-seasons!” as a standalone argument for picking someone, but Steele had some excuses for his fantasy output in 2023. He fractured his collarbone late in the round 2 game against the Bulldogs, but miraculously returned by round 6. It seemed a quick turnaround at the time, but then it was compounded with a medial collateral ligament strain, and some niggling achilles soreness as well. He played through it all but looked less like the Man-of-Steele and more like a wounded-wildebeest at times. It was also announced post-season, that Steele would have surgery to rectify an ankle issue that he had dealt with for the second-half of the season. It’s safe to say Jack was banged-up in 2023.

His time on ground percentage appeared to suffer as a consequence, dropping to 79% across the season. His four previous seasons read 85.1%, 85%, 85.5%, and 84.3%. At the risk of cherry picking stats, Jack averaged 118.7 when he had over 80% TOG (7 games) in 2023. Five of those games came in the last 8 rounds as he returned closer to his best form. He also scored 114 from 86% TOG in the elimination final loss to the Giants.

Personally, I think he will return to that high TOG role in the St Kilda midfield in 2024. The Saints need him to. He’s the skipper and has been their best-player over the last four or five years. Apart from Brad Crouch, no other Saints player has locked a spot in the starting midfield. 

  • Seb Ross is aging and has had injury issues. His days of winning coaches Hiluxes are well behind him.
  • Zak Jones and Hunter Clark are both about as lucky as a black cat breaking a mirror under a ladder and are probably unlikely to be a major factor.
  • Gresham has gone and Sinclair is more damaging in space off half-back.
  • Windhager, Phillipou and Owens are the next generation and may get more opportunity, but they’re certainly not going to kick the skipper out of the guts this year.
  • Paddy Dow has arrived and may be a factor but the jury is still out on him at AFL level even after 6 years in the system. Plus he has the Dossy Curse on him.

It’s got to be Steele as the number 1 man in the middle doesn’t it?

The final big argument for why you should pick Jack Steele, is because he avoids the early bye rounds. This is vital if you’re going to be hat-hunting in 2024. Limiting rookie scores in rounds 2,3,5 and 6 could play a big role in determining which teams set the pace early in the season. Although those rounds will only have the best 18 scores counting, it’s likely that players 19-22 will be rookies. If you’re benching non-playing premiums for a rookie on field, then you’re potentially trading a 100+ score for a 50 or 60. For that reason, I’m surprised that Jack currently only has 12% ownership, while Sam Walsh (34%) and Touk Miller (22%) are substantially more popular despite the fact they’ll play one less game. 

Remember, the team with the most total points at the end of the season wins the car. Averages only count for so much.

AFL 2021: Jack Steele named St Kilda Saints co-captain alongside Jarryn Geary | The West Australian

Why shouldn’t I pick him?

Unfortunately, Steele was one of the major reasons my 2023 season went from bad to worse in the middle of the year. I picked him up after his 128 in round 7. He was two games back from injury and seemed to be hitting his straps again. Instead, he then went on a run where he scored just one ton in his next 6 games. It was an absolute season-killer after I’d paid over $900k for him to be my unique midfield option. He won back some credits with a 115-averaging 6 game stretch from rounds 15-20 but the damage had already been done. To put it in perspective, he produced 6 scores under 80 in 2023. From 2020-22, he put up just 7, and 4 of those were in the covid year!

Clearly, injuries played a part in 2023 but if he starts the new season slowly then you may need to jump sideways quickly. The second reason that you should consider fading Steele is the coach. Just as he was returning to top fantasy form, Ross the Boss sent Steele to Patty Cripps in round 21 to play a tagging role. Despite 10 tackles, he produced an awful 59 points from just 11 touches. Cripps still had 11 clearances in the match as the Blues won. Hopefully the return to tagging was just a one-off experiment, but who knows with Ross. 

Finally, the post-season ankle surgery was obviously fairly significant for Jack, with the Saints announcing on their website on December 8th that he would only return to the main group after the Christmas break. It’s not a major cause for concern with so much of the pre-season left, but it’s definitely worth monitoring in case he has more interruptions.

Deck of DT Rating.


Ultimately, the decision whether or not to start Jack Steele in 2024 rests on whether you think his 2023 season was an anomaly due to injury or whether it will be his new normal going forward under Ross Lyon. Pending full-fitness, I can’t see a world where Steele doesn’t bounce back to a 100+ average at an absolute minimum. Personally, I’m bullish on him returning to the top 8 mids as well. Please don’t hurt me again, Jack.

Follow DC on X @DCCaterpillars and also @HatChatAFL.

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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3 months ago

Like it DC a lock for me

3 months ago

Has to be, doesn’t he?

I don’t know any other player who can bust his shoulder and then soldier on for a century. As reliable as they come and a bona fide uber premium worthy of being a set and forget Captain.

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