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Why should I pick him?
Every season there are a few players in AFL fantasy classic who turn heads, not because they’re point scoring machines, but because they’re so discounted that you can’t possibly help but be interested.
This season, one of them is undoubtedly Nick Coffield.
Nick hasn’t played an AFL game since 2021 due to an ACL rupture and then recurrent soft-tissue issues. It means he comes in at just $358k (priced at 39.7) for the 2024 season. We’re talking about a top-10 draft pick, who has been in the system for 6 years, and is priced only slightly above the 2023 draftees. To put it into context, he’s cheaper than renowned AFL fantasy studs Esava Ratugolea, Jed Bews, Nick Murray and Rhyan Mansell…
Coffield’s best fantasy year was the shortened 2020 season, where he averaged 62.1 (77.6 adjusted) from 16 of a possible 17 games. However, his scoring regressed to a 61.1 average in 2021. It was hugely disappointing if you took the punt on him making another jump that year, but in 2024 a return to a 61 average would still give you 21 points of upside!
Coffield did play 4 VFL games at the end of 2023. He posted very encouraging scores of 107, 65, 93, and 72. If he gets to anywhere near that output in the AFL in 2024, then everyone is going to want to own him from the start because his price will sky-rocket faster than airfares during covid.
After a torrid couple of years largely spent on the sidelines at St Kilda, Coffield made the move to the Bulldogs in the off-season. It’s difficult to know whether his injury fortunes will improve drastically at the Dogs but he is no-longer stuck behind names like Wilkie, Wanganeen-Milera, Windhager, Stocker, Webster, and Paton, who all played a significant number of games as medium-tall defenders for the Saints in 2023. Even though the dogs have a few gun fantasy defenders themselves (Dale, Richards and potentially Caleb “small potato” Daniel), the rest of their medium defensive stocks look easier to displace. Jason Johannisen enjoyed a fantasy renaissance last year, but he is also 31 and his hamstrings are about as robust as an elastic band pulled from a freezer. Taylor Duryea was another mainstay last season but he is 32 and must be nearing the end. Hayden Crozier also retired after being delisted by the dogs.
The bottom line is that if Coffield can stay fit and find some consistent pre-season form, there are potential spots up for grabs in the Bulldogs backline. At 191cm, with the ability to play small or tall, his versatility should also help his cause.
Coffield is 358k, with no early bye, and an opportunity to impress at a new, fantasy-friendly club. There’s a lot to like!
Why shouldn’t I pick him?
If the most obvious reason to pick Nick Coffield is because he hasn’t played in two seasons, then the most obvious reason not to pick Nick Coffield…. is because he hasn’t played in two seasons.
We really don’t know what his return is going to look like. Will he even remember how to football? Could he be dropped early before he locks in a best 22 spot? Is he going to reinjure himself and burn everyone who owns him? These are all distinct possibilities, which means there is considerable risk. The risk would definitely be worth taking if Coffield was a bonafide fantasy jet. Remember 2021, when everyone said you couldn’t pick Aaron hall because he was injury prone? He averaged 109 from 20 games and was the best trade-in of the year.
Unfortunately, Nick Coffield hasn’t shown an elite fantasy pedigree during his time in the game. The risk is there but the massive pay-off probably won’t be. It doesn’t mean he won’t be a good pick, but it probably means he won’t be a key factor in someone winning a car.
If Coffield does produce a 60 average over the first 6 weeks or so, then you may be better-off starting an extra defensive rookie (if available) and saving yourself $50-$150k. It’s particularly relevant this season, where rounds 2,3,5, and 6 will see your worst four scores dropping off. You don’t want Coffield to be in that group, otherwise a cheaper option makes more sense.
We also have a few cheap defenders with upside this year. Zac Williams ($442k), Heath Chapman ($494k), and the returning Marty Hore ($307k) could all end up being better picks than Coffield if things fall their way. You probably can’t start all of them, so you may need to be selective at round 1. It wouldn’t surprise if Coffield gets squeezed out of a lot of teams if Williams and particularly Hore put up good scores in the opening round prior to the fantasy season kicking off.
Deck of DT Rating.
If Nick Coffield can put his injury troubles behind him (no…not a complete groin relocation Calvin), and break into the Dogs best 22 for round 1, then he presents us with a very cheap defensive option, who probably should average more than most rookies. However, all coaches need to ask themselves whether there are defensive rookies who will make more cash than Coffield, or mid-priced alternatives that will score substantially more. If the answer ends up being “no”, then I see Coffield being a feature in many round 1 teams, sitting at either D5 or D6.