|3 & 14
Why should I pick him?
Sam Flanders showed last year what we’ve known for awhile, when given a full-time midfield role he is a fantasy goldmine.
While it was frustrating watching Dew squander him across the half forward line early on it has become a silver lining this year as it has given him Forward eligibility and made him cheaper than he otherwise would have been.
Flanders comes into this year priced at an average of 89.5, while i’m not usually a fan of saying ‘if you take away these bad scores then he actually averaged…’ in this case I believe there’s a clear delineation.
Until round 17, Sam Flanders had played 7 games during the season, with more time spent in the VFL. In the games he played he was down the pecking order for the midfield rotations and spent time on the wing and across half forward averaging 66.57.
Then things changed, round 17 marked the end of Stuart Dew’s time at Gold Coast, Steven King took over and Sam Flanders was given more centre bounce attendances. Flanders scored 120 in round 18 and continued seeing the same midfield minutes for the rest of the season. For the last 7 games of the season, Flanders averaged 112.5. During this period, Flanders lowest score was 90 with his biggest coming in the last game with a whopping 146!
In short, this means we’re getting a midfielder, capable of averaging 112, selectable as a FWD at a price that’s essentially $200k cheaper.
Just to reiterate (or in case I waffled on too much above) simplified we have;
Round 1 – 17 under Stuart Dew – played 7 of a possible 16 games, averaged 66.57
Round 18 – 24 with Steven King – played 7 of a possible 7 games, averaged 112.5
Why shouldn’t I pick him?
One red flag to monitor here is the Suns new coach in Damien Hardwick. As highlighted above, Flanders scoring is highly dependant on his role, So how Hardwick chooses to use Flanders is definitely worth watching.
During his time at the Tigers, while having a very successful team, Richmond was a fantasy graveyard. Every now and then you’d get someone like Prestia or Taranto break through but more often than not the Richmond midfield was not a happy hunting ground for fantasy scores. The game style Dimma employed favoured half backs more than mids and we saw a pure example of this with Jayden Short who would always average more when played across the half back line than in games where he played as a pure mid.
We’d also want to see where Flanders ends up in Hardwick’s rankings. The Gold Coast midfield is surprisingly deep. Touk Miller, Matt Rowell and Noah Anderson are clearly first choice starters. Flanders seems to have elevated himself but Bailey Humphries is gunning for more mid time along with academy pick Jake Rogers. Then there’s the others like Davies, Fiorini and even former Tiger Brandon Ellis who Hardwick may be using more to help embed his new game style on field.
The other issue with Sam Flanders is that Gold Coast has the early bye in round 3. Most teams who’ve gone with the Gun’s and Rooks set up would be sitting with Flanders at either F1 or F2. Knowing you’ll definitely be missing him in round 3 will mean either benching him for the week and replacing him with a benched forward rookie (who’ll give you a 60 if you’re lucky, less if you’re not) or wasting a trade to get him out knowing you’ll be bringing him back the next week.
The problem with burning the trade of course is that the fantasy gods are cruel and generally when we plan a trade, that’s the week they hit you with a ruck injury.
Deck of DT Rating.
At full flight, with his ideal inside midfield role, Sam Flanders is a King verging on ACE and if everything goes his way this year I can see him finishing this year pushing for that ACE title.
His value, potential and forward eligibility makes him hard to ignore but there’s a few red flags mentioned above that I’d want to see positive results for before making him a lock.
Follow @anthondydsmith86 on X and catch him on 91.3 SportFM every Sunday morning during the AFL season for Behind the Goals.