|6 & 14
Why should I pick him?
Max Gawn has been a dominant ruck in our fantasy squads for the past 6 years. He has averaged over 100 in 5 of those 6 seasons, going over 110 in 3 of those years. He was a member of the old set-and-forget duo, along with ex-teammate Brodie Grundy.
The main reason you should pick Max Gawn this season is that he will be the solo ruck once again for Melbourne, something he hasn’t done since 2020. In 2021 we saw Luke Jackson take a share of the ruck duties, and last season Grundy was also there to split time in the middle. Over those past 3 seasons, Gawn went at 67.6% CBAs and averaged 101 points per game. The season prior to that in 2020 he dominated with 92% CBAs and lead the comp with a covid-adjusted average of 123.6! If you don’t love using the 2020 adjusted average, even in 16minute quarters he averaged 99 points (7 more than he’s priced at this year), and the 2 previous seasons he had consecutive 111 seasons in 2019 & 2018.
Now I know what you’re thinking, “Mitch that’s ancient history, he’s 32 years old now!”, but let me point you towards his average in games without Brodie Grundy last season. In the 6 games Grundy didn’t play at the end of last season, Gawn averaged 113 points, with a ceiling score of 162! He averaged 86.5% CBAs and Melbourne won 5 out of those 6 games. Chances are, the team loved what they saw and will look to continue him in this role in 2024. Even if none of this is convincing you, he has a 4 built into his average after going down just minutes into round 2 against the Lions.
Last year we had a ruck who was priced in the low 90s and went over 110, his name was Rowan Marshall. If you didn’t start with Marshall your season probably wasn’t an enjoyable one. A consistent captaincy option at a big discount is a game changing pick in AFL Fantasy, and Max has shown not only in years Gawn past he’s capable of being that for us, but he also demonstrated it once again last season.
If we look at his mid-season bye (yes, we should still be planning for those) he has his in round 14. If we compare this to the other main options in the ruck line, Grundy & Xerri both share round 12 while English and Marshall both share round 15. Pairing Gawn with a cheaper option, or either English or Marshall, will give you flexibility during the byes and eliminate the headache of having both your rucks missing the same week.
Lastly, we will get to see how Max looks in a game that matters in opening round against Sydney, and his former teammate in Grundy, so there should be no surprises in his role heading into round 1. Melbourne had a tumultuous off-season to say the least and being the captain of the club, Gawn will have a point to prove and should come out firing!
Why shouldn’t I pick him?
The only reason I can think of for you not to select Max Gawn is that you prefer the other options we have in the rucks this season, and to be fair, there are 3 really good value options this season.
Brodie Grundy moved to Sydney where he is expected to be playing sole ruck for the first time in a couple of seasons. Tristan Xerri will move into a sole ruck role with Goldstein moving to Essendon. Both players are cheaper than Max, with Xerri not having an early bye round to deal with. Being cheaper, you could argue they both have more points upside as I can see Gawn possessing 20 points of value while Grundy and Xerri could see as much as 30 points if they push into the mid 90s and 100s respectfully.
Deck of DT Rating.
Simply put, I believe Max Gawn should be our first choice in the ruck line in 2024 as a proven 110+ scorer priced at 92. We do not have to guess on his scoring upside in a new team or system and he’s done this as recently as the end of last season in the role we expect him to play.
His mid-season bye is more favourable as you can pair him with any other ruck option without doubling up, and has the potential to be a keeper for the entire season and save you a trade later.
A lot of people are deciding between Gawn and Xerri if they are choosing to go value this season, but I believe the real decision is between Grundy and Xerri. Lock Max into your squad and I don’t think you’ll regret it.