Why should I pick him?
There is no doubt the cat’s out of the bag. A Connor MacDonald 3rd Year Breakout is looming large.
The young Hawk is ticking all the right boxes for a big 2024 and may have been flying under a lot of coach’s radars. That is if the Godfather of Fantasy, Warnie did not just include him in his early season Fantasy team reveal.
While Macdonald’s POD status may be shrinking by the day, he is still a player you need to be targeting off his underrated 2023 numbers.
MacDonald played a total of 21 games in 2023 and had a respectable second year average of 70.7. This came from only 75% TOG and with only 2% CBA’s. What I love about those numbers is that it shows there is proven floor for MacDonald. As a third-year player, he’s naturally going to receive more responsibility and opportunity through the midfield where he excelled as a junior. This should in turn see a juicy bump in his Fantasy output.
For me, there are three pleasing stats that help show he is on track to be a genuine Fantasy stud.
Firstly, his median score for the season was 75 and you can bump that up to a 77 if you take out his two scores as the sub. That’s roughly 4-6 points higher than his average. I love looking at median scores as it can give us a really good guide on what we can expect from a player week in week out. Everyone can have an excusable bad game (which can dramatically affect their average) but what can we expect most weeks? That’s what the median can show.
Secondly, MacDonald was only one of eleven listed forwards to average 85+ in both their last three and five games of 2023. This showed he finished off the year really strongly and historically late season scores can be a really good indicator of how a young player will start their next season.
Thirdly, I’ve been big on MacDonald since his draft year (yes, you best believe I have receipts) as he kind of flew under the radar despite averaging 121 in NAB League. His average was only bettered by a kid called Nick Daicos, so he’s in very good company. I’m hoping this is the year he can stamp his name as a genuine Fantasy player and now is the time to get on board; especially in your draft or keeper leagues.
Why shouldn’t I pick him?
The biggest concern for MacDonald going into 2024 is where the big jump in his average can come from. While we saw him average 85 with ease in a block of games, what does he need to do to take his game to the next level and go from an F3/4 to an F1/2?
Not that I’m sneezing at a forward who can go at 85 this season but it would be nice to have some assurance of some extra midfield time. For that we really need to see a boost in midfield minutes to take himself to the next tier. While they are far from a distinguished midfield, the Hawks engine room looks reasonably set with Newcombe and Worpel, alongside role players Maginness and Nash.
The big question is who gets some of Will Day’s midfield time as he’ll miss the first part of the season through injury. Is his absence the opportunity Macdonald needs or does that role go to Josh Ward or even Cam Mackenzie? These questions will be unveiled in the next month through the trials but if Macdonald is even getting a slight sniff in the practice matches, he can easily be an 85-90 average forward this season.
Deck of DT Rating.
I’m incredibly excited about what Connor Macdonald can produce this season. I love his floor, I love that he can score well without needing CBA’s and most importantly, I love he has forward status in a year where that line looks bloody tough.
I’m backing him in to be at worst an 80 average forward, with his upside around 15ppg better with the right role Is that role likely? I’m not sure just yet but after a couple practice games, we’ll definitely know more.
Push him up your draft ranks based on the fact he’s getting that dreaded ‘Salary Cap Hype’ but also because this may be the last chance you have to grab a youngster with proven Fantasy pedigree before his third year breakout.
Catch Kaes on X @TKLKaes as well as @keeperleaguepod … and don’t forget the excellent website with plenty of resources at keeperleaguepod.com.au.
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