AFL Fantasy HQ has kindly given coaches something to start thinking about in the lead up to the January grand opening of the site in the form of some player price tags!
Each AFL team's player prices will be revealed over the coming weeks and The Tragic is here to break down each team to give an insight into which players we should be shortlising on our watchlists for season 2017. I'll include the must have rookies, debutants, mid pricers as well as the premiums and 'smokeys' you need to keep an eye out for during the JLT Community Series matches.
Keep a watch on the Tragic Talk blog as it will get updated when the teams get leaked - and don't forget to share your thoughts in the comments section below or over at our Facebook page.
The Blue Chip | Rory Sloane
Fantasy coaches were worried about the Sloane Ranger's scoring potential after his partner in crime Paddy Dangerfield left to Geelong in 2016. It looked like it had had an affect on the 26 year old after the first three rounds, averaging just 78 fantasy points. He quickly quashed the negative reviews however as he churned out a 105 average for the remainder of the season - his best fantasy year to date.
Sloane is one of those players who you just know will battle on for your fantasy team no matter if the team is 100 points up, 100 down or if the opposition is trying to tag him out of the game. He's the ultimate competitor and has been an underrated performer in fantasy land for the past three seasons. It took until his sixth AFL season for Rory to break the 100 season average barrier in 2014, before he dropped badly in his output in 2015 to average 93 fantasy points for the season. But the more responsibility, the more this guy rises to the occassion and despite copping the number one tag most weeks for the Crows, Sloane still managed to drag his fantasy average back up into the elite status. He managed 12 fantasy tons in 2016 with some whoppers in there as well, including 135 in round six, 140 in round 11 and 139 in round 14. His best asset is his tackling, which was in the elite bracket in 2016 at an average of 7.1 per game, while also racking up a career high in his disposal category of 25.2. He will be called upon again in 2017 to lead from the front and you just know he'll take the rest of the Crow's midfield along for the ride. A solid option, though his 105 average may be on the mark.
The Mid Pricer | Riley Knight
There is some big hype coming out of the Crow camp about Riley Knight who was taken with pick 46 in the 2013 AFL National draft. An elite endurance athlete, he will be looking to cement a position in the crows midfield in 2017 after reports of a strong pre season to date.
It took Knight until 2015 to finally make his AFL debut after spending the 2014 season developing in the SANFL. A serious ankle injury kept him out for much of that 2015 season before making his debut in round 15. He went on to play the rest of the season and finish the year with 11 senior games to his name and a 52.8 fantasy average. 2016 was another injury riddled year for the 21 year old however as he could only play the round 3 clash versus Richmond before again sustaining another serious ankle injury. He's now back up and running, setting personal bests on the track and winning time trials. He's made mention that the lingering ankle woes are behind him and that the rehabilitation and strengthening coach at the Crows has been working closely with the talented youngster. The Adelaide midfielder has depth now and it will be hard for Knight to find a spot in the starting 22. I've currently got him sitting just outside the Crow's best 22, with a few others who need to show some pre season match form to be considered. The emergence of the Crouch brothers, Rory Atkins and Cam Ellis-Yolman may mean that Knight will need to wait on an injury to break into the team. He could however provide a midfield chop out for the team and start games on the bench as his preferred position is the wing. If he's able to get some game time I have no doubt that he is well under priced at just $241k and will make you some dollars along the way. As a forward option, he should get midfield time if selected in Adelaide's best 22, though it will be a case of wait and see for when the round one teams drop.
The Bargain | Cam Ellis-Yolman
If there has ever been a player more deserving of a spot in an AFL team over the past two season, it's Cam Ellis-Yolman. Though team depth has kept the rising midfield star out of senior action, he has been tearing up the SANFL compeition just waiting for his turn in the Crow's midfield.
Taken with pick 64 in the 2011 AFL National draft, CEY has managed just 14 games in five seasons in the system. A powerfully built midfielder that can play both inside and out, he should complement the current Adelaide midfield arsenal nicely in 2017. Though, this has been the issue in the past, as the Crow's have four genuine inside midfielders (Sloane, B Crouch, M Crouch & Thompson) who have got the job done in the past. Crow's coach Don Pyke's hand may be forced this year however, as CEY put his hand up for a trade in 2016 and Adelaide responded with a resounding NO - signalling that the now 24 year old is a required player. One would think that Pyke is just waiting for Scotty T to fall off the perch in that midfield, because he's been the one stopping CEY from stepping in there on a full time basis. He'll have to make it work however and the odds are stacked that Thompson is more than likely to miss due to either injury or being rested throughout the season anyway. CEY's 2016 fantasy stats are hard to read as he managed just the two games (again, only due to team depth) as he posted scores of 90 and 68 for a two game average of 79. In 2015 he did manage 11 games for the season, though again he was in and out of the team for much of the season. Fantasy coaches who started with CEY in 2015 as a cheap bench option in the midfield would have been over the moon with his start however. Between rounds 1-5 he went for scores of 49, 95, 94, 82 and 89 for a five game fantasy average of 81.8. If he can manage to play a full time role in the midfield in 2017, he is well and truly underpriced - and the best thing about all of this, he's available as a DPP forward/mid as well! That's a gift from fantasy HQ and with the possibility of knocking out anywhere between an 80-90 average, he'll make you look good as a coach as well.
Fresh Blood Stud | Harrison Wigg
Taken with pick 35 in the 2014 AFL National draft, 20 year old Harry Wigg will be looking to make his debut in 2017 as either a running defender or outside midfielder.
Wigg was on the cusp of cracking a game several times throughout the 2016 season, he's highly rated among the Adelaide faithful and has made another good impression over the summer months this pre season. A highly skilled left footer, he played 19 of 21 games in the SANFL to come runner up in the Crow's reserves team best and fairest count. He's taken over the number 10 jumper at Adelaide, which is an achievement in itself as the Crow's inagural captain Chris McDermott wore that number - so they must rate him highly. Ideally, Wigg will play on a half back flank if/when he debuts, which could be a plan to send Brody Smith further up the ground. He will be competing with the likes of David McKay, Jake Kelly, Jake Lever and Curtly Hampton for a spot in that back six. I have him sitting just outside the best 22 for the moment, but again, there are some suseptible names among the last 19-22 players on that list. Watch this space, because at the bagain basement price of $150k, Wiggles could be a great bench option to start the season and make you some cash.
The Breakout | Matt Crouch
Ok, alright, I had to find a space to write about the 'better' fantasy Crouch here because - hey, he deserves it! After all the pre season hype about his brother and being in and out of the team for much of his career (not to mention wearing his fair share of sub vests), Crouchy broke the shackles for what i'm going to call a 'mini breakout' in 2016. He has a lot more to offer at just 21 years of age and fantasy coaches could very well see a 105 average in season 2017.
Taken at number 23 in the 2013 draft, it's been a longer than expected coming of age for a player with obvious talent. Season 2016 gave the young crow his opportunity and he took it with both hands, producing his best season to date. Crouch has the type of game that elite Fantasy mids are built on. In 2016 he averaged over 27 disposals per game (up from 21 in 2015) with the only knock being his handball happy ratio. He loves winning his own ball and won't rely on others feeding him all game long - he's a ball hunter. His outside game could improve, particularly with his outside marking - only averaging 3.4 marks per game last year. While 4.5 tackles per game is nothing to sneeze at, the elite mids generally need to crack the 5 tackles per game barrier in order to keep their consistent average. Going into his 4th year in the system, natural progression for Crouch seems inevitable. All signs point to a 100+ average in 2017. He has now firmly entrenched himself into the Adelaide midfield brigade and with Thompson not getting any younger, would sit comfortably with his brother at number two behind Sloane (meaning the chance of a tag is low). Adelaide will also go into the season a little lighter on midfield depth with the loss of Jarryd Lyons, though not the same type of player, it still raises Crouch's stocks and potential time on ground. Then there is his final eight games of 2016 which reads 128,106,105,85,118,128,101 and 108 for an average of 109.87. Those are elite, consistent numbers for a midfielder - and those last two scores were in the heat of finals pressure. You'll be hard pressed to find a better candidate of taking his game to an elite level in 2017. Looking to take on more responsibility in the Adelaide midfield, Crouch has all the makings of an elite fantasy mid.
The Smokey | Curtly Hampton
The former GIant came to the crows in the 2015 AFL trade period only to be struck down early in the 2016 season with a foot injury. Not able to find form and make his way into the strong Adelaide line up, Hampton will be looking to prove why the Crows gave him an AFL life line and perhaps produce some decent value for fantasy coaches in 2017 as well.
Originally drafted in 2010 as one of the GIant's NT zone selections, Hampton has showed glimpses of his potential on the field without ever cementing his position in the AFL. Now six years into his AFL career, he's managed 51 senior appearances, all for the Giants. Over that time, his best fantasy output was back in 2013 with a season average of 64.3 across 18 games. He hasn;t exactly set the world on fire in terms of his statistics, averaging between 13-17 disposals per game, along with 3.5 marks and 3 tackles over his short career. Though you never really felt he's had a good run at it during his time so far, either through form or injury, you feel Curtly has more to offer. Obviously the Crow's think the same and are excited to have him up and running now over the pre season - it's now just a case of performing during the JLT matches that will decide Hampton's fate for a round one berth. Earmaked for a spot on the back flank or wing, he'll be up against the aforementioned Harry Wigg, Riley Knight, Rory Atkins, David McKay and Jake Kelly for a spot. I currently have him starting on the bench in my best 22 and provided he shows some run and dash in the pre season games, he should get there one would think. Listed as a defender in AFL Fantasy with a price tag of $204k, he present real value for coaches as he's capable of a 75 average. Don't forget, the Giants lost ALOT of matches when he was in the team, playing his best footy in 2013. As a downhill skiing type of player, the Crow's winning ways should produce some inflation in Hampton's scores during 2017. He's a wait and watch for me at the moment, there's just too much cloud covering the Crow's 19th-22nd best players and coaches will have to wait and see how the dust settles in round one.
Which Adelaide players have attracted your attention for 2017? Share your thoughts in the comments below.