AFL Fantasy HQ has kindly given coaches something to start thinking about before Christmas and in the lead up to the January grand opening of the site in the form of some player price tags!
We got to check out the top player prices from the premium players of the 2016 season earlier this month thanks to Warnie over at dreamteamtalk.com. But the latest price reveals give us a greater insight into our potential cash cows, fallen premiums and the risky mid pricers.
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 | Lachie Neale
Moving into his 6th year in the seniors, the little nuggety midfielder from the west has stamped himself as an elite fantasy scoring option over the past two seasons. Lachie Neale came of age in 2015 to post breakout numbers in his fourth year as a Fremantle Docker before taking his game to new levels when he had to shoulder the midfield load without the likes of Nat Fyfe and David Mundy for much of the year. Neale went on to record the most disposals of any player in the competition at an astoshnishing 33.5 disposals per game. His fantasy average was just as impressive, considering he was in a bottom 3 side, he went on to average 111 for season 2016. Even with the imminent return of a fit Nat Fyfe next season, Neale will still be there playing his usual well rounded midfield role where he can go BIG with fantasy scores. He fantasy match winning ability and his ceiling is as good as anyone in the competition - he went for nine 120+ scores last season with his highest being a 169 in round 22 versing the Giants. If you're looking for reliability, he has it as well as he only dipped under 98 points five times in his 22 games played for 2016. Priced at a reasonable $671,000 in comparison to the likes of the 700k+ Rockliff, Dangerfield and Merret, Neale still has improvement in him and with Fyfe back, the tag will be lifted and the load lightened in season 2017. Strongly consider.
The Mid Pricer | Hayden Crozier
Ross the boss threw Crozier down back to give Fremantle some class coming out of the back half last season, the plan seemed to work and he inevitably made the position his own for the majority of the year. He averaged 16.6 disposals, 5.4 marks and 3 tackles across the 16 games played after making his way into the team in round 4 for a fantasy average of 75.3. Not a bad stat line for someone who had never reached a dozen disposal average in a season and had a previous best fantasy average of 58.3 in 2013.
A +33 point increase from his 2015 average was a huge bonus for the few savvy coaches that hopped on the Crozier train last season, particularly with his dual position FWD/DEF status (now only listed as a defender). The price increase alone made him a worthwhile inclusion as he became a handy link over the byes before trading him up to a premium when he topped out. The price hike certainly won't be anything near that this upcoming season, you could realistically only expect a 5-8 point increase if he manages to push his disposals up around the 20 mark and perhaps gets on the end of one or two more uncontested marks per game. He's capable, but opportunity will be the deciding factor here with Ross to decide his fate.
The Bargain | Harley Bennell
It's been a well documented rocky road for Bennell since his cross over from the Suns at the end of the 2015 season. Off field demeanours, along with injury issues have kept the 24 year old from reaching his full potential. You only have to go back to season 2015 where Bennell stepped up his fantasy worth with a season average of 92 from 15 games played. Before that he has been a consistent performer:
Fresh Blood Stud | Luke Ryan
Turning 21 in February and being overlooked in the previous two drafts, Luke Ryan could be a perfect fit for an aging Fremantle backline in desperate need of a haul over. A great intercept mark across half back that can also run and carry the ball with efficiency. Played most of his footy for the Calder Cannons, but turned to the Coburg Tigers in the VFL in 2016 for more opportunity and a fresh start with great effect. Has an elite kick and makes good decisions with the ball in hand. Averaged nearly 10 intercept disposals per game and 4 intercepts marks per game last year as he went on to win the Fothergill-Round award for best U/23 player in the VFL. Has the ability to rack up big numbers also, with a 29 disposal and 13 mark effort in his very first VFL game last season. Has the potential to play early with the likes of Ibbotson falling out of favour, Johnson in strife and Sutcliffe always being one bad game from getting the axe. At $150,00 he's a no brainer selection if named for round one.
The Breakout | Connor Blakely
The lad the from Bunbury, WA made a big impact when he finally came into the team for round six last season. Previously, Blakely had just the one game to his name in 2015, but with Fremantle's injuries to the midfield brigade of Fyfe, Mundy, Bennell and Barlow, Lyon's hand was forced to start blooding the youth. It came with great effect, as the Dockers found a young player who is remarkablely strong in the contest, wins his own ball and tackles with ferocity. I personally met Connor a few weeks back at a clinic he was doing up in Broome, WA with Sheridan and Weller - I was taken back by how much size he had put on so far over the pre season, especially through his quads. He's not a small midfielder by any means - he's a wrecking ball.
Blakely went on to average 75 in his 15 games played last season with a season high of 108 in round 11 versing Essendon. Coaches that jumped on him at the start as a downgrade option would have been dissapointed until round 9 when he hit his straps. From rounds 9 to 21, Blakely averaged 85.6 fantasy points and gained a whole heap of cash for his owners. Even with the return of Fyfe and Mundy, I still like this kid in Freo's best 22 in front of the likes of Weller, Tucker and Langdon. I hope he gets a good run at it over the pre season games, because if he's given midfield time he's capable of a 90 average with his abilty to play both inside and out.
The Smokey | Bradley Hill
The other brother, Brad has crossed over from the dynasty that is Hawthorn and shacked up with his big bro Stephen to form a dynamic wing duo on the wide expanses of Subiaco Oval. He's been given dual position status for 2017 as a mid/fwd priced at an awkward $417,000 - so the only reason you might be looking at him as an option is as a forward.
In six seasons at AFL level, Hill has never averaged greater than 76 fantasy points which was back in 2014. Although, the start of that season was impressive as he went for scores of 83, 98, 112, 100 we thought he might have a third year breakout by the end of round four - it wasn't to be. Inconsistency has riddled Hill for much of his career, he has always been an outside midfielder with the job of getting handball receives to run and carry the ball. This equates to limited stat filling on his sheet as his marks and tackles are below average in comparison to other midfielders in similar roles. In 2016, Hill took a backward step in his output as he averaged 68.5 fantasy points for the season with 17.4 disposals, 3.1 marks and 2.9 tackles per game to his name. The move out west is the only reason I label him as a smokey, otherwise there would be no reason to consider him. Perhaps the change of scenary, wide Subiaco ground and his big brother mentoring him may have a postive impact and resurrect his game - but only time will tell.
Which Fremantle players have attracted your attention for 2017? Share your thoughts in the comments below.