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 | Patrick Dangerfield
The Dangerfield train rolled into Geelong at the start of the 2016 season and didn't the reigning Brownlow Medalist handle the pressure with aplomb. One of the most hyped trades since Ablett's move to the Gold Coast, Dangerfield more often than not looked unstoppable during games as he went on to average a career high season fantasy average of 118.6.
As the highest fantasy averaging player in the league, Dangerfield also comes with the highest price tag - a whopping $712,000. That's a relatively large chunk of your salary cap right there, 6.47% to be exact. Though, you'll be gaining a player that you can lock away as your captain every week and not have to worry (most of the time) about whether or not he's going to ton up for you. Danger went and scored a remarkable 18 100+ scores in 2016 from all 22 games played! That's an incredible strike rate as the games he didn't score a ton, he had scores of 95, 93, 86 and 75. Half of those 18 tons were 120+ as well, with a crazy season high of 187 when he went nuts on North Melbourne. Realistically, he should average around the same in 2017 give or take 3 points each side of his 2016 average. There is the possibility he gets better, he is only 26 years of age and players generally peak around 27-28. Geelong again will push for a top four position in 2017 and Danger will be called upon to play the same role as he did in 2016. He does it all, is everywhere on the field, kicks goals, defends, attacks, plays inside and out - he has developed the perfect midfield and fantasy game. Had a career high 32 disposals, 5 marks and 4.5 tackles per game last year and I can't find a fault in his game - maybe his 50% conversion rate in front of the big sticks? You'll have to sacrifice your team in other areas to get him in - though it'll be worth it when he's pumping out those huge scores.
The Mid Pricer | Scott Selwood
Can Scooter Selwood come back into vogue for fantasy coaches in 2017? Overshadowed by the Dangerfield trade, Selwood made his way over to the cattery to join brother Joel at the start of 2016. Hampered by an ankle injury ever since his elite 2013 season where he averaged 108 fantasy points, Selwood showed glimpses of his old self in 2016 as a defensive midfielder.
Scooter could only manage 3 regular season games last year and managed to play in Geelong's two finals appearances. He comes with a large discount because of the games he missed and the risk that followed his name in recent seasons, seems to be somewhat diluted going into 2017. Reports say that the now 26 year old is running freely and although still cautious with the ankle, has participated in all drills so far over the summer. During those three games played in 2016, Selwood had scores of 50, 104 and 85 for a three game average of 79.6. Though only one game, that fantasy score of 104 in round 21 against the Tigers signaled to fantasy coaches that maybe, just maybe, 2013 Scott Selwood is still somewhere to be found. The only issue I currently have with selecting Scooter in the midfield is his role from week to week. Role is what crippled Selwood back at the Eagles when he would be forced to play defensive or tag the opposition's best midfielder. That 2013 season when he averaged 108, he played as an attacking mid that hunted the ball and player with his elite tackling ability. Obviously brother Joel and Dangerfield will play attacking roles in 2017 with Duncan, Guthrie and Menegola their supporting cast. Unless coach Scott doesn't go with a defensive mid or has a young up and comer in mind for the role (think George Horlin-Smith), then I can still see Scooter playing the odd defensive job every other week when needed. That spells risk for me and with the awkward price he comes at, it will be hard for coaches to take him when there are others around a similar price who's roles are much more predictable. Keep an eye on him however over the JLT matches, because you never know - perhaps Chris Scott has other plans.
The Bargain | Jackson Thurlow
He's been touted by Geelong club insiders and coach Chris Scott as the most likely replacement for the recently retired Corey Enright. Thurlow, taken with pick number 16 in the 2012 AFL National Draft is almost a carbon copy of 6 the 6 time All Australian and Geelong club games record holder, Enight. Cats fans will be hoping it's a quick rise to the top for the 22 year old Thurlow, who made a name for himself as a running half back flanker in 2015 before having his 2016 campaign ruined before it even started with an ACL injury in the NAB Cup pre season matches.
If we rewind back to his 2015, a year in which Thurlow finally cemented his position in a Geelong team that was still brimming with premiership talent, you can understand why coach Scott values the defender so much as a vital cog in their line up. In that year he averaged 17.3 disposals per game, 4.4 marks and 2.2 tackles across a career high 19 matches for the season. Although he tailed off at the end of that 2015 season in terms of his fantasy output, his first 6 games after breaking into the team in round 3 demonstrated he is capable of some consistent fantasy scoring. He went for scores of 90, 52, 71, 109, 100 and 74 for a 6 round average of 82.6. So you can see if he manages to play that attacking defender role, he's a capable scorer that should at the very least net you some cash as your D4 or 5 before trading up to an elite scoring defender.
The worry here on Thurlow is new recruit Zach Tuohy and wondering whether or not Chris Scott has got him in specifically for the reason of replacing Enright's role. Other types in the Geelong team that will be fighting for the same position include Tom Ruggles, Jed Bews, Mackie, Cowan and potentially Cockatoo. Though, with the exception of Mackie due to his experience, I would still place Thurlow ahead of all those players just so long he shows it during the pre season matches. He's done the hard work over the pre season, got his rehab right and put his best foot forward (he just took out their most recent 1.2km time trial) - now it's just a matter of producing in the heat of battle to secure his place in the team once again.
There aren't a whole lot of genuine fantasy options around Thurlow's price tag who are anymore reliable, names such as McKenzie $285k, Scharenberg $234k and Hampton $204k spring to mind - though they are still as much of a risk as someone coming off an ACL. Provided he is able to get some pre season games under his belt and move up the defender ranks at Geelong so not to be bunkered down in a lock down role, Thurlow presents excellent value for coaches in 2017 in the hope of trading up after the bye rounds.
Fresh Blood Stud | Zach Tuohy
The wild irishman made the move in the off season from the Blues in an effort to perhaps capture a flag before his time is up. Still only 27 years (which says something for Carlton's premiership hopes), Tuohy has been injected into the Cat's defensive six in a bid to cushion the blow that is the departure of Corey Enright to retirement.
Despite his departure, the Cat's have got Tuohy at the peak of his powers coming off a career best season for his ex team. He had a 73.2 season fantasy average in 2016, which was up 5 points on his 2015 season average of 68. He managed to play a much more attacking role for the Blues in 2016 instead of the lock down jobs Malthouse had him doing when he was at the helm. Bolton understood Tuohy's running power (aren't all Irish people quick?) and used it to great effect across half back and pushing up the wings. Tuohy would even be spotted up close to the 50m arc as he was given a license to launch bombs from outside the 50 with his penetrating right boot.
Chris Scott will no doubt want to slot his experience into that back six in 2017 and use that run and carry out of defense that they desperately need in their backline. After a slow start to the season last year only averaging 61 fantasy points over the first 7 rounds, Tuohy managed 7 scores over 80 in the remaining 15 games with his final 5 games in particular being fantasy relevant. From rounds 19-23, Tuohy had scores of 103,106,77,68 and 91 for a five game average of 89 - which is more than respectable as a defender option. If Scott has a free running defender role in mind for the irishman, this could spell value for fantasy coaches looking at filling a gap in the D4/5 position alongside the likes of Hibberd or Kolo. As a sweetner, Tuohy is highly durable as well, not missing a single game in the past 4 seasons! A risky move that could come off as he has the ability to average in the 82-85 vicinity if given the right role.
The Breakout | George Horlin-Smith
I hesitated at putting Georgie boy in this slot - as I was hoping to keep him to myself as a POD, though sharing is indeed caring. George Horlin-Smith has been a victim of the strong Geelong midfield ever since he was picked up in the 2010 AFL National draft with pick 37. A talented cricketer and all round sports person, George has been decimating the VFL in recent seasons when he hasn't had a senior call up.
In 5 seasons at the club, he's only managed 40 games with 21 of those games coming in 2014 when the Cat's made the semi finals. In that 2014 season he managed a fantasy average of 63.5 while wearing the sub vest on more than a few occasions. He had some more than respectable scores during that season as well, including a 94, 102 and a high of 111 against West Coast. He's a perfect midfield size and built like a wrecking ball, has the type of game to dominate the contented ball with enough finesse and smarts to know when it's time to sit outside the packs as well. In the VFL he played as a pure midfielder and won the ball at will most games with a season high disposal count of 38 in the final match of the season. Had some knee trouble mid season which put him out for 5 matches before playing out the final 8 games of the season, in which he was the emergency for the second last game of the season as well. This was a review of his 2016 season from Geelong saying:
"Appears to have gone to another level in all aspects of his game but still needs to show it on game day. Spent plenty of time in the VFL last year despite the Cats’ midfield woes and as it stands now will have to break into the best 22. Might benefit from the abolition of the substitute."
With the departure of Josh Caddy to the Tigers and retirements of Bartel and Enright, the Cats are going to have to inject some contested ball winners back into that midfield. It was a weekly talking point in 2016 that the team can't just rely on Dangerfield and Selwood to shoulder the workload every week and Georgie could be a perfect fit to take the Caddy role in 2017. I like him at $240k and is high on my watchlist.
The Smokey | Sam Menegola
The WA boy finally got his AFL chance in 2016 after several seasons on the Fremantle list as a 24 year old mature age pick up. Just as he was almost certain to be handed his debut match in round one after a stellar pre season, Menegola was crippled with a knee injury and eventually came back to debut in round 18 with devastating effect.
On debut, Menegola joined the famed 100+ club in their first game and went on with it for the final 6 games of the season with scores of 82,89,80,109 and 110. He just got better with every game and grew in confidence which pleased fantasy coaches as our midfield's became decimated with late outs and rested stars, Sam just kept getting the job done as awesome bench cover. Now with the confidence he can mix it with the AFL's elite, Menegola will be looking to build on his impressive 2016 campaign and make a spot on the wing his own. Can certainly play a more inside role if required and will no doubt be called upon during the year to do so, but is most damaging when he has space and can run with ball in hand. Averaged 24 disposals over his 8 games, 4.1 marks and 3.8 tackles for a seasons average of 89, so he is capable of filling a stats sheet. You would think the only way for Menegola in up in terms of his fantasy output and I can see him adding another 2-3 disposals to that average, so there is a real possibility his fantasy average could go 95+ in 2017. A real smokey that will be a POD for your team and a sneaky pickup for those playing in Elite leagues as well. He'll no doubt attract attention from fantasy coaches over the pre season matches and his round 12 bye is a bonus. Watch closely.
Which Geelong players have attracted your attention for 2017? Share your thoughts in the comments below.