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 | Stephen Coniglio
It was a breakout fantasy season for the silky skilled Giant's midfielder in 2016. With the majority of coaches hedging their bets on the slightly pricier Dylan Shiel to be the breakout boy last season, it wasn't to be as Coniglio's star shone the brightest for a career high 103 fantasy season average.
The Swan Districts product, taken second in the 2011 AFL National draft went from the occassional tagger in the team - to the one being tagged by the midway point of the season. Coniglio has done his apprenticeship following some of the game's most elite midfielders around the park during his first four seasons at the club, so it was his turn in 2016 to show the fantasy world how he to can produce elite midfield numbers. He had 13 100+ scores over his 21 games played for the season - only missing the very first round of the season. Of those 13 tons he scores, 8 of them were 110+ with a season high of 136 against the reining premiers in round six. You can attest that Coniglio not only has a great consistency about his fantasy game now, he also has the ceiling to go with it. At just 23 years of age and playing in a side that should again push for a top four position, I can't see a reason why Coniglio can't bump his 2016 average up again this year. How much? Well, a conservative estimate would be somwhere in the 105-108 range, provided he's able to work on his outside game and pick up some cheap marks as he could only manage 3 per game in 2016. Will no doubt be a great point of difference again in 2017, if you're sold on him, he won't let you down.
The Mid Pricer | Devon Smith
After an unusually slow start to the 2016 season, Devon Smith finally gave way to his troublesome knee to miss nine games in a row before returning to his old self when he returned in round 16.
Smith has never been a reliable fantasy scorer to say the least. He will often frustrate coaches with highs and lows, often floating in and out of games while doing something miraculous along the way. Such is the life of a small forward who could potentially play through the midfield, yet doesn't have the engine to stick at it. That pretty much sums up Devon - hit and miss. His first three rounds of 2016 were deplorable, posting up scores of 72,69 and 55 for a three round average of 65.3. Fantasy coaches who has him in the team from round one thinking he could get back to his 2014 form of a 94 seasons fantasy average were bitterly dissapointed. Turns out he had a dodgy knee right from the start though and the club made the decision for him to rest up. On his return in round 16, Smith had a quiet game with 65 fantasy points before regaining his form from rounds 17-20 with scores of 113,94,105 and 93 (101 average). He finished the season with an 81 fantasy average, 13 points lower than his career best of 94 back in 2014. With a clean bill of health and full pre season under his belt, fantasy coaches will be hoping that Smith can perhaps make a return to his 90+ average in 2017 and become a potential mid priced bargain amongst the slim pickings we have up forward. Again, he's a downhill skiier of the highest order, so the fact that the Giants will win more often than lost, can only be a good thing for the talented 23 year old. You'll ride the rollercoaster as a coach picking Devon, is it a ride worth taking?
The Bargain | Matt de Boer
The ex Docker was as surprised as anyone when his name was called out in last year's AFL National draft with the Giant's number 58 pick. Though a surprise, his selection was well and truly warranted after some outstanding form in the WAFL that will prick the ears of some fantasy coaches willing to take a punt on the underpriced midfielder.
Used primarily as either a midfield tagger or small forward tagger against the opposition's best running defenders, de Boer struggled to get games in 2016 falling out of favour with coach Ross Lyon. He could only manage four senior appearances - even with all the injury woes Fremantle had from the beginning. He toiled away at WAFL level for the rest of the season with great effect however and probably should have been recalled to the senior team on several occassions. Here are his stats for the year playing for WAFL club (and eventual premiership winners) Peel FC:
de Boer also won Peel's best and fairest award on the back of those impressive statistics in a line up that hosted more than a few AFL listed players. The question here for fantasy coaches is going to be how de Boer fits into a team brimming with young talent, if at all. There has to be a reason why they picked him up, other than just for his 'experience', perhaps Cameron has him pencilled in to play a defensive midfield role - something the Giants have lacked ever since Bugg left to Melbourne. Even so, de Boer still carries a sizeable discount with him going into 2017 and could potentially be a bargain pick up in your midfields provided he gets adequate games and time on ground in the midifeld. Watch the JLT games closely to see what type of role he plays.
Fresh Blood Stud | Tim Taranto
2016's number two draft pick, Tim Taranto could potentially be the answer to GWS's loss of Lachie Whitfield for season 2017. A similar height but with a better inside game in my opinion, he can win his own ball while providing pace on the outside. Super efficient midfielder hailing from the Sandringham Dragons den. Will be more of a Supercoach specialist, however will still be a handy fantasy player as he has a similar game style to Fyfe or Pendles. Loves the contested mark and will float across packs without a second thought to intercept on a regular basis. Averaged 19 disposals and 6 marks during the U/18 championships while swinging between midfield and forward line duties. Could have potentially averaged more possessions if he was used regularly through the midfield however. We all know about GWS's plethora of talent on offer across every line, particularly in the midfield. So it could be a case of less time on ground if he does play, unless he can prove a worthy gap fill for the outed Whitfield. I'd hold off on him with his price tag and vulnerable position in a star laden team, there will be better options.
The Breakout | Josh Kelly
He's drawn comparisons to a fantasy favorite son in Joel Corey by astute commentators, but can the time trial king with more silk than a Shanghai back alley rise to the lofty standards Joel set in his prime? Taken at number two in the 2013 draft behind Tom Boyd, Kelly has quietly gone about his business as an outside midfielder for the Giants since his debut in 2014 with fantasy averages of 69,73 and most recently 89.8 in 2016.
You'll have to excuse Kelly's last five games of the year in 2016, it's not a true reflection of the year or player he is. Let's rewind a little further into last season between rounds 8-18, a 10 game streak where Kelly showed fantasy coaches that he's capable of consistency and some respectable fantasy scoring. Between those rounds he went 112,76,116,74,105,85,103,97,125 and 113 for a ten round average of 100.6. As a pure mid it was hard to take him seriously last season, you just couldn't see him producing the numbers to justify selection - it was a shame we couldn't get him as a forward. Never the less, it was a large spike in all categories for Kelly compared to his 2015 season, a 16.5 fantasy point increase and a 5.5 disposal gain underpinned what ultimately meant a bigger responsibility in the midfield.
The worrying point for Kelly when you glance over his stats from the last three seasons is his marks and tackles columns. There has been small gains, but not enough to make you think he has turned a corner yet to become elite. Can 2017 be different? Can Kelly become a more damaging inside mid to complement those statistical categories and launch himself above the magical 100 point average? It largely depends on his role, a natural runner with elite endurance (still holds the second best time at the combine for the 3km time trial with 9m 32s) it's hard to see him pushing out the likes of Ward, Shiel, Griffen and Coniglio for that inside role even if he has the capabilities to. He seems set for another year on the wings, especially now with Whitfield out for 6 months after his failed attempt to develop his ectomorphic frame in a legal manner.
Still, it will only take an extra 3-4 possessions and a small increase in his other statistical categories to bump his average up close to the 98-100 mark. Last season he averaged 23.6 possessions per game, a figure he could easily eclipse by the end of 2017. If I had to hazard an estimated guess he could be up around the 26.5 disposal average. With a 50:50 kick to handball ratio, you would be looking at an extra 6-7 fantasy points per game on average based on disposals alone. I just don't think that's enough to justify picking him in your starting midfield as he'll be at that awkward price and unless you are dead certain he can crack the ton, there are probably safer options.
Durability wise, he's as reliable as they come, while he missed games in 2014 and 2015 (36 from 46) - that was due to form rather than injury while he was finding his place in the team. He's played a total of 60 from a possible 70 games over his three year career and played out a full season last year with 24 games to his name. The plus factor here is that because of his role within the team, his style of play lends itself to less injuries in a similar style to Andrew Gaff over at West Coast. In fact, at this point in his career i would compare Josh Kelly closer to Gaff than the aforementioned Corey, though Kelly has an inside game about him as was evident during the TAC Cup that is yet to be unleashed. Will the Giants let him roam the inside in 2017 to balance his game style?
The Giants starting 22 is thick with midfielders, even true mids like Greene, Griffen, Hopper and the newly acquired Deledio from the Tigers don't spend all that much time in there aside from the odd chop out when the blue chips need a spell. I still get chills when I think about what Greene could do if left alone in the midfield for a whole game to ball hunt - but that's another story for another day. Back to Kelly, as mentioned he's destined for that wing role again in 2017 i'm afraid to say with Scully over on the other wing. Not that its such a bad thing, Gaff has made a name for himself as a super consistent wing fantasy scorer (especially in 2015) so there is no reason why in his fourth year potential break out season Josh Kelly can't emulate this.
The Smokey | Nick Haynes
Haynes has gone about his business quietly since his debut in 2012 as the Giant's number seven pick in the 2011 draft. It took some time for the 24 year old to establish himself as a key memeber of the Giant's back six and has since managed 35 games in the past two seasons after only managing 27 in his first three.
In 2016, Haynes was reliable without being spectacular as a fantasy scorer. He ended the season with an average of 73.5, which was a 14 point improvement on his 2015 season average of 59.6. The improvement in Haynes' game comes as a reflection of the greater responsibility he has gained in the team and role he plays across half back. He's often the first player the Giant's will switch to across the backline before releasing either Wilson, Williams or Shaw as their running defenders. He averaged an impressive 6.7 marks last season to emphasise my point to go along with 17.6 disposals and 1.7 marks. He had 9 games scoring between 75 and 88 points throughout 2016 with a high of 96 against Fremantle in round 22. If he can just manage another 3-4 touches per game and keep his marking average up around 6.5 per game, there is a good chance of him adding another 8-10 points on his 2016 average and topping an 80 fantasy season average in 2017. He's got an awkward price tag however so may not fit a lot of coach's structures, though keep in mind he was a number seven draft pick in a draft that saw Taylor Adams (pick 13), Sam Docherty (pick 12) and Brandon Ellis (pick 15) all go after him. There is room for improvement here, just how much is the question.
Which GWS Giant players have attracted your attention for 2017? Share your thoughts in the comments below.