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 | Tom Mitchell
Out goes one Mitchell, in comes another. The Hawks managed to pry the ball winning midfielder out of Sydney's hands in a trade period that had more twists and turns than the performance Torvill & Dean gave us back in 84'.
Fantasy coaches rejoiced when the deal was sealed, as it marked the end of John Longmire's 5 year reign over Mitchell and the unpredictability he bestowed upon him during that time. For years Longmire toyed with the undeniably talented and prolific ball winner, in and out of the team from week to week before finally succumbing and handing Mitchell the respect he deserved with regular games in 2015/16. Even so, with those regular games over the past two years (45 from a possible 50), there were still moments during 2016 when fantasy owners cringed at the fact Longmire would slap a tagging role on the 23 year old. Now at the Hawks and their number one midfielder, the shoe is on the other foot, as Mitchell may be faced with being tagged himself. Though if Jaeger manages to step up and play regular games, it should be him who cops the attention most weeks. With 104 season fantasy averages in the past two seasons, Tom has been a solid elite option in your midfields - and forward lines back in 2015 (what a gift that was!). He has a super ceiling on him, which is possibly the most appealing part of selecting him in your team. Mitchell had 12 100+ fantasy scores in 2016, of which 9 of those were 110+ with a season high of 163 in round 10 against the Roos. The only obstacle that has been stopping Mitchell having a 110+ average for an entire season was Longmire, now he's out of the picture, expect Tommy Gun to to reek fantasy havoc on teams in 2017.
The Mid Pricer | Ricky Henderson
Now here's an interesting case, Ricky Henderson surprisingly had his best fantasy season in 2016, yet only managed 9 games at an average of 79.8 fantsay points per game. It was a frustrating year none the less for the 28 year old who was picked up in the rookie draft back in 2008. Henderson battled injury throughout the season and found it hard to get back into the strong Adelaide line up on several occassions as they didn't have many others on the injury list joining him.
During those 9 games in 2016, Henderson was super consistent as a defender option posting scores of 67,112,85,56,72,81,91,71 and 83 which is acceptable considering the amount of time he spent out. The issue with Henderson has always been his durability, throughout his 8 year career in the AFL system he's never managed more than 18 games in a season and just 34 in the past 3. He has a fresh start now at the Hawks and he should slot straight into their starting 22, perhaps on a wing or back flank alongside Birchall and friends. The great thing about that is the Hawks boys will take him under their wing and teach him how to 'back scratch' with plenty of +6's while they pad their stat sheets. From all reports it's been smooth sailing so far this pre season from Henderson and looks on track for a round one berth in his new colours. He misses out on any soft of significant discount, so even with his 9 games played, he's still priced at his average in 2016. That price tag makes it hard to fit him into team structures with more reliable options such as Michael Hibberd around. Though I think he can only improve at the Hawks, the injury history is a pass for me.
The Bargain | Jarryd Roughead
I'll spare you the story of Roughead, we all know the terrible circumstances that derailed his 2016 season and how much of an inspiration he is to those going through similar circumstances - respect. From a fantasy perspective, it seems as though the big fella is due for a return to senior ranks in 2017 with the added bonus of a hefty discount on his 2015 season average of 90.1.
Never been considered an elite option in our forward lines, Roughead has never the less been a consistent fantasy performer over the years. Since 2011 he's posted up averages of 84,88,84,88 and 90 - so you could assume he should still be able to average somewhere in the 80-85 bracket at the very least. That's 20 points less than what he's currently priced at in 2017, which makes him an absolute steal. The idea is obviously to wait til he's cashed up enough to upgrade him to a premium option. He'll be 30 when the season kicks off in March, so time is still on his side if he gets a good run at it over the pre season. Reports have mentioned he's been participating in all contact drills and has been feeling more like himself with every passing session. Could become a great point of difference if you can manage to squeeze him in as your F4/5 option. Consider, pending pre season matches.
Fresh Blood Stud | Jaeger O'Meara
Jaeger is like AFL's equivilant to Brad Pitt in the movie Troy - good at everything while being the perfect specimen, with one weakness (though the tendon is in a slightly different area of the leg). O'Meara has been missing in action for the past two seasons after having possibly the best start to a career any new youngster coming into the AFL system can have. That spells discount for fantasy coaches!
He played all 44 games in his opening two season back in 2013/14 and posted impressive fantasy season averages of 89 and 93 during that time. We should be talking about Jaeger as a premium midfield option by this stage of his career, instead coaches are erring on the side of caution because of his injury woes. Patella tendon injuries as bad as O'Meara's are never a quick fix type of injury, he was always going to have set backs and face a long road to recovery. He managed to get back playing some limited minutes in the NEAFL at the latter end of the 2016 season which was a huge positive for the 22 year old number one pick in the GCS mini draft back in 2011. The Hawks will be hoping that the move south gives some hope to the highly talented midfielder as they will be needing him to form a dynamic duo with new partner in crime Tom Mitchell as they rebuild. At last check back in early December, Jaeger was still running on the AlterG gravity treadmill with the hope of returning to grass running by mid January. So he's had an interrupted pre season once again which is not great news for fantasy coaches and the alluring price tag of $364,000 becomes just that little less tempting. You simply can't justify that price tag with that amount of risk attached to it. Not when you have David Swallow who is 10k cheaper and been in full training since November as the alternvative option - you can't have both surely, can you? Hopefully fantasy coaches will make the right decision here and go with a safety first approach to the mid priced, coming off an injury risk type of player. It'll be a gutsy choice if you happen to take him in your midfields, and we all know how Achilles ended up in the movie...let's hope for Jaeger and Hawk fans it's a happier ending.
The Breakout | Daniel Howe
Howe was a hype player during the pre season of 2016 as he was burning tracks up during the over the summer months before making an impression during the NAB Cup matches. Fantasy coaches thought they had their D5 or 6 option locked and loaded before the round one lockout - to their dismay, he wasn't named.
Taken with pick 31 in the 2014 AFL National draft, Howe has been sitting on the cusp of Hawthorn's best 22 for his first two seasons. A victim of the strong Hawks lineup during that time, many pundits believed Howe would have been firmly in most other team's starting line ups such is his raw talent. A smart decision maker with the ball in hand, Howe did manage to produce 11 games in 2016 for the Hawks, including a qualifying final against Geelong. By the end of the 2016 season, he ended up averaging 65.7 fantasy points mainly playing as a half back flank/wing option - and often coming off the bench. He had a high score of 96 against Essendon in round 12, though never really mananged to get into enough of a rhythm to consistently post good fantasy scores. With an ageing defence and gaps to fill in 2017, Daniel Howe looks set to finally cement a spot in the Hawk's starting 22. Has gained DPP status over the summer and can now be picked up as a DEF/MID option with a price tag of $405k. Hasn't put a foot wrong this pre season and is tracking along nicely for a round one berth in the team, the price could be off putting for some coaches - however those who snap him up early may have a breakout contender on their hands going into his 3rd season.
The Smokey | Ryan Burton
There is always a handful of players at every club that like to change up their jumper numbers in the off season. Some do it for a fresh start, others out of superstition and Ryan Burton does it to make statements. He was handed the prized number 5 jumper of now West Coast Eagle and club champion Sam Mitchell. You can bet that Mitchell, although departed, would have had some sort of say in who got his jumper, surely they would have given him at least that amount of respect. So for Burton to attain this number has significant meaning behind it.
Burton who was picked up in the 2015 draft with pick 19 is a goal kicking midfielder who was touted as a potential top 10 pick before a bout of glandular fever struck before the draft. Played four games in his first season at AFL level for a fantasy season average of just 46.8 and was named for the Hawk's qualifying final against Geelong which shows just how much faith coach Clarkson has in the 20 year old. I currently have him sitting on the bench in my best 22 for the Hawks, though he could just as easily find himself in their back six if he plays the pre season like he did in his round 23 match last season coming off a HBF. He will need to fight it out for a spot with the aforementioned Daniel Howe, Whitecross and Henderson as his main rivals so it will be interesting to see how he reacts to the challenge. There is no shortage of love though for the talented youngster and if he manages to get his chance, could be a smokey selection for fantasy coaches with a price tag of just $240k and the added bonus of DPP FWD/DEF status. Watch closely.
Which Hawthorn players have attracted your attention for 2017? Share your thoughts in the comments below.