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 | Max Gawn
The big, bearded Maximus has risen to fantasy fame over the past two seasons posting up impressive season averages of 91.9 (2015) and 106.5 most recently in 2016. He's become the 'must have' ruck, taking the crown from Todd Goldstein who ruled the aerial dinosaurs in 2015 with his 111 season average.
It's not just the superior season average Max boasts, it's the way he goes about his business in scoring fantasy points that makes him a prime candidate for your number one ruck spot. In 2016, Gawn went on a rampage in the back half of the season and from rounds 12-23 pumped out an impressive 116.5 average during those rounds. That average included 10 100+ scores, the other was a 95 with a ceiling of 146 versing Collingwood (and his arch fantasy nemesis Brodie Grundy). I only say nemesis because Grundy is the closest ruck in the game at the moment of knocking big Maxxy off his perch. If you want a set and forget ruck, look no further - you'll pay top dollar, but you'll lose less sleep at night knowing the bearded bloke is there in your team.
The Mid Pricer | Angus Brayshaw
Taken at number 3 in the 2014 AFL National Draft, the highly touted Brayshaw had a reasonable start to his AFL career when he debuted in round 1 of 2015. That year he managed 21 games, which is a feat in itself for a first year player, let alone scoring a respectable 61.7 fantasy average by season's end.
Since then however, things haven't gone quite as to plan for the now 21 year old WA product. His pre season was put to bed for a month during a practice match when he strained his medial ligament in his knee. He then suffered a series of concussions, which had the Demon's medicos mothballing him for precaution. This meant Brayshaw only managed 10 games in 2016 and didn't really start his season until round 17. He quickly warmed up though, playing a high half forward role he managed to dish out an 81 average in the final 7 games of the season which inlcuded two tons and a 93. Now with a full pre season under his belt by all reports, Brayshaw is coming into his third year breakout and could potentially be a mid pricer worth watching - particularly as a forward option. Keep an eye on him during the JLT pre season matches for any sniff of midfield time, because he he does, an 85+ average is not out of the question playing in a Melbourne team that's on the up.
The Bargain | Jack Trengove
I desperately want to see this kid have some success in 2017 - as you would think another wasted year might just be the final straw for the one time co captain of the club. It's been well documented that Trengove has had his issues with his navicular foot injury for the past 2 1/2 seasons which has crippled the 2009 number 2 draft pick to just 5 games in the past three years.
He made his long awaited comeback in round 11 of the 2016 season against Hawthorn, but only managed to play two more games after that due to poor form. In those three matches he had 63, 86 and 62 fantasy points, which is far more underwhelming than what the talented 25 year old is capable of. Rewind the tape back to his second year in the system (2011) when Trengove managed 19 games for the season and an 89 fantasy average and you will know why he had tongues wagging in the coaches box. This kid was destined to be fantasy gold and i'm not so sure he can resurrect what was once such a promising career. At last check-in, Trengove was training with the rehab group in November, so again it seems as though it's another interrupted pre season which only spells danger for fantasy coaches. If you like backing in the long odds be my guest, but you're better off leaving this one off your shortlist no matter how tempting the price may seem.
Fresh Blood Stud | Jordan Lewis
In what was the second biggest surprise of the AFL draft period (Sam Mitchell being the first), fantasy legend Jordan Lewis has landed at the Demons. Debuting way back in 2005 and going into his 13th season as a senior player, Lewis has made the successful transition from floating half forward/part time mid to full time ball magnet midfielder over the past three seasons.
Since his full time move to the midfield at Hawthorn back in 2014, Lewis has had fantasy season averaged of 109, 108 and most recently 103. So there is a steady decline there now for the veteran 30 year old (31 in April), yet the move to the Demons and their crop of talented youngsters could reignite Lewis's fantasy scoring potential. I'm not saying he's going to propel back into the lofty heights of his 2014 year, but perhaps another 100-105 average isn't off the cards here as some may have thought. He fills the stat sheet like a premium mid should with 26.4 disposals, 5.5 marks and 4.1 tackles to his name in 2016. Despite his ferocious attack on the ball (and player), Lewis has a remarkable durability factor about him which fantasy coaches love. His past five season match totals read 22,24,24,23 and 24, you could go back even further and find a similar pattern. Despite all this, there is no doubting that Lewis in not getting any younger, and age aside, I don't see enough upside to his scoring potential to make him a keeper in the midfield. There are others around the same price range such as Coniglio and Viney who are more likely to increase their averages.
The Breakout | Christian Petracca
The truck finally got on the road in 2016 after being stalled at the station in what was meant to be his debut year after rupturing his ACL in the pre season of 2015. The number one draft pick of the 2014 AFL Draft had huge pressure on him to perform right from the start and although he didn't set the world on fire, he did show us glimpses of what we can look forward to for many years to come.
Petracca didn't make his debut until round 6 against St. Kilda as the Demons wanted to make extra sure their superstar was ready for AFL pressure. He went on to play every game for the remainder of the season to average 67.9 fantasy points that included 17.4 disposals, 2.5 marks and 3.3 tackles per game. In those 17 games, Petracca only had four scores above 80 and just the one game above 100 - the distressing part of this is he also had 7 scores below 60! In Petracca's defence however, he was played almost asthough Paul Roos wanted a protective bubble around him. He was played as a roaming/high half forward that very rarely went near the contest and you get the inkling that Roos is ready to now unleash his bull into some more midfield time in 2017. Still, the Demons midfield isn't as easy as it once was a few years back to wriggle your way into and Petracca will have some healthy competition against the likes of Viney, Tyson, Lewis, Jones, Vince, Brayshaw and Melksham. Even though he's a fantasy star in the making, I can't justify the price tag here.
The Smokey | Dom Tyson
Though it seems like he's been around for longer, Dom Tyson is going into his sixth season on a senoir list after spending his first two with the Giants before moving to the Demons in 2014. A number three draft pick in the 2011 AFL Draft, Tyson has made himself a main stay in the Melbourne midfield coming off his best fantasy season to date in 2016 with an average of 92.9.
All the signs are there for Tyson to become a premium option in fantasy, similar to what Jack Steven did a few years back for the Saints, Tyson could possibly become that rare player who takes a little longer to breakout completely. His stat line in 2016 reads of a well rounded midfielder with 25.2 disposals, 4.1 marks and 4.3 tackles to his name per game - these figures are only let down by his kick to handball ratio of 11 kicks/14 handballs. If he could possibly swing this the other way, there is an extra 3 points right there. Add the fact that his improved scoring over the past three seasons coincides with Melbourne winning more games than they have when he first arrived and the positives keep adding up for Dom. His durability with injuries is sound, playing 21 games last year - though he did miss 8 games the year before in 2015, while in 2014 he played 22 games in total. Although a fantasy scoring roller coaster in the first half of 2016, Tyson hit his straps when it mattered most as he went on to average 111.6 during the final 6 rounds of the season. If this type of form is shown during the pre season matches, Tyson could be a great smokey point of difference for your squad in 2017.
Which Melbourne players have attracted your attention for 2017? Share your thoughts in the comments below.