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 | Todd Goldstein
Although Goldy dropped dramatically on his stellar 2015 fantasy season, he still managed to finish in the top three rucks for 2016 behind Max Gawn and breakout ruckman Brodie Grundy.
He set the bar high in his All Australian 2015 season as he went on to average 111 fantasy points across 22 games which was coincidently a 22 point increase on his 2014 season. He went the other way in 2016 and averaged 14 points less to have fantasy coaches scrambling for Max Gawn in the fantasy finals as big Goldy could only manage a pitiful 77.3 between rounds 21-23. This drop off in the latter part of the season was compounded by the fact both Gawn and Grundy went on to average 123 and 121.3 respectively between the same rounds at the business end of the season. There was speculation that Goldstein was carrying a niggling shoulder injury in the back half of the year that affected his output for the Kangaroos. With Goldy heing the only genuine ruck option at the club, this means his workload can become an issue in the latter part of seasons - which can consequently affect his fantasy scoring ability. Still only 28 years of age and highly durable (only missing 7 games since 2010), there is hope that Goldstein can recapture some of his brilliant 2015 form from fantasy coaches as they look to pick up a bargain in the ruck department. I'd dare say there is little chance he will average his 110+ score again in his career - though a mid 90 average by season's end is not out of the question if fully fit.
The Mid Pricer | Shaun Higgins
'Higgo' could possibly be on par with Heath Shaw as the most talked about 'never again' listed player among fantasy coaches. The only difference between the two is that Shaw managed to remove himself off that list after his 2016 efforts.
Higgins has struggled for much of his career to keep his body on the park, playing 20 games or more in a season on just 4 occassions from his 11 year career to date. It's this ability to find ways to injure himself, plus the fact he has never made the role transition from high half forward to full time mid that has put fantasy coaches off the 28 year old. 2016 was another one of those injury prone years again for Higgins as he tore his meniscus in his knee during the round seven clash against the Saints. He came back for the final round of the season and played in the Roo's elimination final, but didn't have his usual impact. He could only manage a 73 fantasy average last season, which was down 11.5 points on his 2015 average of 85.5 (his second highest average of his career since 2009). At his age and with the Kangaroos wanting to blood more young midfielders into their engine room, I can envision Higgins playing his usual role of creative high half forward. Don't get me wrong, he's sublime to watch when he's up and about, but as a fantasy forward option (or any optoin for that matter), it should be a no-brainer decision for coaches - keep him on your 'never again' list.
The Bargain | Nathan Hrovat
After missing the first 19 rounds of 2016 with an ankle injury, Hrovat came back into the team for the last four rounds only to be dropped for the Dog's finals series. Now at the Kangaroos, Hrovat has been in full training unhindered by the ankle and even went to Utah for the Roo's altitude training camp in November. A potential sneaky sleeper for your forward lines, as he has been discounted on his 76.8 2016 average because of his 4 games played and comes with a price tag of just $380k as a DPP mid/fwd option.
Only 22 years of age, his best footy is still in front of him as he moves into his fifth year in the AFL system. Averaged a tick under 20 disposals in his four games last season, so one would think with a full pre season behind him and some continuity in his game, there is an argument he could push that average up around the 22-23 range. Add this to his 4.8 mark and 2.5 tackle averages from 2016 and potentially he could average in the mid 80's as a forward option. With a relatively inexperienced midfield at the Roos, Hrovat also has an opportunity to score some midfield time as a practical replacement for the retired Brent Harvey. The knock on Hrovat is of course his injury history, as he's only managed 30 games in four years of footy. Never the less, the potential is there and he should make your watchlists to see what type of role coach Brad Scott has in store for the little dynamo.
Fresh Blood Stud | Marley Williams
Crossing over from the Magpies in last year's trade period, Marley Williams will be looking for a fresh start on a career that seemed to go backwards in 2016.
Marley had his best fantasy season back in 2015 with a season average of 76 to establish himself as one of the Magpie's best running defenders. Though injury derailed his 2016 campaign after an injury to his foot in round three against the Saints which kept him on the sidelines til his return in round 15. By that point it was difficult for Williams to recapture any sort of form that resembled his 2015 season as he went on to average his lowest fantasy output since his debut season in 2009 of just 55 points. He's had his form and injuries woes to contend with for much of his career as he's only been able to manage 20+ games in one (2015) of his five years in the system for a total of 78 games. He's priced a solid 20 points below what he is capable of which could mean you pick him up with the option to upgrade once his price has risen enough to snap up a premium defender. He should slot into the Kangaroo's back six nicely next to the likes of Macmillan, McDonald, Atley and Wright, though which one gets the lucrative running defender job is yet to be seen. Macmillan is every chance to move up the field into a more attacking role on the wing, which leaves speedster Atley to perhaps team up with the equally quick Williams as a running duo off half back. A potential D4/5 proposition at just $332,000, could be worth the risk.
The Breakout | Mason Wood
There isn't another player on the North Melbourne list that excites the faithful fans more than Mason Wood. After arriving at the club back in the 2012 draft with pick number 41, standing at 192cm and 86kg, Wood has sculpted himself into the prototype big bodied midfielder that the team desperately needs next to the smaller Ziebell and Cunningham.
If you factor in the result that he finished first in the Roo's most recent time trial, you have a player that could potentially be a midfield wrecking machine. The Arden St curse struck Wood in 2016 however, and ligament damage to his knee caused him to miss a substantial part of the season as he only managed to play 8 games. This curse has stuck with the 23 year ever since he arrived at the club back in 2012, managing to play just 16 games in four seasons - with 2013 being a complete write off with a fracture of the thigh bone. He's obviously been up and running this pre season and seems to be moving freely after his time trial efforts back in December, so coaches can only assume that when he's fit, he's easily in the team's best 22. In his 8 games played last season, he managed to score 70+ points on 4 occassions, with round 13 against the Bombers bring a season high score of 102. I still see him playing large minutes across the half forward line as he has done for much of his career as he has an elite set of hands, which is why he was drafted in the first place. Wood is very much an unproven hype player and should be looked at with caution by fantasy coaches with his injury history.
The Smokey | Trent Dumont
Trent 'Froggy' Dumont had a delayed start to his AFL career after being chosen in the 2013 National draft with picked number 30. Delayed mainly due to a strong Kangaroo outfit, particularly in the midfield in 2014 he was unable to crack into their best 22 and instead regularly dominated VFL matches averaging over 25 possessions a game.
Dumont broke through in 2015 to 8 matches for a fantasy season average of 45.5 after being the sub candidate for several of those games. The 2016 season brought greater opportunity for the 21 year old as he managed 12 games - though his off field incidents didn't help his cause. He was charged with an alleged taxi robbery back in his home state of South Australia and had to face the courtroom back in April. After his hearing, Dumont managed to work his way back into the Kangaroo's outfit to play out the 2016 season to average his best fantasy output of his short career with 73.4ppg. During the year he played a variety of roles, including the dreaded tagging role that fantasy coaches hate. He's one of those players in a similar mould to Michael Barlow, not blessed with any real attribute - except footy smarts, he knows how to play the game and find the ball. If he's let off the leash, which I doubt coach Brad Scott will let him, then he's a 25 disposals a game player. Team's these days generally go into the centre square with at least one genuine defensive midfield type of player, and with Swallow, Ziebell and Cunningham not giving up their attacking roles - Dumont is the one left out. His VFL performances warrant a smokey selection, though fantasy coaches have other options around the same price with less risk to their position and role in the team.
Which North Melbourne players have attracted your attention for 2017? Share your thoughts in the comments below.