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 | Ollie Wines
The 22 year old, self proclaimed 'Quadzilla' has lived up to his number seven selection in the 2012 National Draft. Ollie has been on a steady incline since his inception into the AFL system and has improved his fantasy output each season. 2016 was Wines' breakout year as he amassed career high averages in the disposal (26.2) and tackle (5.8) categories. Consequently, he had his best fantasy output also topping the magical 100 barrier - just, with a 100.6 season average.
Moving into 2017, it has been reported that Wines is being groomed for the top job in the Port line up with Boak due to step aside in the coming years. Ollie was a leader from day one at the club and it will come as no surprise if he's the chosen one. He strikes me as the type of player that takes greater responsibility to heart and no doubt he will want to lead by example on the field going into his fifth season in the system. Though Ollie had a somewhat rollercoaster first half of the year in 2016 in terms of fantasy scoring, as he churned out just the 4 tons in 11 games played. It's his back half of the year that caught the attention of The Tragic's eye as he went for 9 tons in the last 11 games of the season at an average of 106.81. If late season form is any indication to go by, Ollie could very well continue his steady incline of fantasy scores into next season.
The Mid Pricer | Matthew Lobbe
Injury and form has struck the 2007 number 16 pick selection hard over the last two seasons. Lobbe went from potential 'next best thing' after his stellar 2014 season to the scrap heap after he was touted as trade bait in this year's trade period.
The 27 year old Lobbe could only manage 8 games in 2016 after rupturing his PCL in round five and only played the final three games of the season on his comeback. He wasn't in great touch to begin the season even before his injury however, as Hinkley even began experimenting with young development ruckman Dougal Howard in the team. It was a slap in the face for Lobbe and he will no doubt want to prove the haters wrong in 2017 with a more committed approach and full pre season behind him. Known for his elite tackling ability as a ruckman, although down on his lofty 2014 tackle average of 6.8 per game, he still managed 4.6 tackles per game in 2016. His indifferent form and injuries last season meant his fantasy average of 68.5 was his lowest since 2011 and almost 10 points less than his 2015 average. It's going to be a hard slog for Lobbe to prove himself again, especially with Patrick Ryder back in the frame in 2017. Port will no doubt want to play Ryder both as a forward to help out Charlie Dixon, so there is a place there for a second big man to play ruck minutes. If Lobbe manages to get a good run at it and gets decent time on the ground in the ruck position, there is no reason he can't push himself back up toward an 80 point fantasy average in 2017.
The Bargain | Brad Ebert
It was a massive fall from grace for the hard at it midfielder in 2016 as his fantasy numbers plummeted to their lowest since his days at West Coast back in 2011. Rewind back to 2015 when Ebert had his best season to date at a fantasy average of 102, he dropped nearly 18 points in 2016 to a disturbing low of 84.5.
There wasn't any clear reason why Ebert had such a drop off in form, one could only speculate that he was carrying one of those niggling 'i can still play, just not very well' type of injuries thoughout the majority of the season. He still managed 21 of 22 games and is as reliable as they come only missing one game in the past 5 years - incredible. Ebert has never been a huge accumulator of the ball for a midfielder, often averaging in the vicninity of 20-23 disposals per game during his time at Port. In 2016 however, he dipped below 20 at an average of just 18.4 disposals per game, which is well below average for a midfielder these days. His tackles average actually improved, as he's always been an elite tackler, he managed to improve by .5 per game on 2015 to average 6 tackles last season. Could these numbers point to a different role for Ebert in the middle? Has Hinkley marked him down as a full time defensive mid while the likes of Wines, Boak and Hartlett play the attacking role? Even so, you would back the 26 year old to improve on that 2016 average to somewhere in mid 90's at the very least in 2017 to make you some cash with a plan to upgrade later in the season.
Fresh Blood Stud | Sam Powell-Pepper
The ready built midfielder has an 83kg frame that a second or third year player would be envious of already. Has a similar game style to Dustin Martin in that he loves to take on the tackler with a don't argue and burst out of a pack situation with his quick first 3-4 steps. His height at 186cm, although not in the same category as a Pendlebury, is still super imposing against the smaller midfielders in the game. Averaged just over 13 posssions and 2 marks during his 4 games at the U/18 championships, so he's not going to rack up the numbers like a McGrath or Bowe, but then again he's not going to cost you the same either. He still has the ability to fill a stat sheet as was evident in his grand final appearance for his WAFL Colts team East Perth last year when he went for 22 disposals, 7 tackles and 4 goals in a game they lost narrowly. Port don't really have anyone like this kid in their best 22 at the moment, you look at who's spot he might take with names like Bonner, Impey, Young, Ah Chee and Amon being the ones most likely. With those names not being able to cement spots in recent years, Hinkley might just be inclined to start fresh and give Powell-Pepper a shot from the start if his pre season form warrants it.
The Breakout | Aaron Young
In what could be called a mini-breakout season in 2016 for Young, the 24 year old number 36 pick will be looking to take the next step in his development as a high half forward option.
In the four years prior to 2016, Young could only manage 42 games as he battled both injury and form. The departure of Monfries last season helped his case greatly as he practically slotted straight into the ex banned Bomber's role from round two and never looked back as he notched 21 games for the season, at an average of 75.2 fantasy points. As most forwards in his type of role, there were ups and downs in his scoring with a high of 124 and low of just 40 points. Clever coaches managed to pick him up at a relative bargain early in the season however and rode his steady price increase over the season before trading up just after the bye rounds. I'd find it difficult to find a spot for Young in the forward line in 2017 though, with much cheaper options such as Jamie Elliott who can average the same if not greater, with the added bonus of job security. If you are looking at a player such as Young, it's in the hope that he can iron out his inconsistent scores, improve his average into the 80's with the plan to later upgrade him. The potential to breakout is dependent on his ability to move up the ground and through the midfield - something he did do a few times in 2016. There were games when he would roam up the ground and pick up cheap posessions to accumulate 20+ disposals which is when he scored at his best (9 games he managed 85+ fantasy points). The worry here though is Monfries and how he will effect Young's position in the team. It'll be a gamble for coaches that take him, though it could potentially be one that pays off as the season unfolds.
The Smokey | Hamish Hartlett
Hamish 'Potential' Hartlett has been a fantasy mystery ever since his debut year back in 2009. Taken high in the 2008 National Draft with pick number 4, Hartlett has teased fantasy coaches to the point of ending up on more than a few 'never again' lists.
Hamish picked up defender status as a DPP last season and has kept it for 2017 coming with a price tag of $474,000. Years before, he was only available as a midfield option and with his inability to score at a consistently elite level, was never a viable option for coaches. You almost put a line through him, until you see his 2015 fantasy average of 96 and think to yourself - what if? That 96 average in 2015 came with 8 100+ scores (including 107,123, 125,125 in the final four rounds), plus 7 90+ scores. That's the sort of form that makes an elite defender option and is still the reason why coaches have one eye on him for 2017. He starts next season well underpriced at an average of just 78.5 - which was his lowest average since his debut season way back in 2009. So if nothing else and pending injury, Hartlett will certainly improve on his 2016 average to make you some coin. He's had his issues with injury in the past and is one of the main reasons why his 2016 season was such a wreck as he battled calf and soft tissue injuries. Though the three seasons before that he didn't miss a game suprisingly to play all 22 matches in 2013, 2014 and 2015. He's $22k cheaper than team mate defender Japer Pittard and if I had to choose between those two, i'd have to say Hartlett based on the fact he is so underpriced and still at the age of just 26, could easily get back to his 2015 form to average somewhere in the 90's.
Which Port Adelaide players have attracted your attention for 2017? Share your thoughts in the comments below.