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 | Jack Steven
Jack Steven is the epitomy of a hard working midfielder. The rugged Saint has been a consistent fantasy performer since his breakout season in 2015. He managed 111.7 that year, after becoming the Saints number one midfielder to take his game to the next level and become an uber elite mid of the competition.
It's harsh saying that Jack had an ordinary year in 2016, but it was by his standards. The dynamic inside mid dropped seven fantasy points on his 2015 season average to end the season on 104.4 - as I said, harsh. Though he improved in the disposals category at 28 per game (one more than 2015), Steven dropped in both the his marking (2.8) and tackle (5.6) averages for the season. He still managed 13 tons for the year however, though was at times up and down on form and posted 5 scores below 75 points during the year. Though at times he looked to be hampered by niggling injuries, Jack still managed to pump out 22 game for the year to back up his 2015 total. This can be a good and bad thing as a coach, as you would prefer not to have players in your team that are carrying those niggly injuries - but at the same time you don't want to trade a premium player who's actually playing! At just 26 years of age, Steven still has development in his game and as a leader of the club, will no doubt look to recapture some of his 2015 form to lead the Saints into the top eight come September.
The Mid Pricer | Blake Acres
I watched Acres relatively closely throughout the 2016 in what must have been a super frustrating year for the 21 year old former number 19 pick from WA (West Perth). In and out of the squad for much of the season, it seemed as though every time Acres managed to put together a decent game, he was straight back out the following week. Coach Alan Richardson it seemed was less than impressed with the defensive side of his game, so hopefully if he can get that aspect right, we might see more of Acres in 2017.
Acres wouldn't be fantasy relevant if it wasn't for his new DPP status of FWD/MID, as you would only look at him as a forward. Even with the doubt of holding his spot in the team from week to week, Acres still managed to have a mini breakout season to post his highest fantasy season average of his three year career of 71.4. That's 24 points higher than his 2015 season where he only managed to play 7 games total for the season, he more than doubled that game total in 2016 posting 16 games. He was played for the majority of his time on the wings and pushing forward to deliver the ball inside 50 - he has excellent kicking on both sides of the body. What pleased me the most was Acres last five games of the season when it seemed the shackles were let off and he was able to play his own free running game. He went for fantasy scores of 91,82,99,121 and 66 between rounds 19-23 for a five game fantasy average of 91.8. You would take that as your starting F4 or 5 postion in round one any day of the week. The issue here is is coach Richardson happy with his defensive game development enough to ensure a spot in the Saint's 22 every week? Acres will be up against the likes of new recruits Koby Stevens and Jack Steele, not to mention the other young guns in Dunstan, Newnes and Billings for a spot on the wing/high half forward. I like him as a forward as he could potentially average 85 at the most in his fourth year, though I want to see him cement his spot before committing.
The Bargain | Luke Dunstan
Taken one spot before the aforementioned Acres in the 2013 National draft with pick 18, the 22 year old Luke Dunstan presents fantasy coaches with a bargain price tag of just $416,000 (potential pending).
Much hype has surrounded Dunstan since his arrival at St. Kilda, he's shown us glimpses of his talent and fantasy scoring potential during his first three years in the system. Though talented, he's never quite been able to string consistent games together playing as the 4th or 5th mid that pushes forward delivering inside the 50. In fact, Dunstan has gotten worse since his debut season in 2014 when he averaged 74.4 fantasy points for the season - which is impressive for any first year player. So you can understand the hype and consequential disappointment in both St Kilda fans and fantasy coaches alike as he followed up with a 70.3 average in 2015 before stooping to 68.8 fantasy points last season. Looking at his games played over his first three seasons, his durability is average at best, recording 53 games from a possible 66 as he missed due to both soft tissue type injuries and indifferent form. I can understand the hype around him, but can't justify selection as a mid only option - in fact he probably wouldn't even make my watchlist as a forward either. Unless he can somehow move himself into the midfield, where there is a long waiting line now at the Saints, Dunstan is still going to play that inconsistent half forward role which he's been stuck in since 2014. I'll pass on the potential, there are better options for around the same price.
Fresh Blood Stud | Koby Stevens
The now journeyman originally from West Coast has made the move to the Saints during the off season and will be scathing about not playing in the Dog's premiership last year. After four season with the Bulldogs, Stevens captured some of the best form of his career as he made a name for himself as a hard running midfielder that can play inside the 50 when required.
Hampered with soft tissue injuries all his career, Stevens has only managed 24 games in the past two years with a career season high of just 20 back in 2014. Though when he manages to drag his body on the park, he can be a viable fantasy scoring option. In 2016, Stevens averaged a career best fantasy average of 85.7 over his 12 games played with 22.3 disposals, 3.3 marks and 5 tackles to his name. That was up on his 2015 season average of 83.3 where he still only managed 12 games but had 7 games of 85 or higher in that time with 4 tons. His start to the 2016 season was impressive when you look back, between rounds 1 and 6, Stevens managed fantasy scores of 94,81,62,108,117 and 106 for a six round average of 94.6. Though he's in the Saints best 22, he would be hard to trust in your fantasy best 22 based on that injury record. By all reports, he's running freely at pre season training for the moment however and still at only 25 years of age has his best footy in front of him. Would make a great POD for your forward line, but you would have to be a brave coach to take him from round one even with the slim pickings up forward for coaches this year.
The Breakout | Jack Billings
The best of the three Saints taken in the 2013 draft at number 3 is Jack Billings. Though like Dunstan and Acres, he is yet to completely break from his shell and show fantasy coaches his obvious scoring potential on a consistent basis. Could his fourth year in the system be a breakout?
Down on his 2015 fantasy average of 84.1, Billings had coaches thinking he might be due for a third year breakout in 2016 - to our disappointment, he was not due. Billings dropped on his 2015 average to post a 79.4 in 2016 while again missing games due to niggly soft tissue injuries as he played a total of 17 games for the season. Optimistically, 17 games was the best output for his career however - which isn't exactly something to write home about. Like Dunstan, there is still a massive gap between his best and worst game which is understandable still only being 21 years of age. You can expect that inconsistency to diminish in the coming years as he works his way into a more fantasy friendly scoring role through the midfield. I'm not 100% sure that 2017 will be that year however, with the additions of Steele and Stevens, midfield spots are hot items at the Saints, though someone needs to fill Joey's shoes don't they? Even as a DPP forward option at $479k, he's too rich for my pockets, i'm just not seeing enough upside to his game in order to become a keeper. I'll have him on my watchlist for the JLT matches, though I won't be holding my breathe for more midfield time and an injury free season for Jack.
The Smokey | Jack Steele
The former GWS Giant has crossed the state borderline in search of greater opportunity at the Saints, will this equate to more fantasy points for coaches however?
Taken at pick 24 in the 2014 National Draft, 21 year old Jack Steele is the prototype big bodied midfielder standing at 187cm and 86kg. It's those physical attributes along with an insatiable appetite for hunting the man that has St Kilda fans thinking they got an absolute 'steele' at last season's trade period. Though for all his plaudits, Jack has still only managed 17 games across his two year career to date. The stacked midfield at the Giants meant he wasn't required by the time he came along with names like Shiel, Greene, Coniglio and Whitfield already making a name for themselves. Though starved of opportunity, when not playing in the NEAFL, Steele managed some solid fantasy scoring in 2016 as he average 71.6 over his 10 games played - which was 7 points up on his 2015 season average. He has a great looking stat line for a player that has played limited midfield minutes in his career as well, in 2016 he managed 15.5 disposals, 4.1 marks and 4.1 tackles. It's that even spread that says to me he can play as both an inside and outside mid, which is a perfect fantasy formula.
There is huge room for improvement here with a player of his calibre, you would be ignorant as a fantasy coach not to think that Steele will be thrown in the guts as Richardson tries to find Lenny Hayes reincarnated. Steele can be that hard, big bodied mid for them to protect the likes of Steven, Armitage and the other young mids in a similar fashion to what JPK does over at Sydney. At just $432k, he's that mid priced risk that might just pay off - how many of these type of blokes you have in your team is limited, though i'll certainly be keeping a close on on what role he plays over the pre season.
Which St. Kilda players have attracted your attention for 2017? Share your thoughts in the comments below.