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 | Andrew Gaff
The Eagle's running man lowered his fantasy colours in 2016 after his All-Australian 2015 season. One of the most reliable players in the AFL (missed one game in five years), Gaff was taken with pick number four in the 2010 national draft and has established himself as one of the best gut runners in the game today.
Gaffy broke out of his fantasy shell in 2015 with a career high season average of 102, which was the first time he had broken the 100 barrier. In that year he managed 15 100+ scores and had 9 of them in a row between rounds 8 to 17. How's that for reliability? Not only that, of those 15 tons scored, 11 of them were 110+ with a round high of 152 versing Adelaide. So what happened in 2016? Well, Gaff picked up where he left off at the start of the 2016 season as he averaged 104 over the first 5 rounds of the season. Then something extraordinary happened - Gaffy got injured for the first time in 5 years after a sickening head high blow from Tom Jonas that left the Eagle concussed and consequently missing the following week (plus leaving his fantasy score on 44 for that game). He wasn't quite the same Andrew Gaff for a few rounds after his comeback, before he smacked out a 131 against Essendon in round 15. By the end of the season, Gaff could only manage a season average of 93.7, which was 8.3 points down on his breakout 2015 year. So you could say he's underpriced for what he can produce and at the age of 24, still has plenty of development left in his game to perhaps push his average back above the 100 range. THe addition of Sam Mitchell can only aid Gaffy in 2017 as well, with Mitchell likely to take opposition tags - the tags Gaff was starting to get last season and in 2015 should no longer both him. Keep him on your watchlist.
The Mid Pricer | Elliott Yeo
I mentioned Shaun Higgins and Heath Shaw in my Kangaroo price reveal - but somehow managed to leave this bloke off that 'never again' list mention - possibly the fact that i've never owned the 'yoyo' that is Elliott Yeo. Famous for his up and down scoring that drives fantasy coaches nuts, Yeo has threatened to dominate fantasy backlines for several years without producing the goods.
2016 was no different, though he did manage his best season average of his five year career to date of 79. His first 5 rounds looked promising after he began the year playing predominatly as a midfielder, averaging a resspectable 90.4 as a defender (and that was with a score of 40 in round two as well). Coaches should have heeded that round two score and jumped ship right away, those that didn't were stuck on the fantasy roller coaster ride from hell. It's a frustrating situation for coaches because we know how good he could be, though it's his unpredictable role in the West Coast team that no longer makes him a viable fantasy option. Simpson has decided that Yeo is his go to guy for fixing problems and gaps in the team as they arise mid game. One minute he's ball hunting in the midfield, the next he's locking down in the backline. I can't see this changing in 2017 with the stacked midfield the Eagles have, Yeo is unlikely to see much time through the guts. Too much of a liability for my taste, I like a risk as much as the next coach but this one is like backing a 101/1 chance in the Melbourne Cup (wait a second...say what?).
The Bargain | Jonathan Giles
The journeyman Giles has made a career for himself as being the backup ruck over the past three years of his career. He was shunted out of the way in his final year at GWS by the big Mummy before playing second fiddle to Bellchambers at the Dons and most recently the Nic Nat/Lycett combo at West Coast. Well guess what Gilesy? ...get the boots out of the cupboard, because you're numero uno now!
Way back when Giles was relevant (2012), fantasy coaches enjoyed the huge cash gains as he sat on our benches as ruck cover for much of the season. That year he managed a more than respectable 82 fantasy average while playing 20 games. The following year he had a massive dip of 15 fantasy points to average 67, which was the tipping point for GWS getting Mumford into the young squad at the time. That was the last year Giles managed to play more than 10 games in a season. Since 2013, he's managed season match totals of 9, 3 and 4 at senior level - never due to injury, but simply because he hasn't been required. Possibly the most interesting part of all this is Giles' last two games of 2016 (yes, he did manage 4 games) as he posted fantasy scores of 90 in round 23 against Adelaide and 70 in the elimination final against the Bulldogs. That's satisfactory scoring for a bloke who has only played 16 senior games in 3 years. Now with a discount and priced well below what he is capable of and still only 28 years of age (he seems older for some reason), Giles could possibly best the best ruck option going around for those coaches looking to start the season with a premium/mid price ruck combo in round one.
Fresh Blood Stud | Sam Mitchell
In what was the BIGGEST news of the 2016 trade period, the Hawk's favourite son Sam Mitchell crossed the nullabor and landed in Perth. Only time will tell which club comes out on top for this trade, but at least the Eagles will get two things from the overdue Brownlow medallist - an elite midfield and a coach who will upskill their young midfielders.
The evergreen midfielder has been a fantasy staple for coaches over many years now. He's gone about his business with minimal fuss, collecting disposals at will while developing his fantasy game into one of the most consistent in the comp over his 15 year career. Since 2009 when Mitchell first broke the 100 season average barrier he has gone for season averages of 100.4, 108.9, 100.5, 94.5, 98.6, 104.9 and 98.7 last season. Mitchell has played 86 of a possible 100 matches over the past four seasons and that's mainly due to a large chunk of the 2014 season missed because of a hamstring injury. Fantasy coaches have thought he would get rested by the Hawks in the last couple of seasons due to his age and position he plays, though that hasn't been the case. His opening five rounds to 2016 were sublime as he racked up scores of 124, 146, 117, 130 and 101 for a five game average of 123.6! Coaches were scratching their heads wondering if the fountain of youth was indeed a real thing or perhaps he was just summoning the powers of Michael Tuck. Thankfully to avoid embarrassment as a fantasy coach, Mitchell did slow down in the business end of the season averaging 86.4 over the last five rounds. Though still a great player that will no doubt bring plenty to the table for West Coast in 2017, Mitchell seems on the downward fantasy scoring spiral and doesn't present any real value for coaches in their midfields. Pass.
The Breakout | Dom Sheed
Taken with the number 11 pick at the 2013 national draft, Dom Sheed had a season to forget in 2016 after his promising 2015 campaign.
Sheed battled with a pectoral muscle injury for the first 18 rounds of the season and could only manage to play the final five rounds, plus the elimination final against the Bulldogs. He stuggled to recapture the 2015 form that netted him a 69 season average across 23 games. Though when he finally warmed up, Sheed did manage to squeeze out a reminder score of 99 in round 23 against Adelaide while picking up 30 disposals and 7 marks along the way. The introduction of Sam Mitchell to the club has been Sheed's biggest highlight of the off season as he's followed the Hawk's champion around like a second shadow by all reports - let's hope for fantasy coaches that he's learnt something over the past 3 months. Though the West Coast midfield has some main stays with the likes of Priddis, Mitchell, Gaff and Shuey, they also have some dubious players there as well, which includ names like Masten, Hutchings, Jetta and Redden. So there is space for him to rotate through and perhaps give the elder statesmen such as Mitchell and Priddis a chop out. Going into his fourth season on the list and having a full pre season behind him could mean a breakout for the kid from Kalgoorlie. He was underpriced already, though with the discount because of his 5 games played last season, Sheed could possibly be priced 20-25 points lower than what he could average in 2017. Keep watch.
The Smokey | Jack Redden
Oh where art thou 2011 Jack Redden? It has to be said that the move West has not been a successful one thus far for the once fantasy stud as he dropped to his lowest fantasy season average in 2016 (64.9) since his debut season in 2009.
It's easy to forget as a fantasy coach that this bloke went for season averages of 109 (2011), 103 (2012), 95 (2013) and 105.6 in 2014 - that's elite midfield numbers. It's fair enough to think that a player may drop in output in their first year at a new club, but a 32 point drop from 2015 is just ludacris! His 2016 campaign was derailed from the start as he suffered an adductor strain during the pre season back in January. Adductor strains are tricky injuries that you either go in for surgery and have it released or manage it throughout the season. The Eagles opted for the latter and judging by Redden's performances, it was the wrong choice. Consequently, his poor performances resulted in him being dropped for the backhalf of the season as he could only manage 15 games for the year. Redden's fantasy game is built on tackles, he's elite to say the least. Even in his underwhelming 2016 season he still managed 4.8 tackles per game, before that he was regarded in the top 3 tacklers in the comp averaging 6.5 tackles per game between 2010-2015. The million dollar question for fantasy coaches is can Jack return to something that resembles the real Jack Redden? Is he capable of a 100 average again while at West Coast? If so, he potentially becomes the biggest mid priced money maker of 2017. If he manages to show any inkling of the old Jack during the JLT pre season matches, then you have to strongly consider him.
Which West Coast players have attracted your attention for 2017? Share your thoughts in the comments below.