The job of picking your premium players can sometimes be a tough one one for fantasy coaches. Ideally you want these players to be high scoring, durable, reliable and feature in the top dozen averaging players across their positional line - in other words, we want them to be our 'set and forget' players.
But what happens when you have two premiums on your mind, you can only afford one and it seems impossible to split them? The Tragic is here to help. In the lead up to round one, The Tragic will be pitting some of the best premium players against one another to help coaches make the tough decision.
Welcome to the Head 2 Head series... So, who will you choose?
It's the young and the...well, veteran going head to head in a battle of the backlines. Montagna gets his new position status in 2017 becoming a defender only, while Laird keeps his defender status after another stellar year in Adelaide's backline.
It's an intriguing position for fantasy coaches having Montagna as an option in their defensive six. Such a predominant midfielder for the Saints for many years, in 2016 Monty (as so many older statesmen are doing these days) made a move across the half backline in an effort to play the sweeper/quarterback role. Luke Hodge has made this role his own for the Hawks for the past 4-5 years, while Boyd has been doing it for the Dogs the last couple. Statistically, Montagna dropped roughly 10 points in AFL Fantasy from his 2015 average of 109 - to which most of those points were lost in tackles as he moved out from the midfield and averaged 2.7 tackles per game in comparison to 2015 when he had 4.8. Never the less, a 98 average still puts Monty in a lockable position as a defender and you would ideally want him in your team by season's end - I can't see him dropping any lower than a 95 at the most. His durability over the years has been a wonder to behold as his past five season game totals read 22, 17, 20, 21 and 22. Not bad for a 33 year old veteran - as his game style lends itself to bruise free footy, he rarely gets injured.
The decade younger Rory Laird is your typical small defender, alas with an uncanncy ability to get his hands on the ball in the back half. Rory took his fantasy game to a new level in 2015 with an 88 average before turning up the notch again in 2016 averaging 96.6 for the season. He finished up with a 27 average in the disposals category, which is unheard of for his position and 6.7 marks per game! Adelaide LOVE having the ball in his hands coming out of the backline and will look for him at every opportunity. They will also look to free him up to play loose across half back if they can move the match ups around. His consistency as a scorer is uncanny - one of the most reliable defenders you can own next to Sam Docherty. The scoring consistency is emphasised in his high and low scores for 2016, with his highest being 136 and lowest score of 73 - you would take a 73 all day long as a fantasy coach if that's going to be his lowest for the year.
So who do you take in season 2017? Well, ideally by season's end you are going to want both in your back six. If you can only have one, i'd lean toward Laird purely on his age factor - but, in saying that, Montagna will come out and probably knock out 23 games next season! Although Montagna has the ability to go 120+ more often than Laird, he does have those low scoring games that kill you as a coach when he dips under 70. Laird on the other hand has an unreal ability to somehow put up a respectable score even when his team are down or he's having a stinker. If you want to start the season with one of these blokes, then Laird is your man with Montagna a wait and see option that you can upgrade to later in the season.