The pre season is upon us! In the lead up to round one i'll be covering one player from each team that you may have otherwise not given a second thought to for your squad in 2017. Any fantasy coach can pick an established elite, but it's 'the other guys' that will inevitably decide your team's fate. Today we focus our fantasy thoughts on...
The hard working Adelaide mid came into his own last season and made a name for himself despite the constant comparisons to brother Brad. Taken at number 23 in the 2013 draft, it's been a longer than expected coming of age for a player with obvious talent. Season 2016 gave the young crow his opportunity and he took it with both hands, producing his best season to date.
Fantasy coaches will cast their minds back to the start of 2016 when his brother was all the rage in fantasy circles before injury struck him down once again. This effectively gave Matt the reigns for that third midfield position behind Sloane and Thompson and it wasn't long before he moved up the ranks as the season unfolded.
What was most interesting about Matt's season was when Brad Crouch came back into the team after his lengthy stint on the sidelines. Fantasy coaches were weary of the double act and erred on the side of caution still when contemplating a trade involving either of the two brothers. Matt went from strength to strength as the season progressed however and his brother's presence seemed to have little effect on his fantasy output.
Crouch has the type of game that elite Fantasy mids are built on. In 2016 he averaged over 27 disposals per game (up from 21 in 2015) with the only knock being his handball happy ratio. He loves winning his own ball and won't rely on others feeding him all game long - he's a ball hunter. His outside game could improve, particularly with his outside marking - only averaging 3.4 marks per game last year. While 4.5 tackles per game is nothing to sneeze at, the elite mids generally need to crack the 5 tackles per game barrier in order to keep their consistent average.
Going into his 4th year in the system, natural progression for Crouch seems inevitable. All signs point to a 100+ average in 2017. He has now firmly entrenched himself into the Adelaide midfield brigade and with Thompson not getting any younger, would sit comfortably with his brother at number two behind Sloane (meaning the chance of a tag is low). Adelaide will also go into the season a little lighter on midfield depth with the loss of Jarryd Lyons, though not the same type of player, it still raises Crouch's stocks and potential time on ground. Then there is his final eight games of 2016 which reads 128,106,105,85,118,128,101 and 108 for an average of 109.87. Those are elite, consistent numbers for a midfielder - and those last two scores were in the heat of finals pressure.
Adelaide look to still be a top eight team in 2017 and we all know as coaches that the top eight teams generally produce the consistency we want in our players. Speaking of consistency, Matt managed 22 games in 2016 only missing rounds 9 and 10 so durability shouldn't be an issue. He's played three seasons now for 47 games total, though his first year he was in and out due to a strong Adelaide midfield and in 2015 he still managed 17 games after breaking into the team in round six.
You'll be hard pressed to find a better candidate of taking his game to an elite level in 2017. Looking to take on more responsibility in the Adelaide midfield, Crouch has all the makings of an elite fantasy mid. He'll come at an inflated awkward price however and it'll be up to coaches to decide whether or not he can keep up his late season form from 2016 and has the ability to crack the magical ton average.
Will you be considering?