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...
If you take a glance over the Lion's senior list it becomes quite evident why they finished in the position they did in 2016. They have 4-5 top tier players, then a whole heap of daylight before some very average albeit young cattle.
The 2013, number 33 draft pick Tom Cutler seems to have given some glimmer of hope in bridging that gap between Brisbane's best and worst line up. Cruelled by injury for much of his short career, he managed to string enough games together in 2016 (15 total) to justify the faith his team have shown in him since debuting in 2014.
The powerfully built defender has the ability to roam through the midfield when required while also giving great flexibility as a rebounding half back. He has a tendency to be given lock down roles which have affected his scoring output in the past, something to be weary of. At 190cm and 85kg though, if he can build his engine going into his fourth year it's likely he could see some more midfield time as a big body in the guts or play a more permanent role as the Lion's running defender with the departure of Pearce Hanley to the Gold Coast. Brisbane's midfield is still quality when you look at the names in there...Beams, Rockliff, Zorko, Rich, Robinson and Bastinac with youngsters Mathieson and Keays looking for more time as well. Can Cutler provide a chop out for those guys? Or does Fagan have other ideas for us to think about? Certainly keep an eye on his role during the pre season matches.
Now durability has never been a strong point for Tom only playing a combined 33 games in three years - and it seems he will be on a modified program for some of the preseason also. Cutler went in for a shoulder reco late in the season and reports are that he won't join the main group until early January if everything goes to plan. He should be good to go for round one however and as long as he plays some preseason games, he will make my watch list at the very least still.
With such a young squad, a new coach and what seems to be an annual player exodus from Brisbane these days, Cutler's job security seems to be a thing of the past and would be firmly entrenched in their top 15 players. Brisbane as a team however won't be making much ground up the ladder in 2017 by the looks of things and will be looking to blood some more games into their young players, meaning it could be tough going for fantasy scoring with the amount of losses they will endure. Still, Essendon proved to us last year that team ladder position isn't the be all end all when it comes to individual scorers - just ask Zach Merrett.
A +14 ppg from 2015 to 2016 for Cutler is something that should interest coaches in their quest for player breakout value, it's not out of the question that he could push that average up another 10 points to over the 80 mark in 2017. What was most eye catching was Cutler's round 12 effort against Fremantle last season where he put his full fantasy scoring potential on display. He went for 28 touches, 13 marks and 2 goals that game playing predominately as a midfielder that pushes forward, collecting 139 fantasy points (yes, you read that correctly!). If new Brisbane coach Chris Fagan likes this version of Tom, we could see more performances like this rather than the stifling roles Leppitsch put him under.
He'll be priced at an awkward 70 average but could provide a great point of difference for coaches that are will to take a punt on a defender that could potentially move into the midfield on a more regular basis in 2017 and maybe be that stepping stone to an elite player. It's a mid priced risk and it might be slow going for Cutler after an injury interrupted pre season, but if he can string some promising pre season match performances together before round one you could do worse at D4 or 5.
Are you willing to take the risk?