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...
Taken at number 30 in the 2013 draft, it didn't take Maynard long to establish himself in the Magpie's defensive six. The perfect size for a medium defender (186cm/86kg), he has the ability to run and carry or perform a lock down role on some of the best forwards in the game. 2016 was a solid year for the young South Australian product where he established himself, but can he take his game to the next level?
It may seem an odd choice to focus on a player that has played under 30 games and hasn't had a whole lot of recognition around Fantasy circles. But Maynard has all the hallmarks of a future Fantasy blue chip defender in the same mould as a Grant Birchall or Corey Enright. An elite raking left boot and smart decision making are his damaging attributes, while he showed signs of becoming the running, line breaking half back that Collingwood (and Fantasy coaches) desperately need at times.
The Collingwood back six is as unstable as it has been since it's premiership in 2010. Nathan Brown, Jack Frost, Jonathan Marsh, Alan Toovey and most notably Marley Williams have all departed the Holden Centre from last year. Buckley will be looking to establish a new back six that resembles some sort of consistency and with Maynard playing 20 games last year, he's shown he can be durable and reliable. Pending his pre season form, he seems to be a lock for the running half back role left by Williams, with Langdon more than likely taking the other side. Ramsay poses the only real threat when he returns from injury, he's highly touted within the club and could very well fill a spot in the back six once fit.
For much of the 2016 season, Maynard was forced into lock down roles often having to play accountable footy in the defensive half. There was however a month of football that perked my interest roughly half way through the season (rounds 10-14) where he was let off the leash and played some damaging football across half back while pushing up the wing. During those rounds he went for 113,94,83 and 123! That's huge for a defender and is the main reason why i'm writing this article. He fills the stat sheet pretty well for a defender also, unlike a Birchall who struggles to lay a tackle, in 2016 Maynard averaged 15.5 disposals, 4.5 marks and 3.5 tackles per game. Going into his third season, natural progression should at least push his disposal average up closer to the 20 average.
Collingwood should be pushing for a top eight finish in 2017 which generally equates to more consistent fantasy players and Buckley seems to like the young bloke allowing him to develop even when he had the odd stinker. The question here will be, does Buckley allow Maynard to play the run and carry role or will he be forced to lock down again?
He'll be listed as a defender again in 2017 and with that in mind if he can find another 10-12 ppg and bring his average up around the 80 mark, he'll be worth a look as your D4/5 to start the season. Watch what Buckley does with him in the pre season games and if he ticks all the right boxes, don't hesitate to pull the trigger on this bloke.