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...
While Boof and his men have a lunch break at the MCG, take a gander at today's 'other guy'! Today we focus our attention on a player going into his third season of senior footy and who has already made some sizable steps in fantasy circles. Touk, an interesting name to say the least...Canadians use the word to describe what we call 'beanies'. Doesn't exactly strike fear into the hearts of opponents, but head warmers aside, Touk Miller has so far turned out to be an absolute bargain for the Suns who took him at 29 in the 2014 draft.
Since draft day, Touk has managed to play a total of 40 out of a possible 46 games - durability ✓. It's a stark contrast to his midfielder buddies in recent seasons, while the other superstars at GC have been clocking up km's on the recumbent...Touk has been clocking impressive fantasy numbers.
In 2015 he was primarily used as a high half forward, pinch hitting when needed through the guts ending the season with a respectable 70.1 average in his debut fantasy season. However, out of necessity, Eade has had to fast track his project's midfield minutes and with some handsome results. After a slow start to 2016, fantasy coaches could have been fooled into thinking Touk was destined for the second year blues. Then the midfield plague struck the Suns, Miller went in as a full time mid and from rounds 16-23 got on a roll for scores of 135, 84,111,87,75,139,105 and 98 (ave 104.25). Those of you who play Draftstars will know how good it was having Touk in your team every week at a bargain price - he was a lock in that format for those rounds. He ran the show in that midfield and for the majority was producing these scores in a losing team (2 wins/6 losses from rounds 16-23).
As a forward/mid option, as he has been named once again in 2017, Touk becomes an interesting proposition for fantasy coaches. Not dissimilar to fellow midfield breakout Aaron Hall, Miller also has the added bonus of a defensive side to his game. He showed during those rounds late last season that he can find the pill, but it was his 6.25 tackles per game from rounds 16-23 that were most impressive. It was a well rounded effort that filled that stats line - something that no doubt would have caught the eye of Rodney Eade.
With Jaeger and Prestia now departed, is this a chance for Touk to build on his elite late season form from 2016? The Suns have picked up Hanley, Barlow and Lyons through the draft so far. Hanley and Lyons don't bother me as much as what Barlow does. Both Hanley and Lyons will play on the outside, Pearce possibly as the running back replacing the retired Malceski and Lyons to play the wing pushing forward, similar to his role at the Crows. That leaves Ablett, Swallow, Barlow, Hall and Rischitelli (in that order, with the latter out for round one with his ACL injury) that Touk will be pressing his midfield claims against. I'd place Miller in front of Rischitelli anyhow based on youth and talent and would dare say Eade may like him in place of Hall with his defensive pressure in the clinches an added bonus over Hall. We all know what Barlow is about, he'll play midfield minutes and rack up if given the chance - but there is certainly a spot up for grabs if Miller wants it bad enough. Another watch this space over the pre season games for mine.
The only downside I see to picking up a player like Miller would be the uncertainty of midfield minutes. You wouldn't choose him as a midfielder, it's only as a forward you could take him with any confidence. He doesn't get a whole heap of easy possession and marks I will add, it's one side of his game that needs improvement - similar to an Ollie Wines in that regard. But what he lacks in easy +6's and marks, he will make up in an above average tackle rate if he plays a favorable role.
I've got him locked in for a 90 average at the moment and i'm quietly confident that will be his basement depending on the role he plays. Hopefully Eade sees him as a like for like Prestia replacement in the midfield while Ablett and Swallow add the silk, Barlow, Touk and Rischitelli can add the needed grunt in and under - with Miller also having a great turn of speed out of pack situations over the other two. Gold Coast can expect a jump up the ladder in 2017, how far is hard to predict, but if given a healthy list it's not out of the question they can push for a 8-10 spot in the grand scheme of things. Judging by his numbers and game style, Touk doesn't strike me as a 'downhill skier' however and wins/losses shouldn't affect his scoring as much as it would say an Aaron Hall type.
He's gone for 70 and 80 averages in his first two fantasy seasons, can the Sun's pocket rocket make the jump to 90+ in the wake of more midfield time in 2017?