WHEN season 2019 officially opened last week, I’m sure I wasn’t the only one who picked Brodie Grundy, Sam Walsh, Jake Lloyd and Patrick Dangerfield without a moment’s hesitation. Spots 5-30 were a bit trickier to fill, with a bunch of value picks and basement priced players filling in the gaps. There are plenty of popular picks up for grabs, but in a quest to be unique why not consider some of these left field options? Be warned, there are a few oddballs among these 21 chosen ones, but it’s always healthy to think outside the box.
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Kade Kolodjashnij, Melbourne Demons, $585K
A fresh start could be exactly what KK needs to refind his mojo. After concussion and other injury issues held Kolodjashnij to just 19 games over the last two seasons, a move to join the Demons in the off-season might see him take the next step in his fantasy game. We’ve seen him average over 80 twice before and it’s possible he has 90-point potential if the Demons unleash him a little further up the ground.
Hamish Hartlett, Port Adelaide Power, $534K
AN ACL tear saw Hamish Hartlett miss the majority of the 2018 season, but all reports indicate he’ll be fit and firing to go for Round 1. When Hartlett went down last year he was averaging near 20 disposals and eight marks a game and there’s no reason why he can’t be a good value play if those numbers are replicated.
Ryan Burton, Port Adelaide Power, $450K
WHILE Burton was originally shattered at the thought of being traded away from Hawthorn he seems set to relish a new start at Alberton. The SA native can thank a down 2018 for his low price, but he went at an average of 84.4 just 12 months before that at a consistent clip, giving us some confidence that he’ll be a reliable source of points in Power colours.
Image from portadelaidefc.com.au
Brodie Smith, Adelaide Crows, $439K
SMITH missed the Crows’ crusade to the 2017 GF through injury, with the majority of last season a lost cause as well. However, late in the year, Smith was able to get back onto the park scoring 101 in one of his two return games giving us hope he can return to 80+ average with a full pre-season under his belt.
Callum Mills, Sydney Swans, $522K
OF all the pre-season terms thrown around that cause AFL Fantasy coaches to stop everything ‘more midfield time’ has to be leading the way. Callum Mills is one such guy who could be in for a boost, burning up the track in the pre-season if you askt he right people. By no means should he be a walk up starter, but after spending most of his 55 career games running off the half-back line we could see Mills go over 75 for the first time in his fantasy career this year. Who really trusts Horse Longmire though?
Andrew Brayshaw, Fremantle Dockers, $485K
LACHIE Neale’s departure from the Freo midfield left us with a lot of questions. Some thought that Connor Blakely would help fill the gap, but his hamstring had other ideas (too soon?). That opens the door for Andrew Brayshaw, who was already expected to see his fantasy production increase, to push 90 this season and give us yet another mid-pricer in the midfield to consider.
He’s a bit handball happy to have a high ceiling, but will tackle his way to an 85 average. Can he get 90-95 to make it worth it?
— Moreira’s Magic (@MoreirasMagic) January 23, 2019
Angus Brayshaw, Melbourne Demons, $763K
STAYING in the Brayshaw family, with the exception of the Traders, why is no one talking about Angus? I’m not the captain of his fan club and I know value plays are what we covet in our starting sides, but there’s every chance he can improve on his 105 average. In his 10 games following the Round 13 bye last year, Brayshaw went at a 115.9 clip, with only two scores under 100. Don’t overthink it.
Tom Rockliff, Port Adelaide Power, $600K
STUCK between a Rocky and a hard place I don’t know which side of the fence I fall on right now with Tom Rockliff. His 2014 season was a thing of fable and since that point, his body/club/role has continually failed him, so much so that he isn’t on coaches radars’ despite being priced criminally low. Ollie Wines’ latest injury setback could open up ‘more midfield time’ for Rocky, but you surely can’t start with him…..right?
Paddy Dow, Carlton Blues, $403K
BEFORE you close the article hear me out. Last season only three Blues averaged a lower time on ground percentage (TOG%) than Dow and for a player who accumulated a ton of the footy as a junior, it’s no wonder his fantasy numbers were impacted. Some fear the arrival of Sam Walsh will push him out of favour, but I beg to differ. As Carlton work’s their way back up the standings expect their young brigade to lead the charge and there’s no reason why Dow can’t offer 15-20 point upside if he can get his hands on the pill more consistently. I’m serious.
Dayne Zorko, Brisbane Lions, $701K
FIVE times in the last two years Dayne Zorko has scored under 60, understandably scaring off potential buyers. However, he has the same number of scores over 150 in that time, showcasing his elite fantasy potential that only so many players possess. Splitting his time between the midfield and forward line has impacted his consistency and if he’s able to move back closer to the pill there’s no reason why Zorko can’t be a 110 candidate.
Liam Shiels, Hawthorn Hawks, $704K
WHILE Wingard and Worpel are gathering steam as must have’s after Tom Mitchell’s broken leg, we shouldn’t sleep on Liam Shiels. He hasn’t been known as a fantasy mainstay in years past, but with injury comes opportunity. Shiels is no slouch either, scoring a ton in more than half his games last season, averaging a career-best 23.1 touches per game (with 14.4 kicks as well). Taking the injury history of Jaeger O’Meara into account don’t be surprised if Shiels ends the year as the highest scoring Hawk. Draft relevant for sure.
Rory Sloane, Adelaide Crows, $653K
CAN Rory Sloane shag the tag? The $653,000 dollar question puzzling fantasy coaches around the globe. While injuries derailed Adelaide and Sloane’s season a year ago, a healthy Rory isn’t a lock given his struggles against shut-down players in the past. An injury-free Crows midfield can ease the pressure on Sloane though, so don’t put a line through him just yet.
Jackson Hately, Greater Western Sydney Giants, $244K
WHILE Charlie Constable and Sam Walsh remain popular rookie picks in the middle, don’t take your eye of Jackson Hately. With midfielders in high order at the Giants following the loss of Dylan Shiel, Hately shapes as a ready-made replacement in GWS’ engine room and could be in line for a Round 1 debut. Avoid the bullocking mid at your own risk.
Todd Goldstein, North Melbourne Kangaroos, $678K
WE aren’t that far removed from Goldstein going off for an inhumane 113.8 average, entering rare fantasy ruckman air. While recent times have been somewhat uninspiring, there’s every chance Goldy can top triple figures again this season and be a reliable sidekick in your team alongside Brodie Grundy.
Image from bigfooty.com
Tim English, Western Bulldogs, $446K
MY R2 choice at the time of typing is Bulldogs pup Tim English. Priced at just 61.4, I can’t see the second year pro falling under that as he prepares to be the teams solo ruck this year. By no means is he locked in after some lacklustre fantasy games last year, but with another pre-season under his belt, I have faith he can repay me and the other coaches considering him.
Zach Clarke, Essendon Bombers, $270K
TALK about value! After a few years on hiatus, Zach Clarke is generating buzz as a starting option, costing you only $100K more than basement priced players. How Essendon plans to utilise their rucks will tell a lot and I don’t have the balls to pull the trigger on starting with Clarke. However, if he’s on the Dons’ team sheet to start the season and has the faith of the coaches, it could be a season-defining play.
Robbie Gray, Port Adelaide Power, $612K
ARGUABLY the most frustrating player on the most frustrating team in all of fantasy. Robbie Gray has top-6 FWD potential every season and 2019 looks no different. Uncertainty around his role casts a shadow over his potential ceiling though, with Gray splitting time between the midfield and forward line for the past few seasons, causing his scores to fluctuate. If he steps into more of a midfield role though, then Gray could be a unique steal. Should he stay permanently closer to the sticks, then he can’t be seriously considered.
Daniel Rioli, Richmond Tigers, $480K
THIS is a bit of a reach, but Daniel Rioli could be a money maker early on this year. Set for his fourth season of pro footy, Rioli is coming off career-high disposal, mark and tackle counts last year even with injury curtailing the start of his 2018 campaign. The former first-round pick finished the year with two scores over 85 in his final three home and away games and we could see these performances become more common in 2019. Like I said, it’s a reach, but Tom Lynch’s arrival, Josh Caddy’s development as a forward and the potential of Dusty appearing heavily inside 50 again could see Rioli feature in the Tigers midfield.
Luke Dahlhaus, Geelong Cats, $570K
A somewhat underrated off-season move that could see Dahlhaus become a popular player this year. Last season was almost a wash with the premiership dog craving a fresh start after questions arose over his commitment to the Bulldogs, giving us the chance to snag him at a discount. Now donning Geelong colours, there’s every chance Dahlhaus can recapture the vibe that has seen him average high 80’s-late 90’s in the past.
Jesse Hogan, Fremantle Dockers, $646K
WHILE Hogan’s price might worry you, don’t forget he isn’t your traditional key forward. More than capable of playing up the ground, Hogan averaged a career-best 18.2 touches over his 20 games last year and following Fremantle’s recruitment of Rory Lobb, there’s every chance Hogan maintains a similar role for the Dockers. Health issues are concerning, but if he’s fit and firing then Hogan could flirt with top-6 status.
Jack Darling, West Coast Eagles, $557K
ANOTHER bullocking goal-kicker who proved last season he isn’t one-dimensional is Jack Darling. Six times in West Coast’s opening nine games Darling scored in triple-figures as a healthy Josh Kennedy nestled in closer to goal, highlighted by an enormous 21 touch, 15 mark, six-goal performance against Richmond. If he can have more outings like this, Darling is bound to become an extremely relevant fantasy player.
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