WE’VE all got em. Those players that send a shudder down your spine based on their previous failures as a member of your AFL fantasy squad. The ‘never again’ list is a document close to coaches hearts, with some holding a grudge against players for years and new inductees making themselves known with each season that passes. We aren’t sure what will happen with the upcoming AFL season, but I can guarantee these players won’t find their way into my fantasy side!
All numbers/stats provided are sourced from AFL Fantasy
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On The Fence
A bad showing in the 2020 season might be the nail in the coffin for this handful of players. Some of them have injuries to blame for their shortcomings, but either way, they’d better tread lightly this season – or else.
Daniel Hannebery, Saints, MID, $622K
YOU couldn’t be blamed for throwing Hannebery onto your ‘never again’ list after the Saint/former Swan and his health concerns made fantasy footy a tough ask for a lot of coaches. Hanners did average 98.6 from just five games a year ago as his body continued to let him down and with his peak in the rear vision mirror, it’ll take an extremely brave coach to pick the Saints MID.
Lance Franklin, Swans, FWD, $523K
WE already know that Lance Franklin will miss the start of the season and Buddy’s fuel tank is approaching empty. At the age of 33, Franklin will be eager to continue adding goals to his career tally and push himself as high as possible – currently sitting 7th all-time with 944 snags. Unfortunately, even if he can have an impact on the scoreboard, I can’t see Buddy churning out a 90+ average that we have associated with him in the past, making him too risky for this year and maybe for the rest of his AFL tenure.
Stephen Hill, Dockers, DEF/FWD, $428K
YOU can go ahead and put a line through Stephen Hill as a fantasy option in both classic and draft leagues. The injury-prone Docker shone during their purple patch over the last decade, highlighted by his two best seasons averaging 91.7 and 90.8 in ’15 and ’16 respectively. Since then, Hill has managed just 34 games in three years, with another quad setback hampering his preseason. It’s time to move on.
Tom Rockliff, Power, MID, $737K
LET’S face facts, Tom Rockliff is not the same player he used to be. The AFL fantasy stalwart holds countless records and accolades from his previous fantasy successes, but an average of 95.2 in the last three seasons has turned a lot of us off Rocky. A 166-point outing is how Rockliff started last season and I’m sure more big-box scores are on their way. However, I can’t see him recapturing a 110 average and if he fails for coaches in 2020, then Rocky’s fate may be sealed.
James Sicily, Hawks DEF, $620K
THE roller-coaster Hawks defender has built a reputation as one of the most polarising fantasy players in the entire game. In just 82 career matches, Sic Dog has established himself as one of the better defenders, but his ever-changing role makes it tough to pick him with confidence at any point in the season. The arrival of Sam Frost could catapult Sicily’s fantasy production and see him thrive. If the opposite occurs and his average tumbles, Sicliy is bound to see his name pop up on more ‘never again’ lists.
Nic Naitanui, Eagles, RUC, $471K
I can’t trust Nic Naitanui – I’m sorry. The West Coast ruckman will still be a huge factor in their quest to win another flag, but Nic Nat’s fantasy production leaves a lot to be desired. Naitanui truthers will turn to his final series where he managed 77 and 96 in two games and there is a pathway to success for the injury-riddled Eagles tall. I just can’t see him producing consistently enough for a big enough chunk of the season and another knee ailment could see Nic Nat join the exclusive club on a permanent basis.
Taylor Adams, Magpies, MID, $706K
A groin/hip interruption threw some doubt around Taylor Adams, but all signs point to the gun Pie starting Round 1 for Collingwood. He was a popular pick earlier in the preseason before succumbing to injury, with Adams’ 2017 season (114.7 average from 22 games) a clear illustration of his scoring ceiling. Back-to-back years averaging just 95 has seen Adams cool off in fantasy circles, but he could revive his reputation with a hot start to the season while Adam Treloar is stuck on the sidelines.
Jack Ziebell, Kangaroos
THIS one might be a tad harsh with Ziebell far from a disaster last season. A lot of coaches were drawn to the North Melbourne hard nut following his whopping 155-point game in Round 9 last year when Ziebell gathered 35 touches, 10 marks and eight tackles against Sydney. He had some noteworthy moments to close the year, but the Roos veteran is in the backswing of his AFL journey and I can’t see him chewing up bulk minutes in the middle of the ground as he ages. His best fantasy days are behind him so it’s wise to move on from Ziebell for good.
Isaac Heeney, Swans
FOOL me once, shame on me. Fool me twice, chances are you’ll never make my fantasy team again. After starting with Isaac Heeney in my team for the last few seasons, I was stuck between a rock and a hard place when it came to considering the star Swan in 2019. I finally caved and picked him in my initial squad in the hope more midfield time was on its way. After scoring 143 points in the opening fortnight I opted to trade Heeney out – naturally, he went on to score three consecutive 100’s, including a season-best 121 the week I got rid of him. Never. Again.
Gary Ablett, Cats
GARY Ablett Jr is the fantasy G.O.A.T in the eyes of many coaches and as it stands right now 2020 will likely be his final AFL season. Ablett has a career average of 97.8 points in his prolific 328 game resume, but it would be unfair to expect that from the champion Cat in his 16th pro season – especially given his average of 88.7 a year ago. In a bid to prolong his career, Geelong hasn’t been shy about their plan to use Ablett in front of goal more often and while there will be days where ‘the Little Master’ kicks four majors and accumulates 20 touches, those outings are going to be few and far between. Ablett is no longer a mainstay in our fantasy sides and the only reason someone would consider picking the Geelong/Gold Coast great in 2020 is due to nostalgia.
Matthew Kreuzer, Blues
ONLY 0.6% of coaches who have chosen Carlton’s seasoned ruckman in their classic teams so far – with that percentage perhaps even too high. There are no guarantees Kreuzer will be the Blues’ solo ruckman for the bulk of the season, with Marc Pittonet doing his part during the Marsh Series to push for selection. Kreuzer’s body has failed him numerous times throughout his AFL career only further casting doubt into the mind of coaches looking at him for their classic and their draft sides. It’s wise to look elsewhere for production with a preseason average of 53 from 62% TOG enough to scare me away.
Toby McLean, Bulldogs
WE’RE only one full season removed from Toby McLean averaging 94.5 and emerging as a top forward selection – seemingly for years to come. Things changed very quickly in 2019 though, with McLean restricted to a pure forward role, losing out on midfield minutes that were up for grabs. That saw the hit-or-miss Bulldog tumble down the fantasy power rankings, compiling under 70 points a game with no path back to glory insight. Players like Jack Macrae, Josh Dunkley, Bailey Smith, Marcus Bontempelli and Lachie Hunter aren’t going away anytime soon and unless a severe injury crisis strikes the Dogs, I can’t see McLean re-integrating himself into the engine room anytime soon.
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