AFL Fantasy – Who Should Be Picked First When Games Restart?

NO one has any idea when we are going to see footy again, but as Australia continues to battle ‘that virus’ it appears more and more likely that the AFL will return in some capacity this year. When it does return, there will be a lot for fantasy coaches to take on board and adjust to, especially if we are set to continue with the shortened version of games. No matter how your fantasy side looks at the moment there are some players who loom as bonafide, no brainer selections – even if we have to wait until 2021 to see them back in action.

All numbers/stats provided are sourced from AFL Fantasy

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Hayden Young, DEF, Dockers
INJURY held the new Dockers defender back from making his debut in Round 1. The 7th overall pick in last year’s draft was dubbed “the best kick in the class” and there’s no reason why Young won’t slot into Freo’s back-6 and become one of the most relevant cash cows in the game. Expect the youngster to thrive as an intercept marker and pile on the +6’s when he does back his highly-anticipated first appearance in purple.

Tom Rockliff, MID, Power
TOM Rockliff’s body has been cause for concern for a few years now, leading to some (myself included) giving up hope on his ability to consistently perform at the level we all expect. Rocky comes with plenty of risk but despite all his recent injury woes he has managed to play in 36 games since moving to the Power – posting four scores over 130 in the 2019 season. Don’t go expecting him to average 120+, but the Fantasy deity could benefit from an extended rest and be back with a bang when he retakes the field. Anyone who can score 8 points in 6 seconds needs to watched closely…

Sam Naismith, RUC, Swans
HE’S made his way into 33% of current teams with Sam Naismith the 7th most traded in player following Round 1. The big Swan played his first game for the club since 2017 and wasted little time reacquainting himself with the game posting a game-high 28 hitouts with 11 disposals, four tackles and five clearances for a score of 78 points. If Sydney continues without Callum Sinclair in the starting 22, then expect more of the same from the undervalued ruckman.

Brodie Grundy, RUC, Magpies
SOMETIMES it’s worth paying up for the most expensive players and year in, year out Brodie Grundy justifies his enormous price tag.  The 36% of coaches who don’t own the superstar Magpie will point out he manhandled Tim English and won’t be that dominant against other rucks on a weekly basis. I’ll believe it when I see it. Grundy actually managed to go UP in price despite the shortened game format and as a default captain option, he more than lives up to the lofty expectations.

Lachie Neale, MID, Lions
IN his first year as a Lion, Lachie Neale managed to lead Brisbane’s midfield brigade as they vaulted their way up the ladder. However, there were quarters/halves/games last year where Neale went missing leading to a fairly bland fantasy year, despite his high ceiling. Only once has he posted a higher average, (111.1 in 2016) and his handball-happy style of play will turn some off. Given that, Neale has averaged more than 10 kicks a game for the last six years I’m not too worried about the 26-year old, who is primed for another jump in 2020/2021.

Lachie NealeImage from themorningbulletin.com.au

Connor Rozee, FWD, Power
ONE game isn’t a great sample size
, but Connor Rozee hardly missed a beat in Round 1 a month ago for the Power. Last year’s Rising Star runner-up has paid his dues as a cash cow and coaches are now considering Rozee as a starting forward who can outperform his current price. If he’s allowed to roam further up the ground and through the midfield for Port, then there’s no reason why you shouldn’t invest in Rozee.

Jarrod Brander, DEF/FWD, Eagles
YOUNG Eagle Jarrod Brander hadn’t made much of a name for himself before 2020, managing just three games for the club and spending most his time at WAFL level. Over the preseason, rumours filtered through to fantasy coaches of Brander potentially being unveiled on a wing for West Coast and his efforts in the lone game of the season so far are a good indication that a spot in their best 22 is his to lose. 13 disposals and seven marks won’t see Brander make the back page of the West Australian anytime soon, but if he can consistently score 60-70 points for fantasy coaches, he’ll quickly become a cash cow favourite.

Tim Kelly, MID, Eagles
THIS is more of a personal pick and a gut hunch rather than a must-have, although I’m all in on Tim Kelly as a fantasy prospect. There are a lot of mouths to feed in that blue and gold midfield and there will undoubtedly be games where TK is quiet while his teammates shine around him. However, as I’ve pointed out in the past, the former Cat is poised to be a line-breaking threat capable of impacting the scoreboard for the Eagles in a major way. His versatility might see Kelly split time between the midfield and forward line, but I won’t be complaining if he’s available as a DPP option again.

Marlion Pickett, MID, Tigers
LET’S not waste too much time here. Marlion Pickett’s second appearance on the MCG appearance wasn’t as breathtaking as his first, but he showed enough to prove he’s worth holding onto. No fantasy player can be found in more teams than Pickett right now and whenever we are back up and running I won’t be shocked if his high ownership percentage (72% and counting) only keeps climbing.

Tom Mitchell, MID, Hawks
A broken leg that the 2018 Brownlow winner suffered in the preseason that forced him to miss all of last season was the main reason a lot of coaches avoided the star Hawk in their starting squad. Fear no more. Mitchell barely missed a beat throughout the preseason scoring 72 and 100 in the Marsh Series before posting 82 points in Round 1 – fuelled by a team-best 25 disposals. Don’t forget in his two years as a Hawk Mitchell has averaged 35 touches a game through 44 matches, good for a fantasy average of 128.1 points! As long as he’s in Hawthorn’s midfield, he should be in yours too.

Peace ✌

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