PLAYING AFL Fantasy is simple, but there are some keys to follow to ensure your team can have the ultimate success by the end of the year.
1. Find mature-aged rookies
Mature-aged rookies are Fantasy gold. These players are ‘ready-made’ after playing several years in the WAFL, SANFL or VFL. During this time, they have fine-tuned their skills against men and proven themselves as potential ‘walk-up’ AFL players, ready to make an impact from round one.
Fremantle’s Brett Bewley (MID, $170,000) tops the list and has been training the house down with his elite running power.
St Kilda’s Nick Hind (MID, $170,000) has been impressing the St Kilda coaches with his speed and long kicking while teammate and 22-year-old Matthew Parker (FWD, $178,000) is also showing signs he too may debut in round one.
Other names to add to your Fantasy black book are Darcy Fort (RUC, $170,000) and the Bulldogs duo of Ben Cavarra (FWD, $182,000) and Will Hayes (MID, $170,000). Both aged 23, and readymade with their sights on a round one debut.
2. Don’t be clingy
Just like starting a new relationship, being too clingy in the early stages will only lead to disaster.
By all means, follow your heart and pick your favourite players but don’t become too attached and blinded by the big picture.
If they’re having a limited pre-season due to injury or they may look slow and rusty during the JLT Community Series, use your head and show them the door.
3. Monitor injuries
We learn very quickly in this game to stay on top of the news on a daily basis, as injuries can happen at any moment. An injury can spell the end of a season for some, like Tom Mitchell (MID, $938,000) before Fantasy even opened. But for others, it can open the door for more opportunities for midfield minutes or to make their team’s best 22.
Under-priced ruckman Matthew Kreuzer (RUC, $576,000) has had knee surgery and popular Fremantle defender Connor Blakely (DEF, $664,000) looks like missing a big chunk of the season with a severe hamstring injury.
Both are still very relevant players in Draft and sneaking Blakely onto your bench with a late pick could be a winning move.
4. Predict a breakout
Do you have an eye on someone to step up this year? Someone like Callum Mills (DEF, $522,000)? He has averaged around the 70 mark since debuting in 2016 and maybe this is the year he takes his game to a whole new level. If this is the case, then he’s a hidden gem that could take your team straight to the top of your League ladder.
5. Find discounts
Discounted players are those, for whatever reason, played less than 10 games last year. Brad Crouch (MID, $524,000) is capable of averaging 100 when fully fit, and after missing the entire 2018 season he receives a 30 per cent discount, which reduces his price dramatically. He is now priced at an average of only 72.
Other names in this bracket are Zac Williams (DEF, $421,000) and Tom Liberatore (MID, $392,000). Both were hampered by injuries last year and should improve by over 20 points based on the discount they received.
6. It’s OK to follow the crowd
Players such as Patrick Dangerfield (FWD/MID, $771,000) and Brodie Grundy (RUC, $871,000) are two of the most popular players in the game for a reason.
Both will be the No.1 players in their respective lines and ‘must-haves’ in your team. Trying to get fancy by not selecting them will only create sleepless nights and much regret throughout the season.
7. Hunt under-priced premiums
Whether it’s an injury or a role change within the team, finding premium players who ‘dropped off’ last year are just what you need, only if you believe they can get back to their best.
After averaging 106 and 107, a restricted Rory Sloane (MID, $653,000) only averaged 90 in 2018 and is much better than that.
Collingwood’s Taylor Adams (MID, $690,000) performed 20 points less than his best of 115 the year before and even Zach Merrett (MID, $736,000), who ended the year at an average of 101, performed well below the 117 and 118 he averaged in 2016/17.
8. You’ll need a captain
When you select a captain, that player will score you double points for that week. Without Tom Mitchell as our walk-up option, you will need players in your team that you have confidence in to carry the big ‘C’ for you each week.
Jack Macrae (MID, $890,000) now carries the highest price tag in the game and ended last year with a massive score of 190. That’s 380pts when doubled!
9. Eyes on JLT
The JLT Community Series kicks off on February 28 with each team playing two games across two weeks. During this time, focus on where players are lining up, the centre bounces they attend and which players are ready to fire when round one starts. In the final week of the JLT Community Series, most teams will play full at strength. This should give us a very good indication of which rookies are a good chance of being named in round one.
10. Stay up to date
Keep an eye on AFL.com.au for all the news and information. Consume The Traders’ weekly podcast and articles to ensure your team is set for the best year it can possibly have.
Get expert advice from The Traders during the pre-season in the Fantasy Hub. Follow AFL Fantasy on Twitter and ‘like’ the Facebook page to join in the conversation.