Lock & Load

In this article, I’ll cast my eye over a player in each position who I think is well worthy of the ‘lock’ status for season 2022. Someone who you can rely upon week in, week out to produce good fantasy numbers.

DEFENCE

Jack Crisp ($854K DEF/MID – COLL)

From a Fantasy perspective, this man just ticks so many boxes.

To be able to select Crispy as a defender is an absolute luxury, ensuring he does not fill one of those all-important midfield spots. He has averaged over 95 in his past three seasons (2020 adjusted due to the ol’ Rona), finishing with an average of 101.8 points in his 22 games in the 2021 season. Crispy has not missed a beat (literally!) since being traded from the Brisbane Lions prior to the 2015 season. In this time, he has not missed a game, notching up an incredible 163 game streak – the longest active streak in the AFL! Crispy tends to spend most of his time of the half-back flank where he uses his elite rebounding ability to exit defensive 50. He loves to butter up with a classic 1-2 and gets on the end of a heap of handballs received. Crispy also spent time in the midfield, particularly later in the season where he had no trouble finding the pill. With reports of Scott Pendlebury playing a different role in the 2022 season roaming a bit more across half-back – this is music to our ears as Crispy owners, which may further boost his midfield minutes. Crisp even comes with the added flexibility of DPP, should you need it.

Potential flags?

Nothing stands out for me here which would make sense given he appears in this article! Some may say it’s a hefty price tag and there’s better value elsewhere. I say, rest easy and pick this bloke – lock and load

In the Mix:

  • Jake Lloooooyd ($823K DEF – SYD)
  • Lachie Whitfield ($795K DEF/MID – GWS)
  • Jayden Short ($783K DEF – RICH)

MIDFIELD

Matt Crouch ($649K MID ONLY – ADEL)

Perhaps a bit left field, but next cab off the rank is Matt Crouch, who finds himself heavily discounted after missing the entirety of 2021 through injury. Here are the facts:

  • Prior to his injury riddled 2021, Crouch had averaged 100+ from 2017-2020. This included a massive 110.4 average in 2020 (Rona adjusted).
  • Crouch has played majority on-ball over his career and has rarely been threatened with a tag. I can’t see this changing in 2022 (it is Adelaide after all…).
  • Crouch averaged over 32 disposals in each season between 2017 and 2020 – a ball magnet in every sense of the word.
  • He is priced at 77! Yes, you read that correctly, 77!
  • Crouch seems well and truly on the comeback path, returning to the main training group in January.

Potential flags?

Yes, let’s acknowledge the elephant in the room, Crouch’s injury history and 2022 being his comeback season. Chances are, you already own other players in the same category. I’m thinking of guys like Cam Rayner ($396K FWD – BL) and Wayne Milera ($378K DEF – ADEL). Pre-season games will be key – fingers crossed for us that Crouch can stay on the park and get back to his old, ball winning ways. My only concern will be if the Crows look to gradually build up his game time in the early stages of the season as he regains full match conditioning. He may also be a candidate for a rest or two throughout the year.

My thoughts are if he gets through the pre-season, lock and load. You won’t get too many better opportunities to jump on a guy priced at 77 who has averaged 110+ before. In reality, with the sheer quantity of trades we have, he probably only needs to average 90 for the selection to be a win. 

In the Mix:

  • Jack Steele ($1.02m MID – STK)
  • Tom Mitchell ($969K MID – HAW)
  • Jack Macrae ($972K MID – WB)

RUCK

Brodie Grundy ($893K RUC ONLY – COLL)

Next up is the big man from Collingwood. This is really a tossup between Brodie and Max Gawn. I think these two will remain top of the tree when it comes to our rucks. Now there’s a reason this guy was inducted as the ‘Ruck Pig’ by the DT Talk boys back in 2019. He has averaged over 106 fantasy points in each of his past five seasons between 2017 and 2021. Incredibly, many labelled Grundy’s 2021 season as a hangover following a fat 7-year contract extension where his average dropped from an elite 113.6 in 2020 to (a still elite) 106.5 in 2021.  If this is a ‘down year’ by Brodie’s lofty standards, there is every chance he returns to somewhere near the pig days of 2018-19 where he averaged >120. For those glass half full, there could be some upside here and amazingly, we may be getting him cheap priced at 106! Keep in mind that this 106.5 average includes an injury affected 69 in R11 vs Geelong where he played just 48% of the game. Since the beginning of 2018, Grundy has suited up for all but two games, ticking the durability box

Potential flags?
Much like Gawn (and most other ruckmen), there seems to be an ever-increasing presence of the 2nd ruckman – for Grundy that man is Darcy Cameron. We saw that as season 2021 progressed, Cameron’s presence as a ruckman grew. Cameron was attending more centre bounces and ruck contests around the ground – this was obvious as a spectator. When you consider Brodie’s pre and post bye averages excluding his injury affected R11 (115.3 vs 100.7), you have to admit that this concern is real. However, this is no different to selecting someone like big Maxxy with rising star Luke Jackson his understudy or even Sean Darcy when Lloyd Meek gets a gig.

While there are some concerns, my thoughts are that Grundy finishes as a top two ruckman again this season and therefore will be locked and loaded into my side.

In the Mix:

  • Max Gawn ($911K RUC – MELB)

FORWARD

Mitch Duncan ($841K MID/FWD – GEEL)

*And just as I go to publish this article, news has come through that Duncan has suffered a calf setback and is in doubt for preseason matches… This was what I wrote about him FYI*

Rounding out my lock and load selections is Geelong mid/fwd Mitch Duncan. What an absolute gem we have been presented here from a DPP point of view. Much like Crisp, coaches won’t need to use a midfield position to acquire this fantasy gun. Here are the facts:

  • Taking out his injury affected matches in 2021 (62 in R10 vs Suns in 48% game time and 8 in R14 vs Dogs in 6% game time) and Duncan averaged a whopping 116.6 points per game! That is right up there with the best in the business, particularly when you consider that he can be selected as a forward.
  • Duncan has averaged 100+ in his last 5 seasons at the Cats dating back to 2017.
  • Duncan attended a measly 21% of centre bounces but this had no effect on his scoring ability. He seemed to roam between the wing and half-forward where his elite ball use took centre stage.
  • Of his 10 home and away games in 2021 (including two injury affected), Duncan hit 130+ on five occasions! The ceiling is there! 
  • Duncan loves to kick the footy. In 2021, Duncan’s kick to handball ratio was approaching 2:1 with 200 kicks and 115 handballs. This is music to the ears of fantasy coaches, with kicks earning +3 and handballs +2.
  • Duncan is discounted following a PCL injury sustained in R14 which kept him out for the rest of the home and away season. The value is there!

Potential flags?

Fair to say, Duncs is not getting any younger and enters the season at the ripe old age of 30 (he really fits Geelong’s older list demographic to a tee!). Some may have concern over Duncan’s role, however, he showed in 2021 that he can score big roaming the flanks. Finally, his ability to stay on the park. Those injury affected games can single-handedly ruin your week and may result in undesirable forced trades.

My thoughts are that the benefits outweigh the potential risks. As long as Duncs stays fit, there is no chance I will be passing up the opportunity to lock in the number 1 forward in the game. Lock and load at F1 for me!

In the Mix:

Duncan’s injury throws a spanner in the works to the point where he is no certainty to get a start in my round 1 side. Looking on the brightside, we are spoilt for choice when it comes to selecting our forwards. Names like Taranto ($904K MID/FWD – GWS), Dunkley ($767K MID/FWD – WB), Treloar ($731K MID/FWD) and Dusty ($682 MID/FWD – RICH) are the highest priced and most obvious ‘lock and load’ options that spring to mind. When selecting your forward line, you want to pick players who play through the midfield and feature in centre bounces. If you’re looking for value, someone like Isaac Heeney ($639K FWD – SYD) is on my radar with news of more midfield time.

Of course, all of these options have potential flags to consider. Taranto is likely to play more as a forward, particularly in the absence of Toby Greene for the first five weeks of the season. I don’t think I’ll start with Taranto and see him more as an upgrade target. Dunkley and Treloar are competing with so many others for midfield time at the dogs (think Libba, Bont, Macrae, Bazlenka Smith, etc.)! Will Dusty be happy to coast through or return to his devastating best? Can we trust the sources that promise more midfield time – your best bet is to keep track of their preseason games and decide from there!   

Fair to say this was an injury affected game for Duncan… Round 2 2016.

Let me know your thoughts in the comments. Which players will be your non-negotiables to lock and load into your squad of 30?

Cheers,

Fantasy Fanatic #70

2 thoughts on “Lock & Load

  1. Pingback: The Weekend That Was: Round 1 | Fantasy Fanatic

  2. Pingback: The Weekend That Was: Round 7 | Fantasy Fanatic

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