You know what they say… you’ve got to risk it to get the biscuit!
In this article, I’ll take a closer look at eight mid-priced players to consider and list some other options you should keep on your radar. These guys can really make or break your season! If selected well, you’ll be laughing your way up the rankings. Conversely, if selected poorly, you could be in for a long season with spuds left, right and centre sitting in your squad… The temptation is hard to resist given the value these guys present in the right circumstances.
*For the purposes of the article, a mid-priced player is valued between $350K and $600K. Ownership (%) as at Feb 24. DNP = Did not play.
James Sicily $510K DEF – HAW | 2021 Average: DNP | 44.74% owned
Of all the options presented here, I think Sicily is the most proven performer, particularly when playing the fantasy friendly intercepting role. As any former owner would know too well, the highs and lows are part and parcel of selecting Sicily. Not to mention his hot-headed on-field antics leading to brainless suspensions… History aside, this is probably the cheapest you will see Sicily in a long time. In 2018, Sicily averaged 95.6 and followed up in 2019 with a modest average of 83.6. If he is playing that intercepting role then there is no reason why Sicily can’t average 80+. The concern would be if he is playing as more of a lock-down defender, losing those +6’s that he feasts on when intercepting and chipping it around in the back half. His injury also adds some doubt, but by all reports Sicily is well and truly ready to go.
Will he be one of the great fantasy comeback stories of 2022?
George Hewett $537K DEF/MID – CARL | 2021 Average: 64 | 8.5% owned
The former Swan has never really been fantasy relevant, having been used primarily as a defender or lockdown midfielder over his six year career to date. Following a move to Carlton in the offseason, many believe that Hewett is destined to play a similar role at the Blues. Over his career, Hewett has shown glimpses playing as that defensive inside midfielder having chalked up seven 100+ scores in his last five seasons. He’ll provide more midfield depth and give guys like Patrick Cripps a chop out around the stoppages. If given more freedom under new coach Michael Voss, we may see his scoring output increase. With Sam Walsh out for the foreseeable future, you would think this only strengthens Hewett’s bid to play more as an inside midfielder in season 2022.
In the Mix:
- Darcy Tucker $514K DEF – FREO | 2021 Average: 61.2 | 4.12% owned
- Wayne Milera $378K DEF – ADEL | 2021 Average: DNP | 40.27% owned
Matt Rowell $464K MID – GCS | 2021 Average: 55.2 | 33.52% owned
The young, red-headed kid burst onto the scene in 2020 with two fantasy tons in his first three games. He incredibly polled nine Brownlow votes in his first four games at AFL level! Unfortunately, since then injury has cruelled his first two seasons in the big-time having only played 17 games. There is a lot of hype around Rowell as evidenced by his high ownership – really on the basis of only two or three matches. Following his PCL injury in round 1 last season, he came back a shadow of his former self. His highest score in that 11 game patch on return was 73 against the Lions in round 19… nothing to write home about.
I think the midfield role is there and I am confident that he will find his way at the top level. The question is, can Rowell rediscover his best form in 2022?
Jye Caldwell $488K MID – ESS | 2021 Average: 76.2 | 15.94% owned
The former pick #11 made his way to Tullamarine from GWS in the 2020 trade period and made a great impression on debut with 104 fantasy points. He started in my 2021 side and I thought I had a winner! Unfortunately, a week is a long time in footy and following a good start in round 2, Caldwell sustained a serious hamstring injury which side-lined him for the remainder of the regular season. In a show of faith, Caldwell was rushed back for the elimination final loss to the Bulldogs – clearly he is rated internally! The big question is – will Caldwell see enough midfield time to justify selection in your squad? There are a lot of mouths to feed there!
In the Mix:
- Conor Nash $466K MID/FWD – HAW | 2021 Average: 61 | 1.07% owned
- Dan Hannebery $456K MID – STK | 2021 Average: 58.5 | 1.53% owned
Braydon Preuss $367K RUC – GWS | 2021 Average: DNP | 17.18% owned
I feel like every year we say something along the lines of: “Don’t muck around with the rucks, just set and forget and watch the points roll in.” However, every year we are inevitably tempted by bargains. 2022 is no different with 206cm giant Braydon Preuss. Preussy doesn’t have a great fantasy record behind him, however, he came up clutch early in 2017 when rucking for North Melbourne. Back-to-back 105 point hauls had coaches feeling that fortune had favoured the brave. Since then, Preuss has been luckless with injuries and playing second fiddle to Max Gawn when he was on Melbourne’s list in 2019/20. A move to the Giants in 2021 was supposed to be the fresh start Preuss needed. Unfortunately, a shoulder injury kept Preuss out for the entirety of the 2021 season. Like most of these mid-priced options, it is high-risk, high-reward. He has not yet played a game for the club and will be competing with Flynn and Briggs for the #1 ruck spot. Not to mention that he is a candidate for an early rest… we know what Leon is like when it comes to his ruck stocks!
In the Mix:
- Sam Draper $481L RUC – ESS | 2021 Average: 57.2 | 7.43% owned
Cameron Rayner $396K FWD – BL | 2021 Average: DNP | 27.2% owned
The former #1 draft pick is another that is heavily discounted after missing the entirety of the 2021 season through injury (ACL). Even in his rookie season, Rayner has never really been fantasy relevant having only eclipsed the ton in two of his fifty-nine games to date. Rayner has spent most of his time as a forward since debuting for the Lions in 2018. What has coaches excited is reports of more midfield time heading into season 2022. Fair to say the Lions aren’t short on midfielders… I’m think of their elite ball-winners such as Neale, Lyons, McLuggage, and Zorko. Then you throw in guys like Berry, Bailey and even Cockatoo… you get the picture!
No doubt that Rayner is a talent, however, he is yet to produce anything meaningful from a fantasy perspective and with so much competition in the Lions midfield, will you take the punt?
Jade Gresham $509K MID/FWD – STK | 2021 Average: 73 | 10.5% owned
I couldn’t finish an article without sneaking in one of my beloved Sainters! Bias aside, Gresham is another player that is heavily discounted due to an achilles injury that kept him out from round 3 last season. He posted impressive scores of 95 and 107 in his two non injury-affected matches in 2021, before going down with an achilles injury in round 3. Not for the faint hearted, but I don’t think I’ll be doing it for a couple of reasons. Firstly, he will likely be eased back in slowly following such a long layoff which will lead to a reduction in time on ground. Secondly, the Saints aren’t lacking in the midfield department (think Steele, Jones, Crouch and even Bytel, Ross and Clark play a role in that engine room) and I can’t see Gresham breaking in early in the season. A forward role with short bursts in the midfield is probably more realistic.
Will Brodie $387K MID/FWD – FREO | 2021 Average: 51.2 | 20.46% owned
The former #9 pick made his way west from the Gold Coast in the 2021 trade period. Despite being one of the better midfielders in his draft class, Brodie never really got going at the Suns. He has only managed 24 games in five seasons to date and found himself in and out of the side regularly. Despite this lack of continuity, Brodie has demonstrated some scoring prowess, particularly when he averaged 87.8 in his eight games in 2019. He has a high score of 142 which he achieved in round 12 of that year playing as a midfielder all day. Brodie has impressed since his move to the west with positive reports rolling in. With Adam Cerra’s departure to Carlton, will Brodie be the main man to fill the void? He will have the likes of Brayshaw, Serong as well as mature bodies Mundy and Fyfe competing for midfield spots. Even Darcy Tucker may get a crack in there. The make up of their midfield is anyone’s guess at the moment! I think priced at 46.1, you could certainly do worse that select Brodie.
In the Mix:
- Dan Rioli $469K FWD/DEF – RICH | 2021 Average: 55.9 | 3.2% owned
- Keidean Coleman $343K FWD/DEF – BL | 2021 Average: 40.9 | 3.64% owned
My Final Thoughts
It would be unwise to start with all of these guys given the high risk vs reward. If you are looking for a ‘safer’ bet, you’d be looking at players with higher ownership such as Sicily, Rayner and Rowell. If they do flop, at least you have the comfort of knowing that a lot of other coaches are in the same boat. Many of the players mentioned in this article are relying on playing a more fantasy friendly role to warrant selection. Primarily, this is increased midfield time which was a recurring theme when I was making this article. Make sure you keep up to date during the pre-season and practice matches to help inform your decision making.
Don’t go sacrificing your team structure for the sake of (over) selecting mid-pricers. Remember, you picked your premiums for a reason so back them in! Also make sure you don’t miss out on those all important rookies for cash generation. For me, the backbone of my side is made up of premiums and rookies. I’ll only select mid-priced players if I see real value and upside or a change of role that warrants their selection. For instance, more midfield time generally equates to greater scoring output.
Let me know your thoughts in the comments! How is your side structured and just how much will you be getting amongst the mid-price mayhem?!
Fantasy Fanatic #70
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