Lock & Load: 2023 Edition

Well whaddaya know… a sense of familiarity with Lock & Load back for 2023!

For context, 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 2023. Someone who you can rely upon week in, week out to produce good fantasy numbers.

But before we do, let’s see how I fared in 2022…

Defence: Jack Crisp

13 rounds in and I was cheerin’… Crispy had managed 10 tons in his first 13 outings – genuine lock & load energies!

Crispy proceeded to shit the bed not tonning for the rest of the season running around the ground like a headless chook.

Midfield: Matt Crouch

HAHAHA what a meme… How I named this blonk a lock & load is anyones guess… I can’t say I was impaired in any way it was just a pox call! Crouch couldn’t even find a spot in Crom’s best 22 from R7 onwards, running around in the 2’s for most of the remainder of the season! Incredible to think I labelled a guy as a ‘lock’ with dodgy job security.

Ruck: Brodie Grundy

The big fella suited up for a paltry six games in another stroke of genius from yours truly…

Forward: Mitch Duncan

Probably pick of the bunch was the old man with two first names… Unsurprisingly missed a few games with the osteoarthritis flaring up but did pretty well particularly in the back half of the season! In hindsight… Imagine overlooking Josh Dunkley, imagine.

Anyway, let’s crack in to the 2023 edition of Lock & Load!


Jack Sinclair ($911K DEF, STK)

Jack Sinclair 2022 Snapshot
AFL Fantasy Avg.102.9
Kick-ins85/232 (85% play on)
Season High146 (R18 vs WB)
Season Low72 (R15 vs SYD)
Scores ≤905/22
Scores ≥1106/22

Okay this may seem a little biased, but first cab off the rank is my mate with the luscious mullet and plus sized gastrocnemii, Jack Sinclair. After not having averaged 80 for a full season at the top level, Sinclair dominated in season 2022, primarily off half-back on his merry way to an average of 103 from 22 games!

Sinclair’s role in 2022 was nothing short of delicious, taking the most kick-ins of any Saint and enjoying the mark friendly conditions afforded at Marvel – the Saints home ground. ‘The Marvel Effect’ was all too recognisable for Sinclair as he finished with his top three scores (146, 140, 133) at the defender-friendly venue. The good news? St Kilda have no less than 14 fixtures at good ol’ Marvel including six of their first eight games in 2023 – cha-ching baby!

We’ve heard nothing to suggest that this role changes heading into 2023 and I expect Sinclair to get off to a flyer with all those Marvel fixtures early doors!

Potential Flags?

It’s fair to say teams finally cottoned on to the damage Sinclair was creating off half-back, hence, he was paid closer attention by opposition teams late in the season. This culminated in Sinclair not tonning in the final month of 2022, however, he did not go below 80 in this time so it wasn’t all doom and gloom!

Additionally, the highly publicised arrival of ‘Ross the Boss’ Lyon could spell an element of uncertainty around St Kilda’s game plan and more specifically, Sinclair’s role. Will Ross have different plans for Sinclair throughout season 2023? Only time will tell!

In the Mix:

  • Sam Docherty ($977K DEF, CARL)
  • Jordan Dawson ($893K DEF, CROM)
  • Simon Prestigiacomo (-$999K DEF, COLL 11th grade)


Tom Mitchell ($853K MID, COLL)

Tom Mitchell 2022 Snapshot
AFL Fantasy Avg.96.3
CBA Attendance (%)53%
Season High120 (R10 vs BL)
Season Low51 (R8 vs ESS)
Scores ≤908/21
Scores ≥1105/21

It’s rare to see premium bacon of this calibre available at such a discount. After being pushed out of Hawthorn’s youthful midfield in the back end of 2022, Mitchell has found himself a new home in the black and white stripes to fill a void. That void being, to get his nose in the trough at centre bounce and butter up for bulk clearances – hence fantasy points. In my mind, he finishes in Collingwood’s top-3 centre bounce attendees and comfortably averages triple figures.

We only have to go back to 2021 where Mitchell averaged an elite 116 from 22 games at Hawthorn! Priced at 96, this is a no-brainer and 36% of the competition agrees. In case you weren’t yet sold, Mitchell has missed one solitary game over the past five season! Don’t overthink this one, lock & load.

Potential Flags?

Not a whole heap standing out here with the midfield role virtually a certainty… Mitchell was right in the thick of things in Collingwood’s intra-club hit-out, getting his hands dirty from centre bounce racking up plenty of -2m gained handballs! As fantasy coaches, you love to see it.

In the Mix:

  • Andy Brayshaw ($995K MID, FREO)
  • Jack Macrae ($916K MID, WB)


Tim English ($901K RUC, WB)

Tim English 2022 Snapshot
AFL Fantasy Avg.101.8
CBA Attendance (%)84%
Season High138 (R3 vs SYD)
Season Low58 (R18 vs STK)
Scores ≤904/15
Scores ≥1105/15

Next up with have big Timmy English. The 2.07m ghost took his game to a new level in 2022, particularly early in the season tonning up in his first five fixtures before a couple of injury setbacks kept him out for a month. Timmy didn’t quite reach those heights again in 2022 but still managed to average a very solid 101.8 from his 15 games. With the Grundy/Gawn combo now a reality at Gosch’s paddock, many coaches see Timmy as the heir apparent and 2023 as his opportunity to climb to #1 in the ruck dog pecking order… Coaches running the with ‘set n forgot’ ruck structure mentality will almost certainly have big English in their sights!

Potential Flags?

As is always the case when selecting ruckmen, it is borderline a non-negotiable to be running with players who are not sharing a significant chunk of the ruck duties... This is why many are staying away from the Gawn/Grundy combo, at least to start the season! The Bulldogs do have a bloke by the name of Jordon Sweet who is serviceable and may pinch a couple of games here and there. The good news? Sweet and English only suited up together twice in season 2023 and Sweet only took 22% of the centre bounces – a stat that is sure to put many a coach at ease.

In the Mix:

  • Rowan Marshall ($808K RUC, STK)


Josh Dunkley ($963K FWD/MID, WB)

Josh Dunkley 2022 Snapshot
AFL Fantasy Avg.108.8
CBA Attendance (%)50%
Season High139 (R11 vs WCE)
Season Low62 (R8 vs PA)
Scores ≤904/22
Scores ≥11010/22

Last but certainly not least in the 2023 ‘Lock and Load’ series is none other than Josh Dunkley. Dunks made his way north over the offseason after seven seasons with the Dogs including a dominant 2022. Heading into 2022, a minority of coaches had question marks over whether Dunks would have the volume of mid-time to justify his hefty price tag… The end result? It didn’t matter. As listed in the table above, Dunks sat forward for periods in games, only attending an average of 50% centre bounces across the season but still went on to average a splendid 108.8. F1 by the length of the Flemington straight.

Looking ahead to 2023 – If anything, Dunks should only enjoy more mid-time alongside an emerging young midfield and a guy called Lachie Neale who will most probably be the one opposition teams look to sit on. He enters season 2023 in the prime of his career as a 26 year old and will be pivotal to Brisbane’s push toward an elusive flag.

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:

  • Tim Taranto ($846K MID/FWD, RICH)
  • Stephen Coniglio ($871K MID/FWD, BWS)

So there you have it folks, your ‘lock and load’ for season 2023! Let me know your thoughts in the comments. Which players will be your non-negotiables to lock and load into your squad of 30?


Fantasy Fanatic #70


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