TEN of AFL.com.au's finest AFL Fantasy players hunched intently over their computers on Tuesday to complete their league's AFL Fantasy Elite draft. Here's a snapshot of how it all went down:
TOP 20 PICKS
Pick 1. Jennifer Phelan (reporter): Dane Swan (Coll)
Why: Holding the esteemed opening pick was actually more stressful than kicking things off further down the line. After strongly considering Dean Cox and briefly flirting with the idea of Brendon Goddard, it came down to a line ball decision between Swan and Gary Ablett. In the end, a 2012 average of 134 points got the Pie over the line and into my team.
Want to draft your own side? Sign up for AFL Fantasy Elite
2. Callum Twomey (reporter): Gary Ablett (GC)
Why: It was a no-brainer for me. I knew Jen would have been silly to have picked anyone other than Swan or Ablett with pick one, and I was always going to pick whichever player was left.
3. Mark Conway (sub-editor): Dayne Beams (Coll)
Why: The third best AFL Fantasy average of any player last year and only 23. Recently became vice-captain and another huge year looms. Cotch was also considered but the boys having a laugh over Beams' latest tattoo each week will be good for morale.
AFL Fantasy Hub
4. Mark Macgugan (reporter): Dean Cox (WCE)
5. Andrew Lowther (weekend editor): Scott Pendlebury (Coll)
Why: I looked at Jobe Watson, who was still available, before deciding on 'Pendles'. Why? He's a star. He will become Collingwood's best midfielder this season. He'll rack up big points and, fingers crossed, won't be hampered with injury after a broken leg cost him valuable games last year.
6. Nick Bowen (reporter): Trent Cotchin (Rich)
Why: I wanted the heaviest, most reliable scorer still available. I gave serious thought to Scott Thompson, Jobe Watson and Joel Selwood, but ultimately thought Cotchin could move into the same fantasy stratosphere as Ablett and Swan this season.
7. Ashley Browne (reporter): Jobe Watson (Ess)
Why: Won the Brownlow in part because he knocks up getting possessions. He can take a mark and push forward to score, which makes him rolled Fantasy gold.
8. Ben Guthrie (reporter): Brett Deledio (Rich)
Why: Having pick eight and pick 12 set me up for a fast start in my draft. I swooped on Deledio with pick eight and was hoping the Cats skipper would fall to my next pick. Thankfully he did and adding Fyfe tops off a pretty star-studded midfield.
9. Jacqui Reed (reporter): Matthew Boyd (WB)
Why: I was surprised that Boyd was still available. He's a proven ball-winner, with consistently high scores each week. Swan and Ablett didn't hang around long, but Boyd was overlooked, and became a handy starting point for my side.
10. Tim Roman (sub-editor): Patrick Dangerfield (Adel)
Why: Two years ago Dangerfield was Fantasy hype, but we know he's the real deal now and with the final first round pick, I was pretty comfortable elevating him up the order – Joel Selwood and Marc Murphy were the only other ones left I considered.
11. Roman: Lance Franklin (Haw)
12. Reed: Josh Kennedy (Syd)
13. Guthrie: Joel Selwood (Geel)
14. Browne: Sam Mitchell (Haw)
15. Bowen: Marc Murphy (Carl)
16. Lowther: Brent Stanton (Ess)
17. Macgugan: Scott Thompson (Adel)
18. Conway: Brendon Goddard (Ess)
19. Twomey: Steve Johnson (Geel)
20. Phelan: Ivan Maric (Rich)
TEAM BY TEAM
Backs: Bryce Gibbs (selection 21), Heath Shaw (60), Jack Watts (41)
Mids: Dane Swan (1), Chris Judd (80), Oliver Wines (81)
Ruck: Ivan Maric (20)
Fwds: Matthew Pavlich (40), Jack Riewoldt (61), Ben McGlynn (100)
Int: Troy Chaplin (121, DEF), Leigh Montagna (101, MID), Jarrad McVeigh (120, MID), David Swallow (141, MID), Stefan Martin (140, RUC)
Strategy: I first went for best available – Swan – and then aimed to fill up my ruck spot with a decent big guy. With Cox gone, I was thrilled Maric and his mullet were still available. Given how many quality midfielders exist, I focused on big forwards (Pavlich and Riewoldt) next and still got the likes of Shaw, Gibbs, Watts and Judd in the backline and midfield.
Backs: Heath Scotland (selection 22), Bachar Houli (82), Andrew Mackie (99)
Mids: Gary Ablett (2), Kade Simpson (102), Andrew Carrazzo (79)
Ruck: Tom Bellchambers (59)
Fwds: Steve Johnson (19), Mitch Robinson (42), Shaun Higgins (119)
Int: David Myers (139, DEF), Brad Ebert (62, MID), Toby Greene (39, MID), David Zaharakis (142, MID), Beau Maister (122, MID)
Strategy: I know there's only three midfield spots, but it's a midfielder's game so I grabbed as many as I could and will hold a few on the bench. I hope the likes of Greene, Ebert and Simpson offer some trade value throughout the year, and that Zaharakis can get back to full fitness. I'm backing Johnson and Scotland to make up for their respective early-season suspensions, and Higgins to finally become a consistent scorer.
Backs: Brendon Goddard (selection 18), Grant Birchall (43), Hamish Hartlett (38)
Mids: Dayne Beams (3), Steele Sidebottom (23), Luke Shuey (58)
Ruck: Aaron Sandilands (83)
Fwds: Dale Thomas (63), Mark LeCras (78), Travis Varcoe (103)
Int: Nick Suban (138, DEF), Brent Moloney (118, MID), Jonathan Griffin (98, RUC), Andrew Walker (123, FWD), Devon Smith (143, FWD)
Strategy: I stacked my midfield, as it should be the accumulator of any Fantasy team. The midfield is where the bulk of your points come from and outweighs the benefit of a balanced (and boring) team. Sandi and Griff will alternate between starting ruck and cutting up the oranges each week in an inspired move that will bring big points and ease pressure on the club's overworked canteen staff.
Backs: Beau Waters (selection 44), Greg Broughton (64), Courtenay Dempsey (97)
Mids: Scott Thompson (17), Shane Tuck (57), Scott Selwood (37)
Ruck: Dean Cox (4)
Fwds: Tom Rockliff (24), Matthew Wright (77), Drew Petrie (84)
Int: Nick Malceski (124, DEF), Michael Barlow (117, MID), Travis Boak (144, MID), Todd Goldstein (104, RUC), Allen Christensen (137, FWD)
Strategy: You don't get fantasy points for being flashy, and I picked players based on proven production, not hype or hairstyles. Case in point, the unfashionable Shane Tuck, who had the 12th-highest average in 2012 but found his way to me at pick 57. It's a well-balanced team that won't bring huge crowds through the gate, but will be hard to topple.
Backs: Danny Stanley (selection 65), Michael Johnson (85), Brent Guerra (116)
Mids: Scott Pendlebury (5), Brent Stanton (16), Jack Redden (36)
Ruck: Nic Naitanui (56)
Fwds: Jimmy Bartel (25), Jarrad Waite (76), Taylor Walker (45)
Int: Robert Murphy (145, DEF), Shaun Grigg (96, MID), Callan Ward (105, MID), Matt Rosa (125, MID), Jarryd Blair (136, FWD)
Strategy: I took a couple of risks, namely on Waite and Naitanui, but both will be good players if they stay fit. Getting Bartel early as a mid/forward was perfect. I wanted the crossover in attack and defence, someone who will pinch-hit in the middle at times. Jimmy will do more than that. I missed getting a really big points winning defender, but managed to grab three consistent types who scored well in 2012. My midfield depth on the bench gives me cover and power at the trade table, and my off-field staff, facilities and membership are the best in the league.
Backs: Jed Adcock (selection 66), Shannon Hurn (86), Sean Dempster (95)
Mids: Trent Cotchin (6), Marc Murphy (15), Andrew Swallow (26)
Ruck: Ben McEvoy (46)
Fwds: Paul Chapman (35), Adam Goodes (55), Travis Cloke (75)
Int: Ryan O’Keefe (106, MID), Will Minson (115, RUC), Shaun Burgoyne (126, DEF), Andrew Gaff (135, MID), Luke Dahlhaus (146, FWD)
Strategy: I picked my three starting midfielders first and couldn't believe it when Cotchin, Murphy and Swallow were still available at my first three picks. From there, I picked the best available player until I'd filled my starting line-up. I then tried to get good bench coverage for all four divisions, unlike Team Guthrie, which seems to think AFL Fantasy Elite is a game only midfielders can play.
Backs: Shaun Atley (selection 54), Danyle Pearce (87), Sam Fisher (147)
Mids: Jobe Watson (7), Sam Mitchell (14), Ryan Griffen (47)
Ruck: Sam Jacobs (27)
Fwds: Patrick Ryder (34), Luke Breust (67), Tom Hawkins (74)
Int: Daniel Nicholson (94, DEF), Brock McLean (107, MID), Harley Bennell (114, MID), Tom Hickey (127, RUC), Jay Schulz (134, FWD)
Strategy: My draft strategy was to look at players who might play in different parts of the ground: defenders who play in the midfield and forwards who play in the ruck. My three midfielders – Watson, Mitchell and Griffen – are all ball magnets, and in Fantasy it doesn't matter whether they're as slow as treacle. I'm punting on a big year from North's Atley and was happy to grab him before colleague Nick Bowen, who keeps a photo of Atley above his desk in preference to one of his family.
Backs: Jack Grimes (selection 33), Corey Enright (53), Harry Taylor (88)
Mids: Brett Deledio (8), Joel Selwood (13), Nathan Fyfe (68)
Ruck: Shane Mumford (28)
Fwds: Jordan Lewis (48), Cyril Rioli (73), Matt De Boer (93)
Int: Nick Dal Santo (108, MID), David Mundy (113, MID), Sharrod Wellingham (128, FWD), Jonathan Brown (133, FWD), Daniel Hannebery (148, MID)
Strategy: Having gone through the drafting process in both NFL and NBA fantasy style drafts, being 'on the clock' wasn't a new experience. Loading up on midfielders was a must – Selwood, Deledio and Fyfe will do just fine – as was a quality ruckman in Mumford. My depth across most positions is a little on the thin side, but the art of trading will come into play. Andrew Lowther better hope Nic Naitanui comes up for round one or it could be curtains for him.
Backs: Dyson Heppell (29), Brent Reilly (69), Chris Newman (92)
Mids: Matthew Boyd (9), Josh Kennedy (12, SYD), Matt Priddis (49)
Ruck: Matthew Kreuzer (72),
Fwds: Dustin Martin (32), Jude Bolton (52), Nick Riewoldt (89)
Int: Daniel Rich (109, MID), David Hale (112, RUC), Luke McPharlin (129, RUC), Lenny Hayes (132, MID), Jason Porplyzia (149, FWD).
Strategy: My strategy was simple: getting as many quality midfielders into the team as possible. I was late in the draft, and by then defenders were in short supply, but I was happy to snare Heppell, Reilly and Newman to hold up the backline. I picked two reliable veterans in Riewoldt and Bolton to lead the forward line, and I'm backing Martin in for a big season. With Kreuzer as my first choice ruck, I'm happy with the way the team panned out.
Backs: Paul Duffield (51), Pearce Hanley (70), Mitch Golby (90)
Mids: Patrick Dangerfield (10), Kieren Jack (50), Rory Sloane (71)
Ruck: Jarryd Roughead (31)
Fwds: Lance Franklin (11), Dayne Zorko (30), Jack Darling (91)
Int: James Kelly (110, MID), Liam Anthony (111, MID), Josh Kennedy (WCE,130, FWD), Michael Hibberd (131, DEF), Jonathan Giles (150)
Strategy: My overall strategy was a deep and complex affair based around grabbing either of my Fantasy crushes, Sloane or Andrew Gaff. Live drafts are a strange process where you have to overlook gun midfielders for questionable prospects in other positions. So I was happy to grab a superstar forward (Franklin) and ruckman (Roughead). Duffield and Hanley are solid down back but Golby is a bit of a risk, selected purely on excellent NAB Cup form. Delighted to grab the Swans' new skipper in the middle and gun Eagle forwards Darling and Kennedy. The big risk? Having a treble of Lions.