WHAT'S the best AFL Fantasy side you can pick with only mid-priced players?
AFL Fantasy is a game of guns and rookies, right? Not necessarily.
For many coaches, there's great appeal to the mid-priced player – the third-year gun ready for a breakout, the scoring machine coming back from an ACL tear, the untapped talent ready to unleash a Fantasy frenzy at a new club.
You know Dustin Martin will score well, you assume Christian Petracca will make you some cash – but what about players like Josh Kelly, Tom Liberatore or Ryan Bastinac?
With this in mind, it seems well worth conducting the ultimate mid-priced experiment.
For this purpose, we'll start with eight cash-cows on the bench. It means we're not wasting dollars and the quality of our on-field 22 is immeasurably stronger.
With $1million on the pine, we've got $9million to play with for our on-field team – an average of $409,090 per player. Let's make our mid-price range $50,000 either side of that. So, every player on the field must be between $360,000 and $460,000.
Just like a regular squad, you want to plow the majority of that cash into your midfield.
Jaeger O'Meara (MID, $415,000) and Tom Liberatore (MID, $443,000) never got on the park last year after serious injuries but averaged 92.7 and 98.7 respectively in 2014. Their Fantasy pedigree is assured.
Mitch Duncan (MID, $442,000), David Swallow (MID, $459,000) and Bryce Gibbs (MID, $449,000) were hampered last season by factors like injury and playing for Carlton, but expect a much stronger showing this year.
I'm tipping breakout years for Josh Kelly (MID, $406,000) and Luke Dunstan (MID, $389,000), high draft picks with impressive potential as ball-magnets. Ryan Bastinac (MID, $361,000) clocked 85.5 points per game in 2013 and won't be squeezed out of the Lions' midfield the way he was at North.
Up front there is the luxury of being able to squeeze in guns like Lance Franklin (FWD, $452,000), Tom Hawkins (FWD, $364,000), Jack Darling (FWD, $391,000) and Jesse Hogan (FWD, $411,000). It's a touch heavy on key position talent, but you'd get short odds on at least one of those four not kicking a bag each round.
Aaron Hall (FWD/MID, $422,000) gets a guernsey based on his Fantasy tear late last year when he topped 100 in six of the Suns' final seven games.
Matthew Lobbe (RUC, $431,000) is an easy pick for a ruck slot, particularly after Paddy Ryder's suspension, and you can take your pick of new Cat Zac Smith (RUC, $389,000) or rising Saint Billy Longer (RUC, $371,000) to partner him.
Backline selections will likely decide your Fantasy fate, and while the talent pool can look a little thin, there's plenty of solid citizens under $400,000.
Crow Brodie Smith (DEF/MID, $391,000) clocked an 82.2 point Fantasy average a couple of seasons back, and it was only a serious concussion that derailed his 2015 season.
Expect Matt Rosa (DEF/MID, $411,000) to be handed a new role at the Suns and for his Fantasy scores to receive a significant boost.
So keep an open mind to the prospect of an even team. If you can pick 22 players who are regulars for their side and deliver a solid average, you'll have the backbone of an extremely competitive Fantasy squad.