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How to pick your AFL Fantasy team

The Traders  February 12, 2016 7:00 AM

AFL 2015 Rd 22 - Hawthorn v Brisbane

Tom Rockliff is likely to be the most selected player in AFL Fantasy this year

YOU'VE got $10,000,000 to play with, and thirty spots to pick. AFL.com.au's Fantasy experts, The Traders, walk you through the basics of how to pick a competitive team.

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FORWARDS

This year’s AFL Fantasy forward line has been stripped of several stars who filled the position in 2015. Dane Swan, Tom Mitchell and Taylor Adams all averaged over 100 but are unavailable in this position this year. However, it’s out with the old and in with the new because the Fantasy gods have looked after us to some degree by granting Leigh Montagna and Michael Barlow an extra position.

When selecting a forward into your team, knowing the role they play in their team is one of the most important factors. Key-position forwards and goalsneaks are too much of a risky selection compared with a player who pushes up the ground and, more importantly, spends time through the midfield. This allows the player to accumulate points through possessions, tackles and uncontested marks without solely relying on kicking a bag of goals.

With that said, every player comes with a price and finding cheap bargains that will increase in value while producing some points is the key to the game. A well-balanced team of premiums, bargains and rookies is essentially the winning formula for you to dominate against your mates this year. 

The best mid-priced Fantasy team you can pick

DEFENDERS

Selecting your defenders can be tough at the best of times, but after losing the defensive eligibility of stars such as Luke Hodge and David Mundy, we are forced to go back to square one.

Of 2016’s available crop, Matthew Boyd is the only player who reached triple figures last year. Although he is a star, the 33-year-old is a hard selection to justify, knowing full well the Dogs will manage his body throughout the season.

Given the defensive end of the ground tends to generate the least amount of points, it can be a good opportunity to save some money to allow you to spend up in other more fruitful and reliable scoring areas such as the midfield.

Finding value is the key to success and we may have been handed a gift from the Fantasy gods with several mature-age players returning from injury or receiving a second chance to rejuvenate their career.

Players such as West Coast's Eric Mackenzie and Essendon’s Mitch Brown appear safer bets rather than backing in an untried rookie and can be used in both conservative and attacking strategies by starting them on your bench or ground respectively.

Keeping an eye on potential role changes can assist you with finding an under-priced gem. Players such as Elliot Yeo have the ability to score with the best in the midfield, but the Eagles’ injury crisis in the backline forced him out of the midfield rotation last year. Therefore it is important to not only track the individual but his teammates to gauge his role.

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MIDFIELDERS

The midfield is where the big AFL Fantasy points are scored. Last season, 33 players averaged more than 100 points a game and 28 of them are named as midfielders this year.

While a record amount of players averaged over the Fantasy ton in 2015, the highest average of 112 from Jack Steven was modest compared with other years. It’s a long way from Tom Rockliff’s 135 in 2014 and Gary Ablett’s dominance in 2012 when he averaged 125.

This appears to be a year where value will be the flavour of the day in the engine room.

The top-up Bombers are now in play

It is important to start with one or two captain options from the get-go. Rockliff and Ablett tick these boxes, but also some guaranteed points.

With some of the players considered as value picks, there is inherent risk and a sense of needing to include the durable and dependable picks such as Scott Pendlebury in your initial squad.

The midfield could make or break your Fantasy team this season. If you can select the right group of players who will be consistent 100 point-plus performers, you will be on your way to a league premiership.

RUCKS

Last season, we saw something that has not happened before in AFL Fantasy — two ruckmen sitting atop the rankings as the highest-averaging players for the year.

Stefan Martin and Todd Goldstein created history averaging 114 and subsequently are the two most expensive players going into the 2016 season.

Some coaches are keen to bank the points, which were more than 16 a game better than the next best ruckmen, so set and forget the two big men. Others will look to save more than $100,000 with other premium players such as Sam Jacobs or even reach for mid-priced bargains such as Matthew Leuenberger, who present value.

Whether it is set and forget with two premiums, a couple of mid-pricers or a mixture of both, it is more likely than not they will miss at least one game this year. In 2015, no listed ruckman played all 22 games. Try your best to have at least one cheap ruck on your bench who is a good chance to play most weeks and look to use dual position with the array of RUC/FWDs available to help cover their loss when needed