FINALISING your AFL Fantasy Classic team is hard enough at this time of year - so can you imagine how hard it is sitting around a table for what was supposed to be one or two quiet beverages and trying to please three people at once.
It was almost like a 10-round heavyweight fight in the end, where he who lasted the longest got the player they wanted, but that is what the Traders did in order to put this team together.
Strategically, I'm not sure what you would call it … there are guns, rookies, roses and mid-priced players, so I guess at the end of the day, we just hunted value.
Let’s take a look at each line where we began selection with non-negotiables - players we all currently have in our personal sides and have no intention of removing.
Non-negotiables: Taylor Adams (MID, $622,000), Rory Laird (DEF, $584,000), Caleb Marchbank (DEF, $205,000), Curtly Hampton (DEF, $204,000)
The players above have picked themselves. Adams and Laird were identified as standouts in their position before the JLT and did nothing but strengthen our confidence in selecting them after watching their roles featuring plenty of time in the midfield where they racked up possessions at will. Marchbank’s marking has been a standout of the pre-season and Hampton’s increased opportunity and role looks too good to pass up. Obviously the rookie types are subject to change, but the experienced Andy Otten (DEF, $150,000) looks desperate to reignite his career and his JLT form certainly warrants selection. Looking on the weak side, we wanted at least one more established scorer to strengthen the back six, so the under-priced Callum Mills (DEF, $441,000) got the nod. His form at the end of last season was outstanding and the promise of more midfield time has him categorised as a low risk mid-pricer with exciting upside.
Non-negotiables: Patrick Dangerfield (MID, $712,000), Tom Rockliff, (MID, $704,000), Dayne Beams (MID, $519,000), Jaeger O’Meara (MID, $364,000)
We are all big fans of the guys mentioned above for obvious reasons. Many coaches have turned their back on Rocky due to the unknown surrounding his role within the new Lions game plan, but all three of us believe in the Fantasy Pig and have even thrown him the captain's armband in round one. Nat Fyfe (MID, $595,000) look set for a career Fantasy year and appears motivated to regain the mantle as the League's No.1 player, while the excitement of owning Tom Mitchell (MID, $638,000) is too good to surpass.
To say any ruck has been non-negotiable is a big call as many coaches will wait until final teams to ensure they start with two big men that will be holding down the fort by themselves. Eyes on Jake Spencer and Archie Smith.
Providing Max Gawn (RUC, $642,000) and Stefan Martin (RUC, $538,000) are the only genuine rucks named for their prospective sides in round one, we found this selection easy, as we project Max to be the highest-scoring big man for the year, potentially increasing his average by five points while Stef is genuinely under-priced after an injury-plagued season.
Non-negotiables: Luke Dahlhaus ($557,000), Jarryd Roughead (FWD, $373,000), Toby Nankervis (RUC/FWD, $365,000)
'Dahl' is a star and looks slightly under-priced, while 'Roughy' will be good for an 85-90 average, mixing it up between the forward line and midfield. 'Nank' has always shown an ability to score and the thought of him playing as the sole ruck for the Tigers on the back of some great JLT form is too good to pass up. I really don’t know why we lost Jack Macrae (MID/FWD, $596,000) … we may need to revisit that, but at this stage he is first emergency. Jack Steele (MID/FWD, $432,000) made a late charge into our team on the back of his JLT form, in particular his impressive tackling and points per minute. We have always known he has a Fantasy-friendly game and think a move to the Saints gives him a chance to break out and challenge for a top-10 forward spot. If one of the secondary rucks previously mentioned is named, there is every chance 'Nank' will move into the ruck and create a spot for Macrae to return to our forward line.