NAILING a good Fantasy selection from the Eagles has been as tough as registering four points for the wooden spooners, but there feels like a changing of the guard and fresh start which is exciting for all parties.
The club said goodbye to a couple of champions in Luke Shuey and Shannon Hurn, who both spent time being relevant in the Fantasy community, especially Hurn who often found himself in the mix for Roy's Rollin' 22.
Hurn was around the best defenders throughout his career on the back of his high number of marks and willingness to pull rank and take a kick in.
Lock them in
It was no surprise to see the Eagles lock in the highly talented Harley Reid (FWD/MID, $300,000) with their No.1 selection and I dare say he will also be the most selected Fantasy player at the start of the season as he ticks all boxes. He is a ready-made strong midfielder who brings plenty of aggression and he is more than capable of accumulating marks to keep the score ticking over. His ability to be a constant threat in front of goal ensured he received DPP status and his skills and versatility have him instantly locked in the best 22. He averaged 19 disposals and 84 points in the Coates Talent League and he has already turned heads on the track with his confidence, according to Roy's source, 'Sauces'. Don't snooze on newly appointed co-captain Liam Duggan (DEF, $869,000) after he recorded a career-high average of 96 in 2023, including an impressive ceiling of 140. He will be the man down back in the absence of Hurn and could take his average to triple figures given his increased role and responsibilities.
Track their pre-season
Matt Flynn (RUC, $646,000) showed he is more than capable of holding down the No.1 ruck role at the Giants, averaging over 70 in two out of the past three seasons before injury and the good form of fellow Giant big men starved him of opportunity. He will likely be the starting ruck following his move out west with Bailey Williams playing a FWD/RUC role. 'Flynny' can pump out a score as we saw in round two this year when he scored 110 from 17 disposals and 39 hitouts, although that was against… the Eagles. Another player to track in the absence of Hurn is proven scorer Alex Witherden (DEF, $708,000), who is well priced after a quiet season with every chance he bounces back to the 95 he averaged in 2022.
Elijah Hewett (FWD/MID, $418,000) showed glimpses of brilliance in his debut season which will no doubt lead to him being a Fantasy favourite in years to come. The question is, could it come sooner rather than later? Second-year breakouts have become more common and there is a projected increased role for the youngster, who averaged 46 from his 14 games in 2023, leaving him at an affordable price.
Make a note of Clay Hall (MID, $200,000) on your cash cow watch list this pre-season. He has fit in seamlessly and looks strong among his seasoned teammates which is no surprise given the pick 38's junior career, including All-Australian honours at under-18 level. Coby Burgiel (DEF, $200,000) is an interesting one to watch, likely as a downgrade target during the season. He has looked great on the track pre-Christmas and the former pick 29 would offer the Eagles some much-needed speed and versatility given an opportunity.
If Brady Hough (DEF, $555,000) is available late in your keeper draft, he has huge upside, especially while holding defender status. There are plenty of marks available down back for the Eagles and although he only averaged 62 in his second year, it was rounds 17 and 24 where he caught Fantasy coaches' eyes, taking 14 and 12 marks respectively for scores of 111 and 105.
Custom stat star
If your league loves and rewards a tackle, Reuben Ginbey (MID, $523,000) is your man. He made his debut in 2023 but you would have thought he was a seasoned veteran the way he threw his weight around in the tackling department with highs of 16 and 12. The bonus is he has returned from the off-season looking super fit which should result in a more consistent disposal count to add to his elite tackling numbers.
Elliot Yeo (DEF/MID, $633,000) gets me every time. Despite sitting on my never again list in 2023, his form, fitness and role looked great as he went on a four-week tear, scoring 84, 94, 95 and 98. That was before injury once again struck the luckless star. Unfortunately, that's what happens with Yeo, so even when the planets appear aligned, just know… they aren't.