Dylan Moore in action during Hawthorn's clash against Fremantle in round 24, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

SAM MITCHELL'S men may have finished 16th but their developing game was still a positive for Fantasy with nine players averaging more than 80 points per game.

The Hawks ranked fourth for Fantasy points across the League in 2023 as their skipper topped the table. James Sicily (DEF, $943,000) did all the things Fantasy coaches love, including taking kick-ins and racking up uncontested marks in defensive 50.

Will Day (MID, $860,000) had defender status, but his midfield role helped him improve his average by 35 points as he increased $276,000 to be an important mid-priced pick. James Worpel (MID, $779,000) had a bounce back year, averaging 86.3 which was more than 30 points better than his previous season.

The biggest Fantasy name out of Hawthorn wasn't for positive reasons.

Tagger Finn Maginness (MID, $388,000) put the clamps on a few popular Fantasy players last season. Most notable was his job on Nick Daicos where he held him to 37 points before the Pie suffered an injury in the last quarter. A few weeks earlier, Giants ball-magnet Josh Kelly had just six disposals in 85 per cent time on ground.

Finn Maginness and Nick Daicos during the match between Hawthorn and Collingwood at the MCG in round 21, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

Fantasy coaches will need to consider who Finn may go to and avoid making them your captain … or even weigh up a trade!

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Lock them in

If we've learned something in the last couple of years, James Sicily (DEF, $943,000) has a high Fantasy ceiling. A favourite of a few coaches who enjoyed a big Fantasy finals series in 2022 when he scored 151 in the 'Grand Final', 'SicDawg' picked up where he left off with 130 to open up the 2023 season. Another six scores of 120-plus followed for the year with top returns of 160 and 165 and those who had the defender taking plenty of marks were rewarded. Sicily spent some time on the sidelines due to a couple of suspensions. These came during the byes which made things frustrating for coaches. Sicily comes in as the second best defender based on his 104.5 average which will see him as an early target in Draft and a must-have at some stage of the season in Classic.

Josh Daicos and James Sicily during Collingwood's game against Hawthorn in R21, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

Track their pre-season

Last pre-season all eyes were on Dylan Moore (FWD, $794,000) as a premium Fantasy forward option. He was coming off an average of 93.3 but, most importantly, an average of 101.1 from the last nine game where he was thrust into the midfield. Prior to the bye, he hadn't attended a centre bounce, from round 15, he averaged 42 per cent of Hawthorn's centre bounce attendances. In 2023, Moore had minimal CBAs but his output as a forward was still solid, averaging 88. The vice-captain is the sixth ranked forward based on last year's numbers. While the midfield might be more settled as Worpel found his mojo and Day looks a first choice in the engine room, Moore will be one of the first forwards off the board based on his consistency and durability.

Dual-position tempter

With just two Hawks with dual-position status, Denver Grainger-Barras (DEF/FWD, $275,000) gets the gig here almost by default. Three years into his AFL career, DGB's average has gone backwards. From 38.2 from five games in 2021 to 33.5 from 16 games in 2022 and 25.9 from seven last season, there isn't a lot to say about his Fantasy game for the key defender-come-forward. Even looking into his VFL numbers, it took a five-goal haul to score 85 for the Box Hill Hawks. Due to being rookie priced, he's worth a watch if the Hawks want to use him, but if he continues as a forward, scoring will be limited.

Denver Grainger-Barras celebrates a goal during round 23, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

Bargain basement

Taken at No.5 in the AFL Draft, Nick Watson (MID/FWD, $288,000) is every chance to play round one. The small forward was the leading goalkicker at the AFL Under-18 Championships, averaging 69.8 Fantasy points from his four games. In the Coates Talent League, Watson averaged 20 disposals and 81.9 Fantasy points for the Eastern Ranges. Keep an eye on the 'Wizard' as a potential starting option in your Classic forward line.

Draft sleeper

There were some promising signs for Connor Macdonald (FWD, $638,000) last season. He scored his first Fantasy ton in round 23 against the Dees thanks to 19 disposals, eight marks and two goals. Forwards are going to be hard to have confidence in and it will be all about finding some nuggets such as Macdonald who averaged 70.7 in 2023. His last five games were at an average of 86.6 which would rank him as a top 10 forward. Definitely a third-year breakout player to consider.


Custom stat star

Many will remember Jai Newcombe (MID, $842,000) making 14 tackles on debut after being picked up in the 2021 mid-season draft. He averaged 4.3 tackles last season but hit all the stat lines as he became Hawthorn's most used player at centre bounces. If he can get the ball on the boot a bit more (he averaged 11 kicks and 14 handballs), Newcombe could be a 100-plus player in 2024 as he and his Hawks improve.

Buyer beware

Chad Wingard (FWD, $545,000) is a name that I always consider after some fond memories over the last decade. A mid-season drop in my keeper league saw him make his way back in the Hawks' line up to average 84.6 post-bye before an Achilles injury ended his season. The injury is likely to keep him sidelined for some time in 2024. Despite an attractive price and the stories we can tell ourselves about being some value, we're best to avoid in Classic and Draft.

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