Brodie Grundy poses in his new Sydney colours for the first time at Coogee on November 30, 2023. Picture: Phil Hillyard

EACH year, the Swans offer AFL Fantasy value one way or the other, but there was one player who exceeded all expectations in 2023 and is now considered as one of the best Fantasy prospects in the game.

Following an enormous game on the eve of the Toyota AFL Premiership Season, Errol Gulden (MID, $1,015,000) became one of the most selected players leading into round one.

In the practice match, Gulden collected 45 disposals and kicked three goals for a score of 177, the most of any player in the pre-season games. He went on to play every game, averaging 112.5 as he dominated his wing role. This made him the best of all available FWDs in Fantasy last season with an almost 30-point increase on his 2022 average.

There was a gap between Gulden and the next best players, but Chad Warner (MID, $837,000) and Luke Parker (MID, $811,000) led the centre-bounce midfielders for Fantasy points with 92.7 and 89.9 averages respectively. Jake Lloyd (DEF, $810,000) maintained his standing in the game as a Draft relevant defender.

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Lock them in

The most popular Swan in Fantasy Classic is Brodie Grundy (RUCK, $677,000) and with good reason. Our 'Ruck Pig' has one of the best Fantasy games at his best as he hit an average of 101 in just his fourth season before having back-to-back 120-plus averaging years in 2018-2019. Grundy made the move to Melbourne last season and due to playing second fiddle to Max Gawn, his average was just 75, the lowest since 2014. The upshot is that his move to the Swans in the off-season sees him as the No.1 ruck in the Harbour City with plenty of upside at that price. A no-brainer to improve on that 75 average and a very good chance to return a triple-figure average this year.

Brodie Grundy poses in his new Sydney colours for the first time at Coogee on November 30, 2023. Picture: Phil Hillyard

Track their pre-season

Could there be some upside in Isaac Heeney (FWD, $722,000) in 2024? As forwards are a tricky position for both Classic and Draft coaches to wrap their heads around, the 80 average from last year that is next to Heeney's name is interesting. The year before he averaged 89, a figure he has surpassed three other times in his career. Will he push up into the midfield? If so, that would help with increasing his floor and putting him among the top forwards.

Isaac Heeney in action during the match between Sydney and West Coast at the SCG in round 15, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

Dual-position tempter

If the midfield beckons for Taylor Adams (MID/FWD, $691,000), then he could be one of the value plays of the year. Adams was pushed out of Collingwood's midfield and after missing the Grand Final through injury, he hopes to be part of the Swans' engine room. The 30-year-old comes with some risk due to soft tissue injuries that have popped up throughout his career. But he can improve on the 75.6 average from 2023 which is well below his 90-plus career average. Don't forget Adams has averaged more than 100 in five seasons, including a whopping 114.6 in 2017.

Bargain basement

Matt Roberts (MID, $245,000) played the first three games of last season as the substitute and after making his way into the starting 22 scored 64 points. The week later he suffered a knee injury which put him on the sidelines for a few weeks. In his comeback, he averaged 101 in his last four VFL games of the season. Roberts is rookie priced and if the Swans are keen to include the 20-year-old in their line-up, he should be considered as a potential cash cow in Fantasy Classic.

Draft sleeper

Playing all but one game in his first two seasons at the Demons, James Jordon (MID/FWD, $454,000) averaged 71 points which included winning the Michael Barlow Medal for the Fantasy Cash Cow of the Year in his debut season. This year saw him as a substitute in eight of his 17 games. With forward status, Jordon should be considered as a late selection in Draft if there are signs that he's a member of the Swans' best 22. A big pre-season watch!

James Jordon at Sydney training on December 4, 2023. Picture: Phil Hillyard

Custom stat star

With the lack of forwards, Tom Papley (FWD, $598,000) will be relevant to Fantasy Draft leagues regardless, but if commissioners want to bring more forwards in with weighting towards 'forward-related' actions, then Papley could be a golden pick up in 2024. His average of 66.2 may not be super interesting for standard scoring, but if leagues add more points for goals and add in the custom stat categories of inside 50s and goal assists, then Papley would be a great target on draft day.

Buyer beware

Uh oh. If you missed the news that Callum Mills (MID, $759,000) had surgery for his torn rotator cuff from a Mad Monday celebration, then mark it down in your little black book. It appears it may be a few weeks into the season that he returns to the senior side. This will affect his Draft value, even though his average of 84.1 is a long way from the 111 and 110 in the two seasons prior. A flat out no to start in Classic, but could be an under-priced play when he plays his first game.

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