Max Gawn leads Melbourne out against Carlton in round 22, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

SURPRISE, surprise… it was Clayton Oliver (MID, $1,027,000) who led the Demons in Fantasy last season after another impressive year that saw him average 113.8 from his 13 games.

That was a personal best for Oliver, who has now averaged 100-plus in every year, excluding his debut season.

Leading into last year, Christian Petracca (MID, $957,000) was coming off personal best seasons that saw him average 103 and 111 respectively. He backed it up again with 106, which well and truly places him inside the uber-premium bracket for midfielders.

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Lock them in

Unless you have been living under a rock, everyone now knows that Brodie Grundy has moved to Sydney, which means Max Gawn (RUC, $831,000) is back and likely to be the Demons' solo ruck. Gawn has dominated this role for many years, averaging 100-plus on six occasions and over 110 three times.

Last year, he had the role late in the year for six games and during that period he averaged 113. Expect Gawn to be back to his very best in 2024, with another triple-figure average.

Track their pre-season

At times last season, Melbourne turned to Kysaiah Pickett (FWD, $570,000), asking him to help out in the midfield. In games where he attended 20 per cent or more of the centre bounces, he averaged an impressive 89.

If Melbourne plans to increase his responsibility again in this area he could be a very cheap option in a position that is shaping up to be the hardest one to fill.

Dual-position tempter

From round 13 onwards, Angus Brayshaw (DEF/MID, $770,000) was called upon to play midfield minutes in the absence of Oliver. During the remaining 11 games, Brayshaw averaged 93 and hit 100-plus on four occasions, something he hadn't done all year.

Angus Brayshaw handballs during Melbourne's clash against West Coast in round four, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

Bargain basement

Welcome back Marty Hore (DEF, $307,000)! Hore was delisted in 2021 from the Demons who have now welcomed him back with open arms.

Hore played for North Melbourne's VFL side in 2022 and Williamstown in 2023, averaging 103 across 19 games, his efforts earning him back-to-back selections in the VFL Team of the Year.

At the age of 27, Hore is ready to go and could be placed on field for your Fantasy Classic team.

In the 2023 AFL Draft, the Demons selected Caleb Windsor (MID/FWD, $282,000) at No.7 with their first selection.

Windsor averaged 83 in the Coates Talent League and has been likened to Sydney's Errol Gulden. Melbourne did show a willingness to use rookies last season which might indicate that we could see this young gun sooner rather than later.

Caleb Windsor poses for a photo after being drafted by Melbourne at the AFL Draft on November 20, 2023. Picture: Getty Images

Draft sleeper

Over the last two years, Jack Billings (FWD, $538,000) only managed 11 games with the Saints. This has been quite a bizarre turnaround for a guy who was playing regular games for five years, where he averaged between 83 and 99 points.

If Melbourne has thrown him a lifeline in an effort to replace James Harmes and James Jordon, then Billings will be much better than the 61 he averaged last season.

Custom stat star

It's no surprise that Jack Viney (MID, $903,000) led the tackle count for Melbourne last year with 142. He laid 12 in round 24, falling short of his personal-best game back in 2016 when he laid 16.

Viney had an exceptional season ,averaging triple figures for the first time in the last eight years.

Jack Viney runs with the ball during Melbourne's clash against Adelaide in round 19, 2023. Picture: Getty Images

Buyer beware

Even though Christian Salem (DEF, $700,000) has averaged over 90 in the past, it's hard to see him hitting those areas again. Struck down by injury, the luckless defender returned in round 10 last season. He has also been known to attract the attention of opposition taggers.

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