Ollies Wines kicks the ball during Port Adelaide's clash against Fremantle in round 23, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

THERE has been a changing of the guard with young superstar Connor Rozee (MID, $956,000) taking the reins as skipper on the back of a career year where he averaged 106 following a move to the midfield.

Historically from a Fantasy perspective, captaincy can go either way in terms of scoring output but if I've learned one thing about the hard-running accumulator over the last few years, the only way is up!

Despite his hefty price tag, he remains a relevant option given he averaged 113 from round 10, which would suggest he is in fact under-priced.

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Lock them in

Zak Butters (MID, $898,000) has become a genuine star of the competition and the bonus is, after a slow start to the season playing forward, we can now grab him as an under-priced midfielder. At times, the temptation to select a player that has lost DPP can be tarnished, but the value of the hard-nosed ball-magnet makes it easy to ignore. Butters has improved his average every year of his career, highlighted by last season's career high 99 and there is every chance he does it again by 10+ points. He had an eye catching six-week run though the middle of the season where he averaged 121 and finished the year in fine form, averaging 117 over the last month. He has no early bye. Don't hesitate to lock him in.

Track their pre-season

Former Brownlow medallist Ollie Wines (MID, $701,000) was a shadow of his former self last year, averaging just 78, well down on his two previous seasons where he recorded totals of 98 and an impressive 112. His demise comes as no surprise however given he was bumped out of the midfield, attending just 50 per cent CBAs, down from the 71 and 74 per cent in his previous two seasons. This saw a significant drop in his PPM from over one to 0.82. The reason this analysis is vital is the Power have indicated that the flow on effect from their off-season departures and inclusions slides Wines straight back into the midfield and straight into calculations for our teams. 

Ollie Wines and Josh Dunkley during the qualifying final between Brisbane and Port Adelaide at the Gabba on September 9, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

Dual-position tempter

I do have a soft spot for Jackson Mead (FWD/MID, $393,000), but realistically, he is the only Power player with experience at the top level who has DPP status. On a positive note, however, his form in the SANFL was outstanding, averaging an impressive 102 over his last eight games which suggests his time will come.

Bargain basement

Jordon Sweet (RUC, $387,000) was stuck behind the best ruck in the land and unable to get a game as a result, despite his impressive numbers at VFL level. Dominating the hitouts each week, Sweet averaged an impressive 104 for the season but it was the last 10 weeks that really turned heads when the big fella went at 115, highlighted by an impressive 174. He will obviously be sharing duties with Ivan Soldo, but at that price, could you even consider using him as an expensive cash cow on the pine, especially considering many coaches will need cover for Brodie Grundy, who has an early bye.

Draft sleeper

A third-year breakout is on the cards for former No.1 pick Jason Horne-Francis (MID, $614,000) as he moves onto a season where he likely avoids the level of scrutiny he faced last year. His best is elite, a line breaking midfielder that can kick goals, as we saw in five games where he scored 90+. His downfall last year was his consistency, dropping under 50 on a whopping seven occasions. I think he makes a huge improvement on those horrific floor scores and makes a big leap in average as a result.

Jason Horne-Francis in action during Port Adelaide's clash against Geelong in round 14, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

Custom stat star

If your league loves to reward the defensively minded players and the tacklers, hard-working midfielder Willem Drew (MID, $694,000) not only tackles like a machine, but he likes to find a bit of the ball at the same time. He applied double figure tackles on four occasions last year including a whopping 16-tackle performance against the Pies.

Buyer beware

As much as I love former skipper Travis Boak (MID, $561,000), who averaged as high as 95 and 98 just a couple of years ago, the role isn't there anymore. Last season, his average dropped to 62 on the back of a big dip in CBAs, down to just 13 per cent which caused a career low in points per minute. As expected, given it was his 17th season last year, he also recorded a career low 70 per cent time on ground and that is unlikely to track in a positive direction moving into his 18th year.

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