DAN HANNEBERY, Dustin Martin, Zach Merrett and Brad Crouch are among the under-priced midfielders that Fantasy Classic coaches may look to build their squads around next season.
Players are priced based on last season's output, and those who played fewer than 10 games receive a discount which many will see as value to help squeeze the most bang-for-buck out of the $12.8m salary cap.
When initial prices were revealed earlier this week, many had marked down Sam Docherty (DEF, $593,000) as a must-have to start the season. Carlton's co-captain received a 30 per cent discount on his price due to missing 2018 with an ACL injury.
In a cruel twist of fate the 25-year-old re-injured his knee, once again at pre-season training, and will require a reconstruction.
Docherty was set to be one of the most selected players next year after an incredible return in 2017 where he was the best available defender, averaging 116.8.
Adelaide will be hoping Brad Crouch (MID, $524,000) continues to train strongly and be set for a round one return after missing the last 12 months of football. The 30 per cent discount places Crouch around the price range of other players who averaged 72, meaning there is potentially 30 or more points of upside for the 24-year-old.
Zach Williams (DEF, $421,000) injured his Achilles prior to round one but returned for the Giants' finals series. He scored 107 in the elimination final win against the Swans and with his 30 per cent discount for missing the home-and-away season, if he can average more than 80, as he did in his two seasons before injury, he will be a great mid-priced option down back.
Consider starting Grant Birchall (DEF, $350,000) if you think he can go at more than 75 points per game; a figure he has achieved in 10 of his 13 seasons.
Anthony Miles (MID, $425,000) and Will Setterfield (MID/FWD, $251,000) landed at new homes during the NAB AFL Trade Period.
Miles, who played the solitary game last season, will be hoping to increase his games tally at the Suns and in turn, get back to his best that saw him average 86 from 19 games back in 2016 for the Tigers. Setterfield is hoping to display some of his NEAFL form, where he averaged 110 in his most recent season, as a Blue.
If you're looking for a cheap ruckman, Shane Mumford (RUC, $429,000) returns to the Giants after a season out of the game. His 30 per cent discount on his 2017 average of 83 should see him make a few dollars early on as may Zac Clarke (RUC, $270,000). The recently signed Bomber is set to increase in value if given game time.
Brad Crouch's 30 per cent discount means there's plenty of upside for the midfielder. Picture: AFL Photos
Will they bounce back?
While some players may have received a discount because they missed games, others are naturally cheaper due to injury affected games or a season to forget.
If someone said Dan Hannebery (MID, $434,000) would be this cheap two seasons ago, Fantasy coaches would have thought they had rocks in their head. A career-high average of 111 in 2015 was backed up by 108 the following year as the former Swan was one of the top premium Fantasy players in the competition.
Even at the start of last season Hannebery was considered value after being priced at an average of 94. No one would have predicted that he would go at less than 60 this year, and subsequently he is priced at his lowest point since 2010.
Hannebery has put his injuries behind him and is training well. If he's on the park, then consider him a low-risk option.
Rory Sloane (MID, $653,000) dropped his average by more than 17 points, Zach Merrett (MID, $736,000) was more than 16 points behind his previous two seasons where he went 117-plus and Dustin Martin (MID, $674,000) was more than 20 points behind his Brownlow Medal-winning season.
Although Martin was still Richmond's highest-scoring player, he should at least return to triple figures with more time in the midfield thanks to the recruitment of Tom Lynch.
There appears to be a lot of value in the midfield, but it's not the only line that is likely to find some players who are priced well below their best.
Matthew Kreuzer (RUC, $576,000) was one of the best Fantasy ruckmen in 2017. He was unable to back up his 105 average this year, returning 79 points per game from his 12 appearances.
Mark down Michael Hibberd (DEF, $499,000), Bachar Houli (DEF, $536,000), Jack Newnes (MID/FWD, $481,000) and even the big-name dual-position player Patrick Dangerfield (MID/FWD, $771,000) as cheaper options to watch over the pre-season based on being priced significantly lower than their top seasons.
Pick of the draftees
Players taken earlier in the NAB AFL Draft are the more likely to make an impact in year one.
Sam Walsh (MID, $270,000) is not only the most expensive of this year's crop, but would have to be one of the favourites to make a round one debut. At this year's NAB AFL Under-18 Championships, the No. 1 pick averaged 139 Fantasy points per 120 minutes.
Bulldog Bailey Smith (MID, $258,000) averaged 125.
Mature-aged picks have traditionally been the best cash cows. Michael Barlow averaged 109.8 in his first season as a 22-year-old at the Dockers and more recently, Tim Kelly was one of 2018's best earners averaging 86.8 as a 24-year-old.
The Western Bulldogs took Ben Cavarra (FWD, $182,000) at pick 45. The 22-year-old small forward averaged 84 points for Williamstown in the VFL this year.
New Dog Ben Cavarra has been a consistent scorer at VFL level. Picture: AFL Photos
Unfortunately, the best of the bargain basement-priced players won't be known until closer to the start of the season. The cash cows of 2019 will be monitored over the pre-season as put their hand up for round one throughout the JLT Community Series.
Keep an eye on Gold Coast's Chris Burgess (DEF/FWD, $170,000) and Josh Corbett (FWD, $170,000) as well as Adelaide's Shane McAdam (FWD, $170,000) as bottom-priced players. The state league selections tick the boxes as mature-aged picks and may start the season in the seniors at their respective clubs.