THE 2015 NAB AFL season kicks off tomorrow. These are exciting times for Fantasy coaches and today we reveal what each of the 2014 premiers will cost you.
The Hawks left a bloody trail of Swan carcasses on the MCG for the groundsmen to clear before cricket season, and it’s the three chief destroyers from Grand Final day that you should be assessing for selection in your midfield.
Sam Mitchell (MID, $526,000) loses dual-position status this year, although Luke Hodge (DEF/MID, $550,000) keeps his. The most expensive Hawk is the man who could easily have taken the Norm Smith Medal from Hodge – Jordan Lewis (MID, $621,000). The Hawks veteran musketeers will set you back $1,697,000 in total and given they’ve got a combined age of 90, it may be wisest to pick your favourite and spend the rest on the new breed coming through.
Chief among those fledgling Hawks should be Isaac Smith (MID, $533,000) and Brad Hill (MID, $412,000), given the security of their positions in the League’s best midfield.
The next tier offers some serious value, should the premiers suffer a similar injury plague as the one that beset them in 2014 – if Hodge, Lewis or any of the other premiums go down, you should be quick to pounce on the likes of Billy Hartung (MID, $236,000), Jed Anderson (MID, $172,000), or ex-Giant Jonathan O’Rourke (MID, $220,000).
As they showed on the big stage in September, the Hawks are also one of the few clubs with a genuine spread of forward potency, and that translates into Fantasy points.
At least one of Jack Gunston (FWD, $469,000), Luke Breust ($425,000) and Jarryd Roughead (FWD, $502,000) should be in your squad. These are players in their absolute prime - each finished among the top eight goalkickers in the League.
Down back, the Hawks continue to share the pill more than a prescription-happy doctor, and players like Grant Birchall (DEF, $464,000) and Matt Suckling (DEF, $437,000) are smart picks in Fantasy’s trickiest position to fill.
So as Fantasy coaches prepare to unleash their nerdy best on this year’s game, put your faith in Alastair Clarkson and his bevvy of happy Hawks to shine a path to glory.
Shaun Burgoyne (DEF/MID, $491,000): Don’t let advancing age put you off selecting Burgoyne this year. His 2014 formline couldn’t have been more impressive. Clarkson continued to give the former Power player a ton of midfield time and he picked up some of Mitchell’s defensive distribution work too, a natural move given his superb delivery. Dual-position and under $500,000, keep the faith with the 32-year-old.
James Frawley (DEF/FWD, $432,000): The ex-Demon was the League’s big free agency winner last year, and lands on his feet with a tasty contract and a spot with the premiership favourites. Keep an eye on his NAB Challenge work to see if he starts covering the opposition’s third tall or if Clarkson also has him pinch-hitting forward. Without the burden of spluttering Melbourne players around him, 'Chip'' could be set to score big.
Cyril Rioli (FWD, $459,000): The AFL’s ultimate impact player hasn’t been cutting it in Fantasy for a number of years and you should have a line through him even before the inevitable reports of dodgy hamstrings start filtering through in the next couple of months. These days, Rioli is the kind of player who shines come crunch time but can expect to see a lot of cotton wool through the bump and grind of the home and away season – in other words, Fantasy poison.
TOMORROW: The 2015 NAB AFL Fantasy competition begins! Visit AFL.com.au for the first reveal of prizes, rule changes and the new ways you can play the best Fantasy game around.