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Fantasy defenders: Big-time bargains, breakout contenders and more

The Traders pick Fantasy's best defenders Calvin, Roy and Warnie find the value picks down back

SINCE the beginning of time, defenders have been the lowest scoring position in AFL Fantasy. From the players available this year, only 18 players averaged over 80 last season.

This makes selecting your team very difficult, especially when you consider that the forwards have 32 in that category and the midfielders have 68.  

So who are the best options in 2019 and who should we be monitoring this pre-season?

When it comes to premium defenders, there are none better than Rory Laird (DEF, $782,000), who has held the mantle for a number of years.

Laird averaged a career-high 108 last year and ended the season with back-to-back scores of 138.

He should hit the ground running, just like he did in 2018 when he started the season with scores of 124, 141 and 120.

Ryan Burton's (DEF, $450,000) final season with Hawthorn wasn't a memorable one. After averaging 84 in 2017, Burton’s average dropped by 22 points. Now at Port Adelaide, Burton presents as a bargain if he can find his form from previous years.

A ruptured Achilles put Zac Williams (DEF, $421,000) on the sidelines for the entire home and away season and therefore he receives a 30 per cent discount, pricing him at an average of just 58. Williams did return during the finals, showing no signs of injury as he went on to score 107.

Capable of averaging 80, Adelaide's Brodie Smith (DEF, $439,000) is priced at a very tempting average of 60.5. He played two games in 2018 for scores of 54 and 101. The new kick-in rule should add a few extra points to his average as he will be one of the main players responsible for sending the ball back into play.

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In AFL Fantasy, finding a player who can step up and "breakout" from what they have done in previous seasons will help your team in all forms of Fantasy football. They're hidden gems, just like Melbourne’s Angus Brayshaw (MID, $763,000) was when he improved his previous averages of 70 and 77, to 105.

With averages of 75, 69 and 73 many believe that this is the year that Callum Mills (DEF, $522,000) will breakout and take his game to new heights.

Gaining more minutes in the Swan’s midfield is the key to this, so monitor his role throughout the JLT Community Series.

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He'll definitely benefit from the new kick-in rule, but only five per cent of coaches have currently selected Shannon Hurn (DEF, $645,000).  He is coming off a career-best season of 89 and has only missed one game in the last four years.

Jack Crisp (DEF, $635,000) had nine 100+ scores last year which included 104 and 123 during the finals. He only has two per cent of coaches convinced he can maintain or even improve on his average of 87.5. He averaged 93 in his last four games of the home and away season and like Hurn, he is also very durable, not missing a game in the last four years.

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Come draft day, there are a few defenders that you should consider adjusting in your rankings.

Based on average, Kade Kolodjashnij (DEF, $585,000) ranks at No.71 and should be moved into the top 20 for defenders. He did average 86 during his time with the Suns, and now has a new role on the wing for the Demons.

After playing just four games last year at an average of 63, Dylan Roberton (DEF, 537,000) is the definition of a draft sleeper. He averaged 90 in 2017 and is fit and firing this pre-season.

When hunting for rookies, mature-aged recruits have proven to be Fantasy gold and former SANFL player Christopher Burgess (DEF/FWD, $170,000) could be pushing for a game in round one. The 22-year-old was one of the three state-league players, who joined the Suns during the pre-season.

Former Saint Hugh Goddard (DEF, $170,000) joins the Blues with 10 AFL games under his belt and could slot straight into their backline.

Former pre-season favourite Harrison Wigg (DEF, $170,000) could also feature. He left the Crows in 2018, chasing greener pastures to only be hampered by injury.

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