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No one wants them ... but they could be Fantasy gold

The Traders pick Fantasy's best midfielders Calvin, Roy and Warnie find the value picks in the engine room.

FINDING a point of difference (POD) for your team could help you get a leg up on the competition when selecting your AFL Fantasy Classic side.

Patrick Dangerfield and Brodie Grundy are the two most selected players so far this pre-season, appearing in more than 50 per cent of squads. Rightly so, as they are tipped to be the highest-scoring players for their position.

Not for one second would we suggest to not start with players due to their popularity. Most are popular for a reason.

Former Giant Will Setterfield is next on the list as he is likely to line up in Carlton's midfield alongside fellow bargain midfielder Sam Walsh. Swan Jake Lloyd has attracted plenty of attention to be the most popular defender as he is eyeing off some bonus points with the new kick-in rule.

Nailing a unique selection who smashes out impressive scores early on over a more fancied pick could see you get off to the start you need.

But beware, sometimes a POD can bite you and send you rage trading them out of your side.

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Defenders

Kade Simpson (DEF, $692,000) – 4.1 per cent
The season-ending ACL injury to Sam Docherty will see the ever-reliable Simpson assume a similar role as last year. Ranking as the fourth-highest scoring defender last year, the 34-year-old enjoyed eight scores over 110 and has missed just three games in the past six seasons.

DEFENDERS Big-time bargains, breakout contenders and more

Pearce Hanley (DEF, $414,000) – 2.4 per cent
As coaches look for value down back, Hanley has put his injury woes behind him this pre-season and will outperform his starting price. He has averaged 82.1 across his career with a personal best of 98.5 back in 2014. The Suns will need the former Lion on the park and the ball in his hands.

Pearce Hanley could be a bargain pick for your team. Picture: AFL Photos

Luke Ryan (DEF, $558,000) – 2.1 per cent
Of all of the players to benefit from the new kick-in rule, it appears that the Docker could enjoy a scoring boost that could rocket him into premium status. Fremantle players opted to play on from the goal square the fewest of all teams and Ryan is set to take his mid-70s average closer to 90 in his third season.

Others to consider: Michael Hibberd – 2.2 per cent, Dylan Roberton – 1.9 per cent, Brandon Ellis – 0.5 per cent

Midfielders

Tom Rockliff (MID, $600,000) – 3.2 per cent
If a time traveller from five years ago looked at how cheap the Fantasy Pig was and his subsequent low ownership, they would be shocked. In 2014 he set, and still holds, the record for highest average in a season with 134.7 and goes into 2019 priced at his 82.6 average; his lowest since his debut season. As Roy would say, he’s more than 50 points under-priced. With a full pre-season and some extra time on ground, Rocky may gain some popularity following his AFLX appearance.

MIDFIELDERS Big-time bargains, breakout contenders and mores

Sebastian Ross (MID, $779,000) – 2.3 per cent
Over the last six rounds of last year, Ross scored 121, 105, 160, 143, 107 and the infamous 122 in the Fantasy Grand Final that saw Fantasy coach James Robinson tie for first place in the final game of the season. Last year was Ross’ best Fantasy season to date and he could build on this to be among the elite scorers with a projected 110 plus average due to his high ceiling.

Dayne Zorko (MID, $701,000) – 2.3 per cent
In a season where coaches are looking for under-priced premiums, Zorko appears to be down the list despite having some of the most upside. A stellar 2017 season where the Lions’ captain averaged career high 114.2 wasn’t matched last year when he was tagged in a series of games. The addition of Lachie Neale may help Zorko return to his former glory and hit more of those highs such as his 176 in round seven last year.

Luke Parker (MID, $694,000) – 1.3 per cent
Parker sits on my 'never again' list, however, he knows how to Fantasy. Picking the 26-year-old Swan comes with some risk but as they say, you’re only as good as your last home-and-away game. His 143 against the Giants in round 22 was a nice return and could give prospective buyers hope that he can reach the 109.7 average he posted in 2016.

Others to consider: Adam Treloar – 4.4 per cent, Aaron Hall – 3.6 per cent, Jack Redden – 1.5 per cent

Rucks

Matthew Kreuzer (RUC, $576,000) – 3.6 per cent
When the Fantasy Classic prices dropped in December, many coaches pencilled Kreuzer in as a starting ruckman. An injury-interrupted season saw his averaged drop to 79.3 after pumping out an impressive 105 from 21 games in 2017. Some pre-season surgery has seen his stocks plummet but if he plays in a JLT game, you can save some cash with Special K for your second ruck.

RUCKS Big-time bargains, breakout contenders and more

Others to consider: Jarrod Witts – 3.6 per cent, Toby Nankervis – 1.4 per cent, Callum Sinclair – 1.1 per cent

Forwards

Toby McLean (MID/FWD, $686,000) – 4.8 per cent
In the first half of the season, McLean was the most desirable forward to bring in as an upgrade as he scored seven Fantasy tons in the first 10 round including a 143 against the Suns and 152 on the Pies. In the back half, he managed just two scores over 100. It appears that Fantasy Classic coaches are switched on to this and opting for Josh Dunkley instead (23 per cent of teams). Their combined 2018 seasons were a tale of two halves with Dunkley scoring heavily post-bye after a slow start. If McLean gets back into that midfield, he could average the 105 that he did early on last season.

FORWARDS Big-time bargains, breakout contenders and more

Jack Billings (MID/FWD, $618,000) – 3.5 per cent
Many coaches have written Billings off after a disastrous 2018. A ton in round one was followed by an average of 68 from rounds two to 11 before being dropped to the VFL. This was due to his role that saw him spend most of his time in the forward 50. Billings was given some more freedom once he returned to the side, averaging 96.8 in his final 10 games.

Will you take the punt on Jack Billings this year? Picture: AFL Photos

David Mundy (MID/FWD, $652,000) – 0.6 per cent
Consistent and durable performers are like gold in Fantasy. Mundy has epitomised this over the last decade. With his new MID/FWD role that he has adopted in the last couple of years, he has averaged in the high 80s. There has been talk this pre-season that he may spend some more time back in the midfield as a ball-winner and be one of the top available forwards even as a 33-year-old.

Others to consider: Sam Menegola – 2.9 per cent, Robbie Gray – 4.4 per cent, Lance Franklin – 3.7 per cent. 

The POD squad

The task of putting together a team made up of players appearing in fewer than five per cent of Fantasy Classic teams is a tough one. Not only are there many that I wouldn’t consider for one reason or another, there comes risk with many of the selections.

It has to be said that the Fantasy community are a switched on bunch. The most popular players are popular for a reason.

No one should go into a season with a team full of PODs. One or two per line could help you find that bit of uniqueness that could separate you from the rest.

In this squad, there are plenty of great picks. Some who will be in among the top for their position such as Kade Simpson, Adam Treloar, Seb Ross and Sam Menegola. Other will be among the best cash cows of the year. Luke Davies-Uniacke is worth considering in his second year and mature age picks Tom North and Tom Atkins are every chance to debut in round one.

This is the POD squad that is projected to score 1789 in round one and has $25,000 left in the bank.

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