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Traders v Journos: Who dominated our Fantasy draft?

Ask the Fantasy Coach Calvin, Warnie and Roy answer your questions

IT WAS a case of no spreadsheet too detailed, no prospectus unsullied, and no personal sledge left unspoken, as AFL.com.au's finest AFL Fantasy minds faced off with The Traders this week in our annual draft.

It took just over an hour for the 10 coaches to pick their squads, and leave their opponents cursing what might have been.

The format was three defenders, four mids, one ruck, three forwards and four bench spots of any position. 

Who came out on top? You be the judge. Here are the coaches' thoughts on their selected squads. 

Listen to the AFL Fantasy Podcast with The Traders at Apple Podcasts, Spotify and Google Podcasts.

1. Chris Correia (AFL.com.au digital producer) – Rixxy Business

Defenders: Shannon Hurn (pick 41), Matthew Suckling (81), Hamish Hartlett (101)
Midfielders: Jack Macrae (1), Sebastian Ross (20), Mitch Duncan (60), Dyson Heppell (61)
Ruckman: Justin Westhoff (21)
Forwards: Lance Franklin (40), Jesse Hogan (80), Tom Hawkins (100)
Bench: Michael Walters (120), Ed Curnow (121), Hayden Crozier (140), Ben McEvoy (141)

There were accusations this draft was rigged when the commissioner came away with the No.1 pick. Unfortunately I don't know how to rig this game, but if I did, I would have done it for sure because there's one player you must have - Jack Macrae. With 'captains on' in this league, his huge numbers will give me a massive edge. I then opted to give him a handy back-up in Sebastian Ross before chipping away at building each line. I think I might have gone a touch early with Justin Westhoff, but his DPP flexibility and consistent scoring will be vital over a long season.

Best pick: After a career-best season last year, I'm backing Jesse Hogan to go to another level at the Dockers. He will be used as another midfield option to fill the void of Lachie Neale, Connor Blakely and Stephen Hill, and I think the new rules will suit his game when playing mostly as a key forward.

The one I missed: Alex Witherden. I was set on the defender with my second pick (20), but Noakesy snapped him up two selections earlier. This rattled me and saw me go for another midfielder in Ross before taking ruckman Westhoff in back-to-back picks.

2. Calvin (The Traders) – Calvinator

Defenders: Nic Newman (60), Kade Kolodjashnij (99), Connor Blakely (102)
Midfielders: Matt Crouch (22), Dayne Zorko (39), Gary Ablett (42), Jack Steele (62)
Ruckman: Brodie Grundy (2)
Forwards: Sam Menegola (19), Tom T. Lynch (79), Christian Petracca (82)
Bench: Jayden Short (119), Aaron Hall (122), Ryan Burton (139), Josh J. Kennedy (142)

After securing the services of my captain Brodie Grundy with my first pick, I thought the rest would all fall into place - this wasn’t to be. Menegola and Crouch set me up with two top players in their respective positions and then I got flustered. With Warnie and Roy heckling my every move, I panicked on several occasions. Hopefully Blakely returns mid-year, but until then, Short and Burton will have to step up to fill the void that I can only blame on myself.

Best pick: Gary Ablett should gain forward status by round six. This will make the little master a top-six forward by the end of the year. While I might have gone early on him, I’ll reap the rewards soon enough.

The one I missed: Premium defenders. Nic Newman will lead the defenders for me this year, after I missed the run when all the premiums went. A huge oversight which could be a season-ending mistake.

3. Cameron Noakes (AFL.com.au chief production editor) – POWP

Defenders: Alex Witherden (18), Callum Mills (63), Zac Williams (78)
Midfielders: Lachie Hunter (23), Scott Pendlebury (38), Luke Parker (58), Shaun Higgins (103)
Ruckman: Max Gawn (3)
Fowards: Jeremy Cameron (43), Jordan De Goey (83), Kane Lambert (98)
Bench: Jarryd Lyons (118), Tom Stewart (123), Jack Darling (138), Jonathon Ceglar (143)

In previous drafts I’ve left my defenders to late in the piece and been caught scrambling. I didn’t want make the same mistake so in Alex Witherden, Callum Mills and Zac Williams I have three jets with huge upside who will all increase their numbers this season. And please, don’t believe this garbage about Braydon Preuss taking game time from Max Gawn. There are only two ruckman you want in this game: Gawn and Grundy. Max is mine. As for Preuss, he will go well at Casey.  

Best pick: I’m going out on a limb here and saying Jeremy Cameron. The key Giant is super talented and I’m tipping this to be his real breakout year (not like those fake breakout years when he was booting 60-plus goals and winning best and fairests and All Australian gongs). Scored 112 Fantasy points in JLT1, expect more of that. Jezza’s back, baby.

The one I missed: I missed plenty. Couldn’t believe my eyes when Adelaide ball-magnet Matt Crouch disappeared from the board moments before my pick. Then, a little later, flippin' Warnie steals Brodie Smith from under my nose. It was like the Traders (or should I say the Thieves) were reading my very mind. Who even are these guys? Strangely, I was also very annoyed when Scott Lycett was taken, spoiling my plans for a back-up FWD/RUCK (see peculiar/panic Ceglar pick).

4. Matt Jeffries (Telstra product specialist) – Grundy & Coke

Defenders: James Sicily (17), Shane Savage (57), Zach Tuohy (104)
Midfielders: Zach Merrett (24), Dustin Martin (37), Marcus Bontempelli (77), Jack Viney (97)
Ruckman: Callum Sinclair (64)
Forwards: Patrick Dangerfield (4), Travis Boak (44), Mitch Wallis (84)
Bench: Jade Gresham (117), Ben Cunnington (124), Jamie Macmillan (137), Brayden Fiorini (144)

Having Danger fall to me at pick 4 was an absolute blessing which allowed me to focus my next few picks on my defenders and midfielders. I’m confident of Merrett and Dusty recapturing their 2017 form to give me two elite options in the midfield supported by Bont and Viney who best finished 2018 on a high note. Three defenders who have strong Fantasy pedigree and should benefit from the new kick-in rule combined with two of the top-five forwards on my rankings should put this squad in a pretty nice position.

Best pick: Travis Boak in the fifth round (pick 44) was too hard to ignore. You’d be happy with him as your No.1 forward with his likely shift back to full-time midfielder, but when he’s your second forward behind Dangerfield you’re looking at a pretty potent attack!

The one I missed: I thought about taking Wingard at 64 to round out my elite forward line but thought I’d hold off for one more round. As it turned out Roy nabbed him at 70 and it was back to the drawing board.

Matt took Dangerfield with pick No.4. Picture: AFL Photos

5. Ricky Cahn (AFL Live app product manager) – McDowell's

Defenders: Jeremy Howe (56), Bachar Houli (76), Daniel Rich (105)
Midfielders: Clayton Oliver (5), Andrew Gaff (16), Lachie Neale (36), Rory Sloane (65)
Ruckman: Toby Nankervis (85)
Forwards: Isaac Heeney (25), Mitch Robinson (45), Jack Martin (96)
Bench: Sam Walsh (116), Dale Thomas (125), Scott Lycett (136), Caleb Daniel (145)

Pick 5 is a great place to start. Oliver’s numbers over the last two seasons suggest he’s entering 'Pig' status, so he was an easy choice. My strategy for the rest of my mids was high possession, low-risk options who have done it all before, so Gaff, Neale and Sloane ticked that box. In the forward line I wanted guys who go through the midfield, and in the backline I wanted players who would get some cheap numbers from the new kick-in rules. To round off a great draft, I took the GOAT, Sam Walsh. 

Best pick: Daniel Rich. Boosts his average this year by 20-30 easily with the new kick-in rule. Will be a very solid defender this year. 

The one I missed: I was really hoping to grab Dylan Roberton with a late pick as I think he’ll return to his 2017 form. Roy took him with pick 90.

6. Riley Beveridge (AFL.com.au reporter) – The Vucktorians

Defenders: Jack Crisp (46), Michael Hurley (75), Jarrod Harbrow (86)
Midfielders: Patrick Cripps (6), Dayne Beams (15), Jaeger O'Meara (66), Dylan Shiel (95)
Ruckman: Jarrod Witts (26)
Forwards: Toby McLean (35), Tom McDonald (55), Jack Riewoldt (106)
Bench: Ollie Wines (115), Wayne Milera (126), Luke Breust (135), Jared Polec (146) 

It was best available with my first two selections, before recruiting for needs after that. I was rapt to nab two quality onballers with my opening picks, while I was reasonably satisfied to grab Witts after that. He doesn't have much competition in the ruck at the Suns, while he looks like he'll relish the responsibility of the captaincy. I picked up a few high-risk, high-reward guys to fill spots both forward and back. They might not be consistent scorers, but they do have the ability to pile up the points from one week to the next. O'Meara and Shiel were quality late picks who could end the year among the highest scorers in the competition, should things go their way in 2019. I was rapt to grab Milera on my bench, given his potential to have a breakout year this season. 

Best pick: O'Meara has torn up Hawthorn training all summer, while he could have the bit between his teeth given the responsibility placed on his shoulders following Tom Mitchell's injury. At pick No.66, I thought the talented Hawk was a steal. 

The one I missed: I had my eyes on dual-position option Isaac Heeney with my third selection, given he's set for more midfield time in 2019. The fact he was taken with the pick before mine made me readjust my tactics and set my sights on a ruckman.

Riley couldn't resist O'Meara's pre-season form. Picture: AFL Photos

7. Ben Sutton (AFL.com.au digital producer) – Wylie's Buzzmen

Defenders: Rory Laird (7), Kade Simpson (34), Michael Hibberd (107)
Midfielders: Josh Kelly (14), Bryce Gibbs (47), Joel Selwood (87), Jack Steven (94)
Ruckman: Stefan Martin (67)
Forwards: Josh Dunkley (27), Robbie Gray (54), Jack Gunston (74)
Bench: Josh P. Kennedy (114), Luke Dahlhaus (127), Lachie Weller (134), Rory Lobb (147)

Drafting in the back seat of a cab can be a tricky affair, but the AFL Fantasy app made life extremely easy for me. With defence traditionally the weakest line, I was rapt to lock in Rory Laird with my top pick and having Josh Kelly available at 14 only sweetened my decision to go defender first. I'm banking on Josh Dunkley reproducing the barnstorming form he showed last year when he averaged 112 from his past nine games, while Robbie Gray and Jack Gunston should average around the 90 mark. I had planned to leave my ruck until late, but when Stef Martin was available in the seventh round, I couldn't resist pulling the trigger. Overall, I think I've got a great balance and given my track record (finished 27th overall in Fantasy Classic last year), the Buzzmen will be the team to beat this year.

Best pick: If Jack Steven returns early in the season then he could be a steal at 94. He's a four-time club champion and has averaged over 93 points in each of his past four years, including a massive 111.7 in 2015.

The one I missed: I was super keen to roll the dice on Tom Rockliff in the 12th round, but was pipped by old mate 'Red and Blue Bloods'. When Warnie took my back-up plan in Luke Shuey, I scrambled and ended up with Swan Josh Kennedy.

8. Warnie (The Traders) – Warne Dawgs

Defenders: Heath Shaw (53), Brodie Smith (68), Luke Ryan (93)
Midfielders: Stephen Coniglio (8), Elliot Yeo (28), Taylor Adams (48), Jack Redden (108)
Ruckman: Sam Jacobs (73)
Forwards: Devon Smith (13), Jack Billings (33), Toby Greene (88)
Bench: Luke Shuey (113), Bailey Williams (128), James Worpel (133), Brad Ebert (148)

My strategy chopped and changed throughout the draft, but securing Stephen Coniglio to be my skipper each week was a win considering he was the fourth-highest averaging midfielder last season. After participating in a couple of other drafts in the lead-up, securing big-name forwards was a priority as well as making sure my engine room was full of players who would each average more than 100 this season. My trio of defenders should all see a scoring bump this year with the new kick-in rules.

Best pick: Taylor Adams would have been a first-round selection if he hadn't required surgery on his finger. He will be back in the early part of the season while North Smith medallist Luke Shuey warms his place in the team.

The one I missed: I was ready to pounce on Isaac Heeney or Josh Dunkley in the third round but I was pipped within the three picks prior, leaving me scrambling.

Warnie missed out on Heeney, while Michael Rogers snapped up Lachie Whitfield. Picture: AFL Photos

9. Michael Rogers (AFL.com.au match day editor) – Red and Blue Bloods

Defenders: Lachie Whitfield (9), Christian Salem (69), Andrew McGrath (72)
Midfielders: Angus Brayshaw (12), Nat Fyfe (32), Callan Ward (49), Liam Shiels (109)
Ruckman: Todd Goldstein (52)
Forwards: David Mundy (29), Jack Ziebell (89), Aaron vandenBerg (92)
Bench: Tom Rockliff (112), Tom Phillips (129), David Zaharakis (132), Josh Caddy (149)

After finding myself lower in the order, I wanted to fill the more difficult positions first. Whitfield with my first pick and Mundy with my third (presuming the veteran Docker spends plenty of time in midfield) ticked those boxes. Strong tacklers filled the rest of my midfield and forward line, and I've taken a bit of a punt on McGrath's full-time move on to the ball. Finally, when in doubt I went for Demons, given Melbourne was among the highest-scoring Fantasy teams in 2018.

Best pick: I was surprised that Callan Ward was still available at No.49. The Giants skipper looked red-hot in his first JLT Community Series game and has been a reliable Fantasy performer for years. Looking forward to plenty more tons in 2019.

The one I missed: Jack Redden at No.108. After he regained his best Fantasy form throughout last year, I was very keen on the Eagle rounding out my midfield but Warnie swooped with the pick immediately before mine.

10. Roy (The Traders) – destROY

Defenders: Jake Lloyd (11), Dylan Roberton (90), Brandon Ellis (91)
Midfielders: Adam Treloar (10), Steele Sidebottom (31), Tim Taranto (50), Brad Crouch (51)
Ruckman: Matthew Kreuzer (71)
Forwards: Tim Kelly (30), Chad Wingard (70), Jamie Cripps (111)
Bench: Dom Sheed (110), Sam Petrevski-Seton (130), Charlie Curnow (131), Luke Hodge (150)

After going into the draft with no specific strategy in mind, I am very happy with the balance of my team and projected upside across all lines. With a captain option vital in round one, I was lucky to get Adam Treloar despite having the last pick of the round and having a defender of Jake Lloyd’s calibre available with my next selection gave me a platform for success. My forward line drops off a bit in the last position which is why I loaded up on the bench with Curnow and SPS to field the most ‘in form’ player out of those two and Cripps.

Best pick: My favourite picks were the back-to-back selections of Taranto and Crouch as they round out my midfield with projected 105+ averages.

The one I missed: There were no near misses today as I didn’t have my heart set on any particular player. I also had plenty of players highlighted on my favourites list in case I got thrown out of whack.