LIKE DEVON Smith the year before, Dylan Shiel (MID, $729,000) recorded his career-high Fantasy average in his first year as a Bomber after switching from the Giants.

While Shiel's scoring didn't take the same leap as Smith's, the 26-year-old was averaging an impressive 105 after the first 10 rounds, helped by posting 127 and 136 early in the season.

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Shiel (98.3 average), Dyson Heppell (93.8) and Zach Merrett (108.2) were the leading Fantasy scorers for the Dons in 2019, but their next best teammate was David Zaharakis with 79.5.

Can we expect some improvement in terms of Fantasy output from the Dons in 2020? There appears to be some upside in quite a few players.

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Lock them in

Zach Merrett (MID, $803,000) enjoyed an almighty third-year breakout in 2016 taking his impressive second season 90.4 average to a whopping 117.7 ranking as the second-best Fantasy player of the season behind Patrick Dangerfield. He backed it up the following year with another 117 average.

Although he hasn't quite reached those heights in the last two seasons, the signs are good.

Merrett averaged 108.2 from 22 games. Included in that average was 50 in round one against the Giants and a concussion affected 57 versus the Swans. Aside from those, he dropped below 100 on just five occasions, with all of those scores respectably in the 90s. Merrett is a picture of consistency and should be considered as a potentially under-priced option in Fantasy Classic and a first-round captain option in Draft.

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Track their pre-season

He was the talk during the off-season due to the potential move to the Swans, but Joe Daniher (FWD, $420,000) remains a Bomber in 2020 and could be a bargain if fit. Injury has plagued Daniher, playing just 11 games in the past two seasons. Back in 2017 he averaged 84.7.

If Daniher lines up in the Marsh Community Series, he is worth considering.

Dual-position tempter

After making his move from the Giants, Devon Smith (MID/FWD, $720,000) was outstanding in 2017, his first year of donning the sash. A record number of tackles helped him average 106.6. However, injury interrupted his second year as a Bomber and he played just seven games at an average of 79.

While we are still paying the big bucks for Smith, he has regained his dual-position status and is available as a forward this year. He'll almost certainly be a top 2-3 forward if he can return to his 2018 best.

Devon Smith will be hoping for a return to his stellar 2019 form. Picture: AFL Photos

Draft sleeper

Is now the time that we will see Darcy Parish (MID/FWD, $589,000) breakout? Extra midfield time in the back half of last season was a positive sign, but Fantasy coaches haven't seen a high ceiling with the 22-year-old only posting three scores over 100. Is yet to average more than 80 in his four years, but Parish should at least be 85, if not higher, and outperform his average draft pick.

Bargain basement

The Bombers addressed some needs in the off-season by picking up mature age recruits Mitch Hibberd (MID, $197,000) and Jacob Townsend (FWD, $266,000).

Hibberd was previously listed with North Melbourne, playing four games at an average of 41. While there isn't a lot to get excited about with those numbers, he played in the VFL last year as an onballer to average 99 from 20 games.

Townsend was a member of Richmond's VFL premiership team last season, playing 16 games at an average of 90. He played mostly as a forward in his 45 AFL games which included the 2017 premiership, returning a modest average of 51. If he plays as a midfielder for Essendon, his numbers should improve.

Former Kangaroo Mitch HIbberd hopes to make the most of his second AFL chance at Essendon. Picture: AFL Photos

Forgotten warrior

Despite turning 30 ahead of the season, David Zaharakis (MID, $590,000) may still find some relevance this year. Coming off averages of 93.5, 99.6 and 97 in the three years prior, Zaharakis played 20 games at an average of 79.5, pricing him more than 20 points below his best.

While he is unlikely to be considered in Fantasy Draft as a MID, he did play some games in the Bombers' backline and may be a sneaky chance to gain DPP at some point during the season.

Buyer beware

Tom Bellchambers (RUC, $531,000) averaged 84.1 two seasons ago, however he should be avoided in Fantasy Draft as an option. Games played is an issue, having missed 18 games in the last three years.

The Bombers added Andrew Phillips (RUC, $507,000) in the trade period. The former Blue averaged 80.4 from five games last year, excelling when in the role of the No.1 ruckman.

Essendon's ruck line-up may change throughout the season and it might be wise to avoid the Dons' big men.

Essendon Fantasy prices

PLAYER

POSITION

2019

AVG

2019

GMS

2020

PRICE

Zach Merrett

MID

108.2

22

$803,000

Dylan Shiel

MID

98.3

21

$729,000

Devon Smith

MID/FWD

79.4

7

$720,000

Dyson Heppell

MID

93.8

17

$696,000

David Zaharakis

MID

79.5

20

$590,000

Darcy Parish

MID/FWD

79.4

20

$589,000

Michael Hurley

DEF

77.4

18

$574,000

Andrew McGrath

MID

74.7

22

$554,000

Cale Hooker

DEF

74.5

17

$553,000

Tom Bellchambers

RUC

71.6

15

$531,000

Kyle Langford

MID/FWD

70.6

17

$524,000

Conor McKenna

DEF

70.3

21

$522,000

Mason Redman

DEF

68.9

19

$511,000

Andrew Phillips

RUC

80.4

5

$507,000

Shaun McKernan

FWD

68

15

$505,000

Adam Saad

DEF

67.3

21

$499,000

Tom Cutler

MID

80.3

3

$496,000

Dylan Clarke

MID

66.2

11

$491,000

Jake Stringer

FWD

65.3

18

$485,000

Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti

FWD

62.9

22

$467,000

Jordan Ridley

DEF

68

6

$444,000

Jayden Laverde

FWD

58.6

9

$425,000

William Snelling

FWD

71.7

3

$420,000

Joe Daniher

FWD

69

4

$420,000

Martin Gleeson

DEF

58.4

9

$420,000

Matt Guelfi

MID

56.4

17

$419,000

Orazio Fantasia

FWD

54.4

14

$404,000

Aaron Francis

DEF

53.9

16

$400,000

Josh Begley

FWD

51.8

8

$361,000

Kobe Mutch

MID

0

1

$334,000

Patrick Ambrose

DEF

44

19

$326,000

James Stewart

FWD

0

0

$316,000

Brandon Zerk-Thatcher

DEF

56

1

$312,000

Brayden Ham

MID/FWD

49.8

4

$303,000

Jacob Townsend

FWD

17

1

$266,000

Harrison Jones

FWD

0

0

$212,000

Mitchell Hibberd

MID

0

0

$197,000

Nick Bryan

RUC

0

0

$196,000

Sam Draper

RUC

0

0

$170,000

Ned Cahill

MID/FWD

0

0

$170,000

Lachlan Johnson

MID/FWD

0

0

$170,000

Noah Gown

FWD

0

0

$170,000

Irving Mosquito

FWD

0

0

$170,000

Cian McBride

DEF

0

0

$170,000

Ross McQuillan

DEF/FWD

0

0

$170,000

 

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