GETTING your premiums right from day one can set you up for a big season in AFL Fantasy.
These are the set and forget players that will get you 100 every a week.
To take out the guesswork, The Traders have gone through every club to outline which player you can lock in.
From round 13 last year, Reilly O'Brien (RUC, $709,000) averaged a massive 108. As impressive as his debut season was, his overall average of 96 didn't fully reflect what he achieved, or even how much bigger he can be in 2020. When he finally got his chance at AFL in round three, he took four games to find his feet. If we can ignore his slow start, then he would have been a ruckman averaging 101. With the No.2 ruck position up for grabs in many Fantasy teams, you can rest easy with O'Brien knowing that he offers value and plenty of upside.
Lachie Neale (MID, $777,000) is a genuine star of the competition, as we saw early in his debut season with the Lions, scoring an impressive 146, 135 and 139 between rounds two and four. He looked well and truly on track to smash his career-high average of 111 at that stage but slowed down to eventually average a second-best 105. Although he can be prone to the odd disappointing score with three in the 70s last season, the flipside of 162 in last year's Fantasy GF makes up for it. You want your premiums to be durable and that's where Lachie is worth his weight in gold, missing just two games in six years.
After injury shattered our dreams of selecting an underpriced Sam Docherty (DEF, $563,000) during last year's pre-season, we are now poised to pounce on the elite defender … and for a ridiculously discounted price. It doesn't get much better back there, in his last season (way back in 2017) he averaged 117 while pumping out five scores over 140. My first picked player!
Brodie Grundy (RUC, $906,000) was the No.1 Fantasy Draft selection in 2019 based on ADP (average draft pick) and after averaging 122.1, the newly crowned Fantasy Pig is set to be the consensus first pick on draft day this year. In Classic, he is the definition of a set-and-forget ruckman. It's a big price to pay, but you don't just get one Grundy, you get two. With eight of his scores 145 or more last season, the 25-year-old is a walk-up captain option and should average over 120 for the third straight year.
Zach Merrett (MID, $803,000) enjoyed an almighty third-year breakout in 2016, taking his impressive average of 90.4 in his second season 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 underpriced option in Fantasy Classic and a first-round captain option in Draft.
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Nat Fyfe (MID, $779,000) is coming off his career-best Fantasy season, which is a surprise given he only averaged 105. Coming into last season there were question marks as to whether he could consistently reach a ceiling of 120, but in a positive sign for the future he did it on seven occasions. A new game style might be just what he needs to reach the elusive heights of a 110 average although he could spend more time forward to preserve his body. Possible DPP addition throughout the season?
Prior to the arrival of Tim Kelly, Patrick Dangerfield (MID, $798,000) had his two best Fantasy seasons, averaging 121 and 118. Although he can now only be selected as a midfielder, averages like that would have ranked him as the best midfielder in 2019. This certainly makes him a target in all formats, despite the fact he has lost his forward eligibility. Dangerfield only attended 63 per cent of centre bounces in games he played last year, so expect him to be better than the 108 he is priced at.
You don't get to be the No.1 draft pick for no reason and Matthew Rowell (MID, $270,000) is certainly a name to lock in. He averaged 124 from his seven games in the NAB League after averaging 30 possessions and nine tackles a game. Rowell averaged 102 in the NAB AFL Under-18 Championships, ranking him third overall on points scored. If you didn't start with Sam Walsh last year, don't make the same mistake again.
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There's some value in new captain Stephen Coniglio (MID, $769,000). Last year he was looking likely to improve on his 110.4 average from 2018 until he injured his knee in the opening minutes of the round 17 clash with Richmond. He didn't register a stat and therefore his 111 average up until that point was adjusted to 103.7, which places him underpriced considering his epic form in the lead-up. Coniglio has proven to be a captain option with his high ceiling. His top scores from last season were 192, 161 and 146.
The sixth-most-selected player in Fantasy Classic is Tom Mitchell (MID, $671,000). In 2017, his first year as a Hawk, Mitchell broke the record for most Fantasy points scored in a season, averaging 127.2. He backed it up the following year with an average of 129.2. In January last year, as most coaches were debating whether to pay the big bucks for the Fantasy Pig, Mitchell broke his leg at training and subsequently missed the 2019 season. With a 30 per cent discount applied to his price due to missing a full season, Mitchell is priced equivalent to 90.5 points and appears to be one of the premium value picks of the year.
Is Clayton Oliver (MID, $786,000) one of the most underrated premium midfielders? It's hard to believe that the 22-year-old is only going into his fourth season. An average of 101.5 in Oliver's second year with 109 and 106 in his last two makes him one of the top-scoring players of the last three seasons thanks to not missing a game in that time. Oliver appears in just four per cent of Fantasy Classic teams and could be a handy point of difference if he (and the Dees) can get back to the form of 2018.
In Draft, Todd Goldstein (RUC, $656,000) can be locked into your line-up with confidence. After averaging 88 last season, Goldstein is a serviceable big man who gets the job done week in, week out. He has only missed 10 games in the past decade and finished 2019 strongly, averaging 96 in his last four games.
Dan Houston (DEF/MID, $596,000) is high on my pre-season watch list after an amazing finish to the season where he fully embraced a role change with a move into the midfield. After just one triple-figure score in the first 18 rounds, he finished the season on fire with scores of 104, 123, 103, 97 and 89. If he remains in the midfield, he is a prime mid-priced option given his defender status.
In a year starved of star power in the forward line, Dustin Martin's (FWD/MID, $721,000) stocks are very high considering the champion is still available up front. He had another great season, averaging 97 while spending time between the midfield and forward line. Due to playing a variety of roles, there will be highs and lows as we saw last year with five scores over 128 and five scores below 70, but given he is available as a forward, the upside wins make him a great selection.
Sebastian Ross (MID, $700,000) was the talk of many Fantasy coaches last year. Not only for his car-winning kick in the dying stages of round 23 which saw Selby Lee-Steere infamously go back-to-back in Fantasy Classic, but for his career-high average of 107.3. While many expected him to at least maintain this output, he dropped his average by 13 points by the end of 2019. Ross is seen as a value pick based on his average of 106 in games from when Brett Ratten took over from Alan Richardson.
Jake Lloyd (DEF, $795,000) is the best defender in the game and therefore he is the most expensive after averaging a career-high 107. His ability to play on from the square and receive cheap little marks is like no other player in the game. Not only are you paying for a walk-up top-six defender, you're paying for a durable player who has missed only one game in the past four years.
Coming off back-to-back seasons averaging 111, Andrew Gaff (MID, $824,000) is one of the uber-premiums in the game. He scored 121 and 120 in the AFL finals and should be taken in the first round of your Draft league.
Jack Macrae (MID, $858,000) has proven to be in the top handful of elite premium midfielders for the last couple of seasons, and is one of the few players with the ability to consistently have their hat in the ring for captaincy. In the last two years he has had averages of 123 and 116, respectively, and provides some value despite the hefty price tag given he was out of sorts between rounds six and 11 where he managed just one ton in that time.