THE INCREASE in AFL Fantasy scores year-on-year for Jake Lloyd (DEF, $873,000) has been impressive, ranking him as the top Fantasy defender for the last two seasons.

His season averages since his debut in 2014 were 63, 74, 86, 92, 102, 107 and 91 (114 adjusted), looking eerily similar to a linear graphing question in a Grade 8 Mathematics textbook.

While it would be nice to predict a 120-plus return from Lloyd next season based on the trajectory, the most expensive defender in Fantasy Classic is a must-have; whether that's as a starter or an upgrade target in Classic. Fantasy Draft coaches will be targeting him with a first round selection.

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Lock them in

Isaac Heeney (FWD, $603,000) has been a consistent performer over the last few years, averaging 92, 91, 92 and an adjusted 88 last season. He played six games in 2020 making him eligible for a discount. This prices Heeney at the equivalent of a 79 average meaning he offers some value. With a priority being placed on hunting value picks and the new-look forward offerings, with Heeney, you can get a premium FWD for a sub-premium price.

Track their pre-season

No games in 2020 gives Lance Franklin (FWD, $377,000) a 30 per cent price discount applied to his 2019 average of 70.5; his poorest return since 2006. Put simply, if Buddy is progressing well throughout the pre-season, plays a Community Series game and is named in the Swans' round one team, then he's an absolute lock. His career average of 85.8 may not be achievable, but being priced equivalent to players who averaged under 50 last season, an average of 70 would be enough to make him a profitable mid-priced forward.

Dual-position tempter

The stat that could make Braeden Campbell (MID/FWD, $262,000) a worthy cash cow in your Fantasy Classic team or a target in your Fantasy Draft Keeper League is tackles. In 2019, the Swans Academy product averaged 12 kicks, four handballs, three marks, seven tackles and 92 Fantasy points in the NAB League. Campbell played three games for the Swans' NEAFL side, averaging 65 points.

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New stripes, right price?

Tom Hickey (RUC, $418,000) made his way to his fourth club during the Trade Period. If he becomes the No.1 ruck option for the Swans, the former Sun, Saint and Eagle presents value. Hickey averaged more than 70 in four of his six seasons at St Kilda and is priced $180,000 cheaper than his best return. As a sole ruckman, Hickey is an option, but if he’s sharing the role with Callum Sinclair, it’s a hard pass.

Bargain basement

2020 didn’t bring a debut for Will Gould (DEF, $170,000) in his first season on the list, but the positive for Fantasy coaches is that he is at basement price this season. Taken at pick 26 in the 2019 NAB AFL Draft, Gould had senior experience in his draft year playing for Glenelg. The hard-running defender averaged 73 in the SANFL.

Draft sleeper

A third-year Fantasy breakout is on the cards for Nick Blakey. In the latter part of last season, Blakey assumed a role on the wing. The midfield minutes didn’t exactly equate to higher Fantasy scores; however, holding MID/FWD status could make him a handy late round selection in deeper draft leagues. There’s upside in Blakey’s game and he should continue to progress with another pre-season under his belt.

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Custom stat star

If you're playing in a standard Fantasy Draft league, Jake Lloyd is without a doubt a first round pick. He ranks elite for disposal numbers averaging 25.6 per game last season. If your league chooses to give some extra value for effective disposals in a custom scoring league, then there is an argument that Lloyd could be the No. 1 pick. The 27-year-old was the top ranked player for effective disposals with an average of 20.3 per game (disposal efficiency of 79 per cent).

Buyer beware

Not exactly buyer beware, but you can afford to wait on Callum Mills (DEF, $705,000). Fantasy coaches have been anticipating his Fantasy breakout for some time and it took the COVID hit season to see it finally happen. Mills averaged 73.8 (92.3 adjusted) which was a 17 point per game improvement on his 2019 return thanks to career-high tackles and increased disposals and marks. He’s not a starting pick in Fantasy Classic for me and he’ll possibly be taken earlier in Draft than I am comfortable at selecting him due to his much-improved 2020 season.

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