EARLY on, hub life wasn't treating West Coast players well, losing their first three matches in Queensland. Their Fantasy performances were similarly disappointing until a spike in their scoring in the six mid-season games (all wins) back at Optus Stadium.
With everything looking back to normal this year (touch wood), we should see the best of the Eagles again.
Very few West Coast players improved in the COVD-hit year but Liam Duggan (DEF, $661,000) enjoyed a breakout season. The 23-year-old's average of 69 (87 adjusted) was an improvement on the three consecutive seasons averaging 67. Duggan's increase in numbers can be attributed to his extra marks and the bonus midfield minutes he enjoyed.
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Lock them in
There aren't too many players in the competition that Fantasy coaches can rely upon like Andrew Gaff (MID, $831,000). In the past three years he has posted season averages of 111, 111 and 87 (109 adjusted) to be one of the most consistent midfielders through that time. With limited interchanges and quarter length back to 20 minutes, coaches can expect Gaff to spend more time out on the ground due to his big tank and maintain, if not improve, on his recent performances. A first-round selection in Draft and someone you will want to have in your side for Classic finals.
Track their pre-season
A drop in output in 2020 prices Elliot Yeo (MID, $679,000) at his cheapest since 2016. The midfielder was hampered by a groin injury that kept him out of the side from round 11 and will be one to monitor during the pre-season as he prepares for the upcoming season. Yeo's 71 average (89 adjusted) last season is a long way off the 103 and 107 he managed in the two years prior. There's some value in Classic but with a limited pre-season, he could be someone to consider taking late in Draft to stash on your bench.
In his first season, Mark Hutchings (MID/FWD, $308,000) averaged 91 before making a name for himself as a tagger. A discount prices Hutchings only slightly higher than the top-priced draftees. If he can find a spot in the 22 and get back close to his career average of 67, he's more than $200k under-priced and could provide a quick hit as a cash cow.
New stripes, right price?
Alex Witherden (DEF, $654,000) fell out of favour at the Lions in 2020 but was producing career-best Fantasy numbers in the six games he played, averaging 78 (97 adjusted). Witherden burst on the scene when he made his debut in the second half of 2017, averaging 88 from his nine matches and backed it up with similar numbers in his sophomore year. A move to the Eagles should be positive for his Fantasy game as seen by Shannon Hurn's figures in recent seasons. Witherden will enjoy playing at Optus Stadium and should rack up plenty of +6s (mark and kick) as the Eagles control the ball in their back half.
Drafted in 2018, Luke Foley (DEF, $170,000) made his debut in round 18 but his Fantasy return was less than impressive. With only three disposals, two marks and a tackle, Foley finished with just 19 Fantasy points so remains basement priced for this season. The versatile junior averaged 92 in the NAB AFL Under-18 Championships.
The 73 (adjusted) average next to Jack Redden (MID, $554,000) is well below his career average of 90. In the two years prior to 2020, Redden averaged 96 and 92, missing only one game. Watch the 30-year-old throughout the AAMI Community Series to see if he's likely to remain in the mix of the Eagles' midfield rotations and you could get yourself a steal as Redden may fall off some Draft boards.
Custom stat star
Nic Naitanui (RUC, $653,000) doesn't reach the dizzying heights of the premium ruckmen in Fantasy, but if you add points to clearances in your custom scoring Draft league, then he will produce premium numbers. With 96 for the season, he ranked sixth in the competition for clearances. The top 50 for last season was full of midfielders with only three ruckmen making the list, including Todd Goldstein's 88 clearances (ranked 12th) and Brodie Grundy's 60 clearances (ranked 44th).
It's time to let go of hope that Josh J. Kennedy (FWD, $431,000) will be a consistent Fantasy performer ever again. Between 2013 and 2017, JJK played most games and returned averages of 86, 78, 85, 89 and 82; all numbers that ranked him as starting forward in most Draft leagues. While his 2020 average (and therefore this year's price) is deflated by injury, in the past three seasons Kennedy's averages have been 65, 54 and 57 (adjusted). Not enough to think we can back in the 33-year-old even as a streaming option.