THE SAINTS made big strides in their first year under coach Brett Ratten, headlined by poster boy Jack Steele (MID, $867,000), who added a lazy 18 points to his best average.

Once again they were very active in the Trade Period after a successful recruiting drive in 2019 helped them end their finals drought. My favourite signature from the latest crop is Fantasy stud Brad Crouch (MID, $708,000), who comes across from the Crows with a highly credentialed resume including a career high average of 108.

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Lock them in

Jack Steele (MID, $867,000) elevated his game to elite status and has become a genuine option to lead your midfield cohort. One of the most impressive tools in Steele's kit is his ability to tackle while picking up more than his fair share of the ball. Last year, despite the shortened quarters he managed a whopping nine or more tackles on three occasions highlighted by 10 against the Lions which he converted to 110 (adjusted to 138). With a couple of midfielders joining the squad, it will be interesting to see how it effects his scoring output but he is a class act and first round Draft option.

Track their pre-season

Former Tiger Jack Higgins (FWD, $563,000) is certainly one to keep a close eye on during the pre-season because on the surface, he ticks a lot of boxes. Injuries and health issues were a spanner in the works for Higgins as he was progressing nicely towards a breakout after averaging 62 and 67 in his first two seasons and a fresh start at the Saints might be just what he needs to make a significant jump. As a junior, he was a ball magnet through the midfield and from all reports, he is going to be given every chance to hold down a spot there at his new club after limited opportunities at Richmond.

Dual-position tempter

Rowan Marshall (FWD/RUC, $738,000) is a genuine option as a forward and that is only strengthened by the fact he has ruck status, which can give invaluable flexibility when coupled up with a rookie RUC/FWD on the ruck bench. He is one of the rare rucks that can score at an elite level despite his minutes in the middle drying up, averaging an adjusted 97, a drop of just two points despite Paddy Ryder (RUC, $575,000) doing the majority of the tap work.

New stripes, right price?

Brad Crouch (MID, $708,000) is a star who at his best is in the truly elite bracket. He is coming off a solid season which saw him average 93 from his 12 games but after averaging 108 in 2019, he could be considered under-priced. The issue with selecting the ball magnet is that he will miss the first two games of the season through suspension, but on the flip side, this may also result in a massive Draft slide.

Bargain basement

Jimmy Webster (DEF, $316,000) had a horrible run of luck with injuries which has left him out of favour, and he is still yet to play a game under Ratten. Priced at an average of just 41, if he can force his way back into the team, he could be a massive steal after his impressive 2018 form resulted in an average of 79.

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Draft sleeper

Many coaches have put a line through former star Swan Dan Hannebery (MID, $662,000) due to ongoing injuries keeping the ball magnet from his best. There may be some positive signs on the horizon however after the elite runner has returned in excellent shape and took out first place in the post-Christmas time trial. With some luck, he is more than capable of surpassing both his 2020 average of 87 and games played of just six.  

Custom stat star

With the new customisation of Draft leagues available to commissioners, key categories like contested possessions and clearances will be two of the most popularly rewarded categories. In another tick for the man of (Jack) Steele, he ranks in the top 10 of both of them which adds even or value to the star onballer if your league increases the points rewarded for these accomplishments.

Buyer beware

Dylan Roberton (DEF, $170,000) is a legit basement price, as in a rookie that has never played price. How you might ask? Such is the unfortunate run of health issues the talented defender has suffered since averaging an elite 90 in 2017. In sad news, he is taking some time away from football duties to assess his future so isn't the bargain option he would appear on paper.

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