With only two games and an average of 52 (64 adjusted) next to his name in 2020, Wayne Milera (DEF, $446,000) will feature very low in some draft rankings. Foot surgery prematurely ended the defender's season after two seasons averaging 75+. Milera is also a viable option in Fantasy Classic due to his 24 per cent discount which come off his 2019 average of 77, now pricing him at 58.
The departure of Stefan Martin will mean Oscar McInerney (RUC, $550,000) will be the No.1 and likely sole ruckman for the Lions. When rucking solo, Big O averaged 68 points (85 adjusted) which ranks him in the top 10 of available rucks based on last year's numbers for someone whose average is equivalent to the 18th best.
Nic Newman (DEF, $542,000) will likely be a forgotten man on Draft night following a season cut horribly short by injury, managing just two games at an unitising average of just 29 (36 adjusted). With names like Adam Saad, Zac Williams and Sam Docherty floating around, Newman may slide nicely for a player who averaged 93 in 2019.
Ok, he's definitely not a sleeper but after two years of averaging 122 and 120, Brodie Grundy (RUC, $867,000) used to be the walk-up No.1 selection on Draft Day. But where does rank now? The Ruck Pig averaged 113.5 last year and will now be potentially drafted behind Max Gawn after his season that saw him average 124. However, with the premium defenders and forwards available such as Lloyd, Whitfield, Dangerfield and Sidebottom, is Grundy still a top-three draft option?
A strategy some Fantasy Draft coaches employ is punting their rucks. That is, if they miss out on one of the big guys in the first couple of rounds, they will hold off and get some value from a lower tier of rucks. As we saw last season, Sam Draper (RUC, $454,000) made a big impact not only as a profitable cash cow in Fantasy Classic, but he showed the ability to hold down the responsibility of being the club's solo ruck. Draper may end up as a top-12 ruck, but his true value will be in keeper leagues. Stash him on your bench if you get the opportunity when participating in your initial draft. He's going to be a gun!
It wouldn't be a Fantasy pre-season without mentioning the name of Connor Blakely (MID, $485,000). We all know that Blakely averaged 92 back in 2018, and since then his average has slowly declined. He averaged just 51 (64 adjusted) last year and therefore he will sit right down the midfield rankings. If you believe he has the ability to turn it all around, then adjust your rankings accordingly, especially if you and your mates are running with a deep draft.
It's a case of not getting the credit he deserves that will see Cameron Guthrie (MID, $810,000) slide to bargain status in a large number of drafts. After a top average of 85 in his first nine years, Guthrie delivered an unconventional 10th-year breakout, averaging an adjusted 106.
Jarrod Witts (RUC, $615,000) was well below his best last year after coming off an injury-interrupted pre-season. In the previous three seasons, he was in the elite category for big men with averages of 93, 94 and 105 so he will present as a great option given he is priced at an average of 81, which isn’t a true reflection of where he sits in the pecking order.
Put simply, Jesse Hogan's (FWD, $459,000) time at Fremantle wasn't great for his Fantasy game. His two season averages - 66 and 49 (61 adjusted) - were well below the 74, 79, 71 and 89 he averaged in his first four years at the Demons. Watch the AAMI Community Series and hope that he shows as much as he did in his round 18 match against the Bulldogs where he finished with 13 disposals and six marks for 71 Fantasy points (89 adjusted). Slot him on your bench and use the key forward as a streaming option who will be looking to reboot his career at the Giants.
After Hawthorn’s bye in round 10, James Worpel (MID, $737,000) was on fire. For the next five games he averaged 91 (114 adjusted) before being injured in round 16. Worpel has averaged a career-high 97 in his past two seasons and has the ability to take his game to even greater heights in 2021.
He might be on the 'Never Again List' for some, but for others Angus Brayshaw (MID, $603,000) also presents as a late draft steal, based on what he is capable of. Let me remind you that Brayshaw averaged 105 in 2018 and although he hasn't been close to that mark since, he did show glimpses in 2020 when he had back-to-back scores of 100 (125 adjusted). He finished the year with an average 63 (79 adjusted) and in draft, he is still worth a late gamble.
Due to his age, Todd Goldstein (RUC, $760,000) is unlikely to go in the first 'ruck run' that commonly occurs in a draft as coaches panic at the prospect of landing a big man. Despite his veteran status, Goldy's durability, stamina and scoring potential remain elite and he is every chance to have a little spike in form under the new regime.
A breakout season is potentially on the cards for Zak Butters (FWD, $595,000) as he enters his third year of AFL. After averaging 57 in his debut season and then 78 last year, many believe he has the ability to take his game to greater heights. He can hit high numbers and proved this last year with adjusted scores of 143 and 121. How can we not mention the great Robbie Gray (FWD, $583,000) here as well? He is always a favourite late pick-up on Draft Day and who knows, maybe he might even get pushed up the ground for more midfield time where he maximises his scores.
If you're looking at punting your rucks, you may get a bit of value towards the end of your draft by grabbing Toby Nankervis (RUC, $556,000). His adjusted average of 80 ranks him as the 13th-best ruck but there should be some upside considering he's the No.1 option at Richmond with Ivan Soldo's prolonged absence due to his ACL injury. An average similar to the 87 and 89 he managed during his first two seasons at Tigerland would rank him in the top eight for rucks. Last year, Nank scored 118 (148 adjusted) in round five when Soldo was out and 106 (133 adjusted) in the preliminary final following Soldo's knee injury. Over the past two seasons that Nankervis has rucked solo, the 26-year-old averaged 88. Bump him up your Draft rankings and consider him as an under-priced option in Classic.
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.
A third-year Fantasy breakout is on the cards for Nick Blakey (MID/FWD $450,000). 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.
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.
Accumulating defender Caleb Daniel (DEF, $676,000) had another strong year, backing up his fine form in 2019 where he averaged 94 by finishing 2020 with an adjusted 89. What caught my eye, however, was his form after the bye where he averaged an adjusted 120. With all the focus on the likes of Lachie Whitfield, Jake Lloyd and Zac Williams down back, Daniel may be available at a pick later than his ability suggests.