BARGAINS come in all shapes and sizes and although it feels like $14.8 million is plenty of money to pick your AFL Fantasy Classic team, you will still need to find those value players.
Selecting rookies is very important, but it's equally important to find the discounted and under-priced players who come in at a fraction of the cost, compared to the uber-premiums.
Finding a breakout player is also equally fun. To do this, you are looking for a player who you feel is about to come into their own. Typically, this occurs in a player’s third year of AFL. In Tim Taranto’s third season, he turned his average of 91 into 113. Selecting these players from the start is the perfect way to get one up on your mates.
For a player to be discounted at the start of the year, it usually means they have missed multiple games with an injury. Discounts are applied to players who played less than 10 games last year. Players in this category receive a discount of three per cent per game based on their highest average over the last two seasons.
James Sicily (DEF, $510,000) didn’t play in 2021. Therefore, he receives a 30 per cent discount on his 2020 average of 86.9. Priced now at 61, Sicily is a dead-set bargain and around $200,000 under-priced.
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Also receiving the maximum discounts are Matt Crouch (MID, $649,000) and Braydon Preuss (RUC, $367,000). The 30 per cent discount for Preuss now places him at an average of 44 and as for Crouch, his discount comes off his 2020 average of 110, which means he is now potentially 30 points under what he has achieved in the past.
Another player to monitor this pre-season is Adelaide’s Wayne Milera (DEF, $378,000), who also failed to play a game in 2021. He is now priced in the range of players who averaged 45 last season and we all know he's much better than that. When fit, Milera has the potential to average 80+ and is a steal at that price.
The risk here is obvious, all these players are coming off injuries. However, monitor their progress this pre-season because if they are fit and firing, they will be up there with the most selected.
These players have done it all before. They have been at the top of Fantasy in their own right, but for some reason they didn’t produce what they have achieved in the past.
Lachie Neale (MID, $792,000) only averaged 95 last season, a 28-point decrease from his Brownlow year. He has averaged 100+ for the past six years and is already one of the most popular names this pre-season.
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Carlton’s Patrick Cripps (MID, $686,000) has been carrying the Blues for years, but since averaging 109 in 2018 he has slowly declined, culminating in just 82 last season. Sam Walsh and Adam Cerra will now help him carry the load and maybe he will improve to the Fantasy player we used to know.
After lacerating his kidney, Dustin Martin (MID/FWD, $682,000) aka 'Slim Dusty' has returned to the training track and is looking fitter than ever before. Martin only managed 16 games last year with an average of 81, his worst season since he debuted in 2010.
The switch from Collingwood to the Bulldogs saw a drop in the numbers of Adam Treloar (MID/FWD, $731,000), which means he is now a bargain. Before his departure, Treloar was rated as one of the elite midfielders in the game and averaged over 108 for five years straight. His role at the Dogs in his first season wasn't favourable to his Fantasy game, but now that he has found his feet, he is priced at an average of 87, and will improve on that in 2022. And he has the added bonus of forward eligibility.
Entering his third season in the AFL is Caleb Serong (MID, $691,000) who ticks all the boxes as a potential breakout player in 2022. Although Serong ended the year with an average of 82, he finished strongly averaging 94 in his last eight games and scored 118, 117 and 116 in his last three. With Cerra making his way to Carlton, Serong should earn more midfield time and is every chance to average triple figures.
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Last year, many thought it would be Zak Butters (FWD $639,000), who would take his game to another level. Unfortunately, injuries derailed Butters' season but as he enters his fourth season, maybe this is the year. He is training this pre-season with the goal of being a full-time midfielder for the Power and it’s safe to say that Butters’ average of 76 will certainly increase, it’s just a question of by how much?