OVER the trade period, Adelaide secured the services of one of the best Fantasy defenders in the game. Jordan Dawson (DEF, $745,000) averaged 100 after his bye and with any luck, he could be a top-six defender by the end of the season.

Jackson Hately (MID, $479,000) sat in 25 per cent of teams throughout the pre-season last year but managed to play just three games. If he gets the opportunity to play more games this year, he is once again a steal at his price.

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Lock them in

Although Rory Laird (MID, $937,000) cannot be selected as a defender anymore, he still should be strongly considered as a midfielder … and he'll be unique. After averaging 112 in his best season to date, there is an argument that Laird could be even better in the season ahead. In his last 11 games of 2021, Laird found his feet in the midfield, averaging 120 and only dropping under 100 three times from his 22 games played.

Adelaide's Rory Laird and Port Adelaide's Miles Bergman compete for the ball in R8, 2021. Picture: AFL Photos

Track their pre-season

After not playing a single game last year, Matt Crouch (MID, $649,000) receives a 30 per cent discount on his 2020 average of 110. Now priced at an average of 77, a fit Couch will be one of the most selected players. However, ongoing groin concerns have restricted Crouch for some time. He had surgery in October and now the Crows are taking a cautious approach with the midfielder with the hope that he will return this year. Another Crow to monitor is Wayne Milera (DEF, $378,000) who also missed all of 2021. After suffering a knee injury early in 2020, Milera is back to full training with his eyes firmly set on playing round one. Milera has the ability to average 80+ which makes him a bargain at his discounted price. 

Dual-position tempter

Drafted with pick No.6, the Crows will looking for Joshua Rachele (MID/FWD, $280,000) to have an immediate impact. Rachele averaged 99 across his four NAB League games with 18 possessions and four tackles per game. Although Rachele might spend the majority of his time as a small forward, he does have the ability to hit the scoreboard and is a red-hot chance to debut in the early rounds.

Josh Rachele at Adelaide training in November, 2021. Picture: afc.com.au

Bargain basement

One of the names we heard a lot about during the pre-season period last year was Harry Schoenberg (MID, $582,000). Due to limited opportunities in the midfield, Schoenberg averaged 61 in his first 13 games leading into his bye. However, in his last seven games Schoenberg found himself spending more time in the middle and during this time he averaged 88. This is what we can expect from Schoenberg, providing the role is there in what could be a breakout season in his third year. Former Lion Mitch Hinge (DEF, $383,000) only managed one game last year due to a season-ending shoulder injury. Hinge is a name to monitor this pre-season at a tempting price.

Draft sleeper

Leading into 2021, Reilly O'Brien (RUC, $723,000) had averaged 108 and 96. However for the first time, the 'ROB Rollercoaster' really frustrated some. He opened the season with scores of 51 and 48 and really took his time to get going. In the first half of the season, he averaged 78, but ended the season as we would expect averaging 95 in his last 10 games. Expect O'Brien to bounce back with a triple-figure average and back in the conversation of the 'The Big Three', joining Max Gawn and Brodie Grundy as the best rucks going around.

Custom stat star

One of the standout performers and biggest improvers in 2021 was Ben Keays (MID, $906,000). Keays' best average leading into last season was just 80, an average he then improved by 28 points. He averaged 28.1 disposals last year which ranked him at No.14 overall, ahead of some big names such as Jarryd Lyons, Andrew Gaff and Lachie Neale.

Ben Keays at Adelaide training on November 24, 2021. Picture: afc.com.au

Buyer beware

This season Lachlan Sholl (MID, $564,000) has lost his defender status and can now only be selected as a midfielder. After starting with three 100+ scores in his first five games last year, Sholl dropped off after his bye averaging just 54 as he struggled to adjust with his new role.

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