ONE OF the surprise packets of last season was the AFL Fantasy return of Jarryd Lyons (MID, $982,000).
Lyons finished with the second most Fantasy points for the home and away season, playing all 22 games at an average of 117. This was a 10 point increase on his previous season and 20 points up on 2019, his first year as a Lion.
Can he continue his run of Fantasy form? If his second half of 2021 is anything to go by, then yes.
Lyons averaged 124 post-bye. His season included 10 scores of 120 or more with highs of 161 and 153. A certain first-round selection in Fantasy Draft.
Daniel Rich (DEF, $823,000) averaged a career-high 98.1 in his 13th season in the AFL. It was his first time averaging more than 90 and a significant 10 points better than his previous best season.
Rich can thank the kick-in rule to gain those extra +3s by playing on out of the goalsquare. He took 141 of Brisbane’s 235 kick-ins, playing on 94 per cent of the time. Grant Birchall was the only other Lion who took double figure kick-ins with 72 and he retired on the off-season. More kick-ins and a chance to go over 100? Maybe.
Lock them in
Lachie Neale (MID, $792,000) won the Brownlow Medal in 2020 and enjoyed his best Fantasy season to date. He averaged 122.5 in his second year as a Lion, playing every game for the third season in a row. Last year’s average of 94.5 was Neale’s first sub-100 return since 2014. His injury affected season makes him plenty of value in both Fantasy Classic and Draft as based on long-term form, he’s anywhere between 5-25 points upside in 2022. His last four scores of 120, 110, 140 and 99 coupled with a full pre-season makes him an easy selection for your midfield.
Track their pre-season
Punting rucks is a common strategy in Fantasy Draft and Oscar McInerney (RUC, $643,000) could end up a winner for you if you adopt this move and draft him late. 'Big O' averaged 77 last season, ranking him 15th overall and generally a bench player for most Draft leagues. Following Brisbane’s mid-season bye, McInerney averaged 86, including 91 in his last five. His fifth season is set to be his best and an average of 85 would rocket him into the top 10 rucks … 90 and he’s top five!
Zac Bailey (MID/FWD, $610,000) had some great highlights last season, none better than his goal after the siren against Collingwood in round three. The Pies were one of his favourite teams to play as he racked up the first ton of his career against them in round 22. While his numbers were relatively consistent, hitting the scoreboard in all but one game, he could be a player who doesn’t quite hit the Fantasy scoreboard despite his important play for his team. Still, Bailey’s numbers are heading in the right direction and could be worth a look in Fantasy Draft with his FWD status.
Plenty of coaches were keen on Cam Rayner (FWD, $396,000) this time last year with the hope that No.1 pick in the 2017 NAB AFL Draft would get added midfield time. Unfortunately he suffered an ACL injury in a pre-season game that saw him miss the entire season. With his discount, Rayner is cheaper than he was last year and if he’s looking good in the AAMI Community Series, then consider the 22-year-old as an option as one of your last on field forwards or someone to stash in your Keeper League.
Jarrod Berry (MID, $725,000) played nine games last year at a career-low average of 50.1 His modest discount in Fantasy Classic was applied to the 89 he averaged in 2020, pricing him at 86. While he’s not an option in the salary cap game, that average of 50 next to Berry’s name means that he will likely be undrafted in most leagues. One to monitor for deep draft leagues or to snag as a free agent if his early season form holds up.
Custom stat star
Having custom stats available for Fantasy Draft leagues has surely made Lions’ Draft commissioner Harris Andrews (DEF, $566,000) happy that his relevance increases. While I’m sure he wouldn’t go and edit the scoring just to make him a top end pick, defenders can be brought into the game by adjusting some stat categories. Andrews led the league for spoils with 8.6 per game which has been a popular addition with many leagues awarding two points for the stat that is usually only collected by key defenders. He’d also benefit from contested marks having a greater weighting as he ranked second of all defenders in that stat line.
It feels disrespectful, but hold off on starting Dayne Zorko (MID, $913,000). He had a cracking 2021 producing his best numbers in five years. Zorko’s average of 108.9 was impressive as he was an important member of the Lions’ midfield mix, being used at centre bounces approximately 50 per cent of the time. The only knock on Zorko is his game which could see him spend more time playing as a forward … and if this is the case, we jump on when he gains DPP in either round six, 12 or 18!