MELBOURNE went BANG last year, taking its game to another level to win the flag. Scary thing is, the Demons are in an age bracket where their stars are capable of turning it up yet another notch and the team's projected domination means there will be plenty of points to share around.
The premiers were led by the trio of Christian Petracca, (MID, $930,000), Clayton Oliver (MID, $912,000) and Max Gawn (RUC, $911,000), all of whom had individual standout seasons averaging 111, 109 and 109 apiece. It’s hard to see any drop-off from the first two but are their question marks about the skipper despite being at the top of his game?
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Lock them in
Christian Petracca (MID, $930,000): After years of having his ability, fitness and draft position questioned, Petracca silenced his doubters in no uncertain terms. He was unstoppable at times throughout the year finding plenty of the ball while also regularly hitting the scoreboard, kicking 24 goals for the season and it was reflected by his scoring, stringing huge scores together on a number of occasions. In rounds 16 and 17 he went full beast mode in what could be a preview into next year, scoring 136 and 153 which triggered an average of 118 until season's end. Finally, you are only as good as your last game and he had a lazy 139 in the Grand Final from 39 possessions, three marks, four tackles and two goals.
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Angus Brayshaw (MID, $558,000): After averaging 105 in 2018 following a phenomenal second half to the season, Gus has never gone close to reaching those heights again, often looking a shadow of his former self. This was the case once again last year, finishing the season with scores of 45, 23 and 75 before finally getting his swag back in the first week of finals. The penny seemed to drop before our eyes as he all of a sudden looked comfortable on the wing, collecting 26 possessions and taking five marks to record his first triple-figure score of the year. He went on to average 90 throughout the finals and certainly looked a lot better than he has in recent times.
Luke Jackson (FWD/RUC, $520,000): You would be very happy to be the owner of Luke Jackson in your Keeper League after getting a preview in the Grand Final of the way this kid is going to dominate the game for years to come. It will be interesting to see if there is a shift in the centre-bounce attendance statistics between himself and Max Gawn moving forward after Jackson seemingly changed the course of the GF late in the third quarter. The young big man is priced at 62 and showed he is capable of higher scores, going over 80 seven times last year including the biggest match on the calendar.
Blake Howes (FWD/MID, $214,000): It’s going to be a tough ask fighting his way into the team for the No.39 pick overall, but he is every chance to earn a game through the course of the season. His chances will be enhanced by his undeniable ability to play multiple positions after averaging 16 possessions, four marks, three tackles and a goal for 69 points in the NAB League while doing just that.
Luke Dunstan (MID, $793,000): The Draft scenario could play out a number of ways for the former Saint with varying opinions as to why he was given a contract by the Dees. While some will pass as they believe he was picked up as injury cover, others like myself believe they picked him to play. If that is the case, he will never have received so many easy possessions in his life given he will be surrounded by the best midfield in the competition. He would be a great player to round out your midfield with the potential to improve on his 95 average.
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Clayton Oliver (MID, $912,000): The hard-working midfielder is a great selection in all formats of the game, coming off his fifth consecutive triple-figure average after recording 109 last season. He is a contested ball beast, clearly leading the competition with 17 per game. If your league decides to give that category a boost, his average will quickly become competitive with the best scorers in the game.
Max Gawn (RUC, $911,000): The No.1 big man in the competition averaged triple figures for the fourth year straight, eventually recording 109. He finished the year in spectacular fashion with scores of 139, 135, 145 and 101 in the Grand Final. What on earth is there to be afraid of you may ask? There are concerns the 30-year-old will have his ruck load lessened by sharing more with Jackson, which could cause a slight drop in scoring consistency and average, despite his ability to score in multiple positions around the ground. He will still be a gun, but may not justify the price tag.