Just like the AFL, we – as Fantasy coaches – undertake a vigorous and high-pressure draft prior to the commencement of every season. As with any group of talented players, there will always be some booms, busts and serious backfires when it comes to selections.
So who were some of the biggest bargains in the 2015 Draft with the beauty of hindsight? What would the top 20 look like if coaches could have seen into the future to this very day?
As is the case every year, the bargain picks or ‘sleepers’ are the ones that bring real excitement. Difficult to pick, but hugely rewarding when it comes off – correctly selecting the ‘bolter’ can set up any team for fantasy success.
Highly rated and widely discussed this pre-season, Lachie Neale was publicly backed by some big names, and punted on earlier by those who had faith in the gun midfielder. This faith has been rewarded to date – putting in a premium year and starting to display his potential consistently.
St Kilda has been in the fantasy spotlight this year, with three players in the top eleven scorers as at Round 20. Along with star Saint and top-performer Jack Steven, David Armitage and Leigh Montagna were the two others to round out this trio – with both going well after 100 in Ultimate Footy drafts. Armitage has finally had the breakout season many thought would never come, whilst Montagna has returned to prominence after being written off by almost everyone in fantasy circles pre-2015.
Others to be enjoying stellar seasons are Sydney jet Dan Hannebery, former number three pick Andrew Gaff and ex-Docker Dylan Roberton – who was undrafted in just about every league to be one of the finds of the season.
The last player I’ll mention is Geelong’s steeplechaser Mark Blicavs. Possibly the only Ruck-Centre we’ll see in the game, ‘Blitz’ is forging a new position in fantasy and on the field – becoming one of the best pickups this year. Drafted by many in the final rounds, if there’s a name for the bargain of the year, I believe it should henceforth be known as ‘The Blitz’. It’s fitting then, that his nickname also reflects his 2015 performance.
Not one for negativity (and I may or may not have/had a number of these players), I’ll keep this section short and bitter. 2015’s ‘naughty list’ includes a few flops from this year’s draft and some who’ve just let down their coaches – plain and simple.
Jobe Watson has tried his hardest but couldn’t continue to shoulder the burden that the Essendon saga had left. The Bomber captain failed to retain his fantasy premium status and was beaten by injury to end an average year for the Brownlow winner. The question now begs, are his best fantasy days over? Bryce Gibbs typifies Carlton’s year – dropping his average by over 20 points and playing just a few decent games before his season was also ended by injury – a far cry from a 2014 season that brought him a club Best & Fairest.
Sam Gibson & Nick Malceski have both played enough games this season to make an impact. Sadly, neither has. Gibson owes his fantasy coaches more after pushing the 100 barrier just last year, whilst Malceski was deemed the ‘must have defender’ in the pre-season after moving to the Suns as a free agent. Those who drafted ‘Eski’ as the cornerstone of their defence will be devastated at the year he’s had, and have good cause to place him on the ‘never again list’ as soon as this season is done.
So what would a Top 20 look like if the draft was done today? The answer is simple: very different. Here’s a peek at what could have been using perfect hindsight.
2015 Draft in Hindsight (as at Round 20)
- T. Goldstein (NM, R)
- L. Hodge (HAW, B/C)
- J. Steven (STK, C)
- J. Lewis (HAW, C)
- D. Swan (COL, C/F)
- L. Montagna (STK, C)
- S. Pendlebury (COL, C)
- D. Hannebery (SYD, C)
- P. Dangerfield (ADE, C)
- S. Martin (BRI, R)
- L. Picken (WB, B/C)
- M. Boyd (WB, B/C)
- D. Armitage (STK, C)
- A. Gaff (WCE, C)
- D. Martin (RIC, C/F)
- R. Gray (POR, C/F)
- L. Dahlhaus (WB, C/F)
- D. Mundy (FRE, C)
- J. Macrae (WB, C)
- M. Blicavs (GEE, C/R)
Leave us your thoughts on my revised top 20 in the comments below. Who would your top pick be, if 2015 drafts were done-over?