Christmas wishlist – Isaac Heeney

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Coming off a season in which he moved further up the ground into midfield and put a 20-point increase on his fantasy average, Isaac Heeney would have been on many fantasy wishlists heading into 2018. He ticks all the boxes: elite talent, three seasons under his belt, quality team but assured of playing every week, inside/outside game, capable of impacting the scoreboard when pushing forward, excellent overhead. He had all the hallmarks of an elite fantasy prospect, and looked set to take his game to another level.

Then Champion Data came out and gave us all an early Christmas present, and made Isaac Heeney a Mid/Forward for 2018.

It’s not a ridiculous call by any stretch – much of Heeney’s first two seasons at AFL level were played up front almost exclusively. But 2017 and his third year saw a noticeable shift into midfield, and his listing as a dual-position player is a surprise to say the least.

Fantasy coaches would do well to take advantage of this gift next year. Heeney has already proven his scoring ability – despite a delayed start to 2017, he averaged 101 points from his first 9 starts – and his eligibility as a forward puts him squarely in the frame for the top honours at that position. He comes at a reduced price, however, and with very little risk compared to many of the other top forward options. That guarantee of midfield time will be a rare commodity in 2018, and he should see more than most.

I see Heeney as a legitimate chance to be the number one scoring forward in 2018. There’s not a single other player available at the position that I see as being a clear cut above. Dahlhaus, Franklin, Menegola are all in the conversation, but there are pros and cons to each, and none has a complete package that sets them ahead of Heeney in my eyes. The advantage is that Heeney won’t cost you as much as he should, either in drafts or in SuperCoach/AFL Fantasy/Dream Team due to that undercooked 2017 final average.

Heeney should be an automatic selection in all salary-cap formats as an underpriced top 6 forward, and one that you can set and forget. Yes he’s still the third most expensive SuperCoach forward, but he could easily turn that 97 average into a 110+ season. Ditto for AFL Fantasy/Dream Team, where price shouldn’t be considered a reason not to jump on.

I wouldn’t advise against taking him inside the first two rounds of your fantasy draft either, depending on strategy, because he should be one of the first 3 or 4 forwards off the board anyway, according to individual preference. The defensive pool has clustered after Sam Docherty’s season-ending injury, and there’s enough top end ruck talent without genuine standouts to command a top 20s draft selection, meaning that midfielders and forwards should dominate the early selections. And on that reckoning, Heeney should be right in the mix.

Every year there are one or two players that EVERYONE wants in their fantasy teams. This year it was Sam Docherty and Taylor Adams. Last year it was Rory Sloane and Zach Merrett. Next year it will be Isaac Heeney.

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