Alex Neal-Bullen started 2017 in just over one per cent of teams and that sounds about right, doesn’t it? An awkwardly priced, ($255,000) lesser known player who only took the field four times in 2016 doesn’t sound too appealing on paper. However, the dual-position Demon pulled out a score of 110 in round one and jumped into eight per cent of teams. He had a lull in round two before an insane 141 against the Cats in round three saw that ownership percentage reach 17 per cent. Back to back scores in the 90s since then sees Neal-Bullen in over a quarter of all Fantasy sides. You’d be feeling pretty good if you were in the initial one per cent.
After spending quite a few games in the green vest in his debut season, Neal-Bullen struggled to break into the senior side in 2016 and was omitted on three separate occasions. His form for Casey in the VFL showed his potential with the young midfielder racking up big numbers regularly, but he wasn’t able to translate it to AFL success in his second year.
Now in his third season, he’s come into his own and despite a few mistakes with the footy the 21-year-old is showing he’ll be a big part of this Melbourne side going forward. The South Australian is averaging 22 disposals and seven tackles per game, playing a lot of time in the midfield. He’ll have to improve his disposal when he has the ball though, only going at 60 per cent so far this year.
As far as Fantasy goes, Neal-Bullen now sits at $460,000 and is the fourth highest scoring forward so far. Considering the lack of depth in premium forward line options, jumping on the bandwagon now before his price gets too high would be a smart call. He’s obviously not going to maintain his current average of 99.4, but he’s shown enough to put him in the same category as a lot of the pseudo-premium forwards that people are relying on this year.
Neal-Bullen was praised as an elite runner during the draft combine and it would appear he’s starting to develop the fitness required for AFL footy, finishing third in Melbourne’s 3km time trial this year. He seems to have found his feet at senior level and adds another string to an already deep Melbourne midfield. Let’s now see how high that 28 per cent team ownership can climb.