Eyecatchers Round 2 – Tom Stewart

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The second week of the AFL season once again produced a number of ‘eyecatching’ performances from players who would have been available in free agents prior to the commencement of the round.

However, the majority of those free agents who stood out in Round 2 would have been snapped up by coaches on Tuesday night, leaving the waivers cupboard pretty bare – or is it?

In what was a terrific game of football on Easter Monday, in which the Hawks got over the Cats by a point at the MCG, most fantasy coaches would have been concentrating on any number of fantasy stars on display.

Another who would have drawn a lot of notice was Tim Kelly, who in only his second game notched up his first ton and after two rounds has a very impressive average of 98. Yet one player who had a ripper of a game that has seemingly gone un-noticed among fantasy coaches is Geelong’s, Tom Stewart.

Despite picking up 24 disposals and clunking seven marks in defence for a more than handy fantasy score of 97, Stewart’s ownership in Ultimate Footy went up only 15.5%, meaning he is still available in 52% of leagues.

Considering his fantasy record on the surface, it is understandable that coaches have not jumped on board the mature-age recruit. In his first season last year the 25-year old averaged just 60.3, with his best game coming against Carlton in Round 19 – 100 from 24 disposals, eight marks and four tackles. His next best of 87 came three weeks later in Round 22.

Indeed, Stewart’s last month or so of the 2017 season was very solid for a defender, and particularly one in his debut season. In his last five home and away appearances he averaged 77.4 with the only real blemish being a 53 against Richmond in Round 21.

Stewart’s last five weeks of the season were a far cry from his first 13 appearances, in which he averaged just 53.6 fantasy points with a high score of just 78. He did, however, have a poor finals series posting scores of 57, 42 and 57. Yet, it’s hardly uncommon for a first-year player to play poorly in finals.

With the retirements of Andrew Mackie and Tom Lonergan at the end of last season there was always going to be opportunities for some of the less experienced Geelong defenders to cement a place in the side, and so far, Stewart has done exactly that and more.

In the JLT series, Stewart produced scores of 69 and 51 and opened the season proper with 66 – hardly the sort of figures to have coaches jumping on board. However, in Round 1 most of Stewart’s score came in the first half before he copped a knock on the ankle, which obviously restricted him in the second half.

In Round 2 he came close to scoring his second ton, with 97, and while many may put this score down as an aberration, it may also be a sign of things to come.

Stewart appears to be playing a slightly different role than last season, while he is also looking more comfortable at the level. He took seven marks against the Hawks, including a great contested grab against Roughead, and also appears to be backing himself further up the field. He also appears to be the designated kicker after behinds are scored, so will pick up a few cheap points on the back of that role.

Although at this early stage Stewart may not win a lot of matches for fantasy coaches off his own boot, he could be a very reliable fourth or fifth defender who you can count on for a decent score each week – with the odd 90-100 thrown in for good measure.

Stewart is still available in over half of Ultimate Footy leagues, but another performance similar to last week will see that change very quickly.

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