Free Agent Targets: Round 15: First-Year Focus

Another week of football done, and a second straight week of some big scores from unexpected sources.  While some players pumped out big tons, I’ve opted for players who are more likely to become solid long-term options as this week’s positional players of the week, with three being players in their debut season.  There are plenty of point-of-difference players who have presented themselves however, so let’s take a look at which potential waiver wire options starred in Round 15:

BACK OF THE WEEK: Alex Witherden

In just his second senior game, young Lion Witherden’s performance was enough to suggest he’ll be a long-term player at Brisbane, as he collected 16 kicks, 13 handballs and eight marks for a total of 96 points.  The 18 year old had 20 disposals and seven marks for 77 points on debut against the Giants last week, with his delivery by foot setting him apart from other debutants this season.

A ball-winning half back/midfielder for the Geelong Falcons as a junior, Witherden broke his leg in 2016, which saw him slide to pick 23 in the National Draft.  His ability to read the play and remain composed coming out of defence should see him continue to be an option at Brisbane after consistent NEAFL form, and now is the time to get on the dual position defender/midfielder before this becomes common knowledge.  He can be found as a free agent in 55% of all leagues.

Best of the rest:

Ethan Hughes had an afternoon to remember against the Saints despite Fremantle’s loss, racking up 15 kicks, 15 handballs, 14 marks and five tackles for a whopping 137 points!  Hughes has spent the past three weeks out of the side, but should cement his spot after the weekend’s effort, where like many young Dockers this year he rotated between defence and midfield..  While his next highest score this season has been the 76 he managed in Round 4, Hughes should be monitored from now on, but as his average of 64 suggests, he is prone to inconsistency.  He’s available in 89% of all leagues.

Hard-running GWS half back Nathan Wilson (32% availability) scored a solid 110 points from his 18 kicks, seven handballs, eight marks and a goal against Geelong on Saturday night.  He’s grown in confidence and is backing himself to burn off his opponent to run through the middle of the ground, and his last two months of football and scoring output have been reasonably strong, with an average that has grown to just under 73 points per game.

The Hawk of many roles, Daniel Howe, enjoyed a less-restricted game to find the football 26 times while also taking six marks and laying eight tackles to score 116 points.  Entrusted with tagging roles in recent weeks, the DPP back/centre (49% availability) has scored inconsistently this season, but looks at home at AFL level, with his average of 72 likely to increase by season’s end.

Last week’s highlighted defender Taylor Duryea backed up his Round 14 score of 96 with 89 points against the Magpies.  The Hawthorn half back played a well-rounded game to finish with 18 disposals, five marks three tackles and two rare goals, and can be still be selected as a free agent in 45% of leagues.

Forgotten Power dual position back/forward Dan Houston scored 101 points from 21 possessions, nine marks and five tackles.  He’s been up and down after a great start to the season, but the 20-year-old looks a player and is available in 64% of leagues if you’re prepared to be patient with his development.

CENTRE OF THE WEEK: Sam Powell-Pepper

A long overdue centre of the week, Powell-Pepper is the future.  He scored 90 points in the loss to Richmond, with his 13 kicks, 11 handballs, three marks and two tackles also supported by two last quarter goals.  The first year midfield bull loves the contest, and has been ridiculously consistent, having score 70 or more points in nine of his 14 games to date.  If you’re in a keeper league, move mountains to get Powell-Pepper into your side.  If you’re not, still consider bringing him in if you’re among the 43% of leagues where he remains a free agent, as his scoring trajectory and willingness to find the football means that he’s worthy of a field spot from now on.

Best of the rest:

 As they did last week, previous highlighted centres Brayden Fiorini and Ryan Bastinac again dominated on the weekend.  Fiorini (29% availability) scored 112 points from 24 disposals, seven marks, six tackles and a goal, backing up his Round 14 score of 111.  He’s 19 years old and averaging 85 from eight games, which includes a score of 33.  Say no more.  Bastinac scored an even 100 after collecting 20 disposals, nine tackles and a goal against Essendon.  The former Roo is available in 50% of all leagues, which is generous considering he’s averaging just a touch under 100 across his last three matches.

The enigmatic Sam Kerridge racked up 14 kicks, 13 handballs, five marks, five tackles and a big goal against his former club Adelaide on Saturday for a score of 107 points.  After two below-par games earlier this year, the 24 year old Blue was impressive in his return to senior football, and is more than capable of scoring well.  He played 21 games in 2016 for an average of 81, so if you think he can return to similar form he can be found on the waiver wire in 78% of leagues.

Jack Redden was solid in his first game of AFL since Round 9, collecting nine kicks, 12 handballs, four marks and laying eight tackles against the Bulldogs for his score of 94 points.  A prolific scorer at Brisbane from 2011-2015, the midfielder averaged 105 points in season 2014 and was described by this columnist as ‘elite,’ a label hard to justify since his switch to West Coast.  While Redden’s lack of form has seen him in and out of the Eagles’ side since joining the club before 2015, he is more than capable of bouncing back to score decently.  Perhaps a high risk for high reward selection, Redden is available in 53% of all leagues should you have faith.


After pumping out 80 points on debut last week, high hopes were held for last week’s highlighted ruckman Sean Darcy but there was an element of unknown regarding how he’d perform with the return of ruck giant Aaron Sandilands.  When Sandilands limped from the field with a serious hamstring injury against the Saints, Darcy certainly didn’t disappoint.  In his second game, the 19 year old shook off a knee to the jaw early on to collect 33 hit outs, eight kicks, eight handballs, seven tackles and a goal for a mammoth score of 114 points.

Darcy is the new number one ruckman at Fremantle now, and his generous availability of 71% will decrease significantly this week.  Bring him in, even as a field ruckman if you have to, and reap the rewards.

The man who faced off against the young Docker was Billy Longer, who scored a respectable 91 points after winning 48 hit outs, nine disposals, four marks and four tackles in the battle of the big men.  Longer is still available in 34% of leagues, and like his Fremantle counterpart, looks to have the first ruck position at his club sewn up for the remainder of season 2017.


Sicily has impressed in his switch to the Hawks’ backline of late, and after taking care of Taylor Walker last week to score 88, the 22 year old former forward target played well on Alex Fasolo, scoring 112 points from his 15 kicks, ten handballs and 11 marks.  He swung forward to kick a goal, but it has been his intercept marking which has stood out across the past fortnight and increased the Hawk’s scoring output.  While likely to still be swung forward at times, Sicily has shown the ability to play well as a tall defender in the absence of Josh Gibson and Ben Stratton, and may come under consideration for a position change in the next round of announcements.

While his average sits at just under 65 points per game, expect that to increase to well over 70 as Sicily plays with a new-found confidence in his role change.  A speculative pick, but one that may well pay off, the swingman is available in 88% of all leagues.

Best of the rest:

Dual position centre/forward George Hewett was one of the reason Sydney got on top of Melbourne on Friday night, with the Swan racking up 29 disposals, 10 marks and four tackles for his 113 points.  Hewett is still averaging 76 even after a quiet month, and can be selected as a free agent in 35% of leagues.

Big Eagle Drew Petrie scored his second ton in a row, with his 110 points against the Bulldogs consisting of 18 disposals, eight marks, nine hit outs, five tackles and a goal.  Maybe the former Roo is more relevant as a scorer than first thought this season?  He’s going at 81 points from his six matches after suffering a broken hand early in the season, and if you like his all-rounder role he’s available in 59% of leagues.

Port speedster Matt White scored 93 points after collecting 14 kicks, nine marks, three tackles and booting 0.3 against Richmond.  The DPP mid/forward (available in 75% of leagues) was good last week, and is averaging 77 from his three matches so far this year.

Last round’s forward of the week Jonathon Patton was scarily dominant against the Cats on Saturday night, scoring 93 points from his 13 disposals, six marks, four tackles and four goals.  Unfortunately for the Giants, the spearhead was stuck on the interchange bench for the final five minutes of clock time, but undoubtedly would’ve scored his second ton in a row had he been able to get back inside forward 50.  He’s moving very well for a key forward of his size, and is currently available in 62% of all leagues.

Alex Fasolo (103 points; 61% availability), Charlie Curnow (97; 83%) and Malcolm Karpany (95; 96%) all scored well on the weekend, but these players are just as likely to grind out a score closer to 50.  Curnow and Karpany definitely have upside though, but are not viable scoring options just yet.

Finally, two  players to keep an eye on are Josh Thomas (73% availability) and Ben Ainsworth (63%).  Thomas, a DPP mid/forward, scored 80 from 21 disposals and a goal in his first game since 2014 after serving an AFL-sanctioned suspension.  He’s still only 25, and was close to breaking out when he last played for the Pies.  Ainsworth, also a DPP mid/forward, snavelled four goals from his 14 touches for 81 points, and will develop into a good forward option at some stage down the line.




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