The preseason is over and fantasy footy is back. The first week of games proper always brings to light a few excellent options, many of whom are available in the Free Agency pool. There are a few clear standouts to start 2018 who will see coaches scrambling to see if they’re available in their league. So to kick of the season, let’s dive right into the Free Agents:
BACK OF THE WEEK
Going into the draft, many had this man as a major smokey. With Port Adelaide having a few injuries in the back half, he has slowly risen under the radar. This will change after the weekend, with Bonner announcing himself against Fremantle – scoring 102 points and locking down a spot for the foreseeable future in the absence of Best 22 rebounders Matthew Broadbent and Jasper Pittard. Racking up 31 disposals, including 21 kicks as well as 6 marks – Bonner has the potential to be a starter for months to come.
Best of the rest:
Establishing himself as a hard-nosed defensive player, Nick Robertson will have gone undrafted in most leagues. On the weekend, he supported Captain Dayne Beams with aplomb – tallying 27 touches and 104 points. The Lions engine room will have a lot of rotation in 2018, but if he can continue to get the ball regularly, Robertson will be very handy and could be a big mover.
Saints Captain Jarryn Geary (97) enjoyed the conditions on the weekend however is unlikely to go this big very often. The same can be said, too of Adam Tomlinson (89) who got his hands on the ball plenty in GWS’ first up win over the Dogs.
In a wet and dour affair, second-year midfielder Jack Bowes (75) made the most of proceedings to be one of the Suns’ best. Hawks youngster Blake Hardwick (82) posted a handy score, as did Crows debutant Tom Doedee (80) who’s name is polarising the footy community but his football ability does not.
Finally, Zach Guthrie (84) was solid against the Dees in his side’s close win and would also be a decent backup if you’re after a promising second-year player. Don’t expect a consistent score from the eight-gamer, though.
CENTRE OF THE WEEK
The Lions put up a good fight against the Saints on the weekend, with several young midfielders stepping up to stake their claim. Highly regarded before the draft and more so now, young leader Jarrod Berry was excellent producing 19 disposals, 3 tackles and 3 goals – totalling a career-high 106 points. With midfield-only options few and far between in the Free Agency pool, Berry is the best of those out there.
Best of the rest
Ex-Blue Nick Holman got a second chance with the Suns over the offseason and has taken it with both hands, earning a Round 1 debut and impressing fantasy coaches. His 89 points in the wet was a handy score first up. As a utility or emergency option, Holman appears a good option. Adelaide whipping boy David Mackay scored his regular 75 points – not spectacular but not poor either. As a pure bench/cover option, Mackay can be called upon to do more of the same if you’re stuck with midfield options. Preseason flyer Dom Barry (72) rounds out a short list of centres to start the year, and should hang around in the Port side for a while yet. While he’ll never be a premium option, he could be a handy backup – like Mackay – if you need a stop gap option.
RUCK OF THE WEEK
As will be the case many a time in 2018, it was slim pickings in the ruck across Round 1. The Dogs’ big man strategy appears to be a tandem affair in 2018, but the more mature Roughead looks to be the safer option. He started solidly over the weekend with 20 hitouts, 12 touches and 76 points. With backup rucks in short supply in Free Agency, you could do worse than taking Roughead to support your primary ruck. Just don’t use your waiver priority on him.
Best of the rest
Roughead’s younger compatriot Tim English may have edged him out on the scoreboard with 78 points from his 12 hitouts and 6 marks, however it was only his third game so will still be in and out of the team and expect fluctuating scores. A great keeper league option, but will be fool’s gold in 2018.
Last year’s Max Gawn replacement Cam Pederson (69) was solid to start the season but will be moved around a lot by Coach Simon Goodwin, meaning his scores won’t be super reliable. Likewise, Levi Casboult – who was locked down by Tigers’ superstar Alex Rance and only got free when he transferred into the ruck to replace Matthew Kreuzer. With 19 hitouts to his name, his score of 68 was inflated and cannot be relied upon with much confidence.
FORWARD OF THE WEEK
With a gaping hole in the Gold Coast midfield and with Cazaly Stadium looking more like a dam than footy oval on Saturday, up stepped Aaron Young. Many coaches were searching late in the draft for a smokey who could burst out of the blocks, and those who took a chance on Young will be blushing this morning. In the absence of regular star performers, Young stepped up to top-score 112 from 26 touches, 9 tackles and 112 points against the Kangaroos. With a spot in the Suns’ side his to lose, the ex-Port player – who is still available in 57% of leagues – should be at the top of your list this week.
Best of the rest
Jordan Murdoch was a late in for the Cats in Round 1, and made a statement – tallying 106 points to put his name forward for coaches. Given he was listed an emergency, however – his job security may not be all that great. A few more performances like this, however and Geelong will have no choice other than to play him.
Fellow Cat Brandan Parfitt scored his first fantasy ton (101) with a well-rounded game against the Demons, but has yet to play 20 games so will be a rollercoaster in 2018. Pint-sized Suns forward Darcy MacPherson (97) was another to make the most of the poor conditions in Cairns and has good fantasy pedigree. However, his role and job security isn’t set in stone, so tread carefully.
The Bombers had a great day out against the 2017 Grand Finalists, with James Stewart getting in on the action – scoring an even 100 points. Finally, the Tigers’ small forwards were on fire against the Blues on Thursday at the MCG – with Dan Butler (88) the standout.
Top Five Targets
- Aaron Young
- Riley Bonner
- Nick Robertson
- Jarrod Berry
- Jordan Murdoch