With the NAB Challenge only days away, there could be no better time to start making notes on who you have your eye on. While many argue the value of the pre-season ‘competition’, fantasy coaches sit glued looking for clues as to who is going to play, and more importantly, who are the breakout players that will become fantasy studs this year.
To aid the process I’ve created a scoring system that ranks the fantasy potential of all players that have played under 50 career games. The ‘U50’ score takes a players scoring rate, their likeliness to ‘ton-up’, and their consistency and bundles it together into one value (see last year’s watchlist for a full explanation). The scores are technically limitless, but Tom Rockliff’s 206 in 2011 is still the highest I’ve ever awarded.
Those who score over 130 are by and large well on their way to fantasy greatness, and 2015 provided no less than seven players who fit the bill. Unsurprisingly, the number one player was fantasy king in waiting Tom ‘Titch’ Mitchell. His score of 188 is exactly the same as that of Jack Macrae in 2014, and just like the Dogs’ midfielder, he is already a first round selection in many drafts. Mitchell was joined in the top echelon of young talent by Marcus Bontempelli (150), Brodie Grundy (146), Jack Crisp (146), Patrick Cripps (139), Zac Merrett (138) and Anthony Miles (137). While it’s pretty likely that these players will be very valuable in fantasy this year, it’s even more likely that everyone knows it – and if any of these players are available in your keeper league, then I would have serious reservations about the company you are keeping. For the U50 score to be valuable, we need to look a little deeper.
After looking at 2014’s U50 scores, I found that the biggest jump in fantasy output came from those players who scored in the 90-120 range. Tom Bell (92 points in 2014) took his fantasy average from 64 to 89, Taylor Adams (100) went from 71 to 101, Zac Merrett (98) went from 61 to 91 and, of course, Tom Mitchell (101) who added an extra 20 fantasy points to his average last year. With this in mind, over the next few pages I’ll show you who you should be keeping an eye on during this year’s pre-season. First off, the defenders…