Good defenders in fantasy are like gold, even more so in keeper leagues. It pays to identify quality early, and if you have an overabundance of quality backmen, you have the currency to trade for almost anyone.
Adam Oxley (U50:116/19 games/23yo/UF avg:72)
Came from nowhere last year to manage 17 games for the Magpies. His five ‘red vests’ and modest average of 72 masked the fact that he managed four 100+ scores last year – including a huge 136 against Carlton. Will benefit with the scrapping of the sub rule, and the departure of Paul Seedsman.
Sam Docherty (U50:106/48 games/22yo/UF avg:82)
Hard to believe that Docherty is only 22, and still hasn’t reached the 50 game mark. A permanent fixture in Carlton’s back line, and despite already being one of the best young backs in fantasy with seven 90+ scores in 2015, he could go even better in 2016.
Shane Biggs (U50:101/16 games/24yo/UF avg:73)
A move from Sydney to the Bulldogs finally gave Biggs an opportunity at senior level, although he had to wait until round 17 to get a decent run in the side. He averaged 81 during that run, and if the 105 he averaged over his last seven games in the VFL are anything to go by, he could have much more to offer.
Jason Johannisen (U50:97/47 games/23yo/UF avg:77)
A quiet improver, Johannisen has flown largely under the radar. His lack of ‘big’ scores was negated by his nine 80+ scores throughout the year, and with murmurs of the Dogs planning on utilising his immense speed through the midfield, he is very much one to keep tabs on this year.
Zachary Williams (U50:94/31 games/21yo/UF avg:65)
Finally worked himself into the Giants’ best 22 in the second half of the year, and worked his way up my rankings with five 80+ scores and an average of 19 disposals over his last nine games. There’s nothing flashy about him, but he wins the ball, and if he can build on his form at the end of the year, he could be very fantasy relevant. Smokie.
Marco Paparone (U50:92/45 games/21yo/UF avg:75)
A successful transition from forward to half-back last brought about a big upturn in form and with it a big spike in fantasy value. He always had potential in the forward line, but his new role makes him a must watch this year. Led the Lions for rebound 50s, and topped 20 disposals on nine occasions last year. Still inconsistent, but expect him to build on his three fantasy tons from last year.
Orazio Fantasia (U50:91/8 games/20yo/UF avg:66)
A speculative pick, based on the fact that he only managed five appearances last year, but I’ve been banging on about him all pre-season. Another forward who has made the move to rebounding half-back, Fantasia managed two 80+ scores last year after he forced his way into the best 22 – one of which was in a 27 possession display in the final round of the year. Due to the Essendon suspensions a place is his for the taking.