We all know true forwards are fairly unreliable when it comes to fantasy scoring. It’s a good job then that teams’ use of midfielders in the half-forward role gives us plenty of chances to secure some true ball-winning talent, and this year provides with a bumper crop.
Brendon Ah Chee (U50:116/11 games/22yo/UF avg:57)
An average of only 57 doesn’t tell the whole tale, with six of Ah Chee’s 11 games involving a vest of some description. He started in Port’s last four games and excelled in the centre and half-forward with a fantasy average of 95. With the return of Wines and Polec in the middle of the ground, he may find opportunities scarce, but the scrapping of the sub will be a big bonus.
Aaron Vandenberg (U50:111/14 games/24yo/UF avg:75)
Injury scuppered the mature ager’s debut year for the Demons, but he showed enough early on to suggest that he could have plenty of fantasy potential. Vandenburg scored over 80 fantasy points in seven of his 12 full games, including two fantasy tons, and even polled three Brownlow votes for the year. With a full AFL pre-season under his belt, expect even more.
Jack Billings (U50:108/25 games/20yo/UF avg:84)
Billings made this list last year, and returns again after only managing nine games for the season. Despite the limited game-time he had already shown exactly what we predicted – he will be a fantasy jet. Three 90+ scores and a huge 122 against the Bulldogs are exactly the kind of things we can expect, but his year was cut short by injury. The Saints won’t rush him back as they know he is a huge asset for the future – so now might be the time to take advantage and get him in your side.
Sam Gray (U50:108/17 games/24yo/UF avg:89)
Gray was one of my favourite stories from 2015 after waiting for him to break into the Port Adelaide side. While he has generally been used as a small forward, injuries last year let us see him where he is at his best – in the middle. When in the centre in the final three rounds, Gray averaged a phenomenal 128 points, and gave Ken Hinckley a headache for when the likes of Wines and Polec return this year. Watch for his role in the NAB.
Mitch Grigg (U50:107/20 games/23yo/UF avg:78)
Had a solid patch of form between rounds 6 and 10 last year, scoring over 80 points in all five games. An ankle injury caused him to lose his spot, and despite some huge performances in the SANFL on his return, he couldn’t force his way back into the side. Has plenty of scoring potential, and if he starts in the NAB he could be a real smoky this year.
Dom Sheed (U50:102/33 games/20yo/UF avg:72)
Sheed ticks all the boxes for a breakout this year. He has a best 22 place sewn up in the team that finished runners up for the flag, and is only just about to enter his third year in the system. He was one of the biggest fantasy scorers at the 2014 Under-18 Championships with a scoring rate of 1.3 points per minute, and he is nailed on to build on his one senior fantasy ton this year.
Jesse Hogan (U50:101/20 games/21yo/UF avg:74)
To lead a forward line in your debut season is incredible enough, but to dominate like a veteran is another. Hogan is a beast, and while I would generally steer clear of key forwards in fantasy, I’ll make an exception for him. Three fantasy tons in his first year, and kept goalless in only one game, with more support this year he’ll go even bigger.
Lewis Taylor (U50:100/44 games/21yo/UF avg:72)
Many have said that Taylor’s second year was a disappointment following on from his Rising Star winning debut season. Fantasy wise, however, he showed plenty of improvement. His four fantasy 100s show a real scoring potential that is only going to increase with more experience and more midfield time. Has had a strong pre-season by all accounts and could really breakout this year.
Isaac Heeney (U50:97/14 games/19yo/UF avg:67)
There was plenty of hype surrounding the Swans’ academy product before his debut year, and it didn’t take him long to justify it. A score of 92 on his debut was followed later by a further four 80+ scores including a season best 119 against St Kilda. He’ll move more into the midfield in time.
Jake Stringer (U50:93/50 games/21yo/UF avg:79)
Not exactly ‘under 50’ games, but it would be remiss of me to exclude him. Stringer went from strength to strength last year, and ended the season one of the most damaging forwards in the country. Too big for small defenders, too agile for key defenders, and with the ability to play midfield – he has the potential to be the full package.
Jack Martin (U50:91/23 games/21yo/UF avg:64)
2016 is a big year for Martin after failing to live up to his top billing so far. Injuries have been a major issue, but when he has played he’s shown glimpses of why he is so highly rated – no more so than during his 113 point performance against Geelong. Will need to steer clear of injury, but with Suns midfield hopefully at full strength he could take his game to the next level.
Angus Brayshaw (U50:91/21 games/20yo/UF avg:62)
Brayshaw had a very successful debut year at half-forward, playing in all but one of the Demons’ games. Despite being thrust into senior football immediately, he was managed carefully by Melbourne, playing only 69% game time – his fantasy average of 62 can therefore be taken with a pinch of salt. Brayshaw was a ball-winning machine at junior level, and a move into the midfield is inevitable at some point of his career. If he plays through the middle in the NAB Challenge, get on board.