The Great Giants Experiment now enters its eighth season. Despite winning finals matches for three years running, there’s an element of underachievement regarding the Giants’ accomplishments thus far. That vibe is based on the incredible draft talent the Giants had been able to procure after the concessions granted by the AFL, best demonstrated by the list of players that they have traded away in recent times: Adam Treloar, Taylor Adams, Tom Scully, Dylan Shiel, Will Hoskin-Elliott, Caleb Marchbank, Dom Tyson, Cam McCarthy, Jack Steele and the list goes on…
To state the bleedin’, if the Giants are going to win a flag in the near future, it probably needs to be the very near future. The centrepiece of their midfield is out of contract again at the end of this season, and a number of players they’ve been patient with need to start repaying the faith now. Can The Experiment finally bear fruit? Or do I need to find a different (perhaps less painful) mixed metaphor to describe their efforts?
Lock and Load: He’s a running machine and a former Number One draft pick, but it took a move to the halfback flank to make Lachie Whitfield ($542,100) a valued Supercoach commodity. Since returning from a six month AFL-imposed ban in June 2017, Whitfield has played every game and averaged 99 in that period. The return of Zac Williams and the departure of Dylan Shiel may influence Whitfield’s role somewhat, but I would expect him to post similar numbers this season. You can lock Lach in as one of the top defenders in 2019.
Feeling Lucky: Injury-affected price tags are always a pre-season favourite in Supercoach, and so it goes for Zac Williams ($407,800). A persistent Achilles problems kept Williams off the field for the entire H&A season in 2018. However, the dynamic Giants backman returned in the finals with a sparkling 117 point effort against the Swans, and a solid 77 points in the season-ending loss to the Pies. Williams is coming off season averages of 88 ppg in 2016 and 94 in 2017, so the potential is certainly there and he is obviously nicely priced. Should be one of the more popular budget picks.
Lock and Load: Even though I readily admit he’s one of my favourite players in the league, I’m actually a little hesitant to include the beast Josh Kelly ($617,800) as a lock after an unconvincing return in 2018. On the face of it, Kelly averaged 114 from 15 games which is elite; however, recurring knee and groin issues leave me far from convinced that he is worth all that cash up front. Kelly is an absolute class performer though – in my opinion, one of the top 5 Brownlow chances if he can stay fit – so his pre-season will need to be watched closely.
And all that, without even mentioning all the contract negotiation hoopla we have to look forward to again this year…
Feeling Lucky: Stephen Coniglio ($588,600) was one of the Supercoach success stories for a lot of coaches last season, starting at a discounted price and finishing the year as a top 10 midfielder. The cost of that success is he starts almost $140K dearer this year, and will probably be bypassed by most for that reason. Similarly, the ever-consistent Callan Ward ($568,000) will post 105+ and be ignored by almost everyone. These two might not quite be the top 5 midfielder that everyone is looking for, but they won’t let you down either.
And in the interests of insurance against making a complete goose of myself, here’s a brief mention of my boy Tim Taranto ($481,600). Someone will get Shiel’s share of midfield time this year, and Taranto could be the man. It’s his third year, he’s a former No.2 draft pick, he averaged 89 last year. Can you say “breakout city”?
Feeling Lucky: Nobody really seems to know what Shane Mumford ($320,200) is doing back on an AFL list; I’m not even sure Mummy knows! He’ll miss the first couple of games after the release of that video, but from a Supercoach perspective he looks like one of the few viable budget options available in the ruck this year. Of course there are caveats all over the place here – mostly based around physical and mental fitness – but with a bit of courage and imagination, he could conceivably be a stepping stone to one of the bonafide premo ruckmen.
Feeling Lucky: Yes, Toby Greene ($354,600) is talented. Yes, he’s well underpriced for a player of his scoring potential. Yes, he could be a top 10 forward at the end of the season. Go on, pick him. I dare you!
Money Maker: Ian Hill ($117,300) is the cousin of the speedy Fremantle brothers Stephen and Bradley, and you can expect to see similar characteristics in the game of the 24th pick. The Giants traded up in the draft in an effort to acquire Hill, who is also capable of playing through the midfield and comes with DPP status in his rookie year.
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