AFL stars are back in training and the 2018 SuperCoach pre-season has gone up another gear with the release of all player positions for next season.
There have been some big changes after Champion Data assigned positions to every player on an AFL list based on data about where on the field they played last year.
Some of the most popular players of 2017 will be harder to pick next season and others have jumped into the selection frame for Australia’s biggest fantasy sports game.
Let’s start with the bad news.
Magpie Taylor Adams, who was the second-top scoring defender of 2017, is available for selection as a midfielder only next year.
Top-scoring forward Jack Macrae has also lost his dual-position status and can only be picked in the midfield.
Jack Steele (mid only), Jake Lloyd (defender only) and Lions pair Alex Witherden (defender only) and Jarrod Berry (mid only) are among the other players to lose DPP eligibility for 2018.
And we’ll have to find a new ruck strategy with former ruck-forwards Toby Nankervis and Paddy Ryder now only available as rucks. Even Docker Luke Strnadica, who didn’t play a game but was a popular bench option, has lost his DPP eligibility.
There are also a number of pure position changes.
Elliot Yeo was classified as a mid-forward last season and averaged 103 points. Next year he is a defender.
Kangaroo Shaun Higgins has moved from a forward to a midfielder, ex-defender Zak Jones is also a midfielder and Blues recruit Matthew Kennedy may have lost some of his appeal after Champion Data changed his position from forward to midfielder.
One move SuperCoach players won’t mind is Port Adelaide star Robbie Gray. A former popular selection as a mid-forward, Gray slipped off the fantasy radar as a mid-only in 2017. But he is set to return with a bang next year after being classified as a forward.
Gray copped a shock cancer diagnosis in October, but has resumed running and is expected to join full training after Christmas.
The ranks of new dual-position players are headed by Geelong’s Sam Menegola, who averaged 100 points a game as a midfielder in 2017 and can now be picked as a mid-forward.
Chad Wingard, Travis Boak, Isaac Heeney, Will Setterfield and Michael Barlow may all attract interest as new mid-forwards, along with veterans Dale Thomas, Daniel Wells and David Mundy.
Surprise Carlton recruit Jarrod Garlett is set to be a popular pick after being classified as a mid-forward.
Another player with added flexibility is Docker Michael Walters, who averaged 111 points during a nine-week purple patch from Rounds 7-16 last year. He’s a mid-forward for 2018.
SuperCoach players committed to a ruck-forward swing can look to Demon Cam Pedersen, Collingwood big man Mason Cox — flagged for a more prominent role next year by coach Nathan Buckley — and Bulldog Tim English.
There are also plenty of DPP rookies including Tigers Jack Higgins and Patrick Naish (mid-forwards), Magpie Nathan Murphy (defender-forward), Carlton’s Lochie O’Brien (defender-mid), Pie-cum-Giant Lachlan Keeffe (defender-forward), Port Adelaide’s draft steal Sam Hayes (ruck-forward) and Brisbane academy star Connor Ballenden (forward-defender).
And SuperCoaches will be relieved to note Luke Dahlhaus, Jordan de Goey and late-season bench saviour Tarir Bayok have all retained mid-forward status for 2018.
This story first appeared in the Herald Sun.
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