Lock and Load: Up until the Round 11 bye last season, Dylan Roberton ($509,000) ran around unattended in the Saints backline every week, basically doing whatever he wanted. Mostly that involved taking uncontested marks and then kicking the hell out of the footy, which he is really, really good at, ranking 4th in the league in kicks per game in 2017. He’ll get even more opportunities to do so in 2018, with fellow quarterback/seagull Joey Montagna migrating fulltime to the commentary box. A late season fadeout last year means he’s probably a little underpriced, and hence a great point of difference for your backline at only 3.3% ownership.
Money Maker: St Kilda had two top 10 picks in last year’s draft, and they used pick 8 to select Nicholas Coffield ($171,300), a dynamic rebounding halfback noted for his leadership qualities. A high draft pick comes with a price tag to match, but Coffield has already impressed with his work this pre-season, including a 20-possession effort in JLT1. Comes with the added advantage of mid/def versatility. At the other end of the rookie scale, Bailey Rice ($123,900) has now been in the Saints system for a couple of years, after being taken as a father/son selection in the 2015 draft. Powerfully built but not always fully fit, Rice’s VFL form for Sandringham has been consistently inconsistent. His best games have certainly demonstrated he is capable of making the step up though, and he was named as an emergency for the senior squad for one game last season, without getting a run. Has a Supercoach friendly game if selected.
Lock and Load: It’s a bold call, but I think this is the year Sebastian Ross ($555,300) moves into the elite group of Supercoach midfielders. After breaking out the year before, Ross was among the best ball winners in the entire competition for much of 2017, averaging 30 touches a game (sixth in the league). Only a slightly lower contested possession count held him back from becoming a Supercoach must-have, but at 24 years of age he now has the maturity and ability to improve his inside game, and boost his scoring into the upper echelon.
Feeling Lucky: He is known among some opposition players as “Motor Legs”, and there’s no doubt that watching Jack Steven ($498,600) in full flight is worth the price of admission. The big knock on Steven is the enormous gulf between his best games and his worst; he has struggled to shake a tag in the past. When allowed to run he can be absolutely devastating, as evidenced by seven career games of 150+. Very well priced for someone of his scoring potential, but you’ll have to be prepared to take the good with the tagged.
David Armitage ($310,100) had a career year in 2015, averaging 28 disposals and 109 points, while missing only one game. Since then he has struggled with chronic back, hamstring and groin injuries, and only played two games last season. If he can recapture his best form Armitage would be the bargain of the season, but at 29 years of age he is a risky pick, even at this heavily discounted price. 24 possessions and 129 points in JLT1 has him firmly on the popular radar.
Finally, keep an eye on Luke Dunstan ($485,200) this pre-season. He went into regular beast mode in the last six games of 2017, averaging a tick under 106. If there’s going to be another Josh Kelly this year, it could well be this guy.
Money Maker: There are a few Supercoach pre-season rituals that every coach goes through – debating whether to pick the most expensive player, trying to find the best loophole option, and putting Nathan Freeman ($123,900) on your mids bench and praying he doesn’t ping another pre-season string. Everyone knows how good this guy would be, if only he could get his rubber-band hamstrings to hold together for a year.
A must-have if fit. (Spoke too soon – speedy recovery, Nathan). Hunter Clark ($175,800) was pick 7 in the draft, and as you would expect, he is a fantastic user of the footy and moves very well. Averaged 27 disposals and 126 points in the TAC Cup, and may be worth coughing up the dough for if selected. 83 points and a couple of goals in JLT1, in only 61% game time.
Feeling Lucky: Billy Longer ($429,500) finished his 2017 campaign very strongly, highlighted by his domination of SC favourite Max Gawn in Round 21. He’ll start this season the rankest of outsiders in the Supercoach stakes, but if you would rather save on rucks and spend up big in the mids, Longer is a tad under-priced and has the potential to be used as a stepping stone to one of the genuine premo rucks. Be aware that it’s possible he’ll be sharing the ruck duties with Tom Hickey, which would probably reduce his scoring potential. Edit: Longer has been replaced by Hickey for JLT2 and there are rumours of injury (although I could find no confirmation of this). You’ve been warned!
Lock and Load: Speaking of strong finishes, Jack Billings ($509,500) positioned himself as a must-have in your forward lines at the back end of 2017. The former pick 3 averaged 103 in his last six games, finally getting out of the forward pocket and spending more time in the mids where he belongs. Now in his fifth year in the league, Billings still hasn’t quite shaken off that inconsistency that is typical of many of the Saints players. However, in another year of lean pickings in the forward line, he shapes as one of the more obvious choices. Reportedly had a minor hammy tweak a couple of weeks ago and missed JLT1, but that may just be the club erring on the side of caution with their prized asset, and saving him up for the ‘real’ footy.
Feeling Lucky: Confession: I’ve got a soft spot for a small forward with a bit of X-factor, and Jade Gresham ($364,600) fits the bill. Pick 18 in the 2015 draft, “Gresh” managed 30 goals in his second season, including five (and his maiden SC ton) in the final round against the eventual premiers. It’s a big leap of faith to take him at this price, but he’s good enough to run through the midfield and I have him pegged as a rough chance of a breakout this year. 18 possessions (11 contested) and 86 points in JLT1 was encouraging.
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