We’re kicking off our pre-season content with a snapshot of the current ownership percentages, with a focus on players who finished Top 6/8 on their respective lines but are somehow at sub-10% ownership. We’ll lay out a few key numbers, the contrasting cases for why or why not they should be selecting and drill down into the players no one’s talking about.
- Name (Team, Price, Ownership %)
- 2022: # Top 6/8 finish, average, games played [3 highest scores]
Jack SINCLAIR (STK, $626.6k, 10%)
2022: 1st, 113.7 average, 22 games [138, 140, 150]
Why: Sinclair had the wind in his mullet all of last year as he charged to D1 at a 110+ average. He put +24.7 on his previous years average in a textbook breakout season after finding a monopoly on half back distribution – add to that a lionshare of the kicks ins and an uncharacteristically strong 1 on 1 defensive and intercepting game. Having been the Saints most consistent and prolific constant, Sinclair will remain a ball in hand priority for Ross Lyon. Oh and if that isn’t sweet enough Hill is set for a move back to a wing, preserving the mulleted one’s monopoly.
Why Not: Very little by way of “Why Not” for Sinclair. This piece was prompted really out of disbelief at his ownership. That said…with the proliferation in HB tags Sinclair could now be on opposition coaching panel radars after his capital 2022. Sinclair got tagged twice last year and battled well with an 80 and a 116 . Handled it better than Stewart and Dawson but obviously isn’t impervious to tags like Sicily. The sample size of only 1 premium season could also be fair but it seems like a pretty authentic breakout trajectory on age and role.
…no surprises, he hasn’t left my side! No real “Why Not” case for him specifically, so just becomes a matter of whether you prefer the fixture, bye or ceiling of Docherty, Dawson, Sicily and Stewart.
Bailey DALE (WBD, $561.1k, DEF, 3%)
2022: 5th, 101.9 average, 22 games [121, 118, 134]
Why: Coming to another one of my boys: Bailey Dale. Started him last year and watched him like a hawk. Elite use, a kick in and HB distribution monpoly and high MG for those default effective kicks. Went on a clearly premium trajectory from 95.2 in 2021 to triple digits the following year. Another great pro for Dale: rated VERY highly internally, with both Bevo and players loving the ball in his hands. Gets deferred to a lot.
Why Not: Despite my love for him, there’s ample reason to be apprehensive this time around. Number one being the way they let Richards loose late last year and how it ate into Dale’s economy. Still had kick ins but Richards took a chunk out of his distribution and basically dropped him out of finishing the year on a 105 average. Will need to see how the Dogs’ backline settles heading into the season. Additionally, he really has no intercept or 1 on 1 defensive game so if the modus vivendi with Richards is unchanged he really doesn’t have another avenue to scoring. Finally, he isn’t that great a value proposition at 560k. Not saving a huge amount by not going for one of the 600k DEFs who are locks for 110 and not a huge payout if he does perform at that price.
Angus BRAYSHAW (MELB, $550.3k, DEF, 8%)
2022: 6th, 100.0 average, 22 games [126, 130, 176]
Why: Settled into a half back role sensationally and was really consistent with the tons. Any clown can play loose and score well but Brayshaw’s got the strong use and offensively-minded decision making of a former inside MID and a hard nut play style that adds tackling and spoils to his scoring stream. Even when the Dees were rolling sides and conceding very few D50 entries, Brayshaw operated as that 1st player to come up to stoppages closing in on D50 with the Dees preferring to hold a winger and keep the ground open. Only makes sense that a second year in a role will see him improve or, and here’s where there’s some nice upside, he can always be re-injected into the guts.
Why Not: Not too much of a concern as to his positional role: either stays at HB or goes into the guts – can’t be stationed at HF and Langon, the kids and now Hunter can hold down the wings. Really comes down to how his role within that backline changes. May and Lever will be both at full strength as lockdown defenders and obviously put a cap on the rest of the backline’s ceiling and take a fair amount of economy. Then Salem returns, who’s been their traditional go to half, and there’s also how and where Bowey develops. Will he be contained to a more accountable, utilitarian and actually defensive half back role instead of the freedom he had last year or sent back OB? Luckily pre-season intel and the practice matches should settle it and allow prospective Brayshaw selectors to see if he passes the eye test.
Callum MILLS (SYD, $642.2k, MID, 6%)
2022: 4th, 116.7 average, 22 games [147, 167, 214]
Why: The why is pretty simple: he’s got the highest natural ceiling of any midfielder. His contested work and spectacularly clean use just see him churn out points on ball. A known quality who can double ton – not much more to say by way of “Why” for Mills.
Why Not: The problem, however, is he didn’t purely play on ball as a #1 CBA MID for all of 2022. Started the year on basically a team high CBA load but from Round 10 onwards he became a more versatile asset: being shipped off to a wing or behind the ball often after 3QT. After that Round 10 move he only had 60%+ CBAs twice compared to being 2nd highest CBA recipient from Rounds 1 – 10 (with 70-80% being team high and ideal depending on TOG and rotations). Still managed to score okay but sort of plateaued and lost that ceiling. Drilling down on the numbers, Warner and Mills basically switched loads: Warner started the season on 45-55% and built in, Mills on that 2nd load of 65%, then post-Round 10 Warner to team high, more MID rotations for others and Mills’ utilized as a versatility with a drop in CBAs. If he isn’t playing as a full time MID, you can’t start him at 640k.
Rory LAIRD (ADEL, $703.9k, MID, 10%)
2022: 5th, 127.8 average, 22 games [145, 154, 156]
Why: It would be trite to make a case for Laird. Only finished “5th” on total points because he missed those first to games but came back and ended up dominating to edge out Satan as M1. Doesn’t get tagged and just sails to 140s. Starts 2023 with a decent fixture.
Why Not: The price tag. 700k, no matter who it is, is always a lot to swallow and even more so with Satan being a must have at the same price. Swinging 2x 700k and then 2-3 more in the 600s puts a massive squeeze on the bank. He’ll start the season with a BE of 128. Given his strong floor and invisibility to taggers for the most part, it’s feasible he holds his price at 680-700k if he comes out with the same average as 2022. Could just be a matter of when you want to pay.
Christian PETRACCA (MELB, $618.6k, MID, 7%)
2022: 8th, 112.4 average, 22 games [141, 163, 189]
Why: Posted averages of 117.5, 111.4 and 112.4 over the last three years with a strong ceiling and a more offensive IF50 scoring stream than most midfielders. Can comfortably be penciled in for 110+ and a third of his scores over 130 (2022: 8/22 130+).
Why Not: Hard to make a case for Racca beyond being a POD. Namely because he’s an absolute butcher: finished up the year with 66% DE, 56% by foot and 5 clangers a game. Those numbers have been consistent over his last three years with no signs of being worked out of his game: 65.8%, 62.1% and 66.9% DE over the last three years, 3.5, 5 and 4.3 clangers per game and 53%, 51.3% and 56% kicking efficiency. DE is critical in SC and even in games where he bangs on a few and destroys the contest, starting a game at 50% DE with 2 clangers, as he often does, will just crucify his scoring. Still a phenomenal player with probably the best FWD presence of any midfielder but that efficiency profile will preclude him from ever doing a deep 120 average.
Isaac HEENEY (SYD, $557.1k, 4%)
2022: 3rd, 101.2 average, 22 games [131, 140, 141]
Why: Just needed a full season and lo and behold Heeney finally delivered a triple digit Top 6 season after years of teasing and torment. Didn’t get the midfield role that had been hyped up over the pre-season but that was never going to really materialize given his exceptional forward craft and marking. Instead, Heeney’s ascendance dovetailed with a strong H&A season from the Swans and utilization as a one out FWD stoppage player and license to push up the ground. Still had the floor of a forward dropping scores of 75, 53, 59 and 67 but was otherwise really consistent: 13 tons, including 7 straight to finish the season. Closed out the season on a 101.2 average as the number three FWD.
Why Not: A confluence of other strong FWD options and price is probably what’s dissuading the masses from Heeney right now. Dunks, Taranto and Cameron are basically must haves, Cogs is available again as a FWD and Rozee and Butters offer some serious upside. At a starting price of 560k we’re unlikely to ever be priced out of him during the season, hence the lack of appeal as a starter.
Dylan MOORE (HAW, $521.0k, 3%)
2022: 5th, 94.6 average, 22 games [124, 135, 147]
Why: Ebbed and flowed in popularity but started extremely consistently with 4x 90s, 2x tons and a 147 and then dropped a 135 and 124 on the way out. He’s a creative, high score involvement forward who just gets it done. What’s also great about Moore is his 1 quarters; starts hot and has those insane 40-50 point openers, giving him a better floor than most small/medium forwards.
Why Not: As an overall premium pick he does have a bit of awkward floor it must be said, having produced 5 scores under 8 including 2x 60s and a 56. It’s often hard to choose consistency over ceiling, so Moore as a starting selection perhaps doesn’t seem coterminous with upside and big tons compared to the other options. A potential MID role has been flagged as a point in his favour – which would be great. From Rounds 1-16 without CBAs Moore averaged 92.2 and from Rounds 17-23 when he was given a CBA load he averaged 99.8. If he could pick up where he left off in 2022 with a CBA load, that’d be sweet but it’d be a bit of a punt to back a young developing side in the process of rebuilding to give Moore a season long untouched CBA load.
Harry HIMMELBERG (GWS, $499.0k, DEF/FWD, 6%)
2022: 7th, 90.6 average *, 22 games [130, 132, 187]
Why: Didn’t exactly finish Top 6. Himmelberg was 7th on total points with a 90.6 average – however going off of his numbers playing down back he went at 105 with just 3/13 scores under 95 and highs of 187 and 130s. Paid major dividends to those who jumped on midseason and prayed he wouldn’t get swung back. Played completely freed up, accruing him a hefty intercept scoring stream, and then had a plurality of HB distribution and kick ins after GWS long standing HB line was re-positioned or injured. As an intercepting defender, he can comfortably do 105+ with a hectic ceiling.
Why Not: The problem is will he stay as an intercepting defender? New coach and expect the Giants to no longer accept the amount of free ball and D50 entries as they did when they knew their season was cooked. Even during his free reign down back, he was twice swung FWD last year after 3QT when the Giants needed a marking presence. What’s worse is the latest word from the Giants, in addition to the trademark ambiguity and vaguery, is that he has indeed been training forward. Ba bong.
So, are you with the masses in your non-selection of these former Top 6/8 finishers or relishing in having a POD to start 2023?
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