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AFL Fantasy's trade analysis

Adam 'Warnie' Child  October 22, 2017 10:51 AM

20171012_DevonSmith_H.jpg

Devon Smith averaged 94 Fantasy points per game in 2014.

THIS TIME last year, Tom Mitchell made the move from the Swans to the Hawks. The ball-magnet had built a decent resume at the Sydney Swans but was a few rungs down the pecking order and looked for greener pastures at Hawthorn.

Mitchell played 22 games in his first year in the brown and gold and averaged a career best 127.2 AFL Fantasy points.

He scored 228 points more than his nearest competitor, Sam Docherty, and was awarded the infamous 'Fantasy Pig' status for his stellar season.

A new home was all it took for Mitchell to take his game to a piggish level and cement himself as the must-have Fantasy player of the next few years.

The 2017 NAB AFL Trade Period concluded on Thursday afternoon and dedicated Fantasy coaches will be running their eyes over each move in the hope they can find a bargain or two for the upcoming season.

Here’s the top dozen deals that have Fantasy relevance in 2018.

No.1 – TOM ROCKLIFF (TRADED TO PORT ADELAIDE)

POSITION: MID
2017 AVERAGE: 103 (20 games)

The most relevant has to be Fantasy Pig Tom Rockliff who holds the record for highest Fantasy average in a season, 134.7 back in 2014. This year he was cruising along averaging 129.3 in the first eight rounds before a shoulder injury interrupted his season. He returned to score more than 100 on just one occasion in the back half of the season.

It was noted in interviews following his free agency move that Rockliff is likely to be spending time in the midfield and up forward. Too much time in the forward line may limit 'Rocky' feasting on the Fantasy points like he has been accustomed to, but he will be the cheapest price he's been in Fantasy Classic since 2013.

VERDICT: Once a Pig, always a pig – even in teal

No.2 – GARY ABLETT (TRADED TO GEELONG)

POSITION: MID
2017 AVERAGE: 118.9 (14 games)

Arguably the best Fantasy footballer of the last decade, Ablett returns to the Cattery in 2018. Even though he strung together just 14 games, Gaz still managed to post his equal fourth highest season average which will make him one of the most expensive players in the competition initially.

Like Rockliff, the Little Master is likely to play a MID/FWD role at his new home. If this is the case, he may be awarded dual position status during the season, adding extra value even if he doesn’t reach the lofty heights of scoring in his twilight years. The mouth-watering bonus is if we see attention from the opposition going to Dangerfield and Selwood letting Ablett run free!

VERDICT: Take him in the first round of Draft with confidence, wait in Classic

No.3 – DEVON SMITH (TRADED TO ESSENDON)

POSITION: MID/FWD
2017 AVERAGE: 81.6 (16 games)

Back in 2014 Devon Smith smashed out an average of 94 from 21 games. The line Fantasy coaches want to hear in the pre-season is “more midfield time” and that is what the former Giant has been promised at his new club.

With the Bombers being the third highest scoring Fantasy team of 2017 and with his knee issues behind him, Smith has plenty of upside to take his game back over 90.

VERDICT: A good chance to be one of the top forwards for 2018

No.4 – BRYCE GIBBS (TRADED TO ADELAIDE)

POSITION: MID
2017 AVERAGE: 112.1 (22 games)

The Crows have added to their star-studded midfield with a former No.1 draft selection. Bryce Gibbs has enjoyed two outstanding Fantasy seasons playing all 44 home-and-away fixtures and averaging 105.4 and 112.1 respectively. His most recent season was his personal best.

It will be interesting to see how he slots into Adelaide’s engine room which saw Rory Sloane (107), Matt Crouch (107) and Brad Crouch (103) all averaging more than a Fantasy ton for the season.

VERDICT: Wait on all Crows to see how the midfield settles and lock in Patrick Cripps to increase his numbers at the Blues

No.5 – HAYDEN CROZIER (TRADED TO WESTERN BULLDOGS)

POSITION: DEF
2017 AVERAGE: 66.3 (19 games)

Whenever a player averages fewer points than the previous season, there is potential for them to be under-valued the following year. Crozier broke out in 2016, especially in the back-half of the season, thanks to a role change where he was playing off the half-back line. This year his role was sporadic spending more time forward.

From round 10 that year, Crozier scored 88, 107, 87, 89 and 90 in the Fantasy friendly role. Western Bulldogs’ list manager Jason McCartney said: "We see him primarily at half-back which, with the retirements of Bob Murphy and Matthew Boyd this season, will help our defence transition in 2018 and beyond."

VERDICT: Value selection if the above words are true.

No.6 – MATTHEW KENNEDY (TRADED TO CARLTON)

POSITION: MID/FWD
2017 AVERAGE: 68.8 (16 games)

Like so many Giants who leave the club, opportunity one of the key reasons for their departure. Rocking up at the Blues when pre-season begins, Kennedy is touted to be joining the midfield group and developing from there.

While his AFL form hasn’t seen huge scores, 93 and 90 being his top two returns from his 19 career games, Kennedy has demonstrated excellent NEAFL form. In 2016 he averaged 114 from 14 games and in the games where he was out of the senior side this year, Kennedy averaged 32 disposals, four marks, six tackles and 115 Fantasy points.

VERDICT: Given the opportunity, he’ll improve his output as a Blue

No.7 – HARRISON WIGG (TRADED TO GOLD COAST)

POSITION: MID
2017 AVERAGE: DNP

Harrison Wigg is yet to debut but as a Sun, he would be a good chance to be running through the banner in round one. Finding it tough to crack the Crows senior side, the 21-year-old had a fantastic year in the SANFL averaging 25 disposals, five marks, four tackles and 99 Fantasy points.

In the first of Adelaide’s JLT Community Series games earlier this year, Wigg racked up a score of 87 from 66 per cent time on ground.

VERDICT: An early lock for a 2018 cash cow

No.8 – JAKE STRINGER (TRADED TO ESSENDON)

POSITION: FWD
2017 AVERAGE: 57.2 (16 games)

The Bombers completed their Triple S combo with All-Australian Jake Stringer ready to don the sash in 2018. The 23-year-old will head into his sixth season heavily under-priced, essentially as cheap as he has been since the beginning of his sophomore year.

Stringer’s best season was in 2015 when he averaged 75.7. A return to these numbers wouldn’t quite put him in the top bracket for forwards, but there is value if you think he can average more than 75 for the season.

VERDICT: With close to 20 points of upside, he could be an early season stepping stone

No.9 – LACHIE WELLER (TRADED TO GOLD COAST)

POSITION: DEF/FWD
2017 AVERAGE: 74 (22 games)

Heading home to where it began before being drafted to the Dockers, Lachie Weller has enjoyed an increase in his Fantasy numbers in each year of his career. Playing 45 straight games, the defender will head to the Suns with an eye on a midfield role.

VERDICT: Numbers to continue to increase and even more so given midfield time

No.10 – NATHAN WILSON (TRADED TO FREMANTLE)

POSITION: DEF
2017 AVERAGE: 70.9 (21 games)

As Heath Shaw’s protégé, it is only a matter of time that Nathan Wilson will have a strong Fantasy game. His disposal numbers are on the up. He has averaged 11.7, 16.9 and 17.4 in the past three years and judging by the rise, he may go 20 plus in 2018.

The downside is that Wilson posted just two scores in triple figures meaning his ceiling isn’t quite there yet. He needs to take a leaf out of Shaw’s book and kick to himself every time out of the goal square to get the extra three points.

VERDICT: Wait and see how he fits in with Connor Blakely who provided a lot in defence prior to his shoulder injury.

No.11 – HARLEY BALIC (TRADED TO MELBOURNE)

POSITION: MID/FWD
2017 AVERAGE: 60 (four games)

Considered a steal of the draft a couple of seasons ago, Fantasy coaches were excited when Balic made his debut in round three. Although he registered just 35 points in his first match, 73 and 91 point games subsequently saw his price head north.

Unfortunately he missed most of the season due to personal issues and has now returned to Victoria. Balic will qualify for a discount on his 2018 price, however this may still be an awkward figure to consider as an option.

VERDICT: Definite upside, but there is likely to be better value players out there.

No.12 – AARON YOUNG (TRADED TO GOLD COAST)

POSITION: FWD
2017 AVERAGE: 55 (13 games)

Aaron Young had a breakout Fantasy season in 2016. He averaged 75.1 after finishing most years averaging in the 40s and 50s. That personal best return saw the forward kick 37 goals, helping him boost his numbers.

As a Sun, he may get the chance to play as a midfielder. Young enjoyed success in the SANFL playing on the ball averaging 28 disposals, five marks, six tackles and a whopping 117 points. If he’s able to be selected as a FWD and getting a run through Gold Coast’s midfield, then he could be a mid-priced steal.

VERDICT: Put him on your pre-season watchlist to see where he fits in the Suns' line-up.

THE OTHERS

Like most players traded, there is always hope for Fantasy numbers to increase thanks to new opportunity. Here are some other traded players that could be relevant next year:

- New Pie Sam Murray should be on the watch list as a possible downgrade target. The 20-year-old played off half-back and through the midfield for the Swans in the NEAFL averaging 21 disposals, five marks and 79 Fantasy points.

- If things get desperate for your bench, new Saint Logan Austin may be very cheap but don’t expect too much considering his career Fantasy average is in the 30s.

- Darcy Lang could be a bolter as a Blue. His best games for the Cats this year produced scores of 97, 98 and 120. Lang’s 2016 VFL numbers were impressive, averaging 109 points.

- West Coast picked up Brendon Ah Chee from Port Adelaide. With Sam Mitchell and Matt Priddis retiring, there could be a place in the midfield for him as an Eagle. Ah Chee averaged 92 in the SANFL this season.

- It's likely that Adam Saad will enjoy being with the higher-scoring Bombers.

- Steven Motlop will be under-priced based on his best. He personal best Fantasy season average of 89.7 would see him in the mix as a top FWD. There is arguably 20 points of upside if he can return to that as a Port Adelaide player.

There’s plenty to digest from the NAB AFL Trade Period. The first player prices and positions are expected to be revealed during December and it will be worth looking at players with new homes as potential bargains for 2018.

Get expert advice from The Traders during the pre-season in the Fantasy Hub. Follow AFL Fantasy on Twitterand 'like' the Facebook page to join in the conversation.