Expert Panel: Rookie upgrade season, uber targets & what to do with Dusty, Dunk & Neale?

It’s upgrade/downgrade season but injuries to Dustin Martin, Josh Dunkley and Lachie Neale have caused SuperCoach and AFL Fantasy coaches fresh headaches, so we’ve got some expert advice to help solve them.

Honeyball has enlisted SuperCoach experts Adrian Johnson and Jordan Petito, as well as AFL Fantasy guns Dan St and Jai Rosevaar.

Adrian‘s side ‘Juddchella’ is currently 231st overall in SuperCoach with a best-ever finish of 155th in 2020. He’s also finished in the top 200 in the past two SuperCoach BBL seasons.

Jords, who hosts podcast SuperCoach Take, is currently 76th overall in SuperCoach with a best-ever finish of 346th in 2018 for his side Jords Terror Squad.

Eagles fan and accountant Dan from the Cheap Stat Chasers is currently ranked 121st overall in AFL Fantasy with a best-ever finish of 458th in 2017.

Finally, Jai Rosevaar isn’t going quite as well in 2021 but he was 16th overall in AFL Fantasy in 2020.

Note there’s a blend of advice for AFL Fantasy and SuperCoach (clearly defined in brackets) so take each with that in mind.


HB: Do you own any of Dusty, Neale and/or Dunkley? If so, what will you do with them and why?

Dan (AF): I only have Dunkley. I’m seriously considering Jack Ziebell as he has made a significant impact with three huge scores in the last four weeks. His form has been too good not to consider. Given how the Kangaroos are going, I can’t see opposition sides tagging him and there are no signs of a role change.

To cap it off he has a dream run of games to come. It feels like a risky move (and maybe season defining) but with a high price and low breakeven there is always a way out.

Jai (AF): Finally dodged some bullets and have none of the above. I don’t like to celebrate injuries however my stress levels will now go down as a non-Dunkley owner.

Adrian (SC): Fortunately, I have managed to avoid most of the carnage out of last week, owning just Dunkley out of the aforementioned three.

Dusty is a definite hold. Personally believe the other two must be traded, to fallen premos. Why fallen premos? With the lack of cash generation from rookies this year it’s important SC sides capitalize on value and don’t pay top dollar for premos, otherwise it will become an ultimate struggle to reach ‘full premo’.

Jords (SC): I only own Dunkley. Dunks will go straight to a premium mid, I like Marcus Bontempelli and Sam Walsh but will go to Walsh. The top premium midfielders are much more difficult to trade in than the top forwards, so I’ll use DPP for this upgrade. The uncertainty of who the top forwards are also swayed me away picking any of them, so I’ll give the forward line more time to figure that out and play rookies up forward.

HB: If you owned Dusty Martin, will you hang on to him, given likely only one week out?

Adrian (SC): Ironically, when Dunkley got injured, my immediate thought was to trade in Dusty. However, I’ll now wait until post-byes when he is $400k.

Jords (SC): I would hold Dusty, I assume he's only out for one game so it's not a huge deal. He's depreciated and someone who should be well good enough to be in our final teams. His production is quite good at the moment, but he's just playing careless with his kicking. I'd be looking to trade out long term injuries and usually hold players who are out for up to 2-3 weeks.

Jai (AF): Martin is a hold, it’s why we have benches. However if more than two weeks it’s a trade.

Dan (AF): If you have Dusty, I would hold onto him. While slightly down in score in recent games, my view is he is going to be a top six forward come the end of the season. There are plenty of rookies to cover Dusty for a week. Moving around some of your DPP mids to fix the balance of your side for a week may also work.

HB: On the topic of trading Dunkley, who are the best forward options and why? They all seem to have durability concerns…?

Dan (AF): I rate the following as the best forward options in order: Ziebell, Dayne Zorko, Nat Fyfe and Steele Sidebottom. The latter three are all spending time in the midfield and had plenty of CBAs last week. However, I agree there are concerns when you consider the amount of footy missed between those names over the last two seasons.

If I was to avoid Ziebell I'd be more inclined to switch a DPP rookie into my forward line and go after another premium midfielder (the likes of Jackson Macrae, Zac Merrett, Clayton Oliver, Jack Steele or Mitch Duncan).

Jai (AF): If you are trading Dunkley it’s to a premium discounted mid, potentially his partner in crime Treloar. You're not going to get the returns you're after from any of the other forwards. Gun for gun. (I’m not convinced with Ziebell, but probably only because I’m stubborn and won’t pay $800k for him).

Jords (SC): I don't really like any of them, which is why I'm using DPP to get to a midfielder. I am happy to field more rookies up forward, I like all of Atu Bosenvulagi, Jy Farrar or Deven Robertson to hold it down for the time being. The player I am most confident in is Nick Hind at around $425k, the only issue is he's probably going to give us high 80s to low 90s average. That probably falls short of what we want, even for this year, but the money saved may help you get rookies off the field quicker. His role is secure, his production is consistent, and durability seems good but can cop a few knocks during games.

Adrian (SC): At the moment, I’ll be selecting one of Shai Bolton/Dayne Zorko/Sidebottom (flip a coin) as Dunkley’s replacement. All three are risky.

Bolton - How will he fare once Dion Prestia is back?

Zorko - Increase in CBAs now with no Neale but will he be tagged more often?

Sidebottom - 29 CBAs last week but was that because Levi Greenwood and Jordan De Goey were out? Was his 119 SC points inflated by 12 tackles (avg. 4)?

As you can probably tell, I’m struggling to split them myself.

HB: It's also rookie upgrade/downgrade season. Which rookies will you look to trade in the next week or three & which budget rookies are worth bringing in and why?

Adrian (SC): I bought Finlay Macrae last round after Dunkley’s injury realising if I built the bank balance, I may be able to afford a second upgrade this week (using Errol Gulden).

Dev Robertson is the only rookie I like as an option to bring this week thanks to his increased JS with Neale out of the side for two months. Next week, I’ll look to downgrade Heath Chapman to Martin Frederick. Also worth noting three players will make their AFL debut this week, including Riley Collier-Dawkins.

Jords (SC): We'll get another look at Frederick, Jay Rantall (hopefully) and Nathan Murphy this week. Frederick looks like the best one as his role is good and his mature age, but I think Rantall and Murphy are also capable, just need another look at them. I was very impressed with Josh Worrell in the AAMI Series, he looked very comfortable at AFL level in the backline. Thought he was good at reading the play. Sounds like he's very close to selection and one I'm definitely keen on.

Jai (AF): A great Fantasy coach gave me the advice that all the must-have rookies have already debuted. Therefore, I don’t think there is any must-haves and am hesitant to pay up. I believe it’s time to look at $170k rooks named, preferably for rebuilding sides, regardless of scoring potential. Worrell could be an option this week.

Dan (AF): Based on my current crop of rookies – Tyler Brockman, Gulden and potentially Matthew Flynn will be on my list to move on.

Brockman looks like he has fallen out of favour at Hawthorn. Gulden may not get his breakeven of 77 this week and a rest may be on the horizon. Even if Flynn continues to get a game over Shane Mumford, I'm going to need the big two ruckman sooner rather than later.

Of the current cheaper rookies, Bosenavulagi and Frederick are solid options. Bosenavulagi has more job security but Frederick looked really good in his first game. Another strong option is Farrar. While more expensive he is a sound F6 option.

HB: Who are the prime upgrade targets and why?

Jords (SC): In defence, Jordan Ridley for sure, although I'm probably the only one who doesn't have him. Houston is playing very well and is cheap for his current output. Lloyd as well although he might come down a tad more.

In the midfield, its Clarry Oliver, Bont or Walsh. Petracca looks good but I'd take Oliver first. I also like Brayshaw at a discounted $479k, expecting a 105-110 average from him but has the ceiling to average more. Up forward I've spoken about above, so no one really.

Adrian (SC): It’s now or never with fallen premos such as Bolton, Sidebottom, Travis Boak and Andrew Brayshaw. Other POD selections I really like include Treloar, Cam Guthrie and Jarryd Lyons - my replacement for Gulden.

Jai (AF): As mentioned, any discounted premium who you believe is on the rise. I like Treloar for role especially now Dunkley is out. I believe Zac Williams has now got the runs into his legs after starting slow, Carlton need a greater impact from him. Also Ridley will be super cheap in a couple of weeks after a concussion effected score, has the perfect fantasy role.

Dan (AF): Prime upgrade targets will depend on what you can afford and if you are willing to wait. The five premium midfielders mentioned above are all great options but you may need two downgrades for one upgrade.

Treloar and Titch are two that are slightly underpriced and aren't going to get any cheaper. Other players with moderate ownership percentage who are good options: Jarryd Lyons, Reilly O'Brien and Jack Crisp.

Oh and to finish, big shout out to Honeyball - one of the best sources in the business!

HB: Haha, too kind Dan. Thanks everyone for their wisdom and advice, awesome stuff, good luck for the rest of 2021!

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