The Buzz – R18’s Burning Questions: What to do with Whitfield & Langford, is Gawndy over?

The season keeps on getting better for many coaches with chunky scores of up to 2800 were scored in SuperCoach as well as 2400+ in AFL Fantasy last round.

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This was in no small part to current in-form players in Touk Miller, Brodie Grundy, Jack Steele and many more. Even the likes of Lachie Bramble chipped in with a premium like score in the back end of the year.

Former top 300 SuperCoach finisher Ethan Lee

However, it wasn’t all smiles for all coaches with popular forward and defence selections of Kyle Langford and Lachie Whitfield getting subbed out due injuries.

This week I’ll be discussing how you should trade around those players, what’s the deal with Gawn and can we captain him?

And finally look towards some 2022 selections who missed this year due to long term injuries/suspensions. 

Late season injury concerns

Kyle Langford (AF $678k SC $469k M/F)was substituted out of the game on Friday night with a low-grade hamstring strain which will see him miss the next 2-3 weeks at the very least. As of now if you own him in AFL Fantasy, he will be an easy swap to any premium forward you have missed out on but for the SuperCoach players with limited trades you might have to hold onto him just because of how many trades you have left.

If you can get to full premium even with trading him then by all means move him on but with six rounds left and not many trades in the bank, you may need those “premium” trades later especially if you have a cash league on the line. 

As for replacements, assuming most coaches have the obvious options (Ziebell, Zorko, Hall etc) the number one target I would have if you had the cash in the bank would be Charlie Dixon (AF $586k SC $541k FWD). Currently he is on a remarkable streak of six tons from his last 8 games and has a very generous run home with five bottom 8 teams to follow before a match up with the Dogs in Round 23.

A cheaper player would be Jordan De Goey (AF $634k SC $457k FWD) who I mentioned last week who is thriving in his new midfield/forward hybrid role and backed it up with a 124 on the weekend.

If you are someone who can afford to spend multiple trades then Josh Dunkley (AF $823k SC $635k M/F) has been made available for the Dogs, if he gets given his old role he certainly will be up there as a top scoring player in general as we saw in his first six games before he dislocated his shoulder. He will be a point of difference for your forward line at this time of year. 

Lachie Whitfield (AF $721k SC $492k D/M) was subbed out with a “migraine” issue that turned into a delayed concussion which means he will miss the next 12 days at the very least. Luckily for the Giants their Round 19 match was scheduled for the 24th which means he will only miss one game minimum. I do not recommend trading him given that trades are very scarce, and we know the quality of scoring he can provide when he is fit. 

Is it the end of an era for Gawndy?

Max Gawn (AF $791k SC $582k RUCK) has been a staple for our ruck line since his emergence in 2015 and he quickly revolutionised the SuperCoach game from being midfield dominant to a ruck revolution with his ability to provide hit-outs to advantage along his ability to take a contested mark.

With his trusty buddy Brodie Grundy (AF $799k SC $625k RUCK) coaches could lock away 120+ scores every week in those five years. However, this year something has changed with Gawn’s scoring and average has taken a dip by about 18 points. While his current output is not terrible by a “premium” standard, other ruckmen are starting to catch up with the likes of Sean Darcy and Nic Naitanui edging closer to Gawn’s current average.

With the emergence of Luke Jackson as a backup and Melbourne’s ruckman for the future, Gawn is currently taking less ruck contests and this is hurting his scoring as he isn’t getting as many hit-outs to advantage with his limited opportunity in the ruck. Melbourne will then either throw him behind the ball or deep forward where he will need to rely on the ball coming to him to take a contested mark whereas in previous years he was a genuine option down the line. With less time in the ruck, it also would mean he earns less contested and hard ball gets which in general was rare for a ruckman to begin but it certainly helped with his scoring. 

Many coaches would have stripped the permanent captaincy that would have come along with his expensive price tag and going into 2022, he may not even be considered as an R2 given the emergence of Darcy. While he still should be a safe 110+ pick (pending role with Jackson) Darcy looks to be evolving into the next best ruckman given he will be solo rucking and has shown signs of an extremely high ceiling. If this is the end of an era, then we’ll look back fondly at all the memories that Gawn has provided for us coaches and appreciate all he’s done for our teams. 

2022 bargain buys

Just like last week, given it’s so late in the season I want to start discussing some early selections for the 2022 season. Some players have had unfortunate injuries or suspensions that have seen them miss the whole of the 2022 season but on the positive side, it means that they will be cheap for your teams next year. While we all want to go out picking the top dogs at the start, no team can be completed without some bargain buys.

Matt Crouch 

Crouch was one of the most consistent midfielders in the last four seasons, however he has missed all this year with persistent hip and groin injuries that saw him have mid-season surgery. While he is rumoured to get out of the park in the next month, I doubt the Crows would throw him straight back especially for a few games that are meaningless.

While his price will vary based on what type of discount, they want to give him. So, he could be available for a SuperCoach price of $475k (unfortunately I do not have enough information to provide a guesstimate of his AF price) which would be a great bargain for a midfielder who has shown in the past that he can average 110+. His play style does fit the current game and Adelaide will benefit tremendously with his return. 

James Sicily

Sicily is one of the premium defenders in the competition and 2020 looked to be the season where he cemented himself as a legitimate premium defensive option averaging 108 before a season ending ACL injury in Round 12 has seen him miss the rest of 2020 and 2021. Priced at sub $450k it seems it looks like a repeat of 2020 where he had a down year in 2019 and started the year under-priced as a result. His greatest asset is his ability to intercept mark and distribute from the backline, while the Hawks have developed a plethora of options to rebound down back, Sicily still should be the number one option but just like Jordan Ridley he may have periods where he has to lockdown on the best forward and there will be times he gets freed up.

Wayne Milera

Milera is one of the most talented players at the Crows who has unfortunately missed all but two games in 2020 with a foot injury as well as rupturing his patella tendon this year in a trial game which has ruled him out for the whole of 2021. I’m not 100% sure what he will be priced at but he will be similarly priced to Jack Ziebell and Jarman Impey this year. While I do not think he will have the same scoring as those mid-pricers did this year, an average of 80+ isn’t out of the question. The Crows do need someone to run the ball out of defence after Rory Laird moved into the midfield and he could provide that support in 2021. He should keep his defender status for next year and should be entering his prime which could make for a nice bargain selection in 2022. 

Willie Rioli

This one is a bit of a weird one because based on his previous career averages he does not exactly scream out amazing scoring however he should be priced at just under $200k in SuperCoach which for a player who potentially has good job security and reasonable scoring output. He could be a lock for our forward lines come Round 1 in 2022. Even though his last games were in 2019, he averaged 92.5 in his last 6 games before his suspension. He will be eligible to play in the finals so if the Eagles manage to make the eight it could be a good audition for your team in 2022 if he is selected.

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