Honeyball’s community-voted 2021 AFL Fantasy awards: Value picks, flops, rooks & best players

As we check out of the 2021 AFL Fantasy season, we’ve got one final piece which may help your plans for 2022 as we reflect on the star players, rookies, value picks and, of course, the flops.

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When we say this may help for 2022, we mean it is helpful to reflect on your decisions and ponder which type of players delivered value, particularly those 50-50 decisions we were wrangling over in pre-season.

We’ve assembled a list of Honeyball award winners across a variety of categories, with AFL Fantasy only in mind.

Value Pick of the Year

Aaron Hall won the vote, starting at $583k and rising to a season-high $855k by Round 23. He ended the year with the equal-best average (109) for a forward, and his DPP status was super helpful.

Hall won convincingly from Isaac Cumming who rose almost $300k and delivered five 100+ scores. Sean Darcy and Nathan Hind both were good options while Jordan de Goey stormed home after a poor start and Brayden Fiorini was excellent at the back end.

Rookie of the Year

James Jordon is a clear winner of this gong, attracting two thirds of the vote. Jordon hardly put a foot wrong all year, delivering value, durability and points which is pretty rare in a rookie. His final price and average ($418k and 70) was hindered by a brief sub appearance in Round 20.

Matthew Flynn was a popular early R2/R3 choice who grew significantly in value, while Errol Gulden played more regularly early and flew out of the blocks. Lachie Bramble was a handy late season pick, marginally ahead of Jeremy Sharp.

Flop of the Year

Zac Williams gets the nod ahead of Carlton teammate Patrick Cripps, with the pair appearing good value in pre-season, but only frustrating owners throughout the year. Williams’ mooted midfield role made him enticing, even with a Round 1 suspension, but he only managed 14 games with one 100+ score, averaging 71.5 and going down $90k.

Cripps played most of the year but averaged only 81.8 for a player who seemed an under-priced premo which he wasn’t. Lachie Neale frustrated with injury not helping him, but it’s important to note his interrupted pre-season for next year’s plans.

Defender of the Year

Rory Laird was the obvious choice here, not missing a game, aver+ aging 115, having DPP status and scoring 100+ 11 times in a row to finish the season. He was a decent captain option too.

Ruckman of the Year

It wasn’t the best year for rucks but Max Gawn gets the nod ahead of Darcy, who was the value bigman pick. Gawn didn’t miss a game, averaging 109 (ahead of Grundy’s 107) and posting five 100+ scores in the first six rounds. But he wasn’t a reliable captain anymore and dropped in price a lot.

Forward of the Year

Aaron Hall, who was also a defender, wins with almost half the vote, despite an average equal to Dayne Zorko. Hall wins it given his aforementioned value. The Kangaroo did not play in Round 1 meaning he wasn’t popular initially. He also had injury-induced scores of 11 and 35 early, meaning he was super cheap and most coaches wisely jumped on.

Midfielder of the Year

This award in essence is the AFL Fantasy Player of the Year, or the Dane Swan Medal, given how well mids score comparatively. Jack Steele wins comfortably with more than half the vote, ahead of surprise packet Touk Miller.

Steele finished with the most total points in AFL Fantasy this season (2670), ahead of the underrated Jarryd Lyons (2576). The Saint had the second best average (120) behind Miller (121) who missed a game to suspension. Only 16% of coaches actually owned Steele at season’s end compared to 40% owned Jack Macrae.

Finally in terms of quantitative awards, Bramble had the highest overall price rise across the season, going up $336k, although a few other rookies dropped off late. Miles Bergman, Gulden and Flynn were also in the top five for overall growth, so that’s important to note for next season when comparing rookies to mid-pricers. Kangas trio Tarryn Thomas, Ben Cunnington and Hall were all up there as mid-pricers.

On the flipside, Marc Murphy (-$307k) had the biggest price drop due to injury and role, along with Lachie Hunter (-$292k) who seemed over-priced in pre-season especially with uncertainty over his role in a stacked Dogs midfield. Injuries impacted Jarryd Berry, Michael Walters and Neale who all leaked cash.

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