The Forgotten Men: Five points of difference for your AFL Fantasy side
Looking for a point of difference this season? Most players are. The Jack Steele’s, Brodie Grundy’s and Jack Macrae’s of the world are the immediate eye catchers of any coach, but the difference between a ‘good’, ‘great’ and ‘perfect’ Fantasy season rests with the ‘Forgotten Men’ of Fantasy.
Author: Dylan Evans
These are usually your last 6-8 selections. The players you try to sandwich into a salary cap that you think is getting smaller each year, but in reality it’s more likely that you’ve splurged a little heavily at the top end.
Let’s have a look at five of these Forgotten Men and the case for why they should be included in your side come Round 1.
Luke Jackson (AF $520k RUC/FWD)
5.64% Ownership (AFL Fantasy)
After exploding onto the scene in 2021 and winning the Rising Star award, ‘Forgotten Man’ probably isn’t the right term for Jackson. But with relatively low ownership across the board, particularly in comparison to popular choices in Grundy, Gawn, Darcy and Witts, Jackson is an affordable DPP option with tremendous upside. Whispers out of Melbourne are that Gawn, as he did at times last year, will play slightly more forward to stay fresh for what should be another push for a flag in September, leaving prime ruck time for the talented Jackson to increase on his 62 average in 2021. A natural athlete who can get up and down the ground, combined with more ruck opportunities and the ability to kick the occasional goal, don’t be surprised to see Jackson take a fantasy leap in year 2 and improve that average 70-75 range. With a breakeven price of 62, Jackson can bring in some desperately needed extra dollars during the early rounds and be the ruckman you require when you’re not willing to spend on a premo option.
Justin McInerney (AF $583k DEF/MID)
1.97% Ownership (AFL Fantasy)
What might look like a hefty price tag from the outset carries the opportunity for consistent Fantasy scores from a player that began hitting his straps at the back end of 2021. McInerney solidified his role in Sydney’s best 22 on the wing and had career best disposal and fantasy numbers. J-Mac, as he’s affectionately known, had a vastly improved second half of the year, averaging 75 from his last 11 games, with two scores of 100+. He also comes with the ever valuable DPP tag and has been flagged by teammates as taking up a run off half back option in 2022. With an alleged perfect pre-season under his belt, McInerney is definitely someone worth considering as a potential 75-80+ avg candidate for season 2022
Harry Schoenberg (AF $582k MID)
1.4% Ownership (AFL Fantasy)
Third year break out alert! It’s cliché, but Harry fits the notion of the third year break out player perfectly. With extended midfield time in 2021, Schoenberg became an important cog in the improving Adelaide engine room, increasing his disposal numbers from 14.8 in Rounds 1-6 to 23.3 in Rounds 18-23. Queries around how Matt Crouch’s return may impact Schoenberg’s role have been alleviated by coaches and teammates in the off-season who have stated that he will be play an important role within that midfield group, perhaps taking the place of an ageing Rory Sloane who is tipped to play more at half forward in 2022. A modest average of 69.4 in 2021, due to some early low key performances, looks set to be smashed this year, and the ‘select’ button can not be clicked quick enough.
Jake Waterman (AF $554k FWD)
0.18% Ownership (AFL Fantasy)
Any mid $550k priced forward leaves me on the nervous side, but the stars appear to be aligning for Waterman in what is increasingly looking like a depleted West Coast Eagles forward line. Waterman had his best Fantasy season in 2021, averaging 66.1 overall, including two scores in Round 19 and 20 of 90+. With the likes of Cripps, Allen and Darling looking extremely unlikely for Round 1 and even beyond, Waterman is all but assured of selection and extended game time for the early period of the year. During West Coast’s intraclub match last week, Waterman kicked three and impressed coaches. Consistency is the key for this often sporadic player and if found, could be a point of difference in your side.
Ed Langdon (AF $714k MID)
0.31% Ownership (AFL Fantasy)
Chalk and cheese comes to mind when comparing the first and second half of Langdon’s 2021. Rounds 1-11 saw the Premiership wingman average an impressive 93.5, before having a fadeout during the second half to mediocre 75.8. At times between rounds 12-22, it appeared that Melbourne preferred to play down the opposite wing to Langdon, which resulted in his fantasy decline. The second half of the year will have done a bit to scare most off selecting the medium-high priced wingman, however, strong showings in Round 22 (122 against Adelaide) and the Qualifying Final (88 against Brisbane), while also heading into the prime years of his career leaves me confident that Ed can turn it around in the early part of 2022, and at the very worst be a quick cash injection option should he start the season like he did in 2021.