The most durable top picks: How much weight to place on durability in AFL Fantasy

Players that don’t miss any games. Are they a safer bet for season long fantasy? When weighing up your starting AFL Fantasy side, there’s a range of factors to consider, but how much weight do we put on durability.

Author: Dale Clohesy @DPC888


Let’s say you want to start your backline and you think to yourself, ‘who are the players that I want in my team?’ Do I want reliable, players who play every game? Is that an attribute that I want? Or do I want players with a potential higher scoring capacity, but downside of not playing every game?

Every player has their own pros and cons. Let’s look at consistency. When you miss games in fantasy it is a big deal. Especially if you want to win a car or a hat. If you are just going for a league win, playing draft, or just playing for fun, then it probably wouldn’t matter as much. It will still matter. But in Classic you have to trade them out, even if it is a one-week injury. 

Most people reading this are going for some high-achieving-glory. Having a player that has in the past played basically every game, can be a very big selling point if you are choosing between two players.

Usually the forward and defenders can have some midfielders that are added in year by year because they were possibly injured the previous season and when they returned to the team they played out of position in the forward or defensive end of the ground and whereby have gained another position. There could be upside in those players, but there is potential risk with the chance of an injury reoccurrence a real possibility. Depending on the injury type of course.


Of the top 10 ranked defenders, only three played all 22 games last season; Crisp, Rich and Short. There were 21 games for Lloyd and Ziebell, 20 for Hall and Stewart. You can all this in the below table.

Also let’s get a gauge of where those currently top 10 defenders sit in terms of games played in the last three seasons. Not all missed games are injury related. But for most players it would’ve been. A potential 61 games in the last three years in the H&A season due to the 17 in 2020.

Player2021 GamesGames in past 3 seasons
Jack Crisp 2261
Jake Lloyd2160
Daniel Rich2257
Tom Stewart2056
Jayden Short2251
Jack Ziebell2151
Lachie Whitfield1548
Aaron Hall2041
Dyson Heppell1838
Sam Docherty1430

So Crisp, Lloyd, Rich and Stewart have been the most consistent over the last few years. Good scores and play most game. While some would say that Whitfield and Hall could be the highest averaging players over this year, they don’t come without the potential of not playing every game though. What do you choose? Some say you have to risk it to get the biscuit. Would you pick a risky player in every line? How many is too many?


Let’s jump to the midfielders. The top 15 have been done in this line. The first number will be how many games they played last year, the second number will be how many games out of the last 3 years (61 games).

Player2021 GamesGames in past 3 seasons
Rory Laird2261
Jarryd Lyons2261
Jackson Macrae2261
Christian Petracca2261
Sam Walsh2261
Clayton Oliver2261
Zach Merrett2260
Jack Steele2259
Dayne Zorko2057
Touk Miller2156
Cam Guthrie2055
Callum Mills1855
Ollie Wines2249
Ben Keays2240
Tom Mitchell2239

One thing I really notice about the midfielders is that the top scoring ones are generally fit and play most games. So many of the top 15 from last year’s averages play a majority of the games. Do you load up more with midfielders because of this?

There are players in the midfield that do have the high scoring potential as well.


I am only going to do the top 8 for here. No rhyme or reason really. I figured less rucks on the ground compared to other positions, but I’d still like to see the numbers.

Player2021 GamesGames in past 3 seasons
Todd Golstein2261
Brodie Grundy2059
Max Gawn2257
Reilly O’Brien2055
Rowan Marshall1350
Scott Lycett1849
Sean Darcy2147
Jarrod Witts342

The rucks are a little less dependable. Though the top two don’t miss many matches at all. The others all have a few games out here and there. Nothing major. The high scoring of Darcy and Marshall v the great scores of Grundy and Gawn and their consistency of playing more matches. Do you go set and forget in the rucks, or chase some value and hope for a breakout.


Like the defenders, there are lots of players who are in here as they have been midfielders in the past.  But, due to injury they have had some lower averages and were eased back into games getting more forward time. I expect low games last year and over the last three years possibly as well. Let’s see.

Player2021 GamesGames in past 3 seasons
Tim Taranto2255
Dustin Martin1652
Steele Sidebottom2151
Mitch Duncan1048
Chad Wingard1647
Tarryn Thomas2147
Toby Greene1746
Jordan De Goey2044
Jaidyn Stephenson1943
Adam Treloar1343

Consistency isn’t something you could say about the forwards. Taranto and Duncan could be huge this year, but Duncan is likely to miss games, based purely on history and the fact he has been injured this pre-season already.

I wasn’t expecting those overall numbers out of 61 to be so low for the forwards. Only three players played 50 out of the last 61 games. Where as the top ten defenders had 6 out of 10 over 50 games in the last three years. Of the top 10 midfielders 8 have played more than 50 out of the last 61 games. Big difference, especially compared to the forwards. In the rucks, I checked the next two on averages to make it out of the top 10 for rucks as well. Five of the top ten have played over 50 games in the last three years.

Read into that what you will. Do you get more value out of the forwards, but they will be riskier as they also miss so many games generally?

So many questions. As a strategy do you pick the consistent players in the other lines and go risky in the forward line. There probably isn’t a right option. It will be what suits each team and strategy. But, it as always makes the fantasy game incredibly exciting.

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