AFL Fantasy Expert Panel: Who are the starting locks for the 2022 season?

We understand. There’s a lot of experts professing that nailing your starting line-up is key. But who’s offering some actual tips, we hear you ask…? Don’t worry, we’ve got you sorted.

We’ve assembled our AFL Fantasy Expert Panel featuring 2020 winner Trent Sutcliffe, who thinks about the numbers behind score fluctuations like no other along with a few other of the shrewdest minds in the caper.

The other experts 2021 AFL Fantasy third-place finisher James Wilson @Lemon_DT, Honeyball writer Ethan Lee and Draft Doctors panelist and five-time AFL Fantasy top 100 finsiher Statesman @Statesman33.

You can read the full Expert Panel including their answers for fades, PODs, value defenders, value mids, value forwards and how they’re structure their ruck line (Gawndy or not?) in the HB mag for only $9.95 via this link.

HB: Thanks everyone, please let us know two locks for the 2022 AFL Fantasy season?

Trent Sutcliffe

TS: The locks in my side need to double as captaincy options. There is high turnover of top 10 midfielders each year but Tom Mitchell, who ranked fifth in 2021 is my midfield lock who can double as a captaincy choice. First, his price in comparison to Touk Miller and Jack Steele makes him a lock as he may score similar numbers. Mitchell’s start to 2021 was slow by his lofty pre-broken leg standards. However, his back end was the Mitchell of old: fit, high TOG, getting those cheap marks, and high CBAs.  He back ended his season with a last five average of 124 and second half of the season of 126.

My second lock in 2022 I want to come from my ruck line due to the uncertainty of the low value players. When I won in 2020, I started with Sam Jacobs and Sam Naismith, but quickly went to Max Gawn. This year, Brodie Grundy, from the top ruckmen looks the most likely to maintain an average that allows you place the captaincy on him. His base stats in 2021 were similar to his other years, except his TOG% has brought his overall average down. With a new coach, and possibly some of the other ruckmen percentages dropping to be closer to Grundy, at a minimum his 106 average should stay the same. 


ST: I’m also on Brodie Grundy – After a slightly disappointing season and lowest average for five years, he’s shed some weight to improve his running. The key to his scoring is the ability to get around the ground so we should see him get back to his career best and take back that number one mantle.

Lachie Neale – Let’s forget 2020, the shortened quarters and therefore TOG (time on ground) inflated his scores in his Brownlow year. In his five seasons prior he averaged 103.4 and missed only one game. Therefore, we have a potential top 10 midfielder at about 10 points underpriced. Great preseason means he is a lock.

James Wilson

JW: Nick Daicos – A high draft pick who was a huge accumulator in under-age footy and could’ve played for Collingwood last year. This guy has job security, scoring potential and the role. He could even pick up defender status in Round 6. Locked into my team since day one.

Jason Horne Francis – Number one draft pick for a reason; this guy can play. Arguably best on ground in a losing SANFL grand final team last year, he’s shown he can cut it with the big boys and score well. Job security is huge and his scoring should improve as the season goes on. Forward status in Round 6 is the cherry on top.

Ethan Lee

EL: Tom Mitchell – The proven Fantasy pig who just knows how to win the footy, lays plenty of tackles and can even hit the scoreboard at times. This is what made him so prolific over 2017 and 2018 where he averaged 127.2 and 129.2. After breaking his leg in 2019 he had a few down years averaging 86.2 (scaled to 107.75 with full quarters) and 115.6 last year. But what makes him a lock is his aforementioned second half of 2021 season, where only two other players had an average better than him; Steele and Miller. There’s no reason he cannot go back to his 2017/2018 form and with all the talk that he’s at his fittest he’s ever been.

Brodie Grundy – People will point out he had a disappointing finish to 2021 this can be credited to his neck injury he sustained halfway through the year. Note, before that injury he was the number one ranked ruckman averaging 115.3 and that he and Gawn were by far the top two ranked rucks in AFL fantasy for the past four years with constant averages of 120, 122.1 in 2018 and 2019 before a few down years of 90.9 (scaled to 113.6 in 20-minute games) and 106.5. If he can make it through the season unscathed he’ll be the number one ruckman as after Gawn there’s a big drop off to someone like Rowan Marshall or Sean Darcy who averaged around 95 in their final 12 games of 2021. He is your go-to ruckman. Avoid the drama.

You can read the full Expert Panel including their answers for fades, PODs, value defenders, value mids, value forwards and how they’re structure their ruck line (Gawndy or not?) in the HB mag for only $9.95 via this link.

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