So, we had an interesting question come through from on the Twitters to our account @thedraftdoctors today (which, please, we love interactions with peoples). And our listener asked about our thoughts on whether Christian Petracca would be a top 6 forward for SuperCoach in 2018. And personally, I think it raises an interesting discussion point, and that is – range of outcomes. One of the most interesting things about fantasy footy is that players can change position, in terms of role, fantasy status and real life footy status. This isn’t the case in the NFL, and in most fantasy situations like the NBA or MLB. It’s not like Mike Trout is going to be pitching in relief anytime soon. However, the variance is one thing I love about fantasy footy and #attempting to predict.

Before we look at Petracca, let’s look at a case from last year. James Sicily. Was an AFL/VFL tweener trying to make it as a forward. At the start of the season, was irrelevant on our draft boards. However, a move to defence saw Sicily become a fantasy stud over the second half of the season. So the question is – where was this in his range of outcomes at the start of the year? I would say almost non-existant, given Roughead has switched back in the past and it took Hawthorn having bad luck with a couple of key defender injuries before a move was made. In fact, regular defender Taylor Duryea was moved forward at the same point in the season! Completely unpredictable. Which is why I mentioned on our Tips and Tricks podcast – we’re not as smart as we think we are. Those late round picks, we call them lottery tickets for a reason. They’re hard to hit on.

Anyway, back to Petracca. Now, what do we know? He’s a high draft pick, so good talent and pedigree. He’s had injuries and missed time. He finally was fit, did a preseason in 2017 and put together a solid sophomore season. He’s got a high ceiling. He’s got talent. We also know his tank needs work and it may be a slow build for him to become a regular member of Melbourne’s midfield brigade. So let’s look at what the outcomes could possibly be:

1 – gets injured. Every player has this. Some the risk is greater than others.

2 – regresses. For whatever reason, he’s parked forward, Melbourne don’t deliver.

3 – maintains. Does what he did last year, but playing his role in real life, helping the Dees.

4 – improves. Gets more midfield time/stays forward but Melbourne’s improvement benefits him, leading to more score involvements and goals.

5 – beasts it – Get full midfield time. Has built the tank/Melbourne suffers midfield injuries – Petracca goes HAM.

6 – gives a good average but sometimes get midfield minutes, sometimes doesn’t. This one sucks because it’s boom/bust and you have to wear it.

So when we’re looking at these options (and I’m sure you can think of more), it’s important to know which is most likely and build that case in your ranks. Personally, I think it’s most likely he is in the number 4 category. I’m expecting improvement, but I’m certainly not placing him in the Robbie Gray category just yet. But would I be shocked if he blew up and had a top 10 forward year? Of course not, I just don’t think it’s likely. But I build my ranks to reflect what I think is likely and if they miss, they miss. I’ll wear that. I’ve taken into account as much data as I can and build out my ranks. If you disagree (and you should!) that will be reflected in your own ranks. Just make sure you have sound reasoning behind why players are ranked where they are.

So let’s look at another candidate who could have mixed results. Rory Lobb. I’m blown away by how little #Lobblove I see from fantasy experts regarding Lobb, because it means I should get some value on him in a draft. I’ve got Lobb ranked as THE F6 at this stage. I see him being GWS’s solo ruck, with chopouts from Patton, and a massive average to boot. Now, is this the only thing that can happen? Of course not. If Lobb maintains the same role we’ve seen for the last couple of seasons, then that’s a baaaad rank. But, with Mumford gone, Simpson being Simpson and Lobb’s sample size from the finals as solo ruck, I”m ready to push my chips in. It just makes sense. But can this blow up? Of course. Could Lobb burn out as solo ruck? Of course. But could he also be THE F1 in fantasy this year? Of course.

If you’ve been listening to the podcast (and if you’re here, I hope you have been!), you’ll know I poo-pooed Jonno for listing Paddy Ryder as his top ruck and top 30 ranking. Whilst I stand by the poo-pooing of the rank, I think I’ve been harsh. The more I think about it, I don’t hate the idea of predicting that Ryder is the top ruck come season’s end. Kreuzer, Gawn, NicNat all have checkered injury pasts. Grundy has Cox to deal with, Goldstein has Preuss. And just because you rank someone in the top 30 doesn’t mean that’s where you have to draft them. You can work out ADP’s, on draft day look at who’s gone and who’s still available, there’s still wiggle room. I don’t have Ryder ranked that way, but I get it.

At the end of the day, the question comes back to one point: what do you think is going to happen this year? Make your cases for, against, and rank appropriately. Be humble when you hit and accepting when you miss.

Just kidding, destroy your league mates when you hit.