If you’ve stepped into the Twittersphere in the past couple of days, you’ll have noticed a swag of opinions and early teams being posted by the rapscallions of the salary cap fantasy footy community. And if you’ve noticed a team containing so much as ONE #midpricer, you’ll have noticed no less than forty-seven thousand people tell them #midpricers are a trap. And maybe they are. I don’t know, and frankly, I don’t want to know. Because salary cap teams are like single people in this analogy, and draft teams are families. And if you’re still following along – yes, mid-pricers are crackers. We need them in our teams. The breakouts, the streamers, the upside. We need to hit on these players through the middle to late rounds of our draft to vault ourselves out of a tie with Table Time and Allied Biscuit and back to the top of the standings. So let’s look at a few.
SAM JACOBS – RUCK
Your best ability is your availability. It also helps if you consistently produce great fantasy scores. These things are right in Sam Jacobs wheelhouse as he enters another season on the back of another 22 game season where he finished with the fourth best DT ruck average and the 6th best SC ruck average. He was one of only three rucks to play every game, and has played at least 20 games every season since 2012. That’s durable, my friends, especially for a ruckman. There’s no reason to think much will change for Jacobs. He registered his best ever hitout numbers, so they may drop, or that may be what we can expect going forward with the death of the third man up. Unlike other rucks, he isn’t facing competition from a younger model, nor is he returning from injury. Never talked about, never the first ruck off the board, Jacobs looks set to provide an owner with a great draft day value.
RHYS MATHIESON – FORWARD/MID
With Tom Rockliff gone from the Brisbane midfield, there’s certainly opportunity for someone to step up. I like taking a punt on Mathieson. We know he loves the inside game, averaging more contested possessions than uncontested over his 24 match career and more than three clearances per game (and loves getting his head ripped off ala Jelwood). Heading into his third season, Mathieson certainly has the potential to breakout. Already with back to back seasons averaging at least 70 in both formats, Mathieson has the can step up with more game time and more responsibility. The reason he’s able to be selected is obviously the forward status, as he only needs to increase his points by a dozen to be a valuable asset in draft leagues.
JESSE HOGAN – FORWARD
Longtime fans of the pod will know of my love/hate relationship with Melbourne’s third best key forward, but I’ve turned into a staunch fan over the last couple of years and find it bewildering that he isn’t being talked up more heading into 2018. Things couldn’t have gone much worse for Hogan last year and still managed to average 70 in both formats despite two scores being seriously injury affected. The breakout is absolutely coming for this bloke. Let’s look at Hogan compared to one of his contemporaries after 51 games, which is the amount Hogan has played. He’s knocked out 9 DT tons and 14 SC tons in that span, compared to this other player’s 5 DT and 10 SC. He’s scored more fantasy points, and in real life, kicked more goals. That other player was on everyone’s radar heading into 2008 on the back of a huge 2nd half of 2007 and duly exploded. I’m not saying that Jesse Hogan is as good as Buddy Franklin (the player referenced), nor should we expect 96 DT and 107 SC coming up, but we should expect a serious breakout. Fantasy players often look at the back halves to gauge a player’s breakout the following year, and Hogan is going so far under the radar due to public perception and back luck the previous season. A massive value on draft day.
SHANE SAVAGE – DEFENDER
Speaking of big second halves to end the season, how about Shane Savage? Just a lazy 91 DT and 100 SC over the last eight games of 2017, revelling in a rebounding half back role. We know Leigh Montagna’s retired, so there’s certainly room for someone to seagull around back there for the Saints. Savage’s hot fantasy form coincided with a lull from Newnes and Roberton, so there’s clearly room for all three in the side, but I expect to see Savage get drafted (in most leagues) after Roberton and in Ultimate Footy leagues behind both (where Newnes has D status). Will Savage automatically return to this role in 2018? Some would argue no, but I find it hard to believe he won’t. Definite preseason watch, Savage is cutting a slimmer figure being one of the Saints to shed some kilos. Massive upside makes him someone you should be looking at ahead of your draft.
SAM PETREVSKI-SETON – FORWARD/MID
Always the sophomore season players that get ignored, isn’t it? And fair enough, as it’s generally a third year breakout that happens. There are outliers though. Clayton Oliver. Jack Macrae. Is SPS talented enough to join the club? My money says yes. Now, I’m not talking about a 100 average, but an 85 average as a forward is pretty damn handy and he’s shown the ceiling I love to look for. Three SC tons with a high of 134, to go along with a DT ton is fantastic. Disposals, goals, marks and tackles (ten in a game – twice!) give this guy the ability to build a score in any role. With midfield time up for grabs behind Murphy, Cripps and Ed Curnow, I have to believe that SPS will be getting in there given his form and the fact the Blues spend pick 6 on him for a reason. An average in the mid 80s is what I’m looking for from this lottery ticket.
CALLUM MILLS – DEFENDER
Perception is a funny thing, as I wrote about with Jesse Hogan. Last year, Callum Mills was the new hotness. Came in as a rookie in 2016, delivered really solid numbers and was expected to take the next leap in his second season. Only it never happened. He simply backed up his 2016 numbers and repeated (if we take away the game he was knocked out early in). So instead of heading into 2018 high on Mills, many coaches are wary having just had their fingers burnt by Mills. Historically though, the third season is where the breakout occurs. For a player to repeat those averages as a defender and punch out 46 games in their first 2 seasons is quite remarkable. Mills obviously has the chops to move into the midfield, though whether that occurs or not is debatable. However, there is room for him to grow into a low 80s averaging defender this season. If the mid time happens, bonus. Either way, you’ll get him later in this season’s drafts than last year’s.