Mock Draft Sim tool – https://mock.thedraftdoctors.com.au/home

The 2021 Draft Kit – https://thedraftdoctors.com.au/2021/02/03/the-draft-doctors-2021-draft-kit/

When rankings szn hits, everyone wants the ranks, and fair play. People love lists in general as it pits our favourites against someone else’s tastes. Confirmation bias results in us agreeing when things line up and posting ‘how dumb is this fuckstick’ in the Facebook comments when we disagree. The beauty of fantasy footy is that whilst we can have our list/ranks, we can line that up against ADP and work out where the best value is. And whilst most people want to know how late they can grab a breakout player (getting the best value), it can work the other way – getting the last player in a tier whilst loading up in other positions.

In #AFLFantasy and #SuperCoach, there’s a clear top 6 forwards up for grabs. They seem #elite before a steep decline after the top 20, so there’s a sense of needing to take one early. The gap between the top 6 isn’t as pronounced in SuperCoach, and mids don’t bat as deep in that format, so there is a bit of difference. It’s also harder to stream a decent score with AFL Fantasy forwards.

The interesting thing about these forwards is there’s a few issues floating around them, or at least things that could negatively impact them, resulting in a wider range of outcomes than we may perceive on the surface, thus changing the way we look at them on draft day.

Let’s take a look.

  1. Steele Sidebottom

Sidebottom is coming off a year that was odd, in that he was wandering streets in his Reg Grundy’s. Or maybe that’s normal, I don’t know, but for a guy who’s usually pretty good by foot, they let him down wandering out the wrong door. #allegedly.

Sidebottom averaged a BCV adjusted 113 AF ppg and 109 SC ppg. The AFL Fantasy mark is a career high, the SuperCoach has only been eclipsed once – in 2014. He did so in 9 games, so a few banger games and no real clunkers have him topping the AF list of forwards and 2nd in SuperCoach.

When we look at things, there’s a couple outliers – 3 really high tackle games. An 8 tackle performance and 2 six tackle efforts. Keep in mind the reduced game time and we can see Sidebottom has only bettered 8 tackles in a normal match once in the last 5 years.

These are career type numbers for the Pies star, in a smaller than usual sample size. The interesting thing about Sidebottom is that there have been key departures from Collingwood. Ball hog Adam Treloar and wingman Tom Phillips take about 50 disposals a game with them. Good news for those backing Sidebottom in.

The other side of the coin is that Collingwood may want to get some younger players blooded through the midfield. We know Sidebottom can play forward and wing as well as midfield, so a mix of roles could be on the cards. We could also consider his elite tank and ability to stay on the park with reduced interchange.

Sidebottom’s ADP on our Mock Draft Sim tool has him going at pick 7 in AF and 9 in SuperCoach as the top and 2nd forward off the board. I won’t lie – he doesn’t feel like great value going off the board that early. You 100% have to pair him with a captain choice level mid on the way back. If you’re captains off then maybe going Sidey and Laird would be a hell of a way to go early with the mid depth later.

It feels hard to not bite at the end of the first on Sidebottom. He likely doesn’t have much risk attached and it’s hard to see him falling off a cliff. There’s also no upside, which is maybe the issue. Be aware there’s some shade floating around at Sidebottom not being a great salary cap pick – this is the difference in draft – he doesn’t have to do what he did last year. If you get a 103 average in both formats, he’s not losing you your league. He isn’t winning it, either.

2. Patrick Dangerfield

Attended 66% of Geelong’s centre bounces in 2020, although he did tail off a little at the end of year in the amount per game. He enters 2021 as the first SuperCoach forward off the board at pick 8 and the second in AFL Fantasy, also at pick 8.

Dangerfield kind of was who he was in 2020. Durable as ever, he played every home and away game. He dropped a couple of fantasy points in both formats. Either way he was solid. And with forward status entering the year, he’s at the top of everyone’s draft boards.

And yet, the groin.

Reports are saying Dangerfield battled a sore groin in the Grand Final, which was a poor game by the Brownlow champ’s standards as he started forward and struggled for impact. Reports are also saying he’s saying he’s still battling the groin issue but should be fine for round one.

I’m out. I’m out. Screw you guys, I’m going home. I can’t get around anyone with groin issues at this stage of their career. Groins and calves. They don’t go away. They linger, they hang around like Touk Miller hangs around Dayne Zorko.

To be balanced, I’ll look at the positives. Adding Jeremy Cameron should be a good thing for Dangerfield’s midfield time – although, by looking at the CBAs, he had that already. This Geelong team is good because it’s good across the park, not because one bloke is propping it up. Is there upside? Well, he’s certainly averaged higher, but it would be some kind of renaissance to be returning to Brownlow form off a limited preseason post-30th birthday.

Can he return value? Sure. Let’s look at the opportunity cost though. If you choose Danger with the 8th pick in the draft, you’re possibly forgoing Oliver, Laird, Whitfield, Adams, etc.

Dangerfield will be fine when he’s out there, just that groin, man, I can’t get there at this price. Maybe in the second.

3. Josh Dunkley

Dunkley is the third forward off the board in AF (pick 14) and fourth in SuperCoach (21). I would argue he has the second highest upside of the top 6 forwards, but I don’t believe he’ll realise it. Let’s take a dive.

He averaged a BCV adjusted 96 in AF and 104 SC, a bit down from his banger 2019 where he pumped out 111 AF and 114 SC. Things have changed though. Libba is back going well in the guts. Bailey Smith has emerged. Bont is back in the middle and dominating. Dunkley is getting thrown in the ruck. The what now? Before he was the subject of trade innuendo, he was rucking for the Dogs on a part time basis. It seems crazy to me that you would throw an important mid into the ruck, but hey, Shaun Grigg and stuff.

The interesting thing about Dunkley is that he was injured early in the season, whilst Liberatore came back in and the midfield time was essentially handed over. Dunkley became the fifth option in the middle, whether it was ruck or on ball. The Bulldogs have since added star mid Adam Treloar, and whilst it mightn’t directly hurt him, it sure as hell doesn’t help him.

Where Dunkley blew up in 2020 was his tackle count. He averaged 6.1 per game, good for 4th in the league but also matched his 2019 output. To me, that’s a number that feels hard to sustain. He also won possessions at a more than 2:1 rate to his disposal count – if you’re not going to be inside mid, that’s a problem.

The interesting story to tell is that – why does Dunkley move out? Why isn’t it Bont, Bailey Smith, Libba? It’s a fair point to raise as we’ve seen Bont play forward well, Bailey Smith hasn’t got the tenure of others and Libba, well, yeah they’ve tried him elsewhere but he’s a mid. That doesn’t solve the problem of incoming Treloar and internal competition.

I think whilst Dunkley has upside, he’s also possibly spending a good chunk of time forward, or at least splitting time with a ball winning machine. Not great, Bob.

4. Rowan Marshall

I have no idea how the Pride of Portland put out the numbers he did for fantasy last year, but holy hell, that boy good.

Image result for this boy good meme

Dropping a BCV 96 AF and 103 SC average, Marshall did the bulk of his work at a forward with time in the ruck. When Ryder missed he got more hitouts. When Ryder played, he took more marks and kicked snags. The fact this bloke only just played his 50th game is mind boggling, he’s about as underrated as it gets.

He is however, going off the board early in drafts. Pick 18 and the fourth forward in AF and pick 16 (3rd FWD) in SuperCoach.

You could argue Marshall has upside in the sense Paddy Ryder is old as hell and tends to miss games. That’s totally fair, but the great part is it seems like he’s bulletproof by being able to score as a forward. His end to the year was great and Ryder was in the team.

It seems really hard to find any downside to Marshall. He’s been fine in the bad role and has upside in the good should Ryder go down. Could possibly be the best pick when you consider the risk/reward balance. If he was going 4 picks later, oh my goodness.

5. Dustin Martin

It’s hard to believe he can stand upright at this point he has that many medals hanging around his neck. Martin is the fifth forward off the board in both formats, at pick 19 (AF) and 24 (SC) respectively.

Martin was durable as ever, having never missed more than 2 home and away games in a season. His SuperCoach score about the same as usual, AF a few points back to 2018 levels of 92.

Is he a good pick? Is there a risk? He’s probably the safest forward there is, to be honest. He does turn 30 this year, but his injury history is as clean as it gets, he’s tag proof, scores in any role and is firing in the preseason. He also led Richmond for CBAs in 2020.

Martin doesn’t seem like he’s going to ballhog it up for fantasy sake at this point of his career having nothing left to prove, but hell, he ain’t going anywhere as he looks to build as the best player of the Richmond dynasty.

6. Dayne Zorko

Much has been said about the 6th forward off the board for fantasy drafts. Less mid time, Rayner szn, etc. The numbers don’t belie that, however. Zorko actually attended a higher percentage of centre bounces over the last five home and away games than during the rest of the 2020 season.

Zorko has essentially been around the 100 mark in both fantasy formats throughout his career, and to be honest, it’s hard to see that changing, bar injury.

Since 2013, he’s never missed 3 games in a season, he’s been one of the best tacklers (a sticky stat) and can only have relevance as a forward. To say he’s going to play more forward is something that could happen, but it’s a drive down narrative street, and it’s also something that he’s doing and still scoring well at. Lyons and Neale are the mainstays, and unless one of the younger brigade (Clug/Berry) pushes him out, it’s hard to see a big dropoff. And on Berry – he was the one to be getting less on ball time at the end of year – which feels odd, but the numbers are there.

As the last of the top tier forwards, Zorko feels like great value with his clean injury history and ability to score in his likely roles. Doesn’t have the upside of a Marshall or Dunkley though.