Every pre-season is the same for the salary-cappers – the Supercoach/Fantasy/Dreamteam games open (well before footy season starts these days) and between then and round 1, the incessant discourse surrounding the ‘bargain picks’ goes on ad nauseam. I speak of the hype generated for players who pique our interest as value picks due to a low price tag relative to their potential scoring output. These are the same guys who can be mistakenly reached for on draft day because of the aforementioned hype surrounding them.

The following from the 2021 season exemplify the type of player I’ll be writing about today:

  • Jordan Clark – probably dropped to the FA list after round 3.
  • Jackson Hately – I hope you didn’t reach for him, especially in a keeper/dynasty league.
  • Paddy Dow – LOL
  • Zac Williams – didn’t return value close to his ADP.
  • Dan Houston – didn’t ruin your season but underwhelmed overall.
  • Tom Phillips – what the heck happened here? Yuck.
  • Connor Rozee – he simply doesn’t have a fantasy friendly game yet. 

It must be said that some of the salary-hyped players do come to fruition, but keep the guys I just listed in mind as we go through the salary cap traps of 2022 – let’s get to it.

CAM RAYNER

Mock Draft ADP (UF): 99

Predicted Avg: 65/75-80 (AF/SC)

The ‘more mid-time’ talk has enamoured some salary cap players with Rayner this preseason, but I just don’t feel it. Here, we have a guy that has never averaged over 59/74 (AF/SC) and is coming off a significant knee injury. He strikes me as a player who will be better at actual footy than fantasy, similar to Cyril Rioli (this makes him more appealing in SC). I won’t be touching him around his current ADP, which probably means I won’t be drafting him this year. At that draft range, I’d prefer Tom Powell (ADP 102) or Jade Gresham (ADP 90). 

WAYNE MILERA

Mock Draft ADP (UF): 192

Predicted Avg: 70-75/75 (AF/SC)

He’s never played 20 games or more in 6 seasons and his highest averages have been 76.8 (AF) and 79.8 (SC). His current ADP is around the D5 range but I wouldn’t be drafting him under the presumption that he will be a reliable onfield contributor (based mostly on his nasty injury history). Heck, he doesn’t even seem to be guaranteed best 22 on a struggling Crows team with like-types such as Dawson, Seedsman, Smith and Sholl. Milera is fine as a disposable bench option but at his draft range I’d rather take Jack Sinclair (ADP 174), Kiedean Coleman (ADP 200 and has F status) or Jacob Weitering (ADP 197).

WILL BRODIE

Mock Draft ADP (UF): 133

Predicted Avg: 65-70/75 (AF/SC)

Yes, his performance in Freo’s recent practice match caught the eye, but here are 2 significant grains of salt you need to take with that game: Freo’s midfield absentees and the opposition he scored against (a harrowed West Coast side ostensibly bound for the bottom 4). 

Historically speaking, Brodie’s data does not inspire confidence, having not played more than 8 games in a career spanning 5 seasons. In 2019, he displayed some fantasy prowess, averaging 87 (AF) from 8 games, but outside of this, he has never averaged over 69 (AF). If he can find some time in the middle for Freo, he makes for a worthy forward target in later rounds, but he’s not worth reaching for in this drafter’s humble opinion. At his ADP range, you can also get forwards like Jeremy Cameron (ADP 135), Daniel Rioli (ADP 143) and Jack Gunston (ADP 150) – all guys with scoring upside and certainty in being best 22 when fit. 

ZAK BUTTERS

Mock Draft ADP (UF): 47

Predicted Avg: 80-85/90-95 (AF/SC)

I might get lynched for this one, as the fantasy community across both draft and salary codes just love this kid and trust me, I understand why! He’s a young gun with propitious fantasy capabilities and all sorts of upside – but can he turn this into fantasy scoring this season? 

Viewed as an underpriced forward premo in AF and SC, people are all about Butters this year and I’ve seen Butters go very early in some drafts. One could probably justify the pick, particularly if there is an early rush on forwards. I’m not saying to avoid him; I’m advising that you moderate your expectations for a guy that hasn’t truly broken out yet. His frenetic, crash-and-bash game style is cause for some concern (as we witnessed in 2021) and the Port midfield hasn’t exactly made way for a tremendous points-share to go his way (Boak, Wines, Drew, Amon, Houston and Rozee will all get theirs). If he does go early in your draft, you’ll have the likes of De Goey, Shai Bolton and Tarryn Thomas to take instead, as they sit around a similar ADP to Butters. 

MATT ROWELL

Mock Draft ADP (UF): 144

Predicted Avg: 85/90-95 (AF/SC)

We all know this guy’s story: an instantaneous fantasy jet who was struck down by injury immediately after his lift-off and ever since then, a collective infatuation with Rowell has developed amongst the wider fantasy community. I’ve seen him going in what I think is too early in drafts (he went at 94 in my home league, for eg.) because of his AF/SC bargain status, combined with the general romance of selecting the much-loved, Matt Rowell. The reality, however, is that his prospective scoring ability currently outweighs his previous scoring record and I’m happy to let someone else take a punt on his breakout. 

Rowell’s current ADP has him being drafted in a similar spot to mids like Prestia, Dylan Shiel, Zak Jones and James Worpel, all of whom I prefer to take in the rounds 12-15 range (that might change in an SC draft though, where I believe Rowell has higher value). 

BRAYDEN PREUSS

Mock Draft ADP (UF): 195

Predicted Avg: 75/90 (AF/SC)

I’ll keep this one brief – don’t view this guy as a dependable starting ruck this season (and don’t punt rucks thinking Preuss is the gold at the end of your draft rainbow). How GWS plan to deploy the Preuss/Flynn/Briggs trio is unclear and Preuss simply hasn’t displayed reliability/any form of consistency in the past. I might draft him as an R2 then leverage a ruck trade later in the season if he does end up scoring well, but that’s about all the interest I have in Preuss for season 2022.

95% OF SALARY RELEVANT ROOKIES

Don’t let the Traders, or Doctor SC, or the PodPod, or Supercoach Coach, or Jock Reynolds, or Supercoach Elites, or AF Hat Chat, or the Plus Six Podcast muddy your draft brain with the talking up of rookie players. 95% of rookies who get drafted are swiftly returned to the scrap heap because their name isn’t Matt Rowell. Ignore JHF, Daicos, Josh Sinn and Josh ward because when it comes to the draft paradigm, these guys are only relevant in keeper leagues and I don’t have the patience nor the interest in 17 year olds for that shit.

Experienced fantasy footy players know to not conflate the salary game with the draft game and the overarching message of this piece is that players have different valuations across the 2 formats. Now I’m not sure if I used the word valuation correctly there, but hopefully I did and that you get my point.

We are well and truly in draft szn now – get amongst it and at me on the tweet @lionelhutz4prez if you want some discussion!