By Nick Westerman

In Dozen Deals we use BUY, SELL, HOLD, ADD, or DROP. This is based on a 10 team 22 player roster. BUY, SELL, HOLD, and DROP will apply to players that are generally owned, while ADD will cover players you may find on the waiver wire or as a free agent. 

Picking a breakout player in the first round or two can make or break your season. If you snagged Nick Hind or Jack Ziebell off the waiver wire last year, you were laughing all the way to the finals. The hard part is to try to figure out which players are breakout candidates, and which are the next Jordan Clark from 2021. One of the best ways to sort the studs from the spuds is to look closer at where the points are coming from. If a player averaged 14 possessions and 2 tackles last year and in round 1 gets 14 possessions and 11 tackles, their score might look great, but it could well be unsustainable. A significant change in role combined in an increase in possessions and point scoring in multiple categories could indicate a real breakout gem!

Buy: Jarryd Lyons

People are dark on a vanilla picks but let’s be honest, whilst a Panna Cotta with Fig Jam and Amaretti biscuit flavoured ice-cream may sound delicious, you certainly wouldn’t want that each week! Ok, I may be reaching a little with that metaphor, but my point is valid. Whilst not a big name, this guy is a fantasy jet. He never misses a game, has a ceiling, and doesn’t get tagged. Against one of the toughest teams in the comp in Port, he attended plenty of CBAs and looked better as the game went on, eking out 83 points. ‘But Lachie Neale is back’ I hear you yelling! Well with Neale last year, he only regressed by 1.4 points per game. Even if we are overly cautious and assume he goes backwards by 10 points this year, he’s still a 107 point mid, which ranks him 15th, or as an M2. Where he represents value, is that I think a lot of owners will part with him for M4 prices because he’s not a sexy name and didn’t go big in round 1. Whilst everyone else is feeling sick from all their inner Melbourne hipster ice cream picks, you can sit back and enjoy your delicious vanilla milkshake (which we all know is really the best flavour!) 

Buy: Tim English

Are you one of the many coaches this year who’s got major ruck issues? Do you lose sleep at night like me, worrying that a stiff breeze will blow over Sean Darcy? If you answered yes, then trading for Tim English could be a winning strategy. Back up rucks are thin on the ground this year, which is made worse by clubs rolling with a two-ruck strategy, limiting the scoring of both.  Because of this, Tim English represents the answer to our fantasy prayers. His natural progression and continued time in the gym means that his scoring is likely to improve again this year. With Stef Martin now needing a walking frame to get on the field, English will play a bigger role around the ground. Hopefully for owners like myself, it all means Timmy will be pushing up towards the nineties. Even if his scoring stagnates, the flexibility he offers you as a ruck/forward is invaluable. If you pick up a ruck injury, English slides into your ruck spot, and you have the option of using forward emergencies and waivers to cover him, instead of having to use someone like Darcy Fort or Lloyd Meek (yuck). 

Buy: Tom Green

If you’re in need of a mid, Tom Green has come out of nowhere. He’s a contested beast, who’s lack of any outside game is offset by just how good he is on the inside. In the past 2 years, this has made him unplayable, as the Giants have so many midfield options, they haven’t needed to hold multiple one-dimensional players in their midfield. Now though, he seems to have overtaken Jacob Hopper and grabbed his new role with both hands. This pick is a little speculative, but if you wait too long, he might be out of reach. If your backline or forwards are stacked, make an offer before it’s too late. 

Hold: Jack Graham 

This may sound a little biased, but as someone who jumped on the Jack Graham bandwagon, there is no way I’d be dropping him, especially with that all important forward status. Whilst I became increasingly nervous with every day that passed without him joining in more than a pre-season stroll around punt road oval. He played in round one (Halleluiah), but was on managed minutes. Despite this, forwards are thin on the ground, and his upside still represents enough value to hold onto him. With Prestia out and Graham’s fitness steadily improving, I’m expecting to see a solid bump in his scoring. Remember, he only needs to increase his scoring from last year by 3 points and he becomes a top 10 forward. Keep the faith!

Hold: Taylor Adams

I could have written this paragraph about almost any underperforming premium from the first week. Mills, Crisp, Adams… the list goes on. Think of your top picks like blue chip shares. Don’t pay too much attention to the small ups and downs, and instead wait for those sweet, sweet, dividends (the premiership cup). Don’t be the person that panics and sells too early, having to watch from the sidelines as Taylor Adams goes on an inevitable tear. He’s still the big dog in the pies midfield. Remember, last year in round 1 Jack Steele scored 80 and Touk Miller only managed 68 and they went on to be the two highest scoring players in the comp. There’s also no point in trading your under performing premiums at this stage, as you won’t get any value for them. Hold, and trust that they’ll bounce back to be the superstars they are. I have Adams as my M2 and can’t wait for next week. 

Sell: Jack Lukosius  

Lukosius had a breakout year last year and when he’s streaming from the half back line towards the wings, looks to be a fantasy stud. Unfortunately for him and the Suns, he’s stuck in the forward line this season, which means that his scoring is going to be severely impacted.  This would be OK if he could gain forward status, but even worse for fantasy coaches is that he is already listed as a dual defender and midfielder.  That means he can’t gain forward status this year to make it worth holding him. Look out for him as a handy forward option next year. For this season, do a deal and get him off your list. 

Sell: Matt Kennedy

This will be a controversial call but consider selling Matt Kennedy while his value is at an all-time high. Well done on your great investment on a speculative pick. Now it’s time to take your profits and move to an island in the Caribbean.  Kennedy is finally playing the role he was destined for, inside mid. He looks to be in Michael Voss’ good books and should score well at least until Walsh comes back, and possibly for the rest of the year, given the dominance of his round one showing. The thing is, for most people, Kennedy was a pre-season free agent pick up, or a late round pick for your bench. If that’s the case, selling him for a premium defender or forward won’t change your team’s structure. It might however give you the chance to cover a defence led by an injured Christian Salem or a forward line with the disappointing Tarryn Thomas at F1.  I want to be clear, if you’re in need of mids, keep him and enjoy the scores. If you need a gun position player though, this could be your chance to snag a premo without losing your M1 or M2!

Add: Alex Neal-Bullen

Every now and then, a gold nugget floats down the waiver river…and this guy isn’t it. He’s not a sexy pick, but boy is he consistent, which is exactly what you want to find on the waiver wire to cover your injuries or risky picks (I’m looking at you Jack Graham). He averaged 71 last year, including an injury hit game of 24. That places him as an F3-4 and yet in plenty of leagues he’s undrafted. If he’s on your waiver wire, grab him with both hands, put the big E on him with confidence, and bank the 60-80 points he gives you each week. 

Add: Dylan Moore

Last year, Champion Data copped a pasting from the football public for rating Dylan Moore as ‘elite’. It seemed absurd at the time, but playing a difficult high half forward role, Moore was in everything this week. He filled out plenty of stat columns too, taking 10 marks and laying 6 tackles. I wouldn’t expect a ton every week, but he’ll consistently hit 70 plus which is great for a forward.

Add: Changkuoth Jaith 

The Hawks love having the ball in CJ’s hands which means he has a reasonable floor to his scoring. Even if he doesn’t hit any great heights, he’s well worth a punt if you’re looking for some bench cover in defence. A great free agent choice. 

Drop: Paul Seedsman

When fit and firing, he averaged a healthy 95.6 last year, but it’s time to part ways with The Seed. I think most people by now are aware of his struggle with concussion symptoms over the off season, which means he has no real trade value. No timeframe has been put on his return, and even if he does get back, he has zero upside with Adelaide adding Dawson and having a list of talented youngsters they’re keen to get games into. You’re better off cutting your losses and taking advantage of early season waiver picks. Drop immediately. 

Drop: JPK

This one hurts as he’s one of my favourites, but moored in the Sydney backline, he looked like he had the turning circle of the Queen Mary. I know it’s hard to cut ties with players who used to be fantasy stars, but perspective is important. Last year, Kennedy played 21 games for an average of 88. That’s hardly rosterable in the first place. Now that he’s playing in a position he’s not really suited to, in a team with younger, faster players who’ve moved past him in the pecking order, it’s time to cut and run. He’s also no certainty to gain dual positions, as Jake Lloyd still has to come back. The waiver wire and free agent list is at it’s best early in the season. A big call like cutting JPK could set you up for the year.