With just two weeks until the first lot of mens’ AFL practice matches, it’s time again to get back to the drawing board and fire up for another year of SuperCoach.
To separate yourself from the rest, and soar above your work colleagues and family members that you secretly despise, you are no doubt going to need to make the big decisions that every great coach must make.
Here are five players that should feature in your starting 18 this season. Forget the doubters and the uncertainty around injuries and just get them in.
Jade Gresham (FWD/MID), St Kilda Saints ($299,000)
The “Gresh Prince” featured just three times last season for the Saints before rupturing his achilles. Heartbreaking for him, but mouthwatering for every coach, as he now sits at two thirds in price of what he should really be worth.
Gresham also struggled with ongoing back issues in 2020 and only managed to get on the park 11 times, whilst still maintaining an average of 81.5. Going slightly further back, in 2019 he missed just three games and pulled in a career best average of 84.5.
He has been able to complete a full pre-season up until now. Combine this with the increased midfield time and centre bounce attendances he was beginning to get before his injuries, you just cannot pass up on him at this price.
Despite this, he still only sits in 24 per cent of sides, making him a decent point of difference option for your forward line or midfield in 2022.Embed from Getty Images
Stephen Coniglio (FWD/MID), GWS Giants ($261,300)
This is an absolute no brainer.
Just five games for the Giants skipper in an injury ravaged year has made him the bargain of the season. Not much needs to be said on his scoring ability with his season total averages from the last four seasons where he played fifteen games or more in speak for themselves; 98.4, 101.2, 108.4, 105.9.
These are numbers that we shouldn’t even be allowed to dream about for a price like this. There is obvious cause for concern around his body and whether it will hold up again but at this price point you just have to take him.
Even if he only makes it until Round 5 and then breaks down, he will likely have surpassed the $350,000 mark. Throw in the lessened pressure of captaincy with Toby Greene and Jake Kelly stepping in to lighten the load and Coniglio could be the best value player the game has seen for years.Embed from Getty Images
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Josh Dunkley (FWD/MID), Western Bullldogs ($558,200)
Featuring already in 51 per cent of sides, the other 49 per cent, or at least 100,000 people are overlooking the very best forward option on offer in 2022.
Just 11 games managed in each of the last two seasons for Dunkley and the risk of another injury ravaged year is undeniable, but the upside is far too good to let that stop you from including him in your side.
A full season in 2019 saw Dunkley average 116.5 and had him among the very best players that year.
A common argument against him is that Luke Beveridge is known to make some questionable decisions about where he deploys many of his players including Dunkley, but his pre-injury 2021 scores show that he can find the points no matter where he plays; an average of 129 in the first six rounds last season before injury saw him out until Round 18. A must have in your team.Embed from Getty Images
Matt Crouch (MID), Adelaide Crows ($482,000)
After averaging 110.6 in 2020, Crouch ended the season worth north of $620,000. A favourite of many coaches, he was a well selected player heading into 2021 before a devastating ACL injury.
The year off was tough on him, but he is now back training and raring to go for round one. A significant reduction in price for this season gives this pick a real 2019 Zac Williams or 2020 Sam Docherty vibe.
A proven scorer who has been discarded to the bargain bin, ready to go big again. Only four per cent ownership at this point in time, making him the least selected player on this list, and a juicy point-of-difference player for your M6 spot.Embed from Getty Images
Zak Butters (FWD), PA ($443,600)
Entering his fourth season in the competition, Butters is ready to explode. A strong 87.7 average in 2020 from 15 matches had him set up for a huge 2021, but he was struck with a long-term injury just four weeks into his season, which included a monstrous 163.
His price point alone does not make him an absolute must-have, and he would be far more attractive at a flat $400,000, but a lack of other quality forward options this season combined with the likelihood of plenty of midfield minutes for Butters this season makes him hard not to take.
His ownership is a respectable 22 per cent of teams, but this still makes him a decent point-of-difference with three out of four coaches opting to not choose him.
If you think he will average mid-80s again, do not take him. But, if you have the faith that Butters could go mid-90s or better this season then he deserves a spot in your forward six.Embed from Getty Images
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