Colin Sylvia is bobbing up quite often in early Fanplanner teams: 47% of coaches own him!
The Fanplanner for 2015 has had a soft launch, since I haven’t quite tweaked the AFL Fantasy stuff yet so that hasn’t been released. It’s working, but not every price may be exactly correct – to the extent that any of them are, given the pricing rules seem to change every year.
Nevertheless, there are currently 95 completed Dream Teams in the Fanplanner database who haven’t opted out from the system I have built behind the scenes to collate numbers on player popularity. Thus we have a sample – with a relatively small sample size, admittedly – from which to figure out early trends for the 2015 fantasy season. For those who might get angry at me for publicising their smokie: I feel comfortable posting this info this early in the season, because things will change a lot as the preseason progresses so it doesn’t matter much right now.
Beau Waters is the most popular starting back, being in over 60% of sides, after news that he was set to rejoin regular preseason training off a shoulder reconstruction. Brendan Whitecross, Garrick Ibbotson and Paul Seedsman are other backs who missed most or all of 2015 due to injury and are now bobbing up in about a quarter of teams. Ricky Henderson is getting a bit of interest for much the same reason, though his job security has to be under question. Kristian Jaksch gets a bit of love, though that may change with news of his offseason setback. Around 10% of coaches are betting Sam Docherty continues to improve in 2015. Hugh Goddard is the most-picked starting Dream Team back rookie followed closely by Darcy Moore, then a gap to Sam Durdin and Jake Lever. Few rookies are starting in DT backlines this year, unlike previous years.
Joel Tippett is the main choice for fantasy backlines, with Harrison Wigg and Tom Lamb not far away, but there is no clear winner in popularity with a very even spread of names. Matthew Fuller and Dillon Vikio-Rainbow also bob up as draftees. Among established players returning from injury, Alex Johnson is starting in precisely zero backlines but he does appear on some of the benches, while the story is similar for Nathan Brown and Seb Tape.
Gary Ablett jnr is in almost three quarters of sides, which is a measure of how much he is loved even despite some mixed news on his preseason – especially comments by new coach Rodney Eade that his midfield time might be slashed to as low as 60% as he recovers from shoulder surgery. Of course, experienced fantasy coaches know that this sort of thing has been said many preseasons before about GAJ, yet he always seems to get his midfield rotations. By comparison, Tom Rockliff is in only 57% of DTs after his massive 2014 left him at a rather intimidating price. The second most popular starting mid is in fact Daniel Rich at 64%, who like Nathan van Berlo and Scott Selwood had an injury-riddled year and is underpriced as a result. By far the most popular starting rookie mid is Christian Petracca, with Angus Brayshaw and Nathan Freeman also prominent but then it drops away.
The mid bench is populated predominantly by fringe players and/or those recovering from injury. Anthony Morabito, Patrick Karnezis, Jed Anderson and Colin Sylvia all feature. Among the draftees, the most common name is Isaac Heeney, with a bunch of names further back like Connon Blakely, Billy Stretch, Liam Duggan and Jack Steele.
The starting rucks are perhaps surprisingly consistent: Matthew Leuenberger and Matthew Kreuzer are both in 60% or more of sides. Not much love for Stefan Martin at only 7% ownership. On the bench, it’s Jonathon Griffin as the consensus R3, with Fraser Thurlow most popular at R4.
Starting forwards are overwhelmingly populated with premiums with Dustin Martin, Robbie Gray, Patrick Dangerfield and Lance Franklin as the top four. Mitchell Clark is the most numerous midpricer, who along with Tim Membrey and Jeff Garlett is evidently expected to have a better year at a new club. Sylvia bobs up again here to make it a total of 47% ownership, which is perhaps the most surprising number of all from these lists given how abject his 2014 looked. Michael Walters and Ben Reid head up the popularity list of forwards returning from injury, though neither has a great fantasy record.
Jesse Hogan and the aforementioned Clark are the most common combo on DT forward benches, with more Karnezis and Membrey mentions. There are a few appearances by Nick Kommer, Daniel Menzel and Robbie Tarrant as injury recoveries, plus Daniel Markworth and Mitch Honeychurch as other young blokes who could break out. Very few draftees are in these forward lists.