Conventional wisdom says that the third year is the one where most AFL players really hit their straps as senior contributors, but there are plenty of second-year players who deserve fantasy attention. Here’s a list of players who were drafted in the 2006 AFL National Draft or the 2006 AFL Rookie Draft who should be seriously considered for your fantasy teams.
10. Shaun Hampson. His fantasy stocks have drifted significantly after news of a knee endoscope revealing floating debris in his knee which is affecting his jumping leg, which is a shame because he has looked like a fine prospect this pre-season. His 74 in round 1 on the NAB Cup against Port inserted him onto fantasy ruck benches across the nation. He’s still a strong possibility, but not the lock that he was a fortnight ago.
9. Aaron Edwards. With Nathan Thompson not looking the goods in the Roos’ televised game – although admittedly he did kick 7.8 in the VFL on the weekend – Edwards has to come into consideration due to his modified role as a Riewoldt-like wide runner across half forward. You probably won’t pick him because he’s got less upside than Stuart Dew or Daniel Bradshaw at a higher price, but he’s a more solid pick than either of those two.
8. Clinton Jones. Jones may be used as a tagger and thus without a huge upside, but the Saints are going to need a stopper early in the season with Steven Baker missing the first five matches of 2008 due to suspension. Scores of 70, 53, 89 and 15 in the NAB Cup are enough to suggest he’ll deliver solid returns as a mid-price cash cow.
7. Jarryn Geary. From pick 58 in the 2006 rookie draft to a guaranteed spot in the Saints midfield to start 2008 is a big improvement for Geary. Coach Ross Lyon has said he will play in round 1, and NAB Cup scores of 57, 73 and 29 mean he’s excellent fantasy bench fodder.
6. David Armitage. Unlike Jones, Armitage is far more likely to retain his spot in the Saints engine room as the season goes on. His scores of 45, 80, 90 and 22 underline his top 10 draft position, notwithstanding his disappointing 2007. He’s also significantly less expensive than Jones. However, those scores in the NAB GF when the Crows played flooding, lock-down football and the Saints had their AAA midfield on the park are why none of the three Saints players are in the top 5.
5. Lachie Hansen. Even those who suffered at his hands last year from the Curse of the Snakebit have to be interested by Jess Sinclair anointing Hansen as his chosen stand-in while Sinclair recovers for a month or two from thumb injury. NAB scores of 52, 25 and 29 aren’t all that impressive, admittedly.
4. Josh Hill. After a 13 in the greasy conditions in Darwin Hill wasn’t being considered, but a 74 and then 84 in subsequent NAB Challenge games, as well as another two goals against Carlton on the weekend, have rekindled interest in the #61-drafted forward. There are still plenty of holes in the Dogs’ forward line so Hill will be given his chance.
3. Bachar Houli. Houli’s price is much more attractive in Super Coach than Dream Team, but nevertheless he deserves #3 spot due to his very impressive returns of 79 and 74 in the pre-season. The truism is that if you’re looking for a Dons youngster in your midfield this year, it’s Houli in SC and Dyson in DT.
2. Kurt Tippett. After round 1 everyone was on board the James Sellar bandwagon but that conveyance is now missing some wheels. The Tippett truck, meanwhile, is going full steam ahead after Tippett’s impressive NAB Cup grand final performance. The Crows forward line is one of the big enigmas of the pre-season, with every position up for grabs after last year’s top goalkicker Scott Welsh was traded away. Tippett will battle with Sellar, an injured Nick Gill, a frail Trent Hentschel and a geriatric-looking Brett Burton for top billing. He’s ahead of the pack for now.
1. Albert Proud. Even if you don’t like starting “rookies” (which Proud is in fantasy circles) in your 22, you have to consider Proud for your backs this year. A huge 107 in week 2 of the preseason around scores of 48 and 57, along with being named in the best again against the Swans this weekend, has his name firmly in the minds of fantasy coaches at a near-draftee price. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.