Bushel babies: Underhyped players for 2010

Some players just aren’t getting enough attention from fantasy coaches, if the FanFooty databases are anything to go by.

Similar to the overhyped players post a couple of days ago, I have been looking through the teams in the Fanplanner and see a few names way down popularity charts who I think should be given more consideration by fantasy coaches.

The Unloved Premiums

Paul Duffield, Brad Symes, Kane Cornes, Leigh Montagna, Andrew Embley, Hamish McIntosh and Leon Davis are all almost non-existent in the list of popular players in the Fanplanner. A significant amount of coaches I know choose every player with upside in mind, even rolled gold premiums like most of these blokes are. I can see why those sort of coaches might look askance at these players. Duffield, Tags, H-Mac and Neon Leon have just gone through a big jump in average last year, so the thinking may be that their value the year after such a rise will not be nearly as undersold. I think there is still some upside left, particularly in Duffman. I am surprised at the lack of H-Mac love since he was so good to a lot of coaches last year, and the uncertainty over Dean Cox means that if you’re going with a two-premium strategy for your rucks, McIntosh should be right up there behind Aaron Sandilands as a safe pick.

Symes is an example of the sort of player who has teased us before but has dropped off the radar. Coaches who picked him up last year in the hope that the likes of Andrew McLeod and Tyson Edwards might take a back seat as their bodies age were disappointed to find these evergreen champions had at least one more good year left in them. Most coaches bypassed Shannon Hurn last year for much the same reason, but Hurn finally delivered on the promise he had shown for years with a start-worthy year of 22 full games. I still think Symes has 10 or more points of improvement left in him, and the old codgers might not last out the season.

Kornes and Embley have been reliable warhorses for fantasy coaches for years now, but this seems to be the year that they get the flick, judging by the numbers. Both have gone through role changes at their clubs, and will probably change again this year, with Kane mooted for forward rotations. You can bet that Chad Cornes settling at halfback means that he’ll be waxing a lot of rebound pill with his brother, nonetheless. Embley seems to be a spare parts man but with the advent of Bradd Dalziell to permanently take a wing, Embley may settle into the lucrative half back line, in the manner that Sam Mitchell did last year with sexy results.

The Maligned Mid-Pricers

Melbourne Demons Training Session

Bachar Houli, James Hawksley, Cale Morton, David Mackay, Chris Yarran, Ben Warren and Sam Wright are the mid-priced players that I think are underappreciated. Houli has been on the outer at Windy Hill for a while now, but the reports I have heard from the Essendon intra-club match were good and it seems Houli has pulled his head in and has the coach’s confidence again, for the moment. I have liked him as a SuperCoach specialist for a while now, and with the rise of Jobe Watson and Brent Prismall there is room for another inside midfielder at Bomberland who won’t get the tags. Hawksley is mooted for a back pocket role this year at the otherwise top-heavy Lions, and while he may not set any houses on fire he could deliver respectable returns in the mould of Kyle Cheney – though hopefully with better job security.

Morton has gotten lost a bit amongst the draft hype at Melbourne. While he is priced rather highly, his upside is great considering that the Demons will actually be trying to win this year, thus will theoretically get more of the ball. His game is built for Dream Team, with the hallmarks of a highly outside (80% according to the Prospectus) Joel Bowden type appetite for uncontested marks and kicks, with little in the way of defensive assignments to interrupt his DT sluttiness. Mackay is a quiet, unassuming type who nonetheless used his permanent wing spot to slide into the top five in running bounces last year, underlining the outside nature of his game, tending towards the front half. Both Morton and Mackay are going into their third years and while the third year is not as important in AFL as it is in fantasy NFL, the graph of both of these lads is pointing towards them reaching premium status this year, a la Bernie Vince last year.

Yarran is a bit more of a long shot. Someone has to kick goals for Carlton, surely? Most conjecture revolves around the tall timber but Yarran seems to have been forgotten as a marking target. His undoubted quality is tempered by injury susceptibility, of course, but he seems to be getting through his second pre-season just fine. Don’t be surprised if he bobs up in the NAB with some tasty numbers. As for Wright and Warren, these two were the third and fourth mentioned on afl.com.au last month as being part of the flotilla of younger Roos being injected into the midfield, with Jack Ziebell and Levi Greenwood the others. Jay-Z continues to get the most love, but don’t take you eye off the others in the NAB.

The Hazy Rookies

Actually, I can’t fault the way that coaches have gone with rookies on the Fanplanner much, as information on early selections are impossible to come by. David Astbury is barely there but he’s no lock for round 1, though his stocks are rising. Mitch Banner is perhaps a little low, but again he’s got a mountain to climb. Phil Davis is still winning the battle for fantasy popularity over Shaun McKernan and Ricky Henderson but if that contest swings on the Adelaide training track then it will quickly reverse itself in fantasy too. It’s way too early to be locking in rookies anyway at this early stage, as the NAB will throw all the sticks up in the air again.

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