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Who Are the Most Selected Players in AFL Fantasy 2021?

Fantasy AFL, a game perhaps even more fun than watching footy itself, right? Instead of getting frustrated with players and managers making decisions you don’t agree with, shouting at the television, and venting your frustrations on forums and social media, Fantasy places you in the driving seat. 

How Popular is AFL? 

AFL has been gaining some serious traction in recent years. And it’s now more popular than ever. Of course, you can’t compare it to some of the top sports: football (soccer), American Football (NFL), and the NBA are still far ahead. 

If you look at the AFL vs. NFL in terms of revenue, for example, there’s no contest. The NFL makes over $16 billion per year, while the AFL has profits of roughly $700 million. Not quite the same arena, right? 

But that’s not really a fair comparison. The NFL is a very mature league, whereas AFL is only just making headway outside of Australia. Nevertheless, it’s clearly gaining ground among its competitors. 

Attendance is up, viewership is hitting record figures, and we’re also seeing big sponsorship deals being signed on a yearly basis. And of course, AFL’s popularity is also reflected in the interest fans are showing in Fantasy leagues. It’s now a big business in its own right. 

Top AFL Fantasy Players 

And now, for the feature show, what you came here for, the most selected players in AFL Fantasy 2021. Spoiler: not all names are the star players you’d expect to see. The list shows that when it comes to Fantasy, people are astute enough not to simply chase a name. It’s all about the statistics. 

Matthew Rowell. This guy leads the list, unsurprisingly. Currently priced at just over half a million, he’s value for money (even at this price point). Over 50% of Fantasy managers have Rowell on their team

Zac Williams and Braydon Preuss. The second spot on the list is a tie, with both players featuring in 39% of teams. Again, massive value for money with picking these guys. No-brainer. 

When it comes to the defenders, it’s all about finding underpriced gems. The players who won’t break your budget, but provide solid Moneyball-esque statistical value. They may not be the most celebrated players in the league, but managers love them: 

Wayne Milera and Hayden Young are examples of players who are available for under half a million but overdeliver every single week. Rookies have also posted some decent numbers, with three of them featuring in the top 10: Will Gould, Denver Grainger-Barras, and Trent Bianco were all popular picks among managers. 

The priority in the midfield remains in mixing both the obvious picks with finding under-the-radar value. For example, Jackson Hately and Rory Sloane both offer managers an interesting proposition. The former is a promising talent, while Sloane’s experience as a veteran counts in his favour. 

So what about last season’s top man, Lachie Neale? He’s fallen in the pecking order, which isn’t a surprise, as he managed to get himself a personal best average of 122 points last season (besting his previous career-high by 11 points). That means he’s now quite expensive compared to last season. 

The picks for rucks are dominated by Brodie Grundy, Max Gawn, and Preuss. The latter is particularly popular, with 39% of managers thinking he’s a good option. Grundy follows closely behind, with 31%, with Gawn enjoying ‘just’ 15% of the favour. 

And now to the position where managers are more divided: the forwards. There’s not a single player that is picked by more than 30% of managers, which shows teams are fairly diverse. These are the horses that managers bet their Fantasy teams on. 

Nakia Cockatoo is easily the most popular player, with 30% of managers ‘owning’ the luckless Lion. After that, there’s quite a bit of variation. Some managers prefer Tom Philips, while others place their faith in Will Kelly. But Deven Roberston and James Rowe are equally popular options. 

What Do the Picks Teach Us? 

We already mentioned this earlier, but it’s worth repeating: Fantasy isn’t about the best players, but about the squad. If your top picks are all made up of expensive players, you’ll just end up top-heavy with a bunch of scrubs rounding off your team. You won’t win that way. 

Most managers know this. Just look at Lachie Neale. Top performer last season, but providing far less value. As a result of his stellar numbers, he’s now the second most expensive player. The result? He’s now fourth on the midfield list. 

So if you’ve been struggling with coming up with a successful team, keep that in mind. Take the Brad Pitt Moneyball approach and look at stats against the price you’ll pay for the player. You’ll climb the Fantasy rankings in no time. 

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