50 Most Relevant, Preseason 2021

#14 Most Relevant | Tom Mitchell

After returning from a horrific broken leg, Tom Mitchell put together a fine season. The question is, can he get back to averaging near 130 again in 2021?

PLAYER PROFILE

Name: Tom Mitchell
Age: 27
Club: Hawthorn Hawks
Position: Midfield

2020 Highest Score: 
115 Vs Gold Coast (AFLFantasy)
164 Vs Carlton (SuperCoach)

Career Highest Score: 
195 Vs GWS | AFLFantasy (2018)
192 Vs Carlton | SuperCoach (2018)

2020 Average: 
86.1 (AFLFantasy) | 107.6(Adjusted Average)
113.5 (SuperCoach)

SuperCoach Price: $610,000
AFLFantasy Price: 
$823,000
AFLDreamTeam Price: 
$795,700

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WHY IS HE RELEVANT?

After missing for the entire 2019 AFL season, the fantasy football community was excited to select Tom Mitchell. And while he didn’t return to the insane scoring heights of his Brownlow Medal winning 2018, ‘Titch’ still was a high quality performer.

Per game, he ranked 2nd in the AFL for handballs, 5th for effective disposals, 9th for uncontested possession, 18th for contested possession, and stoppage clearances. All done off the back of a broken leg and with a bung shoulder all year.

From his 17 games last year he ranked 13th for total points in AFLFantasy and 20th by averages. Speaking of averages, he went at 86 (107 adjusted) and scored 5 tons plus 5 additional scores of 80 or more.

In SuperCoach he averaged 113, scored 12 tons with 5 over 130 and just one score under 83 all season. His 2020 season ended with him ranked 11th for total points, 10th by averages among all players.

As the season went on, he got better. Over the first 8 games, he averaged 76.8 (96 adjusted) in AFLFantasy and 107 SuperCoach. However, in the last 9 matches, it was 94.4 (118 adjusted) for AFLFantasy and 118 in SuperCoach.
8 of his 10 largest AFLFantasy/DreamTeam scores came in the final 9 weeks. While in SuperCoach 7 of his final 9 games were tons.

If you’ve followed footy for more than 12 months then your familiar with that fact that ‘Titch’ missed the 2019 season after he broke his leg at Hawthorn training.

During the 2018 season, he was dominant in all fantasy formats of the game. In AFLFantasy/DreamTeam he played 22 games, had only one score below 80 and averaged 129.1. It consisted of seventeen scores of 100 or more, fifteen of them higher than 120 and a ridiculous ten over 140. That year he reached his personal best AFLFantasy score with a 50 possession and 13 tackle game against GWS. In that game, he posted a 195.

As a reference point, only Dane Swan’s 2012 season were he averaged 133 and Tom Rockliff’s 2014 going at 134 have averaged more in a single season.

Across that season for SuperCoach he had only one game where his scoring dipped beneath 80. Mitchell reached triple figures in 18 games and had 14 scores over 120 and nine over 140. Two of those games were over 180 including personal best against Carlton. That game he had 46 possessions, nine tackles, two goals and 192 SuperCoach points.

Can he get back to this 2018 scoring for 2021? Because if he can climb back anywhere near that? There’s potential about 20 points per game of growth in him for AFLFantasy and 16 in SuperCoach.

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MY TAKE

You don’t have to be among the best fantasy football coaches to recognise that Tom Mitchell’s scoring ability across formats is unrivalled. For multiple years and at clubs he’s shown just how destructive a player he can be. When we consider fantasy footballers that if you don’t own them that they can destroy your season ‘titch’ is a certainty in that category.

I suppose the question then needs to be asked ‘if he’s so good, why is he not inside the top 10 most relevant?’ An excellent question, which has two reasonably simple answers.

Firstly, during the offseason, Tom Mitchell underwent a should reconstruction. Bizarrely, he initially suffered the injury in round one, but he still managed to play every game in 2020. Recently he spoke out that he’s ‘no certainty to be readyfor round one.

The positive is that he’s still able to get all the fitness base work set given you don’t need your shoulder to run. That’s important for him coming off a broken leg.

The second is about whether or not he’s got the capacity to get back to the uber elite days. Multiple years of 120+averages is elite, but remember these seasons were done without James Worpel and Jaeger O’Meara. For Hawthorn to rebound up the ladder it won’t be all won and down of Titch through the guts.

What do you need to see from him in the preseason to select him? Is it to play the AAMI Community series match? Is it to take and respond well to some heavy bumps and tackles in this game? You need to set up a clear path of what he needs to achieve for you to select him, otherwise you’ll allow confirmation bias to determine the outcome.

While I don’t think he’ll go back to being that 125+ performer again, I do have him across the formats averaging around 115. For me, in AFLFantasy and DreamTeam, that’s enough for me to start him. And should most definitely be on your upgrade plans in SuperCoach.

If he’s currently in your starting squad, then you need a backup plan. I’ve played fantasy footy long enough to know how this could go for you if you don’t. It plays out like this, you love the Tom Mitchell pick and your structure so much, but if he fails to play round one, you find yourself stuck.

All of a sudden your in one of 2 bad choices. The first, you settle on a lesser quality player that fits your cash range, but not your scoring prioritise. Or second, you destroy your entire preseason structure to amend this one selection.

To put it simply, have a backup plan. If Titch doesn’t get up for round one, what’s your Plan B? If you don’t know it, you need it. Otherwise, it could be a stressful and catastrophic decision.

DRAFT DECISION

The valuing of midfielders in the draft’s opening round is clearly the least I’ve seen in the past decade. As a result, Tom Mitchell and other topline midfielders will find themselves getting drafted marginally later than previously. I still have him ranked as a safe M1 selection and will fly off draft boards in the second round. Coaches won’t sleep on a player with his scoring capacity for long.

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