50 Most Relevant, Preseason 2020, Salary Cap Strategy

#41 Most Relevant |Connor Blakely

I’m giving you one last chance, Connor! It’s the make or break year of fantasy relevance for this Fremantle Docker. Will 2020 be his year?

PLAYER PROFILE

Name: Connor Blakely
Age: 23
Club: Fremantle Dockers
Position: Defender

2019 Highest Score: 
104 Vs Carlton (AFLFantasy)
105 Vs Collingwood (SuperCoach)

2019 Average: 

74.7 (AFLFantasy)
75.7 (SuperCoach)

SuperCoach Price: $411,500
AFLFantasy Price:
$555,000
AFLDreamTeam Price: 
$540,700

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WHY IS HE RELEVANT?

Twelve months ago Connor Blakely was one of the preseason darlings of the fantasy football community. Lachie Neale had just departed the club, and many were speculating that after biding his time as a half back, that a move into the midfield was inevitable.

Sadly, we never got to see this much-hyped move. He severely injured his hamstring, which required surgery. It meant he would miss a minimum of three months of football. It wasn’t until mid-May in the Dockers round nine match against the Bombers that we saw him at the elite level. Across his fourteen games this year his role was never fully settled floating between a rebounding half-back, occasional inside midfielder and even at times a small lockdown defender.

From a fantasy perspective, the injuries and occasional role moves meant we had an inconsistent scoring season from Connor. Just one AFLFantasy/DreamTeam ton for the season, and four additional scores over 90. For SuperCoach only the two scores of 105 and an average in the mid-’70s.

The positive of an interrupted season is he could present value for potential owners. Even without a discount, he’s priced 17 points beneath his 2017 and 2018 averages for AFLFantasy/DreamTeam. While for SuperCoach he’s priced 14 points under his personal best average of 89 from 2017.

2017 was a career-best fantasy footy year for Connor Blakely. For SuperCoach he averaged 89, scored nine times of 100 or more, three of them over 120 and twice he had a run of four consecutive hundreds. In the same season for AFLFantasy/DreamTeam, he averaged 91, had seven scores over 100 including three of 134 or higher.

The following year, he averaged 91 again for AFLFantasy/DreamTeam with just five scores in triple figures. For SuperCoachers, he averaged 85 and had only the four scores over the ton. Given what he’s done previously, he shows enormous potential for coaches prepared to select him.

When talking about scoring, there are two types of potential. Firstly, there is proven potential. Someone that has been there, done that. And for whatever reason is priced beneath what he’s shown as his capacity. The other is someone who could or even should be based on a forecast of possible scenarios. Connor Blakely isn’t someone that could or should be able to score well. Instead, he is someone we know can and does when he gets on the field and has the right role.

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MY TAKE

There are plenty of potential upsides when looking at Connor Blakely. Unlike others, he doesn’t need to move into the midfield to score 100’s. We have multiple seasons of data that suggests he’s as capable as scoring off the half-back. That said, I have my reservations. 

Until we get to see the preseason matches, I find it increasingly difficult to select him with confidence. I have so many questions about how Fremantle will structure up on all lines, what game style they’ll employ and what if any impact that will have on his fantasy game. 

Does he have a role in the new look Fremantle midfield? He was drafted as an inside midfielder. Does he move into the guts? Beyond Nat Fyfe as the centrepiece, there are still so many questions as to how it could look. I expect Michael Walters to have plenty of time in the guts, along with Reece Conca. Then which developing talent gets the bulk of the time? Is it Andrew Brayshaw, Adam Cerra, Mitchell Crowden, Luke Valente, Tom North, Darcy Tucker, Brett Bewley, James Aish or the man that kicked off the 50 Most Relevant Blake Acres. It’s just too early to know. 

There is the possibility he stays part of the core backline unit. However, the inclusion of Hayden Young will change the dynamic of that back six and in the right way. Young’s ability to intercept and then distribute the ball with pinpoint precision will only advance the Fremantle Dockers. However, will that aid or hurt Blakely? Only time will tell. A fit Connor Blakely is in my mind part of the Dockers best 22. However, what role he plays I’m not confident.

As much as I have questions on role, the biggest red flag when considering Connor Blakely is his durability. In the past five seasons, his games played tally reads like an Ashton Agar batting card: 15, 17, 13 & 14. A players historical durability shouldn’t be a sole reason not to select a player. Twelve months ago people would’ve said the same about Brad Crouch, yet he went on to play 22 games last year. The year before it was Devon Smith, and before that, Taylor Adams.

Every year someone finds a way to break the cycle and gets a full season of footy. Will 2020 be that year for Connor? My encouragement would be, if you rule him out of your starting squad for the reason of injury risk, then you should not target him as a trade target. If injuries are the only reason you avoid, the potential for injuries based on history only increases with every game played.

I’ll be watching the preseason gameplan of Fremantle and role of Connor Blakely very carefully this preseason. He’ll stay on my watchlist, but in AFLFantasy I’m more interested given the potential of upside at his low price and the ease of being able to move him on with two trades a week.

DRAFT DECISION

When your draft happens and what role he has will determine where he’s ranked for many coaches. If I had to make a judgement call right now, I’d be looking to target him no earlier than as a D3 across all formats knowing that the best-case scenario is he’s a D2 with the worst case he becomes a bench cover option.

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