Over the past few seasons, one of the most reliable premium defenders has been Tom Stewart. But, after finally achieving the ultimate goal of a premiership, is it business as usual for this Cat? Or will we start to see a change in his fantasy football scoring?
Name: Tom Stewart
Club: Geelong Cats
2022 Highest Score:
169 Vs Adelaide (AFLFantasy)
187 Vs Fremantle (SuperCoach)
Career Highest Score:
169 Vs Adelaide | AFLFantasy (2022)
187 Vs Fremantle | SuperCoach (2022)
SuperCoach Price: $604,000
AFLFantasy Price: $836,000
AFLDreamTeam Price: $857,100
WHY IS HE RELEVANT?
He finally did it! Tom Stewart achieved the ultimate goal when he and his Geelong Cats lifted the premiership cup on the Grand Final day in 2022. The Cats were able to get there off the back of some sensational performances from this club champion. He ranked second in the league for intercepts per game and was top ten for both marks and rebound 50s. Stewart was also ranked per game inside the top twenty for kicks, meters gained and effective disposals.
During the year AFLFantasy/DreamTeam had some amazing highs and some frustrating lows. But they levelled each other out if you owned him over most of the journey. By the end of the season, his average of 94.4 had him ranked as the seventh-best defender by average and was the 30th-best for points. Good for a guy who missed five matches. He scored five tons, including two monsters over 120, a 157 & a 169. He had six additional scores between 90-99 and just five under 80, one of which was a concussion sub-game.
His SuperCoach year was even better. His average of 109.5 was the third-best among defenders, with only James Sicily and Jack Sinclair averaging more. In comparison, that average was the 20th best in the format overall. He’s got a higher average than Josh Kelly, Josh Dunkley, Luke Parker and Ollie Wines. He scored eleven tons, with five of them over 120. That includes 161, 174 & 187. Alongside this was three additional scores of 90+ and just three scores under 80, one of which was his concussion game.
When you spend big coins on premiums, you can rarely find yourself getting a slice of value, but with Tom, that might be the case. He went off early in the second term in round twelve after getting subbed out with a concussion. If you take this game out of his averages, he had about three points per game of upside in AFLFantasy/DreamTeam and almost five in SuperCoach.
Over the past two seasons, Tom’s been among the best defensive premiums we could own. He’s averaged 95.7 in AFLFantasy/DreamTeam, scored sixteen tons, had three over 120 and only dropped his scoring under 80 in just seven matches. For SuperCoach, he’s averaged 108.5 over the previous 37 games. He’s scored 25 tons, nine above 120, and his scores have fallen under 80 in just four games.
Over this series, both through the articles and the podcasts, we’ve highlighted the importance of a player’s ceiling and how players with such a strong ceiling can quickly take seasons away from you. Tom has a strong ceiling but the proven capacity to do it over multiple weeks. For example, just last year in SuperCoach, he spent the first seven weeks of the season averaging 120. While in AFLFantasy/Dreamteam between rounds 3-11, his average was 114.
Stewart has one of the best ceiling scoring going around. You can see exactly what I mean when you compare his 169 in AFLFantasy/DreamTeam and 187 in SuperCoach against some of the more prominent premium defenders’ career-best scores.
With Tom Stewart, the discussion point is very simple. Is he someone you want in your squad from round one/ Or will he be someone you intend to target during the season as an upgrade? Does he start this season on a hot streak, or can we jump on him as an upgrade before the streak begins? Over his career, he’s been a player that always provides us with a hot 6-10 game stretch annually.
For example, in 2022, there was even an eight-game stretch between rounds 3-11, wherein AFLFantasy/DreamTeam, he averaged 114 and had his scoring range between 93-169. However, in SuperCoach, over the first ten games, he went at an average of 120, and that run included a 74, his second-lowest score of the year. So if he starts this year the way he scored in that patch, it could be a season-winning selection.
We’ve got two significant fixture changes for 2023. The first is an additional round; the year is now made up of 24. The other is that the bye rounds are split over four, not three weeks. What’s significant about this is that DreamTeam and SuperCoach have decided to treat all four weeks of byes as the best ’18’ scorers, and round thirteen has just the Gold Coast Suns and Geelong Cats with the week off.
Finding 18 players to field in round 13 will be simple. The others can be challenging. Being able to bank a premium defender like Stewart could become extremely valuable. He becomes the constant theme in your backline during the other three bye rounds as you make upgrades and team benchings. And it’s not just selecting a bye runner; it’s using the byes as potentially a deal breaker if you can’t split the difference between Stewart and another premium. As a matter of reference, Geelong plays Western Bulldogs, Port Adelaide and Melbourne during those three weeks. Using 2022 data trends, two of those are phenomenal matchups for intercepting defenders and defenders.
One of the primary attractions behind starting Stewart is his inbuilt value alongside a relatively friendly fixture to the premiers. Over the first six weeks, they play Magpies (MCG), Blues (MCG), Suns (Metricon), Hawks (MCG), Eagles (Adelaide Oval) & Swans (GMHBA). Speaking of fixtures, many have noted that Tom’s scoring last year was supreme. Last year in the games he played at GHMBA Stadium, he averaged 124.8 in SuperCoach and 107.6 in AFLFantasy/DreamTeam. At all other venues, he averaged 95.3 for SuperCoach and 87.1. in AFLFantasy. Six of his last ten games this year are at GMHBA, and five of his last seven are there.
And while the data looks amazing, there are a few ‘holes’ to note in one of those games. One game at Marvel stadium includes his concussion game. The other, but least important, was that he got tagged against the Saints by Mitch Owens. Of course, tags can happen at any venue against any opponent, but those two games heavily throw the data trend out.
One of the most compelling reasons to fade on starting Stewart, especially in the more limited trade formats of DreamTeam and SuperCoach, is the probability of the Cats resting their star defender. In 2022, Geelong timed their run at the finals beautifully. They ensured that the whole squad was playing their best football in September. One of the ways they did that was by managing their older players and eliminating the risk of injury niggles to ensure they were primed for finals. That’s common for teams in the premiership window to do. However, the challenge alongside this is Geelong are notoriously hard to get a read on when or if these might occur. It’s now a question of who, not if the Cats have a late change. I’m convinced we’ll see multiple games where Stewart & other older Cats are managed, and for the most part, outside of the blockbuster games, you won’t predict when they might come.
So is Stewart someone you must start? Or do you want to grab him on the cheap during the season? The answer is both strategies are viable. We’re not discussing speculative options in the fifty most relevant in the top ten. Stewart will be among the best defenders in 2023, and most coaches will want him on their sides by the time the season ends.
Some players draft range is stable across all formats, while others see some ranking and range differential. With Tom Stewart, the selection as a D1 won’t change, but his draft range will have a few rounds differential. In SuperCoach, I expect him to head off draft boards in the middle to the late second round. For AFLFantasy, he’ll likely start getting selected from the third into the top of the fourth.
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