#10 Most Relevant | Zac Williams

Another year was ruined by injuries for Zac Williams in 2023. The former Giant and now Carlton defender suffered a season-ending ACL injury before his year started. He’s now back in the mix for selection for the Blues and our SuperCoach & AFL Fantasy teams. The question is, are you ready to get hurt again? Or does he hold an undeniable value that we must select him?


When a player is injured and misses as much football as Zac Williams has, we can easily forget about what they’re elite at and the quality of footballer they are. Zac’s an elite rebounder and user of the ball, especially by foot. His ability to break open the game for his team and cut opposition sides up has him placed as one of the most exciting players on the Calrton list when he’s up and about.

In a significant blow to the Carlton Blues’ backline, he suffered a ruptured ACL during a training session, sidelining him for the entirety of the 2023 AFL season. This unfortunate injury deprived Carlton of one of its key defensive pillars. The absence of Williams was keenly felt throughout the season as the Blues navigated the challenges of the AFL without one of their most versatile attacking defenders.

Due to his injury, we don’t have an AFLFantasy or SuperCoach scoring data point. During his tenure at Carlton, Zac Williams has intermittently showcased the scoring prowess that catches the eye of fantasy football coaches. Specifically, in the 2022 season, Williams demonstrated his potential over a four-round stretch from rounds 2 to 5, where he posted scores in AFLFantasy of 103, 98, 137, and 72, averaging 69.8, and in SuperCoach, he tallied scores of 96, 107, 135, and 79, with an average of 77.3. This period highlighted his ability to deliver impactful fantasy scores, underlining his value when fit and in form.

In the 2021 season, he has further evidenced his capacity to hit high scores, with several instances of 80+ points and the occasional century, adding to his appeal as a potentially lucrative fantasy option. However, it’s crucial to note that Williams’ earlier performances at the Greater Western Sydney Giants, while indicative of his abilities, may not directly translate to his role at Carlton due to differences in the club’s system and his specific role within the team.

Williams has shown he can be a powerful scorer in patches; fantasy coaches considering him for their squads must weigh his potential against his recent injury and the context of his performances within Carlton’s setup alongside his current price point.

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Players coming back from long-term injuries like an ACL rupture often face significant challenges in regaining their former levels of performance. However, with Zac Williams, fantasy coaches are not necessarily banking on him delivering averages of 80-100 points. His pricing reflects this cautious optimism: in AFLFantasy, he’s set at the high 40s, in SuperCoach at the high 30s, and in DreamTeam at the mid-30s. This pricing strategy places him at an intriguing crossroads between the risk of his return from injury and the potential reward of his scoring capabilities.

The financial calculation becomes even more compelling when juxtaposed with the most expensive rookie player, Harley Reid. In AFLFantasy, the jump from Williams to Reid is only a jump of a further $142,000, less than $10,000 in SuperCoach, and $20,000 in DreamTeam.

These differences illustrate Williams’s unique value proposition; he’s priced closer to a rookie than a proven premium, yet his past performances hint at a scoring ceiling well beyond his current price tag. This price point and potential upside make Williams an intriguing option for fantasy coaches willing to gamble on his recovery and role within the Carlton system post-injury.

Sam Docherty’s versatility, Adam Saad’s elite rebounding, Nic Newman’s penetrating kicks, and the presence of key defenders like Jacob Weitering have significantly shaped Carlton’s defensive unit under Michael Voss’s leadership. The team’s evolution over the past year has seen Docherty adapt to a wing role while retaining the capability to play half-back and inside midfield, Saad excels as a rebounder and lockdown defender, and Newman contributes with his rebounding prowess. Weitering, though currently injured, is recognized among the elite key position defenders in the AFL, complemented by the utility of Caleb Marchbank, Mitch McGovern, and Brodie Kemp, confirming Zac Williams’ secure spot in the best 22 despite the team’s dynamic changes.

Williams’ ownership rates—61% in SuperCoach, 38% in AFLFantasy, and 54.2% in DreamTeam—place him among the top 10 most-owned players across all formats, reflecting widespread faith in his value. This high ownership, coupled with his low price point, makes a compelling case for his inclusion in fantasy squads, offsetting concerns around his injury history, which includes missing the entire 2023 season and playing a limited number of games in the preceding three years. Fantasy coaches don’t necessarily need Williams to feature in over 20 games; a productive 6-8 week window could suffice to realize his value.

Given Carlton’s round 2 bye, Williams presents as a strategic “parachute plan” option based on his performance in the opening round. His potential impact, affordability, and the evolved team dynamics under Voss make him a risk worth considering, particularly for coaches looking to maximize their roster’s efficiency and navigate the early bye with a well-executed plan. Williams’ situation encapsulates the delicate balance between risk and reward in fantasy football, where strategic selection can leverage high ownership and low cost against the backdrop of injury history for significant competitive advantage.

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Late flyer – it’s salary cap hype that will push him into the first 40 defenders as people will look for the upside.


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