It finally all clicked for Marcus Bontempelli in 2023! After years of good seasons, he finally broke the glass ceiling and became the best midfielder in SuperCoach & AFLFantasy. Can he break the trend and prevent scoring regression to back it up for 2024?
WHY IS HE RELEVANT?
Marcus Bontempelli, Western Bulldogs’ captain, is renowned for his dynamic midfield presence, blending strength in contests with a graceful yet powerful left foot that makes him a consistent scoring threat. In 2023, Bontempelli cemented his status as one of the AFL’s most influential players, showcasing his versatility and leadership.
With his ability to impact the game across every inch of the ground, Bontempelli’s season was punctuated by key highlights, including leading his team deep into the finals, showcasing his clutch performances in critical moments, and his continued recognition among the league’s elite with another strong showing in the Brownlow Medal count.
His unique skill, athleticism and football IQ drive the Bulldogs’ midfield and inspire his teammates, making him a pivotal figure in the team’s quest for success.
His 2023 season was spectacular, solidifying his position as one of the AFL’s premier midfielders through his impressive statistical achievements. His standout performance is reflected in his ranking within the top five for centre clearances, contested possessions, and tackles per game, complemented by his top ten ranking for score involvements and inside 50s.
Such dominance translated into remarkable fantasy football statistics, where in AFLFantasy, he averaged 116.9 points with 18 tons, including significant scores over 120 and as high as 150, without dropping below 86 points in any game. This exceptional consistency earned him the second spot for all players’ total points and averages.
In SuperCoach, Bontempelli’s prowess was even more pronounced, leading the charts with an average of 129.6 points from 22 tons, showcasing his ability to exceed the 120-point mark on 15 occasions and even surpassing 160 points in four games, with his season’s best at 182 points. His performance topped the total points ranking and secured him the highest average, demonstrating his unmatched influence on the game.
The secret to Bontempelli’s phenomenal season and the significant jump in his scoring output can be traced back to a strategic shift by the Western Bulldogs. The arrival of Rory Lobb, combined with Aaron Naughton’s and Jamarra Ugle-Hagan’s existing talents, allowed the Bulldogs to finally utilize Bontempelli’s skills in the midfield permanently, maximizing his impact.
This change is starkly evident in his centre bounce attendance (CBA) percentages, which saw a substantial increase from 58% in 2022 to 81% in 2023, allowing Bontempelli to exert his influence more consistently and significantly throughout the midfield, where his talents are most impactful for the team. This strategic alignment not only liberated Bontempelli to showcase his best game but also propelled him to the forefront of the competition’s elite, marking 2023 as a milestone season in his illustrious career.Embed from Getty Images
The often-repeated narrative surrounding top-tier fantasy players like Marcus Bontempelli, especially after a career-best season, is the scepticism about their ability to provide upside or maintain their high starting price point. This stems from the dual factors of these players coming off career-high performances and the mechanics of “magic numbers” in fantasy pricing, which require them to sustain their lofty averages early in the season to justify their initial valuation.
However, when considering SuperCoach specifically for a player of Bontempelli’s calibre, there’s a strong argument to be made that he can sustain, if not exceed, his price point and scoring average. Bontempelli’s consistency is underscored by his remarkable record of not dropping below an average of 116 points over the past three seasons. This level of performance indicates not just peak output but sustained elite-level play, making the case that Bontempelli is not only a safe bet but potentially undervalued even at a high starting price.
Further bolstering this argument is Bontempelli’s favourable early-season fixture, which presents him with an excellent opportunity to hit the ground running and potentially exceed expectations. Such an elite run of games early in the season can be a critical factor in fantasy football, where getting off to a strong start can set the tone for the rest of the year. For coaches deliberating on whether to invest in Bontempelli from the outset, these considerations offer a compelling case that, despite the high initial investment, the Bulldogs’ captain is well positioned to deliver significant returns and justify his inclusion in SuperCoach teams from round one.
Bont’s remarkable durability, having missed just one game over the past five years, underscores a level of reliability that is rare and highly valued in fantasy football. Investing in Bontempelli isn’t about chasing the potential for scoring upside; it’s about securing a cornerstone player whose consistent high-level performance provides a solid foundation for your team. This consistency allows fantasy coaches the luxury of focusing their attention on managing other, more unpredictable elements of their roster, safe in the knowledge that Bontempelli’s output is almost guaranteed.
The question of timing, when to bring Bontempelli into your squad, is a strategic consideration every coach faces. While acquiring him at a later stage for potentially less might be tempting, it overlooks the critical advantage his early-season presence can offer. In reality, players of Bontempelli’s elite status—those who deliver not just points but stability—are scarce. Delaying the inclusion of such a high-calibre player carries the risk of missing out on crucial early rounds of consistent scoring. This mistake could be difficult to recover from as the season progresses.
Therefore, while it’s theoretically possible to target Bontempelli later in the season, the strategy of waiting carries inherent risks. The unique combination of his proven durability, consistent elite performance, and the psychological benefit of having a “set and forget” option in your lineup from round one cannot be understated. In essence, securing Bontempelli early isn’t just an investment in a player but an investment in your fantasy football team’s overall strength and stability, ensuring you’re well-positioned to tackle the season’s challenges head-on.
Marcus Bontempelli’s standing as an M1 in fantasy drafts is undisputed, positioning him as a likely first-round pick and potentially the first midfielder off the board in many leagues. His consistent elite performance, combined with unparalleled durability, makes him a prime target for coaches looking to secure a cornerstone for their midfield from the get-go.
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