Tom Mitchell was one of the biggest names for the fantasy football community that moved clubs in the offseason. With a return to a lead midfield role at a new club, there is plenty of expectation that we could see some vintage scoring from the former Brownlow Medalist.
Name: Tom Mitchell
Club: Collingwood Magpies
2022 Highest Score:
120 Vs Brisbane (AFLFantasy)
142 Vs Geelong (SuperCoach)
Career Highest Score:
195 Vs GWS Giants | AFLFantasy (2018)
192 Vs Carlton | SuperCoach (2018)
SuperCoach Price: $528,600
AFLFantasy Price: $853,000
AFLDreamTeam Price: $874,100
WHY IS HE RELEVANT?
Have you played any format of fantasy football for more than one season? If that’s the case, then the legacy of Tom Mitchell will be well known to you. Ever since he moved to Hawthorn, ‘Titch’ had been one of the top-scoring prospects we’d ever seen. In his 2017-2019 seasons, we’ll go down in SuperCoach & AFLFantasy folklore for a long time, with averages pushing the edges of 130 for the season.
It wasn’t the most prolific season for Tom, yet despite a significant fall away from his normative statistical dominance as a Hawk, he still posted some elite numbers. He ranked eighth in the AFL for contested possessions and handbells and top twenty in the league for disposals and stoppage clearances.
From his twenty-one games last year, he averaged 96.3 in AFLFantasy/DreamTeam. It featured ten tons; for SuperCoach, his average of 96 consisted of nine tons. Across all formats, his scoring dipped below 80 on just two occasions. Some solid tons are scattered across the 2022 season, which isn’t bad for a guy who had only one game all season where he attended 70% of more centre bounces all year.
You don’t have to go back to the 2017-2018 data before his broken leg to find strong scoring from Tom. His 2021 AFLFantasy/DreamTeam season was brilliant in totality but spectacular when you look into the more refined timing. Over the year, he scored nineteen tons, ten of them above 120 and five over 130. He had three scores under 100 all year and nothing dropping below 71. Before his bye round, he averaged 105.1. However, in the final eleven games of the year, he averaged 126 and didn’t let his scores fall below 105. He’s ranked fifth overall for averages and points, with only Jack Steele, Touk Miller, Jarryd Lyons and Jack Macrae.
This scoring pattern is similar in SuperCoach. He ranked eighth for total points and ninth for averages last year. It consisted of seventeen tons; nine were over 120, eight over 130 and a season-high score of 171. Entering into the Hawks round twelve byes, he’d scored just six tons and was going at an average of 105. From round thirteen onwards, he averaged 128.6, and his lowest score was 110.
Ultimately, the scoring he’s done is lately irrelevant. Not because he no longer possesses that capacity but because the variables have changed too drastically with him moving clubs. But what we do know about Mitchell is this. From his debut at Sydney back in 2013 to now, he’s shown that when he’s allowed to be in the midfield and around the ball, he scores at such a high points-per-minute output that he is nearly unmatched. He might never be the ‘Pig’ again that everyone loved, but he doesn’t have to be for his selection to be a masterstroke.Embed from Getty Images
There are two schools of thought regarding the fantasy football impact & relevance of Tom Mitchell at Collingwood. The first is that he’s no longer the fantasy football beast he’d been in his early seasons at Hawthorn. The other is that we’ve got a proven top-tier premium at a crazy value. So much needs to be considered and unpacked. At his best, he’s the number one performer, but to do so, he needs to sit within a game style and team structure that allows that.
In AFLFantasy/DreamTeam, Collingwood ranked 12th for total team points scored and 13th in SuperCoach. Specifically, from an individual player perspective, just one listed Magpie in Jack Crisp averaged over 90 for the season for AFLFantasy/Dreamteam. While in SuperCoach, we had three, Scott Pendlebury, Nick Daicos and again Jack Crisp. No current Collingwood player averaged 100 or higher in 2022. That’s not due to a lack of fantasy pedigree but more to do with an AFL system that isn’t fantasy football friendly. It’s similar to what we’ve seen from Richmond for the past five years.
All this data can and does start to create a rather compelling narrative, that being that Collingwood isn’t the most fantasy football-friendly side going around. The key to remember is that Mitchell was specifically recruited to address the club’s clear deficiency in winning contested possessions. Last season, the Magpies ranked 13th for clearances, 14th for contested possessions, and just two players ranked inside the top 75 for centre clearances in the AFL. The Pies have seen an issue and believe they’ve addressed it with Mitchell. They see him as the ticket to a better clearance rate and picking up a stronger share of contested footy.
During the 2020 & 2021 seasons at Hawthorn, Tom attended 74% & 70% of centre bounces. However, last year he dropped to 53%. I expect we’ll see Mitchell have a similar level of centre bounces (70% plus) at Collingwood. But the issue won’t be around his role; the big question is this. Will he get enough of a split between contested and uncontested possesions to make his scoring high enough?
Last year Mitchell ranked 8th for contested possesions per game with 13 but was 34th for uncontested possesions with 16. Compare that to 2021, where he ranked 25th for contested possessions, winning 12, but was first for uncontested possesions with 23. The data trend is similar across all of his career. When Mitchell is a dominant fantasy present, he racks it up more in the uncontested space than in tight. For bigger scores of Tom to pop, he needs a high volume of ball in space, something that the Magpies game style might not be allowed freely.
There is a world where mega scores can happen. But it requires a major change to the regular midfield makeup at Collingwood. Last year Jordan De Goey attended 77% of centre bounces. The next biggest three were Taylor Adams (65%), Scott Pendlebury (63%) and Jack Crisp (59%). It’s a relatively tight four, and for Mitchell to squeeze in, it’ll require a combination of either injuries or a bigger role change of some of these players. Thankfully, there’s a world where this can happen. De Goey has shown dominance as a damaging forward 50 option, while Crisp has spent a major slice of his AFL career across halfback. And while I don’t wish injuries on anyone, Adams has missed about 30% of games in the past two seasons. If a combination of these elements eventuates, I can see a world where he pushes the top 8-10 midfield averages again. He might not reach the 120+ days again, but i don’t think he has to. Anything near the vicinity of 115 is a monsterous win.
At this pricing range, we have significant options. We’ve discussed multiple lof them through the 50 most relevant. Luke Davies-Uniacke, Caleb Serong, Tom Green, Adam Cerra, Jai Newcombe and Chad Warner are within a few grand of his price point. Even former #1 draft pick Lachie Whitfield is in that pricing space. For the Mitchell selection to be deemed a success, he needs to score at a minimum average of 105 in AFLFantasy/DreamTeam & 110 in SuperCoach. I can’t see him going less than his price point, so I don’t think he’ll hurt you if you pick him, but unless he can pop up that average of 15 points per game, he’ll also not burn you if you go against him. Personally, I find it easier to jump onto Mitchell than off him. He’ll always have the ‘fear of missing out’ feel if you ever move off him.
His current ownership stats have him inside the top ten most-owned players in AFLFantasy with 33%, the top twenty in DreamTeam with 36% and the top 30 in SuperCoach with 27%. With ownership that high and some uncertainty that I have that he can hit the scoring levels required to make it, I’m happy to take him on. But I’m not so proud and stubborn to miss him if he’s flying out of the gates. I’m more than prepared to use a corrective trade and go into him if he does show in those first few games the ceiling that made him the fantasy beast we’ve known and loved for years.
Tom Mitchell has the upside to be an M1 pick, you won’t have to spend that level of capital, but it’s within his scoring potential. If you want to own him, you might have to reach M2, but I would happily let someone else take him there. I feel comfortable taking him at an early M3 space, but that’s because I’m less bullish than others. As a result, I’ll hardly get ‘titch’ falling to a range I’m happy to select him.
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