Zak Butters’ ascent into the elite echelons of AFL midfielders has fantasy coaches buzzing, especially after his standout 2023 season with Port Adelaide that blended hard-nosed play with top-tier skill. We dive into Butters’ fantasy football prospects, unpacking his potential for both SuperCoach and AFLFantasy amid expectations of increased scoring and the strategic nuances of Port Adelaide’s dynamic midfield lineup.
WHY IS HE RELEVANT
Zak Butters has rapidly become one of the most electrifying talents in the AFL, epitomizing the modern midfielder with his blend of relentless intensity and exquisite skill. The 2023 season marked a significant milestone in Butters’ career, showcasing his evolution from a promising young talent to a cornerstone of Port Adelaide’s midfield brigade. Playing every game of the season, Butters demonstrated durability, remarkable consistency, and impact on the field.
His 2023 campaign was stellar, with Butters averaging 27.5 disposals, five marks, and 4.4 clearances per game, which places him in the ‘elite’ category, according to Champion Data. These statistics reflect his ability to find and use the ball effectively and his significant contribution to the team’s overall performance. Butters’ agility, decision-making, and knack for winning contested possessions have made him a pivotal player in Port Adelaide’s setup, capable of changing the course of a game with his actions.
The accolades he received during the year speak volumes about his quality and the respect he commands across the league. Winning the John Cahill Medal as Port Adelaide’s best and fairest is a testament to his immense contribution to the team. Further recognition came with his selection in the All-Australian team, highlighting his status as one of the premier midfielders in the competition. The AFL Coaches Association’s Champion Player of the Year Award, AFL Players’ Association’s Most Courageous Player Award, and a third-place finish in the AFLPA’s MVP Award underscore his exceptional performance throughout the season.
Butters’ 2023 season solidified his reputation as a key player for Port Adelaide and marked his arrival as one of the AFL’s elite midfielders. His dynamic playstyle, with his awards and statistics, illustrates his significant impact on games. As we look ahead to the next season, he is a crucial figure in fantasy football discussions for AFLFantasy & SuperCoach sides.
Butters showcased his scoring prowess in AFL Fantasy by averaging 99.4 points per game. His ability to break the 100-point barrier on 13 occasions, with 5 of those scores surpassing 120 points, highlights his potential for high-scoring outputs. The fact that his scoring dipped under 80 in only four games underscores his reliability as a fantasy option. Despite these impressive numbers, he ranked 17th for total points and 28th overall for average, indicating the competitive nature of midfield selections in AFL Fantasy but also pointing towards his significant contribution to fantasy teams.
In SuperCoach, Butters took his game to even greater heights, averaging 113.8 points. This remarkable average was buoyed by his ability to score 15 tons over the season, with 9 exceeding 120 points, showcasing his game-changing potential in this format. His consistency was further evidenced by having only two scores under 80 points. Butters’ SuperCoach performance placed him 6th for total points and 13th overall, making him the 9th-ranked midfielder, indicating his elite status in this fantasy football format.
Zak Butters’ transition in Round 4 of the 2023 season from a forward with midfield stints to a primary midfielder marked a pivotal shift in his role at Port Adelaide and his fantasy football output. This role change catalyzed a significant uptick in his performances, elevating his averages to 104 in AFLFantasy and 118.4 in SuperCoach from Round 4 onwards. This adjustment highlights Butters’ versatility and capability to excel in a midfield-centric role. Given the discrepancy between his early-season scoring and post-role-change averages, his starting price in fantasy may carry an inherent value.
Further underscoring Butters’ potential for fantasy football dominance was his six-week performance between Rounds 8-13. During this period, he elevated his game to an even higher level, averaging 121 in AFLFantasy and 129 in SuperCoach. These numbers indicate an “Uber premium” fantasy player, showcasing Butters’ ability to consistently deliver high-scoring games over an extended period. This phase of the season demonstrated his scoring ceiling and capacity to sustain elite fantasy scoring rates, solidifying his status as a player with top-tier potential.
This scoring improvement and sustained high performance following his role change make Butters an attractive proposition for fantasy coaches. With the potential for value in his starting price and evidence of his ability to perform at an uber-premium level, Butters represents a compelling selection for those looking to capitalize on a midfielder with significant upside. As fantasy coaches evaluate their strategies and rosters for the upcoming season, Butters’ post-role-change trajectory and demonstrated scoring pedigree should weigh heavily considering midfield selections.
One critical factor that enhances Zak Butters’ appeal for the upcoming fantasy football season is his newfound durability. Historically perceived as a high injury risk due to having yet to play more than 20 games in a season, Butters shattered this narrative in 2023 by participating in every game of Port Adelaide’s campaign. This significant milestone not only dispels concerns regarding his injury proneness but also demonstrates his ability to withstand the rigours of a full AFL season.
Playing all 23 games, Butters provided consistent fantasy outputs and reliability for fantasy coaches who had previously been wary of his injury history. This development adds another layer of attractiveness to selecting Butters in fantasy drafts, as coaches can now have increased confidence in his availability and contribution throughout the season, making him a potentially vital component of any successful fantasy football strategy.Embed from Getty Images
Port Adelaide’s early-season fixture further brightens Zak Butters’ fantasy football outlook, which presents a significant upside for his scoring potential. The Power’s schedule sees them playing seven of their first ten games at Adelaide Oval, where Butters has historically thrived, particularly in SuperCoach. In his last five SuperCoach games at this venue during the previous year, Butters delivered astounding scores of 158, 139, 134, 101, and 81, showcasing his exceptional ability to post high scores on home turf. An average of 122.6 is more than handy at this venue.
Similarly, in AFLFantasy, Butters’ affinity for Adelaide Oval is evident, with nine games scoring 110 or more points throughout the season. Notably, 5 of these high-scoring performances occurred at this ground. This trend underscores the significant advantage that the early run of home games could provide for Butters, potentially boosting his fantasy output and making him an even more attractive option for fantasy coaches. The combination of Butters’ proven scoring capacity, particularly in familiar surroundings, and Port Adelaide’s favourable early fixture suggests that he could be poised for a strong start to the season, offering fantasy teams a considerable edge.
The Port Adelaide midfield mix for 2024 is poised to be a critical factor in the team’s AFL campaign and the fantasy football landscape, especially concerning Zak Butters’ role and potential output. In 2023, the Power demonstrated a preference for a concentrated midfield group at centre bounces, with Connor Rozee leading the attendance rates at 69%, followed closely by Zak Butters at 62%, Jason Horne-Francis at 58%, and Ollie Wines and Willem Drew each at 50%. Veteran Travis Boak, while an influential figure, participated in a relatively minor 13% of centre bounce attendances, indicating a strategic shift towards leveraging the youth and dynamism of Port Adelaide’s emerging midfielders.
Looking ahead to 2024, this midfield dynamic presents challenges and opportunities for Butters. His substantial involvement in 2023 underscores his importance to Port Adelaide’s midfield operations and his ability to impact games significantly from the centre. However, the tight midfield rotation suggests that maintaining or increasing his centre-bounce attendance could be crucial for Butters to replicate or surpass his breakout year, particularly as Port Adelaide seeks to balance experience and youth in their on-ball brigade.
In evaluating Port Adelaide’s midfield dynamics for the 2024 season, two critical insights emerge that shed light on Zak Butters’ potential role and fantasy output. Firstly, it’s reasonable to anticipate that the Power will continue with a similar strategy regarding their midfield composition, maintaining a core group of players at the centre bounce attendance. The tight-knit midfield rotation of 2023, which proved effective, is likely to see only minor adjustments, if any, keeping the primary contributors in place, with Butters expected to remain a crucial part of this setup.
Secondly, while there has been considerable preseason speculation about Ollie Wines returning to a more prominent inside midfield role—following a perceived reduction in his midfield engagement as the 2023 season progressed—this development is not expected to impact Butters’ scoring or midfield time negatively. The evidence from a key six-week stretch during the previous season, when Butters averaged over 120 across all formats, and Port Adelaide secured wins in each match, supports this view. During this period, Wines’ centre bounce attendance rate (CBA%) was 58%, a figure skewed by one match against the Bulldogs where his CBA% dropped to 19%. In contrast, it was Willem Drew, not Butters, whose role appeared to be adjusted, as Drew did not surpass 50% CBAs in any game within that stretch, averaging 41% CBAs.
This analysis indicates that any increase in midfield involvement for Wines or Jason Horne-Francis is more likely to affect Drew’s opportunities than Butters’. The midfield configuration, emphasizing the tight five, including Butters, is expected to remain largely intact, with Butters poised to continue his influential role. The synergy between Butters’ high-scoring capabilities and Port Adelaide’s strategic midfield use suggests that any adjustments within the midfield mix will unlikely diminish Butters’ fantasy relevance or on-field impact.
My expectation for 2024 is a consistent midfield approach from Port Adelaide, with Butters firmly entrenched within the core group. Even with potential shifts in roles for Wines and Horne-Francis, the structure and strategy that facilitated Butters’ breakout performances continue, reinforcing his status as a key fantasy football asset and an integral part of Port Adelaide’s midfield plans.
Given their substantial influence on the game, Zak and his teammate, Captain Connor Rozee, stand as pivotal tag targets for Port Adelaide. The strategic decision on who to tag, Butters with his ‘human wrecking ball’ approach or Rozee with his surgical precision and playmaking skills, will likely vary from match to match, hinging on the opposing team’s tactical setup and the specific strengths of their taggers.
This scenario presents a problem for opponents, as limiting one player’s impact inevitably gives the other more opportunities to influence the game. The differing styles of Butters and Rozee mean that teams face a strategic challenge in deciding which player’s influence they are better equipped to mitigate, underlining the depth and versatility of Port Adelaide’s midfield and the difficulty in containing their multifaceted attack.
A key concluding consideration for starting Zak Butters is that he, alongside Connor Rozee, Andrew Brayshaw, and Caleb Serong, offers you incredible scoring versatility across the front half of the season. With Port Adelaide and Fremantle having the round 13 bye as their only week off in 2024, it only allows you to have a premium midfielder playing in the hardest weeks to navigate both in the starting and middle season block.
The case for starting Butters over these three is that he’s shown he’s got arguably the most value within his pricetag in AFLFantasy and arguably the biggest scoring ceiling in SuperCoach if you haven’t considered or placed Zak in any version of your preseason structure versions then your missing out on a potential game changer.Embed from Getty Images
Zak Butters’ draft ranking in fantasy football indicates his rising stature and potential in the AFL. In SuperCoach, his high-scoring consistency and impact on games position him as an M1, reflecting his ability to deliver substantial points and serve as a cornerstone for fantasy teams. In contrast, his historical average in AFLFantasy suggests an M3 status; however, given his recent form and the upside he brings to the midfield, it’s more likely that fantasy coaches will value him as an M2.
This discrepancy between his historical average and current perception underscores the growing confidence in his fantasy potential. Coaches recognise his capability to outperform his previous averages and are thus more inclined to select him earlier in drafts, banking on his continued development and significant role in Port Adelaide’s midfield.
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