From day one in the AFL, Sam Walsh has demonstrated the abilities that make him one of the best midfielders in the game. Thankfully for us fantasy footy coaches, these abilities translate into being one of the best premium players to own. After delivering coaches a top ten season in 2021, Walsh has set his sights on being the top player in the game, and I believe he can do it.

PLAYER PROFILE

Name: Sam Walsh
Age: 21
Club: Carlton Blues
Position: Midfield

2021 Highest Score: 
155 Vs Collingwood (AFLFantasy)
193 Vs Collingwood (SuperCoach)

Career Highest Score: 
155 Vs Collingwood | AFLFantasy (2021)
193 Vs Collingwood | SuperCoach (2021)

2021 Average: 
108.9 (AFLFantasy)
117 (SuperCoach)

SuperCoach Price: $637,100
AFLFantasy Price: 
$914,000
AFLDreamTeam Price: 
$929,000

Embed from Getty Images

WHY IS HE RELEVANT?

From day one of Sam Walsh’s AFL career, he’s displayed why’s he’s been touted as one of the safest 300 game players ever. Walsh is the total package; he’s a tough customer inside stoppages, a strong runner in space, a high footy IQ, and one of the hardest workers both on and off the field.

His debut AFL season is still the greatest ever put together by a first-year cash cow. In 2019 he finished the season averaging 93, scored 7 tons, had nine extra scores over 80 & only dipped his scoring under 70 in just two matches.

SuperCoach performances from Sam were equally as impressive as he ended the year averaging 87. It consisted of 6 tons, eight additional scores above 80 & just three times scored less than 70. His 2020 years was a tale of two halves, but in his final eight matches of the year, he scored in AFLFantasy/DreamTeam 83, 95, 67, 88, 96, 114, 95 & 77; averaging an 89 (adjusted 111.) While for SuperCoach he posted 114, 123, 98, 113, 132, 161, 84 & 119 averaging a total 118.

So it was no surprise to anyone to see Sam Walsh establish himself as one of the top-end midfield premiums last year. He was ranked sixth on the league for handbells per game, seventh for effective disposals, tenth for uncontested possessions and nineteenth for score involvements per game. Walsh is ranked elite for disposals, score involvements, marks and uncontested possessions.

From an AFLFantasy/DreamTeam perspective, he joined the premium midfielder status, finishing tenth for total points in these formats. His year consisted of sixteen tons, eight over 120 and two 130+ including his career-high 155. By the season’s closing, his average of 108.9 has him ranked twelfth in the competition and with stronger averages than popular premiums like Clayton Oliver and Marcus Bontempelli.

Walsh’s SuperCoach season was even stronger. He scored fifteen tons, eleven of them were over 120, and four monster scores of 140 or above, including his PB of 193. He’s currently ranked ninth for total SuperCoach points, more than Zach MerrettRory Laird and Christian Petracca. While by averages, he’s ranked tenth.

On top of this scoring trend, he’s got immaculate durability. Since his round one debut in 2019, he’s still yet to miss a game of footy. Honestly, Walsh has had the perfect start to his football career, and the good news is he’s still got plenty of natural improvement left within him.

Embed from Getty Images

MY TAKE

Everything points towards Sam Walsh as one of the best fantasy footballers in the game. During the offseason, fellow Coaches, Panelist Kane & I created a list of the top 50 keeper league plater prospects, which as a patreon, you can claim here. Without giving away where we ranked him, it’s safe to say it’s pretty high on the list. The reason being is he’s just elite at almost every possible avenue, and with the recent offseason additions at Carlton, I’m convinced that will only further aid him.

The addition of George Hewett in the midfield core will allow Walsh to play an even more attacking brand of footy. At Sydney, Hewett was at his best as a defensive-minded midfielder. At the same time, Adam Cerra will add further outside class and polish to support him. And finally, if Patrick Cripps can get his body right, we know just how strong he is as a contested player will share the load at the stoppage. These three play secondary support roles behind Walsh will thrive and ultimately live up to his potential.

While the trend of scoring is heading in a positive trajectory, with it usually comes increased attention from opposition teams and the dreaded taggers. Last year, the tag went to and had a significant impact on his output on a few occasions. In round fourteen against GWS, he was held to 20 possessions and scored an AFLFntasy/DreamTeam 55, while it was 71 in SuperCoach. A month later, against North Melbourne, he scored a 72 in AFLFantasy/DreamTeam and 81 in SuperCoach. As concerning as some of these games might be, he also had just as many games that he got tagged, worked his way through it and scored a triple-digit score.

Working the way through a tag and still scoring consistently is the only fathomable concern coaches can make around him. It’s a challenge all our other favourite uber premiums have had to work through. But, based on what he’s done over the trend of his AFL career plus his elite endurance and workrate, I’m very confident he’ll navigate this final challenge of his game.

How much higher can he go? There’s not much further he can go. But if there’s anywhere, statistically, the best avenue might be tied to how well his Blues go this year. In Carlton’s eight wins last year, he averaged 132 in SuperCoach & 119.9 in AFLFantasy/DreamTeam.

To start with, Walsh means his a weekly VC/C consideration in your starting team. If you don’t have the confidence he can be a captaincy option most weeks for you, then ultimately, you have your answer about if you should start or target him as an upgrade. I see him as a safe as houses VC/C and one of the safest top tier midfielders in 2022.

DRAFT DECISION

As good as Sam Walsh is, I don’t believe you’ll need to fork out a first-round selection on him on draft day. He will go in many leagues second rounds. Either as an M1 or M2, depending on if a coach is loading the midfield early or picking off the top end options in the alternate lines.

JOIN THE CONVERSATION

Do you believe he is fantasy relevant?
Will you be starting with him?
Have your say at our Facebook,  Twitter or Instagram

WANT EARLY ACCESS?

Want access 24 hours early to the 50 Most Relevant podcasts? Join our Patreon and get ahead of the Crowd