Zac Williams departed GWS to Carlton because he was desperate to play in the midfield. The question is, can he get through a full season for fantasy coaches?
Name: Zac Williams
Club: Carlton Blues
2020 Highest Score:
90 Vs Melbourne (AFLFantasy)
112 Vs Gold Coast (SuperCoach)
Career Highest Score:
142 Vs Sydney | AFLFantasy (2019)
145 Vs Essendon | SuperCoach (2017)
65.6 (AFLFantasy) | 82 (Adjusted Average)
SuperCoach Price: $458,600
AFLFantasy Price: $626,000
AFLDreamTeam Price: $606,100
WHY IS HE RELEVANT?
Although not the biggest free agency ‘name’ to move clubs last year. Zac Williams is a candidate for being one of the biggest impacts on his new club. His ability to be dynamic with his, line breaking pace and elite kicking skills are the credentials that the Carlton one paced midfield lacks.
Before his move to Carlton, Zac was a pivotal part of the Giants numerous finals campaigns, and despite having a slow start to the year, he was one of several players that benefited from the football lockdown last year.
The COVID delay actually helped Zac Williams play as much footy as he did. After missing round one due to recovering from an injury. Williams returned to the Giants in round two. From there he played three matches before a hamstring injury stalled his season. He then returned in round 9 and played for the remainder of the season.
From his 11 games last year in AFLFantasy/DreamTeam he averaged 65 (adjusted 82) and scored twice a 90 as well as an 81. Don’t forget ’80 was the 100 of 2020′ due to the shortening of quarters.
While in SuperCoach he delivered a 112, 111, 105 & 101 as his highest four scores of the year.
What has people excited about Zac is that he’s been recruited to Carlton not as a dynamic flanker, but rather as a pure midfielder where he spent time in the Giants midfield unit in 2019.
Once given that midfield role in the final 11 games of the year, he posted an average of 103 in AFLFantasy/DreamTeam and scored seven tons including three over 120.
While for SuperCoach he averaged 107 and posted 8 tons including a season-high 143 against the Kangaroos. In terms of scoring differential for pre and post-injury that’s +19 in AFLFantasy/DreamTeam and +13 in SuperCoach.
It might only have been a few months of sample size, but it was validated in the Giants final tilt. The role carried through the AFL Finals, during which he averaged 91in AFLFantasy/DreamTeam and 101 in SuperCoach.Embed from Getty Images
Why has Carlton targeted Zac Williams to join their midfield? Honestly, It’s simple he’s been brought to add XFactor, dash and class. The Blues don’t lack on the inside of the contest with Patrick Cripps and Will Setterfield. Throw in the inside/outside skills of Sam Walsh and the adequate Ed Curnow. What do they need? A class second touch player. That’s exactly what Williams is and why he’s been brought into Carlton.
Is there a risk he’ll not play midfield but rather go back to the half back line? I don’t believe so. The half back flank is one line that Carlton is bursting with options. Inside the Blues best 22 are Sam Docherty, Sam Petrevski-Seton, Nic Newman and recent trade acquisition Adam Saad. There is no need for him there, plain and simple.
The reason to not select Zac is simple. His growing injury history. Last year his game count was affected by soft tissue injuries, In 2019 he missed two games again through a soft tissue (hamstring) injury, and finally, he missed the entire 2018 home and away season. In reality, Zac’s only played 52% of games over the past three seasons.
Because of this ongoing injury history, I believe that if you pass on Zac in your starting squad due to injury concerns, then no matter what you can’t upgrade to him. Why? Because as each game goes by, the jury’s historical likelihood only increases and with you already missing his likely healthy games, you’re only further increasing the potential of your trading into injury. Yes, history doesn’t dictate the future, but it means you can’t be surprised if his body breaks down.
One thing is unknown specifically around this role change. Not can he score well, we know he will in this role. But rather what tole does this take on his body?
At the time of writing, Zac’s ownership numbers are sky high. He’s currently in 38% of AFLFantasy, 39% in DreamTeam and 41% is SuperCoach. These names make him inside the topmost selected players across all formats. Whenever a player has this high ownership, coaches will have one of two responses.
Firstly, the ownership percentage is so high that it minimises the injury risk, with so many owning him any ‘injury’ doesn’t disadvantage you significantly. The other perspective is that you choose to ‘take him on’ and look for a player who could score similar and a lesser price with so many owning him. Which side do you take?
Williams for better or worse will define the success or failures of fantasy teams in 2021? The question is which? Personally. I think he’s set to boom at his new club.
Whenever a player is one of the ‘hype boys’ of the preseason is salary cap formats, they inevitably get considered earlier than normal on draft day. For that reason, I can see a world where on the draft day someone selects Zac Williams at D2. It’s not where I’d advocate selecting him. It’s also not to suggest he won’t deliver a strong return on that pick either.
Rather, it’s that my preferred spot for picking him is at D3. At this selection, you do several things. Firstly, you minimise the risk of your backs being to shallow should he not score well in a new system. Second, you’ve protected the pick with atleast two top tier defenders ahead of him. Meaning that at D3, his upside can shine while the down risk of injury is mitigated.
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