There’s only a handful of players that, across all formats of fantasy footy, have averaged 110 or higher in the past two seasons; Callum Mills is one of them. Despite his high-scoring pedigree, his ownership is criminally low. The upside for brave coaches is he could create the separation you need to succeed in 2023.
Name: Callum Mills
Club: Sydney Swans
2022 Highest Score:
162 Vs Hawthorn (AFLFantasy)
214 Vs Hawthorn (SuperCoach)
Career Highest Score:
162 Vs Hawthorn | AFLFantasy (2022)
214 Vs Hawthorn | SuperCoach (2022)
SuperCoach Price: $642,400
AFLFantasy Price: $983,000
AFLDreamTeam Price: $1,008,100
WHY IS HE RELEVANT?
It wasn’t a great day for Callum Mills and his Swans in the final match of the 2023 season. But outside of that, everything went to script for the Sydney Co-Captain. He is such a damaging player that he scores in almost every way imaginable. His high-capacity workrate gets him into open spaces for plenty of uncontested possessions and marks. But he’s not just an outside skier. This guy gets it done on the inside, offensively and defensively. He ranked inside the top ten for tackles per game and top ten for marks.
For AFLFantasy/DreamTeam, he was exceptional. His average of 111 was the fourth highest in the format. Higher than Touk Miller, Jack Steele and Zach Merrett. While he ranked second overall for total points. He was a mere 30 points off dethroning Andrew Brayshaw. He scored fourteen tons over the season, seven over 120, five over 130 and his two top scores of the season were 156 & 162. Alongside this elite, scoring was a phenomenal basement with just three scores under 80 all season and just one under 75.
His season was just as prolific in SuperCoach. His average of 116.7 has him ranked fifth for averages, with only Rory Laird, Touk Miller, Clayton Oliver and Lachie Neale with better seasonal averages. While he ranked fourth for total points, and only Touk Miller, Clayton Oliver and Lachie Neale scored more than him all year. He posted fifteen tons; 60% of those (nine) were above 120, seven were above 130 and two monsters across the season. A 167 against the Bombers in round nine, while just three weeks earlier, he joined the double-ton club with his personal best, a 214 versus Hawthorn. He had just two scores sub 80 all year, while two of his three lowest scores gradually built fitness off the back of no preseason. Amazing!
One of the most extraordinary things about Mills scoring is that he can post strong fantasy numbers in multiple ways. For example, he scored a ton in round two when he tagged Dangerfield. In other games, he did it as a high-volume centre-bounce midfielder and others across the wing. And despite being a prolific and regular high-scoring fantasy prospect, he only twice had 30 possessions or more. However, that round-six game against the Hawks showcased how big his scoring can be when he puts it all together. That day, he won 37 touches, 11 marks, five tackles, a 162 in AFLFantasy/DreamTeam and a 214 in SuperCoach.
What should make this season even more encouraging is that Mills did this off the back of little/no preseason. He battled his way to navigating an Achilles injury he suffered late in 2021 that hampered his preseason. To do what he did with little to no fitness or conditioning behind him is exceptional.
Speaking of 2021, in AFLFantasy, he scored thirteen tons from his eighteen matches. Of these thirteen tons, he showed his scoring ability to translate them into strong scores, with eleven of these tons going 110+. Over the season, his three top scores were 152, 142 & 133. Over the season, he had just two scores under 90 all year. One was in round two, an 85, and the other was an injury-affected 78, where he went down early in their third term. However, he was on pace for another 120+ performance in that game. Ranking him against midfielders, he’s tenth and had better seasons (by average) than Clayton Oliver, Sam Walsh, Marcus Bontempelli and Darcy Parish.
Over in SuperCoach, he had arguably an even stronger season. He averaged 112 and is currently ranked the 14th-best midfielder in the game. Last season he posted fourteen scores of 100 or more, including seven over 120, one of which was a season-high of 154. A highlight in the season for owners would’ve been his 11 consecutive tons between rounds 6 -17, going at an average of 116.
We’ve got multiple seasons of data to tell us that he’s a 110+ premium midfielder. Beyond Callum Mills, only Jack Steele and Rory Laird can boast that in AFLFantasy/DreamTeam. While it’s more common in SuperCoach, the elite premiums can back up strong seasons consecutively, and Callum’s history means that he should be considered in the same light as the big names of fantasy football.Embed from Getty Images
The scoring capacity and pedigree of Callum Mills are unquestioned. Everyone knows that on his day, he can be the top-scoring player. But there is some significant hesitation in the fantasy community around starting him. Of course, when you’re investing the salary you are in him, you don’t want any big doubts, but with Mills, a trend appeared that concerned coaches.
At various times in the back half of the season, John Longmire would change up the midfield role of Callum. It was not just moving him from an inside/outside midfield split from the centre bounce to wing, but playing as a spare deep inside the Swans defensive 50. This was used multiple times in games late in quarters or in the final few minutes of the match to stem the opposition teams momentum against them.
This is less than ideal, and while we need to let the team’s past movements inform future decisions, we cannot simply assume, because it happened last year, it’ll happen again to the same level. So yes, there’s more potential, but from watching those games back, the movement of Mills made little to no impact on the game’s outcome. If anything, it actually to one of the Swans best players away from the ball & gave the opposition more opportunity to score.
For example, the game it was most notable for him moving behind the ball was round 18 against the Dockers. And yet, in that match, he still scored a 132 in AFLFantasy/DreamTeam and 116 in SuperCoach. Hardly a ‘poor score’. The only poor game he had was the surprise loss against Essendon, where he was deployed down back to avoid a tag, not to save a game.
The scoring threat wasn’t this move; it was a drift from a heavy CBA midfield role to now being more evenly split between there and the wings. As you look over the Sydney midfield, that centre-bounce crew looks rock solid. It’s a tight four of Chad Warner, Luke Parker, James Rowbottom and Callum Mills. As the 2022 season went on, we did see an increase in CBA’s for Tom Papley. These started to appear from round 15 until the end of the season. From here, his CBAs did start to slide, and from a fantasy perspective, his numbers align with a dip. Over the first 13 games in AFLFantasy/DreamTeam, he averaged 113 and went at 122 in SuperCoach. But from round 15 onwards, he had a nine-week stretch that Mills averaged 107 across the formats. As you can see, a scoring dip did emerge.
The fact remains: if you doubt him and the role he might play, he’s giving you a reason to fade as a starting squad option. But that’s the beauty of fantasy footy; two different people can see the same thing and come to different conclusions. Some see the volatility as a potential risk. Others might see a potential for upside should the ball fall his way down back or the positional movement doesn’t occur.
After playing fantasy footy formats for over a decade, a common mistake people make in their teams is they focus more on their starting squads than on their upgrades. So, instead of just picking the best players, they outdo themselves by ensuring they have unique starting teams. Getting the point of difference is fine, but you only come first because of your starting squad at the end of the day. Success in the salary cap formats of the game is based on the timing and execution of the correct trades. If you’re not convinced he’s a captaincy candidate most weeks and a top 3-4 midfielder for the season, you can safely target him as an upgrade.
That is the big question for Mills: do you feel comfortable using him as a VC/C option? In the opening six weeks of the season, you will have the lowest volume of premiums and the least amount of captaincy candidates. So if you don’t think Mills will be someone you could throw the VC/C on, then he isn’t a starter for you.
When you go, unique premiums, especially in the starting squad. You need it to fire. If it doesn’t, then you can be playing catch-up all year. When a unique premium isn’t firing, it can force you to trade more aggressively than usual to get back into contention. While that play can work for you, the harder you go early in limited trades can often mean the greater injury luck you need later.
Mills is right in the mix for me in a few formats. I love his ceiling, scoring consistency and the fact that his lowly owned only makes him more appetizing as a selection for me. He’s not locked, but he’s in contention.
One of the most enjoyable players to own in drafts is Callum Mills Because he feels capable of a monster score against any opponent in any week. He’ll head off draft boards as an M1 but will be taken early in the second round. If he gets picked any later than this, it’s already a significant win for his owner.
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