2023 Practice Match Watchlist

For one last time in 2023, we get a ‘free look’ at our players before the commencement of round one. So we asked the panel to pick one player per side they’ve got on their watchlist and why they are heading into this weekend of games. 

Rids: It is a real shame Wayne Milera is missing this game. Another week to get your eyes on Sam Berry and to see if he is hunting the ball and not just the man. If shows the potential to increase his possession count to 25-30 then a break out 3 figure avg is on the cards for 2023.

MJ: A strong showing inside the forward half from Luke Pedlar against the Eagles should be enough to book his ticket in the round one side. The club has continually sung his praise throughout the offseason. His weapons are his power, speed and lethal left foot. If he can push up the ground, we can expect a 55+ average. 

MiniMonk: The name on everyone’s tongue after their match simulation last week was Sam Berry. At the price bracket where quite a few players are in contention for a spot in our starting teams, can Berry show that he has a lock on that midfield spot and have the ability to push into the top echelon of players for us?

Rids: Can he win a wing spot for round 1? Darcy Wilmot gets the opportunity this week to argue his rd 1 case. Definitely feels a spot in the Lions best 22 is up for grabs with a good performance.

MJ: When Darcy Wilmot debuted during the 2022 AFL finals series, fantasy coaches nationwide opened their little black book and put his name in. The Brisbane speedster looked at home at the elite level, scoring 51, 62 & 52 in AFLFantasy/DreamTeam and 52, 61 & 73 for SuperCoach. It’s not monster scoring, but enough for a basement-level defender cash cow. Another strong showing will all but lock him into the Lions round-one side and be a fieldable defender for us across all formats. 

MiniMonk: Darcy Wilmont and Connor McKenna. Can these two coexist or are we going to be burnt by one or the other. The combination of the two will dictate our backline structures come round 1 and so all eyes will be on them.

Rids: Mature aged Alex Cincotta will have approx 200,000 eyes on him this week. Another good performance will have him in a prime position to be the Zac Williams replacement for rd 1.

MJ: Sam Docherty. Spent some time last week through the midfield and back in the defensive half. I’m very bullish on him this year, but keen to see what his split is between those spots on the ground.

MiniMonk: Adam Cerra is someone who went under the radar from his practice game last week. Coming in at a discount due to injury and with Sam Walsh potentially out for an extended period, Cerra could be a play to generate cash quickly with the potential to end up a keeper.

Rids: This is simple. The fantasy world wants a significant CBA for Tom Mitchell. Forget his score in this game. A 50% or greater CBA would give his fans a great boost of confidence that he will score enough to stay the season.

MJ: The heavy forward role last week for Darcy Cameron wasn’t a surprise for me. He’s had an interrupted preseason, so I wasn’t shocked to see him getting eased through his workload. With that being said, if I see an equal split this week, I’ll fade any consideration of him being an R2 in my starting squads. 

MiniMonk: Nick Daicos was pushed through the midfield for the Pies during their game last week. Will their CBA mix continue to be varied or will he and Tom Mitchell cement places in their core mix for round 1.

Rids: Brad Scott will be in the gun this week. After a couple of years of being over-coached, will Scott let his new team play footy on instinct. If he does, guys like Darcy Parish and Zach Merrett may be amazing PODs.

MJ: With one more strong showing from Jye Menzie & he’ll lock himself into the Essendon round one team—any forward cash cow consideration to factor into our structure. 

MiniMonk: Darcy Parish impressed last week and has proven his ability to be a top line player across the formats. If he has shrugged off all the niggles of 2022 then he has the potential to reclaim that position and be an outright premium in 2023. The game style of the Bombers is one to watch though.

Rids: Not just one name in this one. More the whole midfield as 1. How do Fremantle split the mid time for Brayshaw, Serong, JOM, Brodie and co? Will be awesome to get some real data around this leading into rd 1.

MJ: I’d love for Matt Johnson to have a blinder. We could do with some more basement-priced midfield cash cows. I don’t see him fitting into centre bounces, but If he can get into the wing rotation group and get himself around the ball, it might be enough for us to consider him if named. 

MiniMonk: No Luke Ryan makes it hard to know how much we will be able to read into it but Hayden Young is someone I want to watch again. He didn’t have a great game against the Crows, but there is still time for him to prove to many that he deserves to be in their round 1 teams.

Become a Patron!

Rids: What a shame there is no Bowes…. lucky for us however we do get to see the big fella Esava at full back one more time. While he feels very SC, he may become a pivot type in the other formats too. Time to find out why Port wanted him so bad yet Geelong held strong.

MJ: Is it as simple as Joel Selwood out and Max Holmes in from the Grand Final side? I’m not considering Max for ‘Classic’, but he could be a ripper draft pick late if he’s picking up those midfield minutes. 

MiniMonk: The spot that would’ve gone to Jack Bowes if he was named. Unfortunately, we have Chris Scott doing Chris Scott things. Instead, Esava Rategoulea is the one we should be monitoring. With a handy R/F DPP and a cheap price, he could be a sneaky option for the in-tune coaches.

Rids: Hoping Tom Green plays forward pocket and struggles to get a kick. Way too much hype on him after playing nobody a week ago. If the hype continues I will be fading him as a starter…. nah not really but maybe. 

MJ: Josh Kelly! There I said it. In all honesty, I want to see how this midfield mix works. I’m confident about Green being the centrepiece, but I’m fascinated to see what happens around him unfold. Josh could still sit in my side if I see the right role and game style. 

MiniMonk: 50-Touch Tom Green (citation needed). Can he replicate his efforts in his intra-club? Even 60% of that might be enough for him to cement a slot for many. The youngster oozes class and will be a fun watch even if he doesn’t make it in in the end.

Rids: Matt Rowell was the talk of the town 12 months ago yet he has got through preseason without any mention of his name and looked amazing last week. Of course many will be looking elsewhere but feel most are sleeping on this future gun.

MJ: Everything Charlie Constable did last week made it supremely clear that Gold Coast want to get the ball into his hands as much as possible. Should that unfold again against the Giants and lock many others, I’ll be locking him into my starting squad. 

MiniMonk: Charlie Constable displayed class for the Suns off half back last week and with their injuries, should he cement a round one spot, he will be a popular pick. Just how much ball can he get?

Rids: All eyes will be on a number of rookies in this game but the rookie that everyone will be keen to see if Cam MacKenzie. Has had a huge preseason from all reports and a solid performance will not only lock him into a rd 1 debut, but also for our fantasy teams.

MJ: What are the Hawks doing in the ruck division? Will it be a combination of two rucks rotating through? Or will one of Ned Reeves or Lloyd Meek win and hold down the #1. We’ll get a good idea when they play the Magpies.  

MiniMonk: Will Day was touted for midfield time earlier in the preseason and then had some last week. Can it continue? And if so, how much can he score? An interesting watch for many who are looking for value down back.

Rids: Another team I dont really need to see this week. The vanilla option then is the Grundy Gawn mix but I really dont care what it looks like as I wont go near either this year unless the other guy has an injury. So I will say Pickett and to see if he gets more CBAs again. He might be SC relevant if it is real!

MJ: On SEN in Melbourne, Christian Petracca hinted that we could see some changes to the midfield make-up. He alluded that he and Clayton Oliver might spend more time outside the midfield! That caught my eye, and I’m curious how they might manifest this weekend: no panic stations, but something to watch. 

MiniMonk: Angus Brayshaw because the seagull down back, getting involved in everything for the Demons. The concerns that he has to be in the midfield to have value may be alleviated if he shows the same desire for the ball a second week in a row.

Rids: The most intriguing team for me this preseason. Where do I start? Goater – does he continue the half back role? Powell – looks a million dollars. Just want to see him playing inside more with a full mid contingent. Xerri – is he first choice now? Feels a bit smelly with the Goldysaurus still hanging around. Comben – does the fwd cow ghost of years gone by ready to make an appearance rd 1? Powell – just get thru the game in one piece pls.

MJ: I can’t wait to see Ben Cunnington back towards his best. All reports are he’s been a beast all preseason an d is expected to get back to his inside midfield role. If the midfield load favours him, he’s still a very viable play, especially in SuperCoach. 

MiniMonk: The competition for that value midfield spot is getting hot, and Luke Davies-Uniacke is one who is still in the mind for many coaches. Dominant against Richmond last week, can he back it up and become the contested bull that both North supporters and fantasy coaches want him to be?

Rids: Many in the community wouldnt be able to tell the difference between the dynamic duo – Zak Butters and Connor Rozee. What is the mid split between these 2? Who pushes forward more? Kenny will be fighting for his footy life this year so will want to nail the official preseason game. This stinks dress rehearsal for rd 1.

MJ: The spot looks like it’s his to lose. But I’d love to see Scott Lycett remove all doubt and show me that he’s the #1 ruck for the club. 

MiniMonk: Zak Butters missed the match simulation for the Power last week and so we didn’t get to see how he fit into their CBA mix. Will his addition this week affect the time in the middle for the likes of Connor Rozee and Jason Horne-Francis?

Rids: We get another oportunity to give new recruits Tim Taranto and Jacob Hopper an eye test. Both look fit and have settled into their new club well. But will they have the required fantasy output in the not so fantasy friendly game plan of the Tigers?

MJ: Jayden Short. There was some anticipation from the fantasy community that’d he be moving back to the defensive line and becoming a DPP consideration during the season. But so far, he seems to be an established part of this redeveloped midfield alongside Tim Taranto and Jacob Hopper. I’ll fade Short down my draft board if that’s on display again. 

MiniMonk:Tim Taranto was everywhere for the Tigers, being in their CBA mix and pushing forward to get goals. The premium forward mix is tricky with coaches looking for any reason to disregard one of the big four. The slightest hiccup from Taranto could be enough for some to fade him.

Rids: Something has to give for season 2023. New coach. New rumoured game plan. But the real focus will be on the returning Nick Coffield. The former first round draft pick is exactly what the Saints have been missing across half back. Looming as a possible mid price defender that could generate loads of cash if his role is friendly. This weekend should be a good indication of what to expect for rd 1 and 2023.

MJ: Draft Watch! Marcus Windhager. As a forward-listed option that could be playing a defensive-minded midfield role, he could provide value late. Especially important given how thin the forward stocks are this year. 

MiniMonk: Rowan Marshall was dominant with Tom Campbell not present. Can he continue that role if he is there? Or can he show to Ross Lyon that he doesn’t need any backup and give coaches full confidence to jump into him?

Rids: Third year break out you say? Why not!!! And what a cool name at the same time. Could the big 4 dogs of our forward lines have a sneaky 5th? Errol Gulden will get his chance to impress this week. Watch the CBAs and not the score people! Role is king for Gulden this week.

MJ: I’m not as turned off by the forward time role that Callum Mills had last week in the practice matches. I think there’s only one positional role that Callum could play, which means his fantasy output is negatively affected by—the wing. Based on the Swans game style, he can score as a topline premium even if he’s being rotated through the HF line. I’ll be watching what the Swans do on the wings. I’m tempted to take the plunge and ‘gamble’ on Mills.  

MiniMonk: Errol Gulden was not one I expected to get a huge midfield share this early on but he showed his class when he was pushed through there. Is Horse playing games with fantasy coaches again like he did with Heeney last year or can he take the next step for coaches?

Rids: All about 2 things here. Which rookie impresses for rd 1? Is it Chesser on a wing? Where does Gingey play? Aside from that it would also be awesome to see Sheed in an inside mid role before rd 1.

MJ: I’ll keep this simple. If Elliot Yeo gets through the game and pulls up well in recovery, then he’s locked away in my side across the formats. 

MiniMonk: Reuben Ginbey missed last week’s match simulation with an injured toe. Their preseason game this week is his chance to cement his round 1 spot for the Eagles. This is the first (and last) chance for many of us to get a look at him prior to then, so all eyes on this rookie on Friday night.

Rids: I dont care what the Dogs do in this game. Bevo will continue to do Bevo things. I am going to my keeper team though to get a look at Ed Richards and the role he has. I am hoping that Daniel into the mids is real and this allows Richards to form a working half-back relationship with Dale.

MJ: One of my favourite players to watch and own is Bailey Smith. He’s in the mix for me in AFLFantasy & DreamTeam. If his role is split again between the centre bounces and half-forward, that might be enough to make me start him.

MiniMonk: Bailey Smith, Marcus Bontempelli, and Jackson Macrae are all premium midfield options from the Bulldogs for us after the departure of Josh Dunkley. Who will get the increased share, increase in scoring, and push for starting squad selections for us?