It’s been a long time since we’ve talked about Toby McLean and used the phrase ‘fantasy relevant.’ But after a strong score in his one game in the AFL finals, plus favourable pricing across the formats, he’s become a staple in plenty of preseason structures.
Name: Toby McLean
Club: Western Bulldogs
2022 Highest Score:
Did Not Play
Career Highest Score:
152 Vs Collingwood | AFLFantasy (2018)
146 Vs Gold Coast | SuperCoach (2018)
Did Not Play
SuperCoach Price: $178,900
AFLFantasy Price: $401,000
AFLDreamTeam Price: $293,500
WHY IS HE RELEVANT?
There are two reasons that Toby McLean is on fantasy coaches radars. Firstly, value! After recovering from an ACL injury, he’s priced at an absolute bargain. In two formats, he’s priced as a cash cow. In SuperCoach, he’s priced about $25k cheaper than our most expensive cash cow this year Aaron Cadman. For DreamTeam, he’s priced just a few thousand beneath him, and AFLFantasy, he’s priced $100k more than him, but it’s at the price point of a guy averaging 45.
The second is due to a proven record of fantasy scoring. In 2018 he scored nine AFLFantasy/DreamTeam tons, including 143 & 152. He had eight additional scores of 80+ on the way to averaging 94.5. That same season in SuperCoach, he posted 10 tons, three of them over 120. His seasonal average of 94.6 is exceptional, but there was a pocket of nine rounds where he went at an average of 113.3
2018 is far from a career outlier; the season earlier, he averaged 85.5 across the formats. However, over the final ten weeks of the season, he averaged 95.3 in AFLFantasy/DreamTeam and 97.2 in SuperCoach. So, in reality, we’ve got a gut that, for 32 games straight, showed the capacity of being a mid-90s performing player.
This history might feel too distant to carry much substance. And in part, that’s reasonable. However, his game in the elimination final against the Dockers last year adds some weight to the hope that his coring potential still exists. In that match, he had 21 possessions, nine tackles, two marks, and two behinds. In fantasy terms, he scored 100 in AFLFantasy/DreamTeam & SuperCoach. Most impressively, he did this without attending a centre bounce. Rather McLean started as a forward and then would push up the ground.
McLean is a proven performer who, in DreamTeam & SuperCoach, is priced as a cash cow. While in AFLFantasy, he’s right on the lower edges of being a stepping stone. If fit and named round one, Toby appears to be one of the easiest selections in the 2023 fantasy season.Embed from Getty Images
As much as Toby McLean has shown the potential to score as a premium forward, nobody should be walking into the season expecting he’ll become one. It’s in the realm of possibility, but you should temper those expectations. Based on his price point, you should view him through the same lens as a cash cow. He’s a 6-8 week play in which you can make some coin, score a few points and then be flipped into a premium forward.
One of the hardest teams to get a gauge on this preseason is the Western Bulldogs. Who are the bottom five players that sneak into the best 22 for round one? As much as McLean should be picked in round one, the Dogs have plenty of depth for players that can play inside forward 50 and then push up the ground. Unfortunately, you can only fit some of Robbie McComb, Anthony Scott, Roarke Smith, Mitch Hannan, Lachie McNeil, Laitham Vandermeer, Riley Garcia and Toby McLean all playing a forward-midfield rotation. As you can see, the dogs are DEEP in this area of the list.
What it does mean if you need to have a contingency plan. An ‘ITTT’. This stands for If This Then That. In essence, specified events occur a specific follow-up is triggered and handled. With McLean, you need to have a backup, he should be best 22, but he’s far from locked in. What will you do if he isn’t named that doesn’t create an entire squad restructure? If you have yet to think this through, then now’s a great chance to start doing so.
Where he plays is of little concern to me; predicting what the coaching team at Western Bulldogs is hard enough to predict, even for some of their best players. So to think that McLean has greater positional security than these bigger names is slightly ludicrous. For what it’s worth, I believe that should he play, I suspect he’ll be heavily based in the forward fifty with some opportunities to push up the wings. I don’t see him picking up any, let alone many CBAs.
Sometimes you can overcomplicate things. We can get too cute or create narratives that don’t exist. But the story should be very simple for Toby McLean. He should end up on your side if he’s named round one. In DreamTeam & SuperCoach, there is little to process. He’s a proven performer priced as a cow. In AFLFantasy, I see him being overlooked only if we get an abundance of cows and no longer require players at his price range.
Toby McLean’s relevance is heavily in classic game formats, but as a result, he’ll get noticed by draft coaches. I’d happily take him as a flyer with my last on-field or bench spot. Unfortunately, there’s only upside on him at that point of the draft. At best, he pops up to an F3; at worst, I delist him for a player that is popping.
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