Before succumbing to a season-ending ACL, James Sicily was on track for delivering coaches a third consecutive premium season. After a tasty discount, is Sicily the prime value pick in your starting squad?

PLAYER PROFILE

Name: James Sicily
Age: 27
Club: Hawthorn Hawks
Position: Defender

Career Highest Score: 
135 Vs Essendon | AFLFantasy (2018)
163 Vs Sydney | SuperCoach (2020)

SuperCoach Price: $448,100
AFLFantasy Price: 
$510,00
AFLDreamTeam Price: 
$473,700

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WHY IS HE RELEVANT?

Not much went the way of the Hawks in 2021. Arguably it all started to go pear-shaped late in 2020 when James Sicily went down with an ACL injury that didn’t just end his 2020 season but ultimately saw him absent from all of 2021. Whenever a player misses large chunks of time, we can quickly forget certain players’ abilities. When it comes to Sicily, he is elite in so many areas. He possesses the rare ability to control the game from behind the ball with his elite marking, and his decision making by foot makes him a valuable asset for the Hawks. He’s elite in for kicks, contested marks, uncontested marks and rebound 50’s.

For the better part of three seasons, James had been a premium defender for coaches across all game formats. In 2018 he averaged 95.5 in AFLFantasy, scoring five tons, including his personal best 135. While in SuperCoach, he scored nine tons, four over 120 and averaged 105. During the 2019 season, he played every game, averaged 84 in AFLFantasy and had seven scores of 100 or more. Again, for SuperCoach, he averaged 95 and scored nine tons.

While before injury in 2020, he was averaging 103 in SuperCoach from his eleven games, he scored five tons, four of them over 120 and two were 140+. He had an additional three scores between 80-99. Over in AFLFantasy/DreamTeam, he averaged 69.4 (adjusted 83); it featured one pure ton and 88 a 95 plus two additional scores over 70.

In short, we’ve got multiple seasons of data than before the injury; he’s a consistent 85-95 scoring defender in AFLFantasy/DreamTeam and 95-105 in SuperCoach. The positive for prospective owners is he’s priced nowhere near that range. DreamTeam is at an average range of the mid-’50s, which means coaches could have a value pick with up to 40 points per game instilled. In AFLFantasy, his price point is with players averaging in the mid-’60’s, providing 30 points per game of value based on his career-high averages. While finally in SuperCoach, he’s priced in the low 80’s and providing coaches 20 points per game based on what he was delivering in 2020.

James Sicily is a proven premium defender across all formats and has tremendous value based on his proven scoring abilities. But the final sweetener in the deal for him is the Hawthorn bye round. The Hawks are one of the six-team rested in round fourteen. This is the perfect round for a stepping stone. Here coaches get optimal onfield scoring weeks and the full view of the top premiums to pursue for the final few months of the season. Sicily, if he’s scoring well but not enough to be a premium, he could be moved at his bye to Jake Lloyd, Caleb Daniel or Tom Stewart coming off the rest.

Coming back to the knee injury in October last year, Sicily had already entirely recovered from his ACL rehabilitation. This means he’s already been able to complete everything asked of him in the preseason. So Sicily isn’t striving to be fit by round one; instead, he’s banging the door down and is ready to go.

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MY TAKE

If you cast your mind back to Jarrod Witts, who was added earlier in the 50 most relevant, you’ll recall one essential thing. Players returning from ACL’s almost without exception all return with some scoring regression. It happens repeatedly; players take time to get back to their best coming off serious injuries. And sometimes, they never can recapture their previous bests.

Thankfully, James Sicily doesn’t have to deliver the 95-105 range season. In AFLFantasy/DreamTeam, he’s a genuine stepping stone. That means, for the coaches needing this structured style of player, he could be the perfect balanced approach of cash generation and scores on the field. The stakes are a little higher in SuperCoach. You need to be confident he can go 90 minimum to start with. 

With DPP’s coming into the games of SuperCoach & DreamTeam, it means our defensive (and forward) premiums must withstand the potential variance of higher scoring options entering into the line midseason. You can only start premiums you are convinced are top 3-4 in these lines. Otherwise, it’s value options and rookies to fill the on-field positions. A player like Sicily who can score like a premium for a few weeks might be the perfect stopgap. Don’t forget the Hawks have the final bye round. 

Outside of the forecast scoring regression of players coming off ACLs, the other cause for uncertainty is the Hawke backline structure. If you presume health, they’ve got a mountain of players that can rotate in the back six, and all be viable options to clip away at his points. Both Will Day and Jack Scrimshaw have been long seen as the reincarnation of the famous Hawk dynasty ball users. Jarman Impey and Lachie Bramble found new homes in the backline and offered speed and defensive work rates. Blake Hardwick is the lockdown man but does take a majority share of kick-in duties. While Changkuoth Jiath could be anything.

Sicily is the backline leader, and as good as the development of that young core is, he’s still the supreme user and interceptor of the bunch. So while someone might see a score drip, I’m confident it won’t be James.

He needs to be on your watchlist; it’s too early in the preseason to either lock him in or ignore him. But, as always, stepping stones in certain lines are either required or redundant based on the availability of cash cows. So, for now, wait and see on James Sicily.

DRAFT DECISION

There’s always a wide variety of coaching strategies in every draft league. Some will only draft off names they know, others only off historical data, and some love to chase the breakouts. I use one strategy when considering looking for players at positions like D3/D4 for players with scoring upside. And James Sicily ticks that box. My ideal time to land him is D4, but I think he’ll be snapped up as a D3.

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