#3 Most Relevant | Sam Walsh

Join us as we unpack the puzzle of starting with Carlton’s midfield maestro Sam Walsh, examining his potential for a rebound season amidst injury concerns and a crowded midfield dynamic alongside the chaos of the early byes.


Sam Walsh is a dynamic midfielder known for his exceptional endurance, work rate, and ability to cover the ground during games. Since his debut season in 2019, he has quickly established himself as a core player for the Carlton Blues, showcasing a mix of inside and outside play. Walsh excels in accumulating possessions, often leading his team in disposals due to his tireless running and knack for being in the right place at the right time.

His clean ball use, vision, and decision-making under pressure set him apart, while his commitment to the game’s offensive and defensive aspects highlights his all-around abilities. Additionally, Walsh’s leadership qualities and resilience contribute significantly to his team, making him a key figure in Carlton’s midfield and a player with a bright future ahead.

It becomes evident that despite facing challenges, including an injury-interrupted preseason due to a back injury and a hamstring setback, Walsh’s capabilities and resilience shone through. His averages in AFLFantasy and SuperCoach reflect a player of significant impact, with moments of brilliance particularly evident in the early part of the season and during the AFL Finals, underscoring his potential and the high expectations placed upon him.

The division of his season into thirds reveals a tale of two halves, starkly contrasting his performances in the first seven games and the final eight games of the regular season. This fluctuation in form, however, converges towards a positive endpoint, as demonstrated by his outstanding performances in the AFL Finals. These finals performances, particularly his averages of 115.3 in AFLFantasy and 122 in SuperCoach showcase Walsh’s ability to rise to the occasion and deliver when it matters most.

Such a season trajectory provides a compelling case for Walsh’s fantasy football relevance. His season’s initial and concluding segments indicate his true potential as a premium fantasy midfielder. The dip in form during the mid-season, influenced by injury setbacks, is viewed as an anomaly rather than a trend. With Walsh’s proven track record in the previous seasons, averaging over 100 in both AFLFantasy and SuperCoach, fantasy coaches have every reason to believe in his ability to return to or surpass his best form.

Given the dynamics of his 2023 season and his performances when fully fit, Walsh presents as a tempting prospect for fantasy football in 2024. His resilience, undeniable talent, and the glimpses of elite scoring potential seen during the finals position him as a player capable of significant impact. Fantasy coaches will be keenly watching his preseason progress, especially concerning his recovery from the back injury, with optimism that a fully fit Sam Walsh can recapture and build upon his early 2023 form and solidify his status as a top-tier fantasy option.

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Navigating the fantasy football waters with Sam Walsh presents a nuanced decision-making process for coaches. His heavily reliant disposals scoring mechanism sets him apart from midfielders who diversify their fantasy points across various statistical columns. This characteristic underscores the necessity for Walsh to maintain a high ball-winning rate to achieve significant scoring. Fortunately, his skill set is well-suited to this task, offering a glimmer of hope for substantial fantasy output.

The early bye in Round 2 complicates decisions for fantasy coaches contemplating Walsh’s inclusion in their starting squads. While the prospect of additional early price movement due to participation in the opening round may seem appealing, it shouldn’t be the primary factor influencing decisions. Instead, expectations regarding his scoring relative to his price point will likely play a more critical role. Current ownership rates across major fantasy platforms indicate a significant portion of the community is willing to navigate the challenges posed by the early bye, prioritizing Walsh’s potential contributions over the temporary roster gap.

The evolving dynamics within Carlton’s midfield pose another consideration. The Blues’ engine room has seen significant changes since Walsh’s peak seasons, with the arrival of players like George Hewett and Adam Cerra and the resurgence of Patrick Cripps. This redistribution of midfield roles suggests that expectations for Walsh to return to his zenith might be overly optimistic without considering the team’s current composition.

For Walsh to justify a starting position in fantasy lineups, he must average between 105 and 110 in AFLFantasy and 110 and 115 in SuperCoach. Given the current midfield structure at Carlton and the competitive environment, achieving these marks presents a formidable challenge. As such, adopting a wait-and-see approach, targeting Walsh as a potential ‘correctional trade’ post his Round 2 bye, emerges as a strategic move. This approach allows coaches to assess his form and role within the revamped Carlton midfield dynamic, ensuring a more informed decision based on actual performance rather than preseason speculation.

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Sam Walsh emerges as a nuanced pick, solidifying as an M2 in AFLFantasy thanks to his ability to gather disposals and impact games, even amidst a crowded Carlton midfield. Despite a recent injury-marred season, this ranking reflects optimism about his fitness and scoring potential. In SuperCoach, however, he’s seen more cautiously as an M3, acknowledging the format’s scoring that may not highlight his attributes as effectively.

The early bye presents a strategic consideration, yet high community ownership signals confidence in overcoming this hurdle. Drafting Walsh involves balancing his proven capabilities against Carlton’s midfield dynamics and his fitness, positioning him as a strategic pick for coaches aiming to leverage his potential for a strong fantasy season rebound.


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