Under a new coaching regime, plenty can change for a team. And for years of attempting to push into the midfield, Brayden Maynard looks like Craig McRae may grant his wish. 

PLAYER PROFILE

Name: Brayden Maynard
Age: 25
Club: Collingwood Magpies
Position: Defender

2021 Highest Score: 
133 Vs Melbourne (AFLFantasy)
142 Vs Melbourne (SuperCoach)

Career Highest Score: 
144 Vs Fremantle| AFLFantasy (2018)
142 Vs Melbourne | SuperCoach (2021)

2021 Average: 
81.4 (AFLFantasy)
92.3 (SuperCoach)

SuperCoach Price: $502,500
AFLFantasy Price: 
$683,000
AFLDreamTeam Price: 
$694,500

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WHY IS HE RELEVANT?

In 2022, Brayden Maynard is one of the most hyped players of the preseason. And while it may not yet have translated into ownership percentages just yet, coaches have a keen eye on his preseason. Over the past few seasons, he’s made himself a household name as a damaging rebounding defender and a brilliant lockdown small defender. With his now mooted midfield move, Collingwood and fantasy coaches hope that these skills translate.

The possible midfield role might be the primary, but it isn’t the sole reason coaches are keeping an eye on him. After hitting the heights of fantasy footy dominance in 2020, Brayden Maynard was a year of regression in 2021. The Collingwood defender still held the same role, but alas, for coaches that jumped on, it didn’t deliver the same fantasy return.

In AFLFantasy/DreamTeam, he scored five tons; four were above 115, including a season-high of 133. He had five additional scores above 80, and his seasonal average of 81 left him ranked 25th amongst defenders by averages. In SuperCoach, he posted ten tons. Half of those were above 120, including the career-high 142. He had five extra games where he scored between 80-99 and averaged 92 for the year. On averages his currently ranked 21st in the backline.

Is that a great year? No! But also not horrible. Those that jumped on last season were banking his 2020 breakout unfolding further. That year he averaged an adjusted 93 in AFLFantasy/DreamTeam & 102 in SuperCoach and was one of the best defensive options across the formats.

Ultimately, these stats show you what his scoring baseline will be in 2022 if he doesn’t have a significant midfield role adjustment. So at worst, he will be a top 20-25 defender. The downside is that he holds price and holds scoring range. But the upside could be dynamic and make him one of the best defenders this season.

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MY TAKE

I’ve been playing all formats of fantasy football for over a decade. And one thing that’s notorious with the preseason is the hyped more midfield time. Sometimes we see you don’t see it unfold. Remember just a few seasons ago when Dan Houston was the preseason hype man? Very quickly, that experiment failed. Other years, the hype is accurate, and a player like Callum Mills emerges and becomes a star in the line and, by osmosis, gives coaches a unicorn season in the process.

Ultimately the variables that lend themselves to a player succeeding or failing to move into the midfield are too many to quantify into a simple formula. Every team, coach, structure, style and list dynamics are different. But there is one common factor. The player’s skills translate to fill a defined void in the side. For Collingwood, they lack in plenty of areas through the midfield. What Brayden Maynard does could be the answer to a bunch of them. He offers an elite two-way workrate; he’s a high-pressure player, he makes good decisions with the ball by hand and foot and has a nice turn of pace over the first 10-15 metres. 

The new coaching regime has fallen in love with the combination of this skill and the tough as nails leadership mindset he has would sit perfectly alongside Taylor Adams in that midfield unit. However, the magpie midfield desperately needs a reveal, and Maynard could well be the man. Especially with no Jordan De Goey part of the club in the preseason and likely to start slow even if he should return, Maynard offers some different to what they currently have.

So what do coaches need to see in the preseason to start Brayden with confidence? Simple, in the preseason practice match and Community series game that he plays through the midfield to near exclusivity. I know the risk of a role regression mid-season is a reality, much like what happened with Zac Williams. But the truth is, that’s a unique circumstance that I believe cannot be translated across. Good coaches don’t train a player into a role all preseason and then make a knee jerk decision to abandon it. Good players work hard, fit in and make it work. So if Craig McRae continues to train him through the midfield and he plays there, that’s all the confidence I need to select Maynard at D3 for me across all formats of the game.

Numerous times in this series, you’ve heard myself and the guests comment about the challenges in the backline this year. The result is it can be the line that opens up diverse opportunities and create positive ranking separation if things fall your way. I believe you need to take some risks on this area of the ground, and if Maynard plays through the midfield in the preseason, he will become the most popular and easy to choose option this year.

I’ve got my eyes firmly on him and his role this preseason, and every fantasy coach reading this should too.

DRAFT DECISION

Based on his current average, Brayden Maynard is ranked between the 20-25 range for defenders across the formats. I believe this is his basement range. On draft day, for coaches picking by averages as the rank, he is an early D3 in most leagues. If the mooted midfield role eventuates, then he’ll highly be unlikely available even then. We know that preseason hype in salary cap formats does bleed into drafts, and as a result, I suspect Maynard to disappear on draft day as a D2.

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