Not much went well for North Melbourne or Jack Ziebell in 2020. Entering into a new year, with a new coach, can the Roos skipper burst his way back into fantasy relevance?

PLAYER PROFILE

Name: Jack Ziebell
Age: 29
Club: North Melbourne
Position: Forward

2020 Highest Score: 
70 Vs Sydney (AFLFantasy)
99 Vs Sydney (SuperCoach)

Career Highest Score: 
156 Vs Western Bulldogs | AFLFantasy (2011)
161 Vs Collingwood | SuperCoach (2013)

2020 Average: 
37.6 (AFLFantasy) | 47 (Adjusted Average)
48 (SuperCoach)

SuperCoach Price: $257,900
AFLFantasy Price: 
$644,000
AFLDreamTeam Price: $347,400

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WHY IS HE RELEVANT?

2020 will not be a season that the North Melbourne Football club look back on with fond memories. Outside of the emergence of Jy Simpkin and Luke McDonald, not much else is worth celebrating.

For the club’s captain Jack Ziebell, injuries were the primary cause of pain, resulting in him playing only 8 matches. Even when he did play, 3 of his 8 games he suffered an injury mid-game.

Round one he injured his medial ligament. The COVID forced shutdown actually enabled him to get back in time for the season restart. However, in round 4 he injured his hamstring while three rounds later he reinjured that same hamstring inside the opening quarter.

Most the year, Ziebell played a primary forward role with only 2 game against GWS and Sydney getting much midfield action. In round 2, he scored 66 AFLFantasy (adjusted 82) 89 SuperCoach, while round 3 against the swans he amassed a 70 in AFLFantasy (adjusted 87) and 99 SuperCaach.

These aren’t insane scoring numbers, but we can often have an incredibly short memory about a players scoring ability as a fantasy coach. Just 12 months earlier Ziebell played 22 games and averaged 90 across all formats.

In AFLFantasy/DreamTeam he posted 9 tons, 3 of these were higher than 120 including a 145 & 155. In addition to this he had 3 other scores between 90-99. While in SuperCoach he scored 10 tons, 6 higher than 120 and an additional 4 scores 80 or higher.

If you want to drill down even further into his season, there was a large portion of the year that Jack was the most dominant scoring player in our forward line. Between round 6-16, he averaged 104 in all formats.

Looking over his 6 most recent seasonal averages before 2020 enhances the point that Ziebell is someone that as a forward eligible option we need to consider. In AFLFantasy/DreamTeam his averages are a 95, 84, 90, 95, 94 & 82. In SuperCoach it’s very similar with averages of 95, 83, 86, 94, 89, 84.

Playing just 8 games in a season, plus three in game injuries is a concern. But before last year, Ziebell doesn’t have a heavy injury history. He played 22 games in 2019 & 2018, it was 19 games in 2017, and he played 21 & 22 matches in 2016 & 2015.

Having Jack back playing 20+ games for North Melbourne is essential, but not for fantasy coaches. In DreamTeam & SuperCoach he’s priced between $50-$100k of Jamarra Ugle-Hagan. All we need is for him to average a minimum of 75 and stay on the park for Ziebell owners to return a winning position. Over a long history, that looks a very safe bet for Jack.

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MY TAKE

What do we need to see from him in the preseason to select him? Ultimately, we need an injury-free preseason from Jack Ziebell. It might still be mid-January, but the club report that he’s ‘fit and firing.’

Everytime a new coach enters into leading a new side; change is on the horizon. Jack’s question is what ‘change’ does that mean for his role and fantasy football output. Ultimately, the coach knows, and hopefully, in the preseason we’ll see (preseason games) and hear (press conferences) exactly what that is.

You can build a compelling case for him to spend most of his time both through the midfield and always across the forward line. In 2020 the injuries to both he and Ben Cunnington exposed shallow an inexperienced midfield unit.

Does David Noble double down on blooding the kids like Luke Davies-Uniacke, Will Phillips and Tom Powell? Or look to balance it out with Ziebell taking his share of midfield minutes with Jed Anderson, Trent Dumont, Jy Simpkin, Jared Polec and Ben Cunnington?

A narrative can also be created for him being used as a regular marking target inside forward 50? Nick Larkey and Cam Zurhaar have both showed potential but will need help alongside them.

The way AFLFantasy has priced him has made Jack irrelevant. Even at his pricepoint of just shy of $650k, Ziebell will need to return career-best numbers to make him worth considering. I believe they’ve made a mistake in doing it this way, but I understand the decision they’ve made and why.

I’ve got Jack Ziebell currently in both my SuperCoach and DreamTeam sides, and unless injuries take effect, I can’t see that changing during the preseason.

DRAFT DECISION

Plenty has been made about the quality of forwards available to us in 2020. While that’s true maybe inside the top 5-10, the fall away in depth is quiet severe. If Jack Ziebell fires in the preseason he might get picked up as an on field scoring forward (F5), but honestly, the highest I’d want him as a depth/bench option.

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