Luke Davies-Uniacke, the North Melbourne midfield general, is poised to take over the SuperCoach and AFLFantasy landscape this year. Discover why he’s the future fantasy king you can’t afford to overlook in 2024.
WHY IS HE RELEVANT?
Luke Davies-Uniacke has emerged as a prominent figure in the AFL, especially for the North Melbourne Football Club. Drafted as the fourth pick in 2017, he was North Melbourne’s first top-five pick since 2009. Despite early career injuries, Davies-Uniacke’s strengths in contest situations and agility have established him as a key midfielder for the club.
His breakout year was in 2022, when he showcased exceptional skills around stoppages and an ability to navigate through traffic, making him a standout player. This was evident in a game against Collingwood, where he achieved 33 disposals, 14 inside 50s, 12 clearances, 11 tackles, and eight score involvements, highlighting his significant contribution to the team. His performances earned him second place in the Syd Barker Medal voting and several other awards in 2022, indicating his vital role at North Melbourne.
Davies-Uniacke’s growth as a player has been remarkable, especially from the middle of 2022, when he was among the best midfielders in the competition. His performance metrics, such as disposals, contested possessions, and clearances, ranked him high in the league. His strong physicality and effective ball-handling skills have been particularly noteworthy, contributing significantly to his team’s performance even during challenging times.
This evolution in his gameplay, overcoming initial form and fitness challenges, demonstrates his importance to North Melbourne and fantasy league enthusiasts who recognize his potential to score high points.
LDU’s performance in the 2023 AFL season underscores his significant fantasy football pedigree, as reflected in his AFL Fantasy and SuperCoach statistics. In AFL Fantasy, he played 14 games, with a seasonal average of 97.4 points. This impressive performance included seven scores of 100 or more (“tons”) and four instances where he scored 120 or more. Particularly notable was his form in the last six games, where he averaged 112.1 points, culminating in a rank of 27th overall for average scoring in the league.
In SuperCoach, Davies-Uniacke’s yearly average was even more impressive at 113.6 points. His consistency and high-scoring ability were evident, with nine tons, seven scores over 120 points, and two exceptional performances where he scored over 140 points. His form peaked in the last six games of the season, where he maintained an average of 126.6 points. This performance ranked him 11th overall in average score, placing him ahead of renowned players like Guldren, Green, Serong, Neale, and Brayshaw.
His ability to score across various columns makes Davies-Uniacke an invaluable player in fantasy football. This versatility means that even when he is targeted by opponents (such as through tagging), he can contribute in multiple areas, thus maintaining his scoring potential. He consistently delivers in categories like marks, kicks, handballs, and tackles.
This ability to impact both inside and outside the contest, and in both contested and uncontested situations, highlights his well-rounded skill set. Such a diverse range of scoring avenues provides a high scoring ceiling and ensures a certain level of scoring reliability, making him a highly sought-after player in fantasy football leagues.
In 2022, LDU averaged 25 touches a game, going at an efficiency of 77%. He ranked eleventh in the league for centre clearances and fourteenth for inside 50s. From an AFLFantasy/DreamTeam perspective, he finished the season with eleven tons, four of them over 120, including a 129 & his career-high 145 against the Magpies. He ended the season with an average of 93.
Over in SuperCoach, he scored ten tons; five were over 120, including 138, 141 & 149. He also had five additional scores between 92-97. He ended the season with an average of 101.2.
However, over a fourteen-game stretch between rounds 9-23, we got glimpses of what we saw also throughout 2023. In this stretch of games, he averaged 103.35 in AFLFantasy/DreamTeam and scored ten tons. In SuperCoach, he averaged 110.5, scoring nine tons and only going under 88 once.
Davies-Uniacke’s fantasy football pedigree is a testament to his overall football skills and importance to his team and fantasy football coaches. His ability to contribute significantly in various facets of the game makes him a valuable asset in any fantasy football team and format.Embed from Getty Images
Luke Davies-Uniacke’s role in the North Melbourne midfield is a key factor in his AFL Fantasy and SuperCoach appeal. He is a quintessential Centre Bounce Attendance (CBA) midfielder, often referred to as the “big dog” in his team, allowed to hunt the ball freely. This role provides him with consistent opportunities to score points in fantasy leagues. There’s a trend in AFL where top midfielders from underperforming teams can still dominate in fantasy scoring.
This can be contrasted most recently with the performance of players like Rory Laird from Adelaide during the 2021-2022 seasons, who, despite being in a team that did not perform at the top level, managed to put up impressive fantasy numbers. In those two seasons, he averaged 111 & 120 in AFLFantasy and 116 & 127 in SuperCoach.
However, the biggest concern with Davies-Uniacke is his injury history, which poses a risk for fantasy managers. Over the past five years, his games played per season were 14, 21, 20, and 9, indicating a pattern of missing several games each season. Notable injuries just in 2023 alone include:
- A late withdrawal in Round 3 due to calf tightness.
- He had a heel injury in Round 7, so he wasn’t named to the team.
- He had a hamstring injury in Round 9 that sidelined him until Round 16.
He also missed the final two games of the year. This pattern suggests a level of risk for fantasy coaches, as they might need to hold a trade to deal with an injury-forced trade involving Davies-Uniacke.
A player’s injury history must always be factored in, but it should never be the sole reason you choose not to select a player. If anything, a player’s injury history is a reason to consider him in your starting squad and not as an upgrade target.
The reason is that if you start with them, you can bank all the scores they deliver. And with every passing game, the likelihood of injury will only increase. However, suppose you trade into an injury ‘risk’. In that case, you run the gauntlet of not just missing his good scores that attracted you to make them an upgrade, but rather your likelihood of trading into that injury is higher with every game past.
Starting these ‘injury-prone’ players is the best way to offset the risk. If an injury does occur, you have banked every good score available but also spent just one trade, not multiple, on removing him from your side. That doesn’t mean you can’t trade into him, but rather saying that if his injury history scares you now, it should also be a factor in the season.
While Luke does have an injury past that deep and long across all seasons of his AFL and even junior career, we’ve seen over time that injury history, with some luck, can change quickly. Look at Brad Crouch in his early few seasons at the Crows. The man couldn’t crack a 20-game year if he tried; he missed multiple seasons without AFL. And then, seemingly overnight, he’s played 20+ matches in four of the last five seasons. Suspensions have been the reason for missing games lately, not injury.
Sometimes, you’re injury-prone, and then you’re not. If he gets lucky with his body, he’s got all the tools to boom to become not just a topline premium midfielder, but the top scoring options in his line aren’t outside the realms of possibility.
If Luke Davies-Uniacke can maintain a good bill of health, his potential in AFLFantasy and SuperCoach is immense. Given his role as a primary midfielder in a team that allows him to hunt the ball consistently, Davies-Uniacke can average over 110 points in AFLFantasy and 120 in SuperCoach. The key concern, however, is about something other than his scoring ability, which has already proven high. The primary consideration for fantasy coaches is his injury history and the associated risk this brings.
The strategy for including Davies-Uniacke in a fantasy team largely depends on an individual manager’s risk appetite. Generally, starting with an injury-prone player is often seen as more strategic rather than trading them in later, as this allows for greater flexibility in managing potential injuries. Starting with Davies-Uniacke in your team and having a backup plan in case of his absence could be more manageable than trying to trade him in later, only to face his potential injury setbacks.
The only significant reason to avoid selecting Davies-Uniacke is the narrative around his injuries. Apart from that, all signs point to him being a formidable force in fantasy football, potentially even rising to be one of the top midfielders in the game. His talent and scoring ability are not in question; it’s his ability to stay fit and healthy throughout the season that fantasy coaches need to weigh carefully.Embed from Getty Images
When drafting for AFL Fantasy and SuperCoach, Luke Davies-Uniacke’s positioning largely depends on the format of your draft and your risk tolerance as a coach. Based on his 2023 averages, he would be a strong consideration for an M3 (third midfielder) in AFL Fantasy and an M2 (second midfielder) in SuperCoach. However, given his injury history, it’s prudent to approach his selection cautiously.
For AFL Fantasy, where he averaged around 97.4 in 2023, placing him as an M3 seems appropriate. This accounts for his high-scoring potential while balancing the risk associated with his injury history. In SuperCoach, his higher average of 113.6 points makes him a more attractive option, potentially as an M2. His scoring ceiling is higher in SuperCoach, reflecting his impact in various statistical categories.
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