WHY IS HE RELEVANT?
Essendon Football Club made a significant move in their 2022 draft by selecting Elijah Tsatas, a player highly regarded in his junior career. Tsatas, known for his attacking style in the midfield, has demonstrated an impressive ability to gather the ball both inside and outside the midfield. His speed and intelligence on the field made him one of the most coveted midfielders in his draft class.
Unfortunately, Tsatas faced a setback early in the season due to a knee injury that occurred in January and required surgery. This delay meant that his debut in the season was postponed, but once he returned, his performance in the VFL was nothing short of impressive. He averaged 25 disposals, 3.5 marks, and 4.2 tackles per game in his seven games at this level. His ability to consistently deliver multiple 30+ disposal games and achieve fantasy 100s, even while on managed game time, is a testament to his skills and adaptability.
These performances in the VFL were crucial, as they confirmed what was observed at the under-18 level – Tsatas’s capabilities were indeed translating well against more seasoned players. His transition from junior football to playing against men was seamless, indicating a promising future ahead in his AFL career.
Tsatas’s introduction to the AFL level came with four games, where his fantasy football scores were promising for a newcomer. In AFLFantasy, he averaged 64.2, with individual scores of 65, 86, 43, and 63. In SuperCoach, he averaged 55, scoring 41, 71, 53, and 49. While these numbers show room for growth, they are certainly encouraging for a player in his initial AFL outings given his lack of preseason and limited opportunities in the midfield.
A particular highlight of Tsatas’s season was his performance against the North Melbourne Kangaroos. In this game, his stat line was impressive: 22 possessions (7 contested, 15 uncontested), a disposal efficiency of 69%, 7 score involvements including a goal, 4 marks, 4 clearances, 3 tackles, 2 inside 50s, and 1 rebound 50. This game showcased Tsatas’s potential and ability to impact at the AFL level, indicating that he is a player to watch in the future.Embed from Getty Images
The fantasy football landscape in 2024 calls for a strategic shift from the previous year’s trend of starting with 4-5 premium forwards. This season opens up the possibility of a different approach, where investing heavily in the top forward position may not be necessary. Instead, there’s a viable strategy to conserve salary cap space by not opting for players averaging over 90 in this position. This shift in strategy could be key to assembling a well-balanced and effective fantasy team.
Elijah Tsatas’ relevance in this context hinges on his potential role within the Essendon midfield. Last year, Essendon’s centre bounce attendances (CBA) were dominated by Darcy Parish at 81%, Zach Merrett at 74%, Will Setterfield at 62%, and Dylan Shiel at 46%. However, players like Jack Stringer, Ben Hobbs, Archie Perkins, Jye Caldwell, and Elijah Tsatas also participated in CBAs, indicating a dynamic and versatile midfield lineup.
To gauge Tsatas’ potential role in the upcoming season, preseason press conferences, practice matches, and early-season games will be crucial. These will provide valuable insights into the team’s midfield structure and how Tsatas fits into it. If Tsatas is involved in more than 40% of CBAs, his scoring potential could make him a significant asset for fantasy teams and our starting squad structures.
It’s important to note that Tsatas doesn’t need to score at a premium level in his second season to be valuable. His pricing is appealing: less than $50,000 more than Harley Reid in SuperCoach and just over $150K in AFLFantasy & DreamTeam. Given the current scarcity of reliable top-end forward premiums, Tsatas presents as excellent value and could be a strategic pick for the F3 or F4 slot in fantasy lineups.
While Tsatas seems like a solid option to consider, his midfield role and scoring of others in his price range during in the opening round will be the ultimate determinants of his necessity in your team. The success or failure of other mid-priced players in their respective opening rounds could also influence Tsatas’ ownership and viability as a fantasy option.
Elijah Tsatas should definitely be on the watchlist of fantasy football coaches. His role in Essendon’s midfield, pricing advantage, and potential scoring ability make him an intriguing option in the forward line, especially considering the current fantasy football landscape and strategy for the 2024 season.Embed from Getty Images
Have you picked up on this theme in the 50 most relevant yet? Treat 2024 differently, including how you approach the year’s drafting strategies. It’s the early days of the preseason. Still, I’m leaning heavily towards attacking the middle-late parts of the draft with a bunch of potential high-end upside forwards who require an element or two to go their way before scoring enough to be fieldable.
I’ve got Elijah Tsatas in that range and will happily take him. It’s just a matter of time before he becomes a high-end draft scorer; we’ll wait and see whether it’s this year or not.
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