A big buzzword of every fantasy football preseason is ‘value.’ Cam Guthrie has the historical backing to give coaches plenty of score upside and deliver fantastic value. While many won’t be talking about him yet, he will be one of the most relevant players in 2024.
WHY IS HE RELEVANT?
After Geelong’s breakthrough Premiership with the lovingly dubbed ‘retirement home’ list in 2022, the football club fell immediately in 2023. The primary contributing factor was injuries to multiple key players which meant before schedule the next generation of Cats started taking some more central figures in the side. The result was the club’s worst ladder position since 2003. Cameron Guthrie’s season probably best reflects that of Geelong’s fortunes.
His season hit its first hurdle in round six, where he was subbed out of the Grand Final rematch against the Swans, complaining of a toe injury. After surgery in June, the club was confident he’d be able to play late in the season; however, after an impressive return via the VFL in mid-August, the club chose to put him on ice for the final few weeks of the season.
Before his season-ending injury, Cam still managed to put up his season-high and only AFL Fantasy/DreamTeam ton of the year with 111. He also posted two additional scores over 90 on the way to a season-ending average of 86.8. Over in SuperCoach, it’s a very similar stat line: one ton, two additional scores of 90+ and an average of 83.6.
Cam’s scoring potential is on full display in the two prior seasons. During the 2022 season, he scored ten tons across the formats, three over 120 and averaged 95.8 in AFLFantasy/DreamTeam and 99.2 in SuperCoach. In 2021, he averaged 109.9 in AFLFantasy/DreamTeam, posting sixteen tons, four over 120 and just one score under 80. Meanwhile, for SuperCoach, he averaged 113.2, scored fifteen tons, eight over 120, and fell under 80 in two matches.
He’s priced at an average of 84 in AFLFantasy, 75 in SuperCoach & 78 in DreamTeam. Depending on the format, his potential 25-40 pints per game is based on his 2024 price and his career-high year of 2021.Embed from Getty Images
When considering if Cam Guthrie is the right player for your starting squad, you need to consider four primary considerations for you to process before either selecting him in your starting squad or fading your interest. The first is his role in the Cats midfield; the second is Geelong’s opening fixtures; and lastly, there is the overall structural importance of midprice players for fantasy in 2024.
The Geelong Football Club are in an interesting position. Last year, they had the most players of the AFL club attend a centre bounce. Thirty players (including rucks) went through there. Do they still allow some older crew to lead the midfield pack? Or do they phase them out in favour of the younger crew? Cam Guthrie (31), Patrick Dangerfield (33), Tom Atkins (28), Jack Bowes (25) and new mature-age recruit Shaun Mannagh (26) are all over 25. Then there’s the young brigade 22 under Tanner Bruhn, Mitch Knevitt, Max Holmes, Jhye Clark & George Stevens.
Arguably, there’s not just a role but a need for him. That role is as a midfielder present at centre bounce, not just a wingman who gets his hands on it at stoppages. In 2023, he averaged 58% attendance at CBA; in 2022, it was 65%, and in 2021, it was 68%.
How heavy do Geelong lean into this rebuild? They still have a powerful forward line with Tom Hawkins, Jeremy Cameron, Tyson Stengle and Oli Henry. Any backline with Tom Stewart and Sam DeKoning will be hard to score on. But are the Cats prepared to ‘waste‘ some legend’s final years and let the next generation take the wheel? Thankfully, as the preseason evolves, we’ll get great insight into how Geelong will function as a midfield core this year.
Whenever you start a midprice/breakout player, you want to be rewarded with a favourable role and a fixture that could allow for that scoring upside. Geelong has that fixture, taking on many more favourable scoring matchups using 2023 data. Here’s who they play over the opening six weeks of the season:
- Round One | St Kilda (GMHBA)
- Round Two | Adelaide (Adelaide Oval)
- Round Three | Hawthorn (MCG)
- Round Four | Western Bulldogs (Adelaide Oval)
- Round Five | North Melbourne (GMHBA)
- Round Six | Brisbane (Gabba)
Do we need players priced in this range in 2024? Historically, we’d be looking at players in this range with this scoring pedigree of Guthrie. He’s priced at an average of 84 in AFLFantasy, 75 in SuperCoach & 78 in DreamTeam. That’s a potentially strong output upside. However, the games are different in 2024, with four of the first six weeks scoring a best 18. Because of this, the conversation around our team structures will be of significant interest and difference this preseason.
How should we structure our sides this year? Is a more ‘traditional’ approach of guns and rookies the best play? Should we max out the scores on premiums and maximise the best cash generation from more rookies? Or do we still need some players in this middle range that can score like a premium but do some with some financial upside both in dollars saved and in money generated?
Ultimately, if you do jump onto Guthrie, you’ve got three core outcomes that can work out for you. Firstly, you see him get that midfield role in the preseason and start with him. He returns to his 100+ average and, in doing so, nets you that twenty points per game of value, gets you a season-long midfield premium, and ensures you’ve got a flying start to round out your squad.
Option Two: he doesn’t quite live up to the forecasted scoring, but in doing so, he becomes a trade asset that you move early into the season. He can then be moved with a single trade into the guy having a flying start. For example, last year, Will Setterfield was the fast money many delivering bumper scoring at a discounted range. With an asset player like Guthrie, you’re doubling down on the possibilities without damaging any structural integrity in other lines.
And lastly, and potentially a new way of playing the game with these early byes/ best 18 early fixture weeks is using Cam Guthrie as an in-season runner trade. How coaches approach the variable of the opening round will no doubt be a strategic conversation that fills up plenty of processing time from now until early March. With all formats confirming that while the format will only ‘officially’ start in round one, the player’s price movement will be impacted by what a player scores in the opening round. In essence, you’ll get two price movements for the price of one.
This creates a strategy loophole that bold coaches can potentially exploit. We’ll be given a ‘free hit’ to view a player’s performance, role and fantasy scores and get a small indicator of what we might see unfold before the formats ‘officially’ commence and lockouts/trades start to become activated. A player like Josh Kelly, given his scoring ceiling history over his career, is the perfect type of person to consider early on, particularly in AFLFantasy, where you’re often only using early trades as correctional movements.
He’s also got a strong recent scoring history against Collingwood, who the Giants face in the opening round. His last three scores against the Magpies, including the Giants 2023 preliminary finals loss, are 106, 113 & 116 in AFLFantasy and 110, 116 & 115 in SuperCoach. GWS then take on North Melbourne & West Coast in the following two rounds. Both are amongst the easiest teams to score against using 2023 data. If Kelly comes out of the gate firing, you could see a significant boost in cash generation and a player who’s a legitimate VC option.
It’s here you could flip Kelly, take the cash he’s generated, and turn him into Guthrie just before the Cats fixture opens up to be equally as fantasy-friendly between rounds four and six. The challenge with starting with a strategic play like this is you’re banking a trade with no guarantee you’ll be able to take the offramp. All it will take is some unplanned variables of multiple injuries/suspensions, and suddenly, your plans hit a frustrating stall.
The beauty of the preseason is you need to spend it not married to a strategy or a structure but to use it to test and trial multiple approaches. The outcomes of the opening round, let alone the preseason matches, will significantly affect how your team looks heading into the season’s first round. For now, place Cam on your watchlist. If his midfield role unfolds the way I forecast, he’s someone to consider this preseason.Embed from Getty Images
The summation of Cam Guthrie’s last three seasons is key to where we should rank him. The last three years of averages (2021-2023) rolled up is 97.5 in AFLFantasy/DreamTeam and 98.7 in SuperCoach. That’d be a great outcome if he could deliver that level of scoring output.
Based on a roll-up average, that’d place him just outside the top thirty midfielders using 2023 data. The potential positive is you should be able to target him with your M5 selection, potentially even M6, with the upside of being an M2 if he can return to his 2021 scoring era. More realistic is you get M4 returns on a M5 pick.
JOIN THE CONVERSATION
WANT EARLY ACCESS?
Want access 24 hours early to the 50 Most Relevant podcasts? Join our Patreon and get ahead of the crowd here.