One of the great stories of the 2022 season was the journey of Sam Docherty overcoming cancer. Alongside this, he put together one of the best SuperCoach, AFLFantasy & DreamTeam seasons of all defenders. Can he do it again in 2023?
Name: Sam Docherty
Club: Carlton Blues
2022 Highest Score:
138 Vs Hawthorn (AFLFantasy)
144 Vs Richmond (SuperCoach)
Career Highest Score:
159 Vs Sydney | AFLFantasy (2017)
185 Vs Essendon | SuperCoach (2020)
SuperCoach Price: $603,600
AFLFantasy Price: $977,000
AFLDreamTeam Price: $1,001,100
WHY IS HE RELEVANT?
Sam Docherty has overcome plenty in his AFL career, from multiple ACLs to battling and overcoming cancer. The fact that he did this and then played a full AFL season with no preseason is a monumental achievement. He ranked inside the top ten per game for kicks, effective disposals and uncontested possessions and was in the top twenty ranks across the competition for marks, disposals, meters gained and rebound 50s.
He is a talented and versatile player who can play both midfield and defence. He is known for his strong kicking ability, elite decision-making skills, and ability to read the game well. In addition, his impressive work rate and commitment to his team’s success make him a valuable asset on the field.
From his 22 games last year in AFLFantasy/DreamTeam, he scored sixteen tons, seven of those were 120 or higher. That featured a three over 130 and a season-high of 138. He had three additional scores between 98-99 and had just two scores all season where he fell below 80. Doc ended the season as the #1 ranked defender by points and averages. While he’s ranked third overall for total points. Only Callum Mills and Andrew Brayshaw.
In SuperCoach, he posted fourteen tons; ten of those were over 120 and five higher than 130. Alongside this was four additional scores above 90, and in only three games did his scoring fall under 80. His lowest score of the season was 73. He finished third amongst all defenders for total points and fourth by averages. While also maintaining the thirteenth spot for most points last year across all of SuperCoach.
While only a few started with Docherty, there was a direct correlation between owning him and having a successful season. You were chasing your tail if you didn’t get him inside the first 8-10 weeks of the season. And if you did get him, you were paying up for him. Unfortunately, Sam didn’t allow you to get him at a cheaper range. That’s due to the fact to the fact that his scoring basement was so high.
So often, when people talk about Docherty’s fantasy pedigree, they refer back to his scoring era of 2016 & 2017. And understandably so. He averaged 101 & 117 in AFLFantasy/DreanTeam & for SuperCoach, he went at 108.5 & 114.7. But that was a very different era: a different team, game style and fantasy footy world. Thankfully we don’t have to go back over half a decade to prove that Sam’s 2022 season wasn’t just a renaissance revival. His 2021 was still very solid.
That year he averaged 98.6 in AFLFantasy/DreamTeam and scored six tons, including two over 120. He had five additional scores between 90-99 and had his scoring drop below 80 in just two matches. For SuperCoach, he averaged 97.9, five tons and three over 120. He had five extra scores over 90 and only had two games under 80 all year.
There’s plenty of uncertainty in the backline. Can Jack Sinclair do it again under a new coach? Or will he regress to the fantasy football Bermuda triangle? Will Tom Stewart play 20+ games? Or will the Geelong rotational resting policy decimate his season? Does Jordan Dawson thrive or dive under the Adelaide captaincy? And does James Sicily‘s domination aid the development of Hawks youngsters? Sometimes it’s easy to remove all the probabilities and variables and stick with the most likely. However, one thing is for certain in our backlines; Sam Docherty will be among the top-tier defenders again in 2023.Embed from Getty Images
There are two significant players currently out of the Carlton side. Zac Williams is out for the year with a knee injury. And Sam Walsh with a less definitive timeline coming off back surgery. Does either of these injuries open up or create a forced role move for Sam Docherty?
During the final two games of 2022, Carlton was forced into a move that saw Doch move into the midfield as a primary centre-bounce midfielder. In those two games, he attended 75% & 88% of CBA’s. Doch averaged 130 in AFLFantasy/DreamTeam & 129.5 in SuperCoach. If Sam stays there, he could well score at the rate to become the best fantasy player for the year. While if he moves ‘back’ to the defensive line, we’ll likely see comparable scoring from 2022. I can handle that downside!
What role will Sam play in 2023? He addressed this himself recently when speaking to the Carlton Media team. He said, “I’ve done most of the training in the midfield, but that was just to add some more flexibility to the team and see where I was best suited.” However, he added that nothing had been locked away, and they’ll wait and see if they want to persist with that or send him back to the backline. Thankfully, we’ll get a good glimpse of this in the preseason games.
Sam Docherty is a potential captaincy option, especially considering his strong performances in previous seasons. He showed across formats on multiple instances last year that he’s capable of matching the ceiling of most of our topline midfield premiums.
One of the big questions of the preseason for the community is this. Is it worth ‘paying up’ for premiums that are at the top of the price tree? In summary, the true story is it depends on various factors such as the type of player investment, the current positional variables, the potential return on investment, and your personal goals and risk tolerance. Generally, it’s important to carefully consider the potential risks and rewards before making any decision, and paying top dollar doesn’t necessarily guarantee a good return on investment. Of course, nothing can ever be guaranteed, but his scoring appears to be the most bulletproof and reliable of all defenders. It’s how he has now, for multiple seasons, shown he’s the #1 defender across formats.
So often, we make a big deal about the value and a player’s price in our starting squads. And when we do that to an extreme, we start looking only to start players that are ‘value’ and potentially underpriced. You’re not picking him for value at the price tag of obtaining Docherty. You’re selecting him for his points delivery. The price is what he is, so he’s not expensive or overpriced; it’s what he is! So, yes, there will likely be a time in the season he’s cheaper. But my question to you is twofold.
One, can you secure him at the lowest price point? Unless you’re predicting a massive scoring drop, it will be little you save, and you’ll need to capitalise early. Second, even if you can generate the funds to trade into him, will the volume of cash and trades to get up towards him be worth it? History says it’ll be a very limited time window if one at all.
I’ve been playing fantasy AFL for over a decade when an old boss got me into it. I remember one of the first major mindset transitions that helped me move from a ‘casual’ league-focused player into someone who’s more focussed on rankings was this. Minimise risk! Identify the players that by choosing not to select, you open yourself up to risk. That risk could be found through ownership percentage or a scoring potential. That risk can also be more format dependent.
For example, in AFLFantasy/DreamTeam, I believe that Doch will be the clear and supreme defender option. However, I don’t forecast anyone getting within 5-10 points of him. Therefore, I’m locking him into my sides in these formats. In SuperCoach, he has the least question marks around him of the top five defenders. He’s also the cheapest.
Docherty is a talented and undeniable fantasy prospect. But starting him or targeting him as an upgrade will ultimately depend on your overall team strategy and the other available options. Consider all the factors, such as his recent form, injury history, team structure, upgrade forecasts and upcoming fixtures, before making a decision.
Due to his strong performances in previous seasons, Sam Docherty is a premium defender in AFLFantasy and SuperCoach. He is projected to be drafted in the first few selections of most fantasy drafts, and depending on the size of the league and scoring system, he may have been a good option as early as the first round.
I’ve got him ranked as a clear first-round selection in AFLFantasy/DreamTeam and arguably worthy of a top-five pick. In SuperCoach, a blanket could be thrown over the scoring between Sam Docherty, James Sicily, Tom Stewart, Jordan Dawson and Jack Sinclair. In that case, I’d pick the one that fell to me later in the second round to the early third round of a draft.
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