Happy New Year, and welcome back to the 50 most relevant!
Kicking off the annual countdown is one of my favourites in Connor Macdonald. For some, he’s a name you’ve never considered; for others, he’s someone they wish we didn’t cover. Either way, the cat is out of the bag! Let’s leap into the start of the 2024 50 most relevant.
WHY IS HE RELEVANT?
Experiencing the thrill of identifying a fantasy football gem that few others spot and then seeing your insight validated is unparalleled. In 2024, Connor Macdonald of Hawthorn could very well be that breakout forward of the season.
At 20 years old, Macdonald shows promise as a potential long-term midfielder for the Hawks, displaying a commendable balance between offensive and defensive play. Known for his dynamic style, he effectively propels the ball into the forward 50 and is pivotal in transitional plays. Although drafted as a midfielder, he has found his footing in the forward line, contributing significantly to the new, youthful Hawthorn lineup.
Chris Newman, formerly coaching with Hawthorn in 2023 and now back with Richmond, praised Macdonald’s versatility in the club’s season review. He noted Macdonald’s exceptional runs, stamina, and ability to adapt to multiple positions – from midfield to wing – highlighting his significant growth in just his second year.
When scouting for players poised to ascend to the next level, it’s essential to spot subtle indicators of a potential surge in scoring. Macdonald showed several such signs throughout 2023. For instance, in round thirteen against Brisbane, he amassed 28 disposals, 3 marks, 2 goals, and scored 91 in AFLFantasy/DreamTeam and 113 in SuperCoach.
Again, in round twenty-one, with 18 disposals, 9 marks, 3 tackles, he exceeded 90 points across all formats. Two weeks later, he tallied 104 in AFLFantasy/DreamTeam and 95 in SuperCoach with 19 disposals, 8 marks, 4 tackles, and 2 goals. These performances highlight his ability to score well across multiple statistical categories. Imagine his heights with consistent, combined efforts in these areas.
Macdonald’s scoring improved as the 2023 season progressed, and his consistency stabilized. From an average of 67.8 in AFLFantasy/DreamTeam and 61.4 in SuperCoach over the first five games, he jumped to an average of 86.6 and 82, respectively, in the final five matches.
While it’s risky to emphasise this trend too much, it underscores his potential for significant value in a forward line lacking top-tier premiums. Based on his performance in the last five games, he could offer an additional 16 points per game in AFLFantasy and potentially rank in the top 10 forwards based on average. In SuperCoach, this translates to a 19-point-per-game upside, positioning him well within the top 20 forward averages.
However, one should cautiously interpret these statistics. The intent here is to emphasize two points: the scarcity of elite forwards across formats and how Macdonald’s late-season form, albeit not the highest scoring range, makes him an increasingly relevant choice. Macdonald achieved these scores without significant time in the Hawks’ midfield. As a draftee known for his inside midfield capabilities, he attended more than 10% of centre bounces in only one game all season.
Hawthorn’s tight midfield rotations last year suggest a need for more players to step up alongside Will Day and Jai Newcombe. The team’s focus on developing Macdonald’s versatility is evident, enhancing his skills as a winger/forward in 2023, which could catalyze his move into a more rounded footballer.
His potential was not just a glimpse in 2023 but evident during his draft year. In the NAB league, he averaged 30 touches, seven marks, and five tackles per game, translating to an AFLFantasy average of 121 points. Scouts and draft watchers recognized him as a high-accumulating, stoppage-dominant player.
Macdonald’s fantasy pedigree, evident from his junior days and his growth in the AFL, positions him as a legitimate choice for your AFL Fantasy/DreamTeam and SuperCoach sides as he enters his third season.Embed from Getty Images
As the 2024 AFL Fantasy, DreamTeam and SuperCoach season approaches, coaches face a unique challenge in the forward line. This year, the absence of forwards with high averages presents an opportunity to think outside the box, and Connor Macdonald emerges as a potential game-changer in this new landscape.
Navigating through the scarcity of high-averaging forwards, Macdonald stands out. His midrange positioning in a landscape devoid of the usual high-scoring stalwarts makes him a beacon of value. In a season where average scores are the norm, Macdonald’s potential to outperform his peers shines even brighter.
Flexibility is key, and Macdonald embodies this. As a mid-priced forward, he’s not just a player but a tactical asset. The ideal is he obviously becomes a premium forward, and as possible as that is, that’s not the only avenue to success. He can easily be upgraded to a premium player if he maintains a solid average up until the Hawks round 15 bye. This versatility makes Macdonald a vital component in any strategic fantasy plan.
Historical trends in AFL Fantasy/DreamTeam and SuperCoach show that mid-priced forwards can offer significant returns both as quick money makers or as season-long premiums. Players like Jack Ziebell, Aaron Hall, Darcy Macpherson and Taylor Walker have been valuable in early rounds in past seasons.
Macdonald not only holds the promise of strong early-season performance, making him a smart investment, but with a simple single trade, it can be used as a pathway to the stepping stone, which is firing without having to amend your squad’s structure.
The probable lowered average scores among forwards this season mean Macdonald doesn’t need to reach astronomical heights to succeed. This lower threshold for success enhances his appeal, transforming him, now an average of 85 over the opening half dozen to dozen games is arguably a gigantic success.
There’s also exciting potential for Connor in terms of role expansion. Everyone in the preseason is always set for #MoreMidfieldTime, but should the rumours of him gaining more midfield time eventuate, then he could significantly increase his scoring potential. Remember, last year he barely cracked the Hawks midfield. Imagine the upside should he get even a consistent run of 15-25% CBA’s per game.
Each season requires a different strategy, and while last year’s focus was on premium forwards, this year’s winning formula seems to lie in identifying high-value players inside the forward line. Macdonald, with his current pricing and potential, fits perfectly into this strategy and allows multiple pathways for owners to pursue depending on his scoring.
Pre-season analysis is crucial. Monitoring Macdonald’s role and performance in the pre-season can provide early insights into his potential for a breakout year. These indicators can offer a significant edge in fantasy leagues.
Connor Macdonald represents more than just a player; he’s a strategic choice in a year where identifying high-value players is crucial. His potential for consistent performance, coupled with the unique dynamics of the 2024 season, makes him an essential consideration for any coach looking to gain an edge. In a landscape where finding value is key, Macdonald might just be the piece that completes your winning fantasy puzzle.Embed from Getty Images
Connor Macdonald presents as an intriguing prospect in drafts, likely to be picked as an F4, yet he harbours the potential to deliver F2-level performances. This positioning offers a tantalizing upside with little to no discernable downside.
Macdonald’s current trajectory’s worst-case scenario seems to be maintaining his existing average throughout the coming year. Should this occur, it still leaves him as a valuable asset, albeit one that might eventually find his way back to the waiver wire. However, his demonstrated ability to enhance his game and the lack of risk in selecting him make Macdonald an astute pick, especially for coaches looking to capitalize on the value and upside in their lineup.
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