#8 Most Relevant | Sam Flanders

It happens in every season! A player comes from the clouds with a drastic role change. They present the SuperCoach and AFLFantasy community with supreme value and premium scoring. But entering the 2024 season, plenty has changed around Sam Flanders and his Gold Coast Suns. Can this former first-round selection pick up from where he left last year?


Sam Flanders’ evolution into a consistent and explosive mid-forward has been remarkable. With clean hands and a knack for game-changing plays, his 2023 season saw him elevate his performance to new heights. His output from round 15 onwards was particularly impressive, where he showcased flashes of brilliance and sustained excellence.

In AFLFantasy, he notched an average of 89.6, with six scores reaching the century mark, including a standout 146. His SuperCoach performance was similarly impressive, cementing him as a top-ten forward with an 88.4 average. However, the latter part of the season truly highlighted his potential. During the final ten rounds, Flanders averaged 29 disposals, 5.7 marks, and 3.2 tackles per game, with a 38% share of centre bounce attendances. This period saw him average 105 in AFLFantasy and 106.1 in SuperCoach, underscoring his ability to deliver high scores consistently.

This uptick in performance during the crucial final stretch of the season provides a compelling narrative for Flanders as we look ahead. The forward line, often challenging for fantasy coaches to navigate due to inconsistency and a lack of premium options, suddenly seems less daunting with Flanders in the mix. If he can extend this scoring trend throughout the upcoming season, Flanders will transition from an attractive option to an indispensable asset in fantasy teams. Given the landscape of topline forwards, Flanders’ potential for sustained high performance makes him a standout candidate for a must-own status in the forward line.

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Sam Flanders’ journey with the Gold Coast Suns is at a fascinating juncture, especially with the coaching change bringing Damien Hardwick at the helm. This transition is anticipated to mark a significant shift in Flanders’ role and the Suns’ overall game style, which has historically seen half-backs and inside midfielders thrive under Hardwick’s coaching philosophy. Yet, traditionally, wings and high half-forwards under Hardwick have seen a limitation on their scoring ceiling, raising questions about where Flanders might fit in this new setup and how it could impact his fantasy football relevance.

The Suns’ midfield is expected to revolve around Matt Rowell, Noah Anderson, and Touk Miller, positioning Flanders in a competition for the fourth and fifth midfield spots alongside Bailey Humphrey. This battle for midfield minutes will be crucial in determining Flanders’ fantasy output, making the preseason and early rounds vital for coaches to monitor his role closely.

During a notable 10-game stretch, Flanders impressed with an average of 5.7 marks per game, placing him among a select group of AFL players who excel in this area. However, with only a handful of non-defenders achieving similar mark tallies, the challenge for Flanders lies in maintaining this aspect of his game amidst potential role changes under Hardwick’s system.

The Suns’ Round 3 bye offers a unique strategic element for fantasy coaches contemplating Flanders’ selection. With the opportunity to assess his performance in the season opener before making a selection decision, coaches are presented with a low-risk option to gauge his role and scoring potential. Flanders’ current high ownership in fantasy leagues, as the most selected forward not classified as a rookie, underscores the community’s optimism about his value proposition.

Fantasy coaches face a nuanced decision in deciding whether to start or fade Flanders. Starting him offers the chance to capitalize on a potentially undervalued asset from the get-go, with the option to pivot away should his role not materialize as hoped. Conversely, waiting and observing Flanders’ role and output in the early rounds can provide valuable insights, allowing for a more informed selection post-bye, albeit at the risk of missing out on early scoring surges.

The key question is this. What does Sam Flanders need to do this preseason to make you start or fade selecting him? Is it a preseason-specific role in the practice games? Is it a comment from the coaching staff at a press conference? Is it a balance of how the Suns structure up or a game style? It could be these or many other indicators. But the key criteria you need to ask yourself is that question. What must I see to select or fade him? Build that list, then check things off accordingly over the coming weeks.

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In the landscape of fantasy football drafts, where forwards with a high scoring ceiling are at a premium, Sam Flanders presents an intriguing option as an F1. The scarcity at the top end of forward options elevates his value, making him a compelling pick for those looking to secure a solid forward early in their draft. Given the uncertainties around role changes under new coaching and how this impacts Flanders’ scoring potential, cautious optimism is the prevailing sentiment.

If you’re bullish on Flanders stepping up as a consistent scoring forward under Damien Hardwick’s system, securing him as your F1 could be a strategic move. However, considering the potential volatility in his role and output, it might be prudent to wait until at least the 4th round before drafting him. This approach allows you to build a foundation with players in less volatile positions while securing a forward with upside. The thinness at the top end among forwards makes Flanders’ appeal as an F1 evident. However, drafting him before the 4th round may carry a risk that requires a balance of confidence in his potential and strategic draft planning.


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