Jackson Macrae has been a staple in our SuperCoach & AFLFantasy sides for over a decade. While 2023 was a topsy-turvy season both in scoring & role consistency, he enters into 2024 with DPP and the potential of being the top forward in the game.
WHY IS HE RELEVANT?
Jackson Macrae has been a fixture in our SuperCoach and AFLFantasy teams for almost a decade, consistently delivering premium-level performance since his breakout in 2014. His fantasy football journey is marked by several seasons where he averaged over 120 points, positioning him as a cornerstone of fantasy midfields across the league.
In 2023, Macrae transitioned into a forward role in AFLFantasy, posting an average of 91.8, with 8 tons, including two scores over 120, and finishing the season as the top-ranked forward by average and third for total points. His SuperCoach performance was similarly impressive, with an average of 99.9, 11 tons, 5 of which exceeded 120 points, securing his position as the foremost forward by average and fourth for total points.
Despite a year many viewed with disappointment, primarily due to expectations of Macrae returning to an average above 110, his 2023 season still demonstrated significant scoring potential. A notable stretch between rounds 10-13 saw him average 118.25 in AFLFantasy and an even more impressive 129.5 in SuperCoach, including several scores over 140.
This performance dispels the myth that Macrae’s high scoring solely depends on his Centre Bounce Attendances (CBAs). For instance, in round 10 against Adelaide with only 20% CBA, Macrae scored 117 in AFLFantasy and 140 in SuperCoach. Similar performances in rounds 12 and 13, with varying degrees of midfield attendance, further underscore his ability to contribute significantly on the scoreboard, regardless of his role on the field.
A critical aspect of fantasy football scoring, particularly for midfielders, hinges on their ability to accumulate points through stoppage and transition play. For a midfielder to excel in fantasy scoring, they must be adept at influencing the game in these two crucial areas. Stoppage points are garnered from clearances, tackles, and contested possessions at stoppages, like centre bounces and boundary throw-ins. These moments allow midfielders to demonstrate their contested ball skills and contribute significantly to their fantasy scores.
Transition points, on the other hand, are earned through actions that occur as the play moves from one end of the field to the other, such as effective disposals, marks, and score involvements during open play. This facet of the game emphasizes a player’s ability to use the ball efficiently, make impactful decisions, and contribute to the team’s offensive efforts.
The most successful fantasy midfielders are those who can blend these two elements of their game. They not only thrive in the coalface of the contest, securing the ball under pressure and driving it forward but also excel in the fluid dynamics of the game, moving the ball with precision and contributing to scoring chains. This dual capability ensures a consistent scoring output across various game situations, making such players invaluable assets in fantasy football leagues. Jaiden’s done a high amount of statistical work on this; check it all out here.Embed from Getty Images
The 2024 fantasy football season presents a notable challenge for coaches searching for premium forward options, starkly contrasting the previous year. In 2023, fantasy coaches enjoyed a rich selection of forward-line premiums who consistently delivered high scores, offering a stable foundation for their teams. However, heading into 2024, the landscape has shifted dramatically.
The pool of forward players considered genuine premium options has diminished, leaving coaches needing more reliable, high-scoring forwards. This shortage is attributed to various factors, including player role changes, injuries, and player form’s natural ebb and flow. Consequently, fantasy coaches are now tasked with strategizing more creatively to fill their forward lines, considering players who might previously have been overlooked or assuming more risk with selections in hopes of uncovering an undervalued gem that can outperform expectations.
The allure of selecting Jackson Macrae in fantasy football stems significantly from the perception of safety he offers. In the unpredictable realm of fantasy sports, safety is an attribute that shouldn’t be underestimated. Macrae’s consistent track record of high scoring, even in what many consider his off years, provides a sense of reliability that is hard to come by. This consistency means that fantasy coaches can count on him to contribute solid scores week in and week out, serving as a stabilizing force in their lineup amidst the ups and downs of a fantasy season.
Opting for a “safe” player like Macrae is more than just a conservative strategy; it’s a tactical move that allows coaches to allocate risk elsewhere in their team. With Macrae, coaches know they have a player whose scoring floor is high, reducing the need to constantly seek out high-risk, high-reward options that can often lead to volatility in weekly scores. In essence, Macrae’s safety allows fantasy coaches to build around him confidently, knowing that his consistent performance offers them a solid foundation to experiment and take calculated risks with other less predictable players.
Jackson Macrae’s 2023 season, while still showcasing his undeniable talent, did not align with the lofty expectations set by his previous fantasy football performances. One critical statistical indicator of this shift was his reduced centre-bounce attendance (CBA), marking his lowest since the public recording of these stats began in 2020. This decrease in CBA is significant, as it directly correlates with opportunities for scoring through clearances, contested possessions, and direct involvement in the flow of play, areas where Macrae typically excels.
The midfield dynamics at the Western Bulldogs further complicate Macrae’s role and, by extension, his scoring potential. Marcus Bontempelli and Tom Liberatore’s prioritization for CBAs underscores a crowded midfield where Macrae has had to navigate reduced time in the engine room. While Bailey Smith’s injury and James Harmes’s arrival had minimal impact on Macrae’s midfield tenure, Adam Treloar’s fitness and role emerge as pivotal factors. Treloar’s presence and dynamic playstyle can significantly influence Macrae’s scoring consistency, with Treloar’s ability to attract midfield time potentially detracting from Macrae’s opportunities.
His current hamstring concern, albeit with expectations of a return for practice games, adds an element of uncertainty to the Bulldogs’ midfield mix as the season approaches. This situation warrants close observation by fantasy coaches considering Macrae for their squads, as Treloar’s fitness and utilization could markedly affect Macrae’s fantasy output.
The Bulldogs’ scheduling offers a silver lining, with the team positioned in the final bye-round block. This scheduling allows fantasy teams to maximise Macrae’s contributions throughout the first 14 games of the season, potentially offsetting any dips in his scoring. Additionally, the Bulldogs’ early fixture presents favourable matchups, providing a conducive environment for Macrae and the Bulldogs’ midfield to start the season strongly. These early games could be critical for Macrae to establish a solid scoring foundation, making him a strategic selection for fantasy coaches looking to capitalize on favourable matchups and navigate the bye rounds effectively.Embed from Getty Images
He’s the consensus first forward selected. But where he goes could be widely different from draft to draft. Some coaches will see the lack of topline options and select Jackson inside the first couple of rounds. Others will fade interest in any topline options and just entirely punt forwards.
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.