AFLFantasy | 2023 Draft Day Wins

You rarely will ‘win the draft’ in the opening handful of rounds. Rather, the mid to late draft day selections can take your team from good to great. So two months removed from your draft day, here’s a look at some of the late draft day selections that have been winning selections for their owners.

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Lachie Weller | AVG 94 | ADP 160

You rarely see players return from ACLs and average the same as before the injury. It’s even less common you see players return and increase their scoring averages, but that’s what Lachie Weller is doing so far. From his six games, he’s posted four scores over 85, including a 109 & 133. His average of 94 has him ranked 13th amongst all defenders by average. At worst, he’s probably sitting at a D2 position for a coach and, potentially, on average, is a teams best defender—a phenomenal output given the draft capital investment. Hopefully, he can return from his current injury soon and keep playing at this level.

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Harry Sheezel | AVG 105 | ADP 172

One of the most discussed players in the AFLFantasy community this season has been Harry Sheezel. Most of the noise has come from the salary cap and keeper league coaches, but he’s been just as compelling a selection in single-season drafts. Five tons, three of them have been 115+ and an additional two scores over 95 means he’s had just one score sub 95 (47) all season. He’s ranked third amongst forwards for bother averages and total points.

And since picking up DEF status ahead of round six, he’s now also placed as the third-best defender by points and fourth by averages. Last year Nick Daicos was the first-year player that became a premium pick, and Harry’s right on the same pathway to follow it up in 2023. 

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Will Day | AVG 100.3 | ADP 182

Long-time draft coaches have known about the scoring pedigree of Will Day. In his debut season of 2020, we saw in multiple instances that Day’s got the capacity to score towards the upper tiers of our defenders. While he’s missed a few matches through suspension, Will’s been one of the best draft day wins for coaches—two tons, including a season-high 128. Three additional scores between 90-99 and a season-low of 85 have him ranked by average as the eighth-best defender in 2023.

To get your D1 on performance at the potential, the spot you’re picking your last defender on draft day is an exceptional return on capital investment. 

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Jack Ziebell | AVG 104.8 | ADP 192

Jack’s very familiar with this area! It feels like a case of deja vu. The parallels between the half-back role and high scoring for draft coaches are eerily similar. He’s been an inspired draft selection. He started the season forward-eligible, and he’s ranked fourth by averages and total points amongst forwards. He’s well ahead of Errol Gulden, Stephen Coniglio and Connor Rozee, who were all picked well over 140 positions ahead of him.

Since gaining defender status ahead of round six, he’s been the fifth-best defender by averages and fourth by total points. In addition, he’s currently the 16th-best player in the competition by total points! Amazing!

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Mason Wood | AVG 90.9 | ADP 219

There were glimpses of the scoring in this role on the wings last year under Brett Ratten. Over the final five weeks of 2022, he scored 106, 93, 95, 102 & 79. That scoring thread has continued with two tons and multiple additional scores over 90 so far. What’s most impressive is that from a total points perspective, he’s scored more than Tom Mitchell, Lachie Neale, Luke Parker and Patrick Dangerfield. While Callum Mills, who had an average draft position of seven, has scored just eight more points than Mason. This a great outcome, in contrast to the draft capital spent. 

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Josh Rachele | AVG 81.9 | ADP 262

Coaches were happy to spend early draft capital on second-year players. Jason Horne-Franics has an ADP of 130, Nick Daicos was 36, and even Josh Ward went at an ADP of 166. One that’s flown under the radar is the former first-round selection for the Crows. Josh Rachele has been excellent. Based on total points, he’s ranked 17th amongst forwards, consisting of five scores above 85, including two tons. Beyond Nick, he’s been the best-performing second-year player. 

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Callum Wilkie | AVG 87.4 | ADP 271

The scoring leap from Callum this year has been something that nobody forecasted. Before this season, his best-ever average for a year was in 2022, when he averaged 68.3. After eight rounds into this current year, he’s rolling at an average of 87.4 and is currently ranked 14th amongst defenders for total points. He’s scored more than Angus Brayshaw, Isaac Cumming and Bailey Dale, who haven’t missed a game and were drafted north of 100 spots earlier. 

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Liam Shiels | AVG 79.6 | ADP 276

Did you see this scoring coming? Based on Liam Shiels’ ADP, it appears that only a few did. The former Hawk was brought over to offer off-field leadership and influence the club’s culture. Alongside this, he’s become one of the more surprising scoring forwards. Liam’s been well worth placing as any on-field option, given that by total points; he’s currently ranked 20th amongst all forwards. Ahead of Isaac HeeneyDustin Martin and Jason Horne-Francis

This entrant speaks largely to the lack of depth in scoring this line has produced, but it does showcase that late-round drafting can produce some gems that catapult your side’s overall scoring health to the next level.

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Nasiah Wanganeen-Milera | AVG 85.3 | ADP 313

One of the primary reasons for such a lowly-ranked ADP would be that Nasiah was eligible only as a midfielder for the first five rounds of the season. Had he been allocated the DEF DPP, which he was awarded heading into round six, I could see a world where he’d have been selected up to 100 spots earlier.

Regardless, Wanganeen-Milera has been a sensational acquisition for draft teams. By total points, he ranked 18th for all defenders. The positive is his scoring improving as the season grows. In his first three matches, he didn’t post a score over 80. However, in his last five, he’s posted three tons.

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Will Powell | AVG 82.8 | ADP 331

It’s more driven by recent bias, but when you’ve posted 79, 127 & 103 in the past three weeks, you deserve some attention from the AFLFantasy community. Defenders for the Gold Coast have all had cushy scoring roles, and for now, Powell is picking up some of that upside. It might not last forever, but it doesn’t have to. Getting this scoring level this late in the drafts is a tremendous upside.

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Darcy Macpherson | AVG 93.8 | ADP 356

Given the ADP vs scoring output, you could argue that Darcy Macpherson is the most valuable player selected on draft day. By average, amongst all defenders, he’s ranked tenth for total points and fifteenth by averages. And with DPP, he’s available as a defender and a forward. Alongside this, he’s ranked ninth amongst all forwards for points. Whether you’ve played him as the forward or defence, he’s been one hell of a pick. 

Honourable Mentions

All players listed above were selected in the later portions on draft day. In addition, as great a bargain as they have been, two players were selected outside of the top fifty draft positions that I felt needed a special ‘shoutout.’

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Tom Green | AVG 120.7 | ADP 69

Early in the preseason, fellow panellist Rids, in the 50 most relevant, predicted that he could see Tom Green as the highest-scoring player this year. While he’s not there yet, he’s getting there. After eight weeks, he holds the second-highest average in the game and is one of two players with an average of over 120.

What makes this more impressive is that even with missing a game through suspension, he’s still ranked 14th for total points. He’s scored more than Rory Laird. He’s just one point behind Josh Dunkley and less than 15 points behind Marcus Bontempelli and Jordan Dawson.

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Caleb Serong | AVG 107.6 | ADP 78

Only 11 pure midfielders are currently boasting an average north of 105. Not only is Caleb Serong one of those, but he’s also currently ranked 7th on that list. Caleb’s averaging more than Josh Kelly, Zach Merrett and Rory Laird, all of whom would be seen in the eyes of many draft coaches as not just genuine M1s but genuine top-10 scoring midfielders.

Alongside this, he’s ranked 9th for total points and has scored more than other popular midfielders, Christian Petracca and Marcus Bontempelli, to name a few. The Dockers vice-captain is putting together a fine start to the season.