2023 Match Simulation Watchlist

Over the coming days, AFL clubs will participate in some unofficial match simulations. This will be the clubs first opportunity of the offseason against an opponent. The time length of each will vary, some opting for traditional quarters while others are running upwards of seven periods to allow a good workout for the full squads. While making wholesale changes to your fantasy sides might not be wise, it will give us our first glimpses of some things to watch. As a result, here are some players on the Coaches Panel watchlist for the upcoming match simulations.

MJ: Plenty of love came last year for Sam Berry in 2022; as a MID/FWD, he tackled his way to a handy 80+ average. He is a key cog in the Crows future midfield; if he can start adding ball-winning to his game, he’s another to consider from the 80-90 averaging grouping that could average the ton in 2023. 

Rids: Milera has been touted as having the half back role again. 2 things to watch for here. Do the Crows look for him and does Milera look fit and can he get thru a game against a different team without looking sore.

Jordox: My eyes are on Milera, too. There’s a touch of deja vu about Milera being a mid-priced option, and his price across the formats makes it harder than ever to commit to him. But I’ve long been bullish around what Milera can do, and the half back role will give him the best chance at it. Hopefully this is his year.

MiniMonk: Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me – can’t get fooled again. Milera presents  value and will significantly affect the setup of the Crows backline for the year. If he gets the role that many are hoping for and plays both preseason games then I think there will be a restructure on the cards for many coaches. It is a big if though.

MJ: Brisbane is among the few teams involved in a 4 x 25-minute game. As a result, we can gain some understanding of how the Lions half-back line will stack up. Conor McKenna and Darcy Wilmont could be essential money-makers for us this year.  

Rids: Sharp and Wilmot battle for a wing spot. It may come down to one of these 2 for the final best 22 spot. Beware the sub risk however.

Jordox: Cam Rayner off half back? Is this real, or just intra-club experimentation? Rich, Coleman, McKenna, Wilmot. They can’t all play that role!

MiniMonk: Josh Dunkley is the most selected premium player across formats and for good reason. However, it is good sometimes to check that he will be as good as we think he will be. 

MJ: Who’s in the gun to replace the injured Zac Williams? I’m secretly hoping cash cow Lachie Cowan gets the nod. 

Rids: Where does Docherty play and how does he look?And which of Cowan or Cincotta might just impress his way into a round 1 debut.

Jordox: The unfortunate news of Zac Williams’ season ending injury has to have some sort of knock on effect, and one name I’m not hearing much of is Nic Newman. This is a great opportunity for him to start scoring more consistently.

MiniMonk: The midfield mix for the Blues interests me, as do both Patrick Cripps and Adam Cerra. Both present some value at different price points with Sam Walsh missing the first portion of the season. 

MJ: I’ve been cooler than most on Tom Mitchell. He’s potentially unbelievably cheap. But I want to see how he goes sitting in the Magpie structure and style. He’ll win plenty of inside ball; that’s obvious. But I want to see his uncontested game being fed so I can have supreme confidence in his scoring revival. 

Rids: Lots of noise around Edward Allan being best 22 on a wing. Will be awesome to lay some eyes on him to see what the noise is all about.

Jordox: Darcy Cameron’s DPP offers flexibility and will be a big deciding factor in your side’s structure. I’m curious to see the Cameron/Cox split % as main ruck.

MiniMonk: With the struggle for rucks to pick, I am looking for any information I can get on Darcy Cameron. Shared time, positional splits, and sub risk all scare me so it will be interesting to see how he goes alongside Cox.

MJ: We may all be just a year too early on Jordan Ridley becoming that established premium in our backlines. However, I’ll seriously consider him if he’s allowed to be the third man up at contests and Essendon looks to release him as the interceptor. 

Rids: Do the Bombers use Andy McGrath as the half back general. The kid was elite in this role in his junior days and might be the perfect POD people seem to be looking for in the backs.

Jordox: Sam Draper has been harshly dismissed in fantasy circles as a future star after his scoring stalled in 2022. It’s worth remembering that Max Gawn didn’t start putting up good fantasy scores until his 4th season when he added 30-40 points to his average. Draper enters his 4th season this year. It’d be a brave coach to select him as R2, but he’s relevant in drafts so I’ll be watching closely.

MiniMonk: Darcy Parish is a premium being slept on across all formats for someone who could be the highest averaging player in 2023. The gamestyle of Essendon under Brad Scott will have a significant impact on coaches interest over the last month of preseason. 

MJ: I’ve got a soft spot for Caleb Serong. It’s not at the Josh Kelly levels, but I love how he goes about his footy. Adding Jaeger O’Meara probably doesn’t help his breakout potential, but I’ll watch how he’s being used through centre bounces.

Rids: Hayden Young hype has been rising as the preseason has continued. Time to put him to the eye test!

Jordox: The Sean Darcy/Luke Jackson ruck split is arguably as intriguing as Gawn/Grundy at Melbourne. Jackson may actually help Darcy’s output by giving him a longer break from the rigours of being the first ruck. And if we believe Jackson would explode in the event of a Darcy injury, then surely he must be set for a break out of sorts, regardless. 

MiniMonk: Hayden Young. You’ve heard me through the preseason talk about him. He’s my boy. Think that is enough said.

MJ: Does Jack Bowes have a home inside the Cats best 22? And if he does, where does he get opportunities on the field? As a junior, his class was seen through the midfield, but more recently, his former side used him across halfback. Nevertheless, he’s very interested in watching what the ‘steak knives’ does at his new home.

Rids: It is Bowes watch. Where is he being used? How does he look?

Jordox: I’ve heard Brandon Parfitt’s name a few times this pre-season and I’m keen to have a look to see if he is going to get more midfield time. He put up some nice scores late last season and could be the one to benefit most from Selwood’s retirement.

MiniMonk: Tom Stewart is one of the top priced defenders coming into 2023, but there are concerns about his role with Mitch Duncan. Does he keep the key distributor role that he had early last year or will his output be decreased due to have to share?

MJ: Are you new to the Coaches Panel? All you need to know is I’m a huge mark for Josh Kelly. He could probably steal my life savings, and I’d still be OK with it. Within the right system and role, he has the pedigree to be the #1 scoring player in the game. But can and will he get the opportunity for those two elements to collide? That’s what I’ll be watching for. 

Rids: Massive noise about the preseason of Finn Whilst he is awkwardly priced across the formats, it will be good to see the young Giant in action.

Jordox: I’m looking forward to seeing how Aaron Cadman looks. Not considering him in my teams, but if he looks good for round 1, and Jesse Hogan is fit and firing, there’s still slight hope that Harry Himmelberg plays defence. It’s a long shot though.

MiniMonk: Midfield mixes are the watch all preseason. New coach, Hopper and Taranto leaving, who gets all the time? Let’s hope it is Tom Green.

MJ: How far off are Will Powell and Lachie Weller from injury returns? The latter looks closer than the former. However, if the opportunity arises across halfback, Charlie Constable is another cash cow in our backline to get us through the opening few weeks of the season. I want to see more than just the role. I want to see him nailing teammates and targets regularly by hand and foot.  

Rids: Beware of the mid mins for players if Touk is out. Noah Anderson and Rowell however will get a lot of mins in season so see how they both look. Won’t take much for Anderson to reach the uber premium status across the formats.

Jordox: Ben Long has been of interest to me since the trade period and this has only increased with word that he is likely to lock down a spot in the back 6. Will he play loose or accountable, or a mix of both? Keen to have a look.

MiniMonk: Ben Long might be the only half-back left at the Suns by the time round 1 comes around at this rate. If he is, his price means there is plenty to like. 

MJ: How hard will Sam Mitchell lean into the rebuild this year? Cam Mackenzie will see plenty of senior footy this year if he’s all in. But how much time will it be through the midfield? And is it a mix of inside and outside? He’s got the ability to play both.   

Rids: Weddle watch for me. I wouldn’t mind having him on the field. Just needs to show he can score.

Jordox: There’s been a fair bit said about what Worpel can be this year, and I’m very keen to get a glimpse. He’s priced so modestly that I don’t need to see much other than the role.

MiniMonk: With such a young team, there is sure to be plenty of experimentation for the Hawks this season. Will Day was touted earlier in the preseason to be playing outside wing but has also been given CBAs during some match simulation. Will this hold through the preseason games?

MJ: The Melbourne forward line needed to be more cohesive in 2022. It was one of the major failings of why the club couldn’t push deeper into the finals. Internally the club have been very excited about what key position forward Jacob van Rooyen is doing. I’m keen to see him have a crack—potentially another cash cow to stash away.  

Rids: Grundy and Gawn mix and how it looks.

Jordox: There was a time not too long ago where Lachie Hunter was pretty good at fantasy. A fresh start at a club that loves fantasy points and he has my attention.

MiniMonk: Angus Brayshaw. Half back? Midfield? Or heaven forbid, Wing?

MJ: After a stunning debut season in 2021, Tom Powell barely got going in 2022. Everything coming out of the club talks about his teammate Will Phillips, but don’t sleep on Powell. He’s looking fitter and stronger and could well make the big leap into the midfield. 

Rids: I am a little cool on the pricier Nth mids due to how many there are. Simpkin, LDU, Cunnington, Powell, Phillips to name a few. Still keen to see the mix.

Jordox: Jack Ziebell is no longer captain, and according to the man himself, also no longer playing forward! A lot has changed at North Melbourne since Ziebell’s insane 2021 season but I’m very interested to see how he settles into that back 6 again. 

MiniMonk: We are looking for all the Ruck options available, so why not consider one who was good to us in 2022? Tristan Xerri could get the #1 role for this season so he is one to watch at his price. 

MJ: What happens in the ruck division and how people structure up in 2023 is one of the most interesting for coaches structurally. Scott Lycett and what happens at Port Adelaide with the ruck stocks are just one of the why’s. He’s got the scoring potential to be the perfect R2, but so far, he’s not cemented the role internally, at least in the eyes of some of the coaching staff. If he can, it might be a lock-and-load pick in some formats. 

Rids: I have been fooled many times by crazy Ken. I am on Rozee watch. It seems like a no brainer full time mid move but just want to see it. If it is then he becomes one of the big 4 forwards!

Jordox: Lycett and forget was a strategy I was very interested in but I don’t like the noise coming out of the club around ‘every spot being up for grabs’. Looking forward to seeing him dominate as the number 1 ruck, so I can pop him back into R2.

MiniMonk: I am a massive Zak Butters fan, but given the ownership and injury concerns over him I will be watching Connor Rozee instead. If given the keys to the engine room he could easily match it with the big dogs we have up forward and at a much cheaper price. 

MJ:I know the majority of the competition is picking Tim Taranto. But I can’t wait to see him play. I love his aggression and intensity and think he’ll be a ripper addition to the Tigers. 

Rids: Jayden Short role is of interest. I suspect he goes back to half back which may mean a likely DPP premium addition come rd 6. Don’t go too heavy in the backs as there will be a few.

Jordox: Like so many Richmond fans, I can’t wait to have a look at Taranto in a predominantly midfield role.

MiniMonk: Jacob Hopper is the midpricer most have tucked away since the formats first opened. Just a quick check on him to confirm his role and his place in our teams is all that is needed. 

MJ: Injuries are never great. But the upside is they create significant dollar discounts for us the following season. Enter Nick Coffield. A talented kid who’s never got going. If he can settle into a half-back role and become a handy foil to Jack Sinclair, he might be an option to consider at D4/D5. 

Rids: Mitch Owens. If it looks like a duck, sounds like a duck, even smells like a duck (maybe a little too far?) then hopefully Ross just let’s the kid play football and hunt the ball! He will break out if he does.

Jordox: Awkwardly priced across the formats, Hunter Clark is reportedly fully fit and in the midst of a rare injury-free patch. I think he can have a big year and he is well and truly flying under the radar of fantasy coaches.

MiniMonk: Rookie watch is on and after Ross Lyon said he was every possibility for a round 1 debut, Mattaes Phillipou is one to keep your eye on. Substitution risk could be a concern for him, but his scoring pedigree through juniors is there. 

MJ: This is purely for SuperCoach, but Tom Hickey. In 2021 he averaged over 100, and this year he’s priced in the low 80’s. He’s priced comparable to Darcy Cameron, but he’s got zero injuries, ruck sharing or any other seeming issue the rest of our ruck division does. If you include the AFL Finals, his final six scores for the season were: 126, 128, 88, 126,132 & 85. 

Rids: Which of the kids will take the next step in 2023. Campbell, Gould or will it be another? Also very intrigued if Jake Lloyd bounces back now that Blakey will miss games early.

Jordox: More midfield minutes for Heeney? Just kidding. I’m keen to see if Rowbottom’s scoring increase in the latter stages of 2022 was a sign of things to come, or merely just a hot streak in a side that was thundering towards a Grand Final appearance.

MiniMonk: Will we ever see Will Gould play AFL? Or is he just a ghost… Perhaps the preseason games will confirm whether he exists. He and Angus Sheldrick are the two rookies here worth keeping an eye on.

MJ: It might be low-hanging fruit, but I want to see Elliot Yeo some glimpses of his former self. If he has that power back in his legs and is covering the ground well, it might be enough to throw away the key!

Rids: Just want to see the kids – Ginbey, Chesser, Long etc.

Jordox: Alex Witherden was a top 10 averaging defender across the formats last season but was unable to cement himself in the best 22. This is an indictment on his progress when you consider West Coast needed to use WAFL listed players at times for the AFL side. That being said, Witherden is too good to be in and out of the side and this could be the year he settles. I want to see how the Eagles’ backline operates with Hurn, Witherden, the kids and Shuey/Yeo playing in spurts off half back.

MiniMonk: Dom Sheed has been a hot topic all preseason alongside Elliot Yeo. A watch of the Eagles midfield mix as they begin to rebuild their side with youth will hopefully confirm what we all hope is the case.  

MJ: Can Oskar Baker hold down the wing for the Bulldogs? If he can get that role, then not only is he a good cash cow to consider, but he’ll also prevent Jackson Macrae from getting moved into fantasy no man’s land. 

Rids: I want to see the mid/fwd splits for Bont. Yes will be hard to predict anything from a practice game but will be good to get some eyes on it.

Jordox: Caleb Daniel the midfielder? Maybe the Bulldogs liked how Jayden Short looked in the role at Richmond last year. It’d be hard to commit to him, knowing how much Bevo likes to chop and change his squad, but Daniel as a midfielder definitely increases his appeal in the fantasy world.

MiniMonk: The extra midfield time left vacant by Josh Dunkley departing will be taken by someone, the only question is who? Bailey Smith has shown he has the ceiling to push into the top midfielders and could be the one who gets that time. If he does, the sky’s the limit for this young gun.