Next on the agenda for our club-by-club discussions is the Brisbane Lions. Widely tipped to begin climbing up the ladder this season, there are many interesting options on their list for your assorted fantasy teams this year.
We gathered up a few members of the Panel and answering in isolation, pitched a few categories to see who we’re all keeping an eye on this preseason – a player to lock in now, an expected breakout contender, the best cash cow, an interesting left-field option, and a sneaky name to file away for a value draft pick.
These are the players on each Panelist’s watchlist right now:
Jimmy: There were only six players listed as defenders in 2019 who averaged above 90 points in RDT/AF last season. Alex Witherden finished just shy of that mark but should be a comfortable bet to finish the year amongst the top handful.
MJ: Easy selection for me here, I’m big on defender Alex Witherden averaging enough to push into the top 10. Back to back seasons averaging over 80 and has shown he’s got a big enough ceiling with multiple 120+ scores across all formats.
Rids: Lachie Neale should keep his midfield minutes so won’t go below what he has averaged the past few years. Not sure he is uber premium but he does have a huge ceiling and Zorko will attract the tag most weeks.
Tim: Alex Witherden. Hard to pick a ‘lock’ but felt this guy was already a premium and more likely to increase than decrease scoring.
Fox: They don’t call him Locky Neale for no reason, 16 SC tons in his last 18 games, only missed 2 games in 5 years and he’s a 110 point mid you want in your team
Jimmy: The obvious choice here is Hugh McCluggage but I’m particularly interested in watching the preseason form of Cam Rayner, Rhys Matheison and Ben Keays as well. There are a lot of quality young mids at the Lions and I’m fascinated to see which ones take the next step this season.
MJ: The loss of his DPP actually means he’ll present some potential value for owners. As a midfielder, I don’t mind selecting Hugh McLuggage who certainly is a breakout candidate and possible 90+ average across the formats.
Rids: Hugh McCluggage. This kid was a superstar through his junior days. This is the year that it should translate into AFL. He is mid only though which is a little bit of a dampener.
Tim: Hugh McCluggage. This will be popular but he just looks ready to take a step up.
Fox: Expect another double digit point increase from Hugh McCluggage, had 6 games under 60 points last year and entering into his 3rd year, a sound investment
The Cash Cow
MJ: I think he’s got to fight his way into the side but i like what I’ve seen from Cedric Cox in the handful of AFL games he’s played. He brings plenty of line breaking speed and has plenty of skills. Hopefully the coaching staff give him an extended run at it.
Jimmy: Lincoln McCarthy makes an interesting case study if he starts the season in the first 22. Priced a little higher than I’d like but his role is worth monitoring over the JLT.
Rids: Ely Smith. This kid is a ready to go big bodied mid. It will just depend on whether the Lions require another one or not as to whether he gets the games required.
Tim: Ely Smith Found this hard for Brissy so again he just seems slightly more likely than others.
Fox: Throw the blanket over any of Ely Smith, Connor McFadyen or Noah Answerth for a possible mid season cashie
Jimmy: Can Dayne Zorko bounce back to previous form? He represents massive value on his 2018 average if you believe he can.
MJ: I’d only do this if big Oscar McInerney or Archie Smith aren’t named but it seems fantasy coaches have forgotten the safe 100+ averages we’d get from Stefan Martin if he’s the solo big man.
Rids: Alex Witherden. This kid can play. His scoring will increase as the Lions play better football. Not sure he is uber but wont be too many points in it this year. T
Tim: Stefan Martin has been scoring up and around the top rucks in all formats in recent years and won’t be highly owned.
Fox: What better way for a sun savaged Lyon to roar back into calculation than to throw him into a den with his pride. Hard to believe he averaged 123 DT after 3 rounds in 2018.
The Draft Smokey
Jimmy: Especially in keeper leagues, Eric Hipwood is one that I would love to have deep on my list this year. He is developing very nicely and will only get better as the Lions improve as a whole. Target in keepers and consider as one of your last picks in single season leagues.
MJ: He’s developing nicely, but you should be able to draft Jarrod Berry late in most drafts. Spent most of 2018 learning as a tagger what the workrate required of an elite midfielder. Don’t be shocked if the Lions coaching staff give him the freedom to hunt the ball.
Rids: Mitch Robinson just keeps scoring no matter where he plays. He will feature very late in drafts and is always good for a 80+.
Tim: Luke Hodge was ignored a lot in drafts last year but had another solid year. Lions on the improve so could be similar again.
Fox: Believe it or not Dayne Zorko, had a massive 2016-2017 campaign before getting sunk by heavy tags and poor form in 2018, in an unforgiving fantasy world he’ll be very much on the nose with some coaches in 2019, with his high ceiling it might pay to throw him an early life line, how early is the question.