Upgrade Targets After The Bye | Round 13

One week of the multi-bye rounds is over. We now have four teams with no more scheduled rests for the remainder of the season. Here’s a club-by-club breakdown of potential upgrade targets who have had their bye-round.

Since landing at Brisbane, one of the reliable scoring premium midfielders in the game is Lachie Neale. In SuperCoach, he’s consistently averaging over 110+ and above 100+ in AFLFantasy/DreamTeam. He’s been a little patchy over the season, but before the week off, he had started to turn the corner with his scoring consistency. In his previous three weeks, he’s scored 103, 117 & 100 in AFLFantasy/DreamTeam and 109, 128 & 122 in SuperCoach.

He’s dropped about $100k on his starting price in SuperCoach and is always a play in that format. However, I’m a big fan of the play in AFLFantasy. Priced at $829,000, he’s got plenty of upside. With a fixture of Hawthorn & Sydney straight off the bye, he may cop a pair of tags, but it opens up massively afterwards. From rounds 15-17, the Lions play St Kilda, Richmond and West Coast, three of the best matchups for midfielders. Every chance, within five weeks, he’s gone up $100k and averaged north of 110.

Based on that fixture, some might be tempted to look at Hugh McCluggage, especially in AFLFantasy, where a multiple-week stretch might be a consideration. Priced at under $750k and with a history of being able to average 100, it’s one to consider. I’d be cautious. The midfield mix of the Lions has changed with the arrival of Will Ashcroft and Josh Dunkley, and his role has seen him fade into a more regular wing role with minimal centre-bounce attendance. It’s got serious risk associated, given he’s only really popped one decent score for the year, but I can understand the consideration for coaches looking for a possible value play.

The vast majority of the fantasy community already owns Josh Dunkley. I dubbed him the most relevant player for the coming year in the preseason. While he hasn’t been as prolific as many had hoped, he’s still been one of the best forwards across the formats and has been a more than solid starting squad plays of the year. For the rare few that don’t own him, you’ve probably missed the boat trading into him, as it was a month into the year that was the right time to ‘buy low.’

Injury is never a good thing, but what it can do is create opportunity. And with Sean Darcy suffering a hamstring injury, it likely forces Fremantle to play Luke Jackson as the #1 ruck. So how does Luke go when the clear #1 ruck? It’s a very limited sample size and an entirely different team. However, last year he played one game without Max Gawn and scored 125 in AFLFantasy/DreamTeam and 122 for SuperCoach. Getting three games like that over the byes without Darcy could be a game-changer.

Over the previous few weeks on our weekly strategy roundtable podcasts, you’ve heard MiniMonk often speak about the importance of versatility and value of an RUC/FWD DPP like Darcy Cameron. Another option (all be in more of a limited run through the byes) is Luke. At the very least, he’s a play to ponder.

After a quiet start to the season, Andrew Brayshaw is averaged 110 for the year but going at 122 in his last five for AFLFantasy/DreamTeam. Over in SuperCoach, he’s averaging 104 for the year but 119.2 since round seven. The early season injury niggles well past him, and he’s now back to his 2022 scoring best. He’s no longer that bargain he was a month ago, but he should still be an option to look at. Over the next month, the Dockers play Richmond, GWS, Essendon & Bulldogs. None of these teams run tags and has shown tendencies to let in/out players like Andy score well. Don’t be shocked if he’s not in the top 2-3 points scorers over the season’s final few months.

Six rounds into the year, people that had started with Hayden Young were targeting him as a trade-out option at the byes. In AFLFantasy/DreamTeam, he averaged 81; in SuperCoach, he averaged 85 and had only one ton in the first six weeks across all formats. However, over the previous five weeks, he’s started to deliver the premium scores that have meant he’s now genuinely on the radar for all coaches off the bye. Since round seven, he’s averaged 102 in SuperCoach, scored three tons and nothing under 86. Over in AFLFantasy/DreamTeam, he’s averaging 100 in his last five, scored three tons and dropped his score under 98 just once.

Hayden’s price point is now back to where it was at the start of the season, which means he still presents a level of value. What’s the cause of scoring? The Dockers have started funnelling their defensive rebound through him more than Luke Ryan. What should provide a level of comfort for this is that the Dockers have won four of the last five games and have started returning to the winning form of 2022. Only the club would truly know whether it’s causation or correlation, but the two elements look linked from the outside. Beyond Nick Daicos, Jordan Dawson and James Sicily, no premium defenders are regularly banging the door down with big scores across formats—a genuine play.

If Young isn’t interested, maybe you’re more of a Luke Ryan fan. He’s having a career season averaging 99 in AFLFantasy/DreamTeam and 110 in SuperCoach. He’s not been as prolific over the past three weeks, but he’s still a play. His scoring is almost doing the reverse of what Hayden Young is doing. Their prices are relatively comparable across formats, so I’d probably lean more towards Hayden unless you want both.

One of the breakout picks of the year has been Caleb Serong. Congratulations to every coach that jumped on early. The good news is, he’s shown it wasn’t just a hot stretch to start the year; he’s now done it for three months. Equally important is he’s scored well with Brayshaw performing well, too, meaning he’s not just getting the ‘upside’ of when Andy was struggling to be at his peak. If you want to get the most out of the Dockers fixture but can’t spend the $ to get up to Brayshaw, then Serong is certainly a ‘haircut’ to strong view.

It’s not an upgrade, but two Dockers could help generate cash. Sam Sturt is a chance to get a few games should Sean Darcy miss multiple matches with his hamstring injury. They’re far from ‘like for like replacements, but structurally, Sturt at 189cm adds another dimension to the forward line.

The big one, especially for SuperCoach, is Nat Fyfe. Priced at under $250k, he’s just over the price tag of a cash cow. There is no risk in trading into him at this price point. He’s priced as a glorified cash cow. Every week Nat’s looked better, and to get a player with his historical pedigree at this price point is a steal. At best, he becomes an on-field premium. At worst, he’s a trade going down with an injury. He is likely somewhere in the middle. Meaning he provides depth and flexibility across your benches once the byes end. Nobody is a must-have trade, but Fyfe is mighty close to it. 

The man of steal, Jack Steele, has yet to be at his prolific scoring best in 2023. A combination of some niggling injuries and occasional mid-game role changes has seen the St Kilda skipper only show glimpses of his fantasy pedigree. For Jack, the week off couldn’t have come at a better time as it allowed some much-needed recovery time.

Anyone with a history of monster scoring like Jack must be considered. Next week is the optimal moving time to get him. That way, you get a week of visibility to watch him play & see if he resembles his old self while also managing his breakeven dip. Now is the right time to do it; as important as getting value for money is, points are the name of the game. This week St Kilda takes on the Swans. In his last three, Steele has scored 139, 124 & 137 in AFLFantasy/DreamTeam and 125, 115 & 140 in SuperCoach. If he scores like that, you’ll care little about another $20k differential in price dip.

I do not love the defenders this year. Beyond Jordan Dawson, Nick DaicosJames Sicily and probably Sam Docherty, you could argue that no premium defender is worth paying up big dollars for. However, despite not living up to the dizzying heights of last year, Jack Sinclair is still a viable acquisition. He’s shown multiple games of 110+ and has matches against Sydney, Richmond, Brisbane & West Coast. Three of those matchups are quite favourable for defenders and midfielders. Jack could well fly off the back of the bye.

Brad Crouch in AFLFantasy/DreamTeam has shown a scoring pedigree. In 2022, he averaged 106.4 and was among the best midfielder premiums in the game. Even this year, he was averaging 113 over the first five matches. He’s cheap, given his historical performance, but it’s his ownership percentage that’d be more appealing as a team differentiator than anything else.

Only a few coaches should need to trade into ruckmen this week. Last round, we had multiple options present, so if you were an owner of an injured Sean Darcy, you could’ve got into Tim English, Darcy Cameron or Kieren Briggs. For those who held, you are probably not playing rankings focus but making leagues your priority. As such, there is a little world where people need a ruck; if you do this week, then Rowan Marshall is a viable play.

One of the keys to fantasy success, especially when trading into players, is to ensure your maximising the ‘upgrade’ with the first week of the trade. It’s why Jake Lloyd, who has arguably one of the best matchups this week, should be a trade consideration for coaches looking to beef out their backlines. All year the Saints have been fantastic matchups for defenders. Jake historically has been one of the best premiums, and while not as prolific as in previous years, he’s still been good this year.

He’s currently ranked seventh for defenders in SuperCoach and tenth in AFLFantasy/DreamTeam by averages. Additionally, he’s coming off the back of his season-high score, a 123 in AFLFantasy/DreamTeam and a 139 in SuperCoach. If you want to beef up the backline this week, then Lloyd needs to be a consideration.

Over the past five weeks, Chad Warner has been firing and delivering premium midfield numbers. He’s averaging 107.2 in AFLFantasy/DreamTeam and 114.8 in SuperCoach since round seven. Interestingly this scoring boost happened with Mills still in the team, so it’s not just the departure of Callum that’s created a scoring boost. He doesn’t have the greatest scoring history against recent opponents. But given he’s played less than 50 games of AFL, I’m not too concerned. On current trends, the Swans have a favourable fixture matchup for midfielders. Chad’s an ‘impact’ over ‘volume’ footballer, so while he’s a consideration in AFLFantasy and DreamTeam, historically, it’s SuperCoach that his scoring has been at his peak.

It’s not flashy, but some will be looking at Nick Blakey off the back of scoring 114 in AFLFantasy/DreamTeam and 125 before the bye week. I don’t hate the move, but it feels like your jumping on for a short time at a cheaper price point and wanting to get an overperformance that historically has only sometimes been there. Sometimes taking a haircut on a premium is a good play. I’m not sold it; it’s the right play for everyone. But it’s something to consider and ponder.

Sydney skipper Callum Mills is still anywhere from one to three weeks away from returning from his calf injury, according to the latest injury update. As a result, he’s not a trade this week but someone we should be keeping some space for. When he’s back, the Swans key position stocks will be replenished. This should result in a more permanent move back to the midfield. In doing so, he could be one of the year’s bargains.

Normally Luke Parker would feature here, but with him being suspended this week, he’s not someone to look at for this round.

Five weeks ago, I knew plenty of coaches were looking at Errol Gulden as a trade-out option. To that point in the year, he’d been fine but hadn’t delivered anything that resembled what we saw in the preseason. However, since round seven, he’s been amazing. Over the past five weeks in AFLFantasy/DreamTeam, he’s averaging 127.4, with only Tim Taranto averaging more in the previous five-game cycle. While in SuperCoach during that stretch of time, he’s averaging 124 and is one of only ten players with a five-week cycle over 120.

Errol’s already incredibly highly owned, but he is highly desirable for non-owners, not just for his scoring or to minimise the potential burn against their team. But because he’s a premium forward that’s playing in round fifteen. Beyond Gulden and Josh Dunkley, few premium forwards in any format are available to play in round fifteen. So for these reasons, targeting Errol might be essential over the next few weeks.