Upgrade Targets After The Bye | Round 14

The multi-bye rounds are over. We now have six teams that have 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.

During the preseason, I ranked Lachie Neale as the #2 most relevant player in fantasy footy, and to date, he’s delivered! Arguably, he’s had a better football season than his Brownlow medal year of 2020. Neale is one of the highly owned premiums across the fantasy, and that’s because he was priced with a discount due to an injury affected 2021. He’s currently ranked second overall in AFLFantasy/DreamTeam for total points and first in SuperCoach. If you don’t have him by now, the damage is done, and you’re well out of contention this year. The best scenario for you is to keep going against him and hope for an injury. If you haven’t got him now, you can’t get him in now at the top price. Go and look for some value elsewhere. 

There is only one format you’re considering a trade into Daniel Rich as an upgrade, and that’s SuperCoach. Off the back of averaging 107 last year, he’s seen a drop of 14 points pre-game. As a result, he’s gone from being one of the clear top options to now being ranked 15th among defenders by average and 10th for total points. He’s posted seven tons from thirteen matches but is in a hard space to consider him. He’s not a value buy, he’s not a clear top-tier defender, and at 9% ownership, he isn’t super rare even. It’s why for me, I’d probably look elsewhere.

The club has already confirmed that Dayne Zorko will miss this week. He’s been a rollercoaster to own this year, and even when back, he’s shown a combination of injury and positional volatility. So I couldn’t advocate for anyone to jump onto owning him.

Hugh McCluggae continues to be close but not a premium scorer enough to be someone I’d advocate trading into. We’ve got some super value across the formats, and as good as he is, I think there are cheaper options that will outperform him. Pass

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One of the best purchases this year has been getting Darcy Cameron. And crazily enough, he probably presents as the ruck with the best matchup this week with him coming up against a ruckless GWS. If you owned him, it’s happy days for another month until Brodie Grundy returns. To trade into him outside of AFLFantasy, it’s not a play I feel confident in. Because in the limited trade formats, you shouldn’t be looking at a short-term move but rather something that holds until the end of the year. As good as he’s been, the addition of Grundy back into the team will create chaos on his scoring ceiling. 

Jack Crisp is the most reliable and consistent player. He might not boast the ceiling of other players in this line, but his durability and consistency make him a joy to own. In his past eight games, he’s just posted one score over 120 across the formats. Unless you are trading into him as a defensive move, I’d probably look to be aggressive and chase some cheaper options with the ceiling—players such as Lachie Whitfield or Aaron Hall, who are high-risk, high-reward guys. 

It’s more of a legacy-driven purchase, but Scott Pendlebury still holds a special place in long-time coaches hearts. But his average in the low 80’s in AFLFantasy and low 90’s in SuperCoach just isn’t enough. Even if Jordan De Goey is absent for a significant time, I think his time as a desirable fantasy option has passed him by. 

It was only a matter of time before Andrew Brayshaw became a bonafide fantasy star. As we turn for the final few months of the year, he’s currently the #1 ranked player in AFLFaantasy/Dreameam by averages and total points. In SuperCoach, he’s ranked 12th for averages and 9th for total points. On a current three-game trend, he’s ranked 20th by averages in SuperCoach and 4th in AFLFantasy. It’s never a bad move to bring in a player of his calibre. However, the coach’s challenge will be balancing the value of trades to get up to him and the cash required to get him. My only red flag is that his dockers have a much harder fixture to end the season than the start. Over the next month, they play Carlton, Port Adelaide, St Kilda and Sydney. These teams have sometimes used negating / defensive-minded midfielders, and Andy is certainly a target to receive some attention. 

Luke Ryan continues to fly under the radar as a premium defensive option in people’s minds. His seasonal average is down slightly on what he delivered last year, but in his past three, he’s ranked 8th in SuperCoach for defenders going at 114.7 and 5th in AFLFantasy, going at 106.7. If you believe that trend is a sign of things to come and not just a ‘hot steak’, then Luke’s one to target seriously. Historically, it’ll be a stretch to argue that, but he’s certainly a solid pick if nothing else. 

There was plenty of love for Caleb Serong in the preseason. In the last five games of 2022 in AFLFantasy/DreamTeam, he scored 94, 75, 118, 117 & 116. That’s an average of 104 in that stretch, but he went at 117 in the final three. The trend is similar in SuperCoach. He ended the year with 103, 82, 115, 135 & 103. Again, that’s a five-game average of 107 and a last three of 117. However, an early-season knee injury affected some early season form and some games of footy as a result were missed. However, in the past six weeks, he’s averaged 102 in AFLFantasy and 109 in SuperCoach. He’s still some value, and if he can hold scoring like that, he’ll be a solid selection. 

One of the bargains of the year to date has been James Sicily. An average of 96.6 in AFLFantasy/DreamTeam and 116.8 in SuperCoach has been a phenomenal return from an ACL injury. He’s one of the most highly owned defenders across the formats, and if you don’t own him as good as he has been, I’d be telling you to look elsewhere. However, the damage has been done; if you’ve gone this far without him, you must hold that course. As good as he’s been and will likely continue being, you need to keep going against the crowd and hope for some luck to slide your way.

If you’re looking at Tom Mitchell as an option, your probably tricking yourself into it. Under Sam Mitchell, the Hawks game style has evolved, and he’s no longer required to play a role in the midfield. ‘Titch’ is still getting his fair share of centre bounces, but his consistent scoring isn’t there. He’s averaging more than 30 points per game, less than last year in SuperCoach and 20 points in AFLFantasy/DreamTeam. I’m all about taking a leap of faith on a player, but I’ve seen nothing that would give me any confidence in leaping at him. There are better options than him.

When I looked at the most popular traded-out players last week and saw Christian Petracca in some formats, I nearly fell off my chair. Yes, he’s had a poor three games with an average of 74 in SuperCoach and 72 in AFLFantasy. But before that, he was going at 116 in SuperCoach and 111 in AFLFantasy. Whenever a player has a few poor weeks when historically they are a premium performer, the question coaches have to ask is WHY? In one of these matches, he was ill and was reportedly close to not playing. The following week he was still shaking off the flu. That leaves us with just the one game that needs an explanation. On the Queen’s Birthday clash, he had 32 touches and scored 99 in SuperCoach and 86 in AFLFantasy/DreamTeam. That’s hardly a disaster. For me, CP5 is one of the best value buys after the bye. He’s not unique, but he’s terrific value. You could even place the VC on him tonight if you wish. 

Cast your mind back to the 50 most relevant series we do every preseason; I made this comment about Clayton Oliver. “Start him and reap the benefit or be prepared to pay for him because he never has a bad game.” That call seems to have held, given he’s had just one score in SuperCoach under 99 and one under 91 in AFLFantasy/DreamTeam all year. He’s also turned the lack of ceiling talk in AFLFantasy into the myth. He’s scored over 110 in eight games, including a season-high of 151. Trading into Oliver is never a bad choice, but it’s not a value-for-money selection. 

Looking for some value to finish off your backlines? Then Christian Salem should be on your radar. A round one sub-affected single-digit score has affected not just his seasonal average but also his current price. Since his return from injury in the previous two games, he’s posted 91 & 94 in AFLFantasy/DreamTeam and 83 & 104. These scores reflect how he scored in 2021 when he averaged in the low 90s across the formats. The premier format to pick him this week would be in AFLFantasy due to the weekly adjustments, he’s already had three price changes and has dropped $124k. Salem is now just $15k more expensive than Nick Daicos. He’s unlikely to average 95+ over the next few months, but he’s got the capacity to be close enough and save you over $100k to place that cash onto another player upgrade. 

With the absence of Braydon Preuss and Tim English this week, coaches are scampering for a solution to the ongoing headache of the ruck division. Enter Luke Jackson, the fantasy community’s RUC/FWD great hope. The challenge is that he’s not had the ‘breakout’ season that many had forecast. In his ruck sharing role with Max Gawn, it’s been eight weeks since his last ton, and in the previous four matches and he’s had just one score over 80. However, he will ruck solo over the coming weeks, so it’s safe to assume he should score more than his current output.

But what can he do? Tonight he comes up against arguably one of the most restrictive ruckmen in Oscar McInerney. The weeks after, it’s Reilly O’Brien and should Max miss the again; he’ll ruck solo against Mark Blicavs/Rhys Stanley combo. I don’t hate it as a trade option in AFLFantasy, but in SuperCoach and DreamTeam, with trades starting to dry up you want to make sure that the moves you make are season long plays, not just a few week fix.

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Have we all forgotten about Aaron Hall? He was the must-have premium of 2021, and he started the year averaging 99.5 in AFLFantasy and 105 in SuperCoach over the opening month of the year before injuries hit. He returned from his layoff in round 13, and while he wasn’t at his regular scoring proficiency, he showed plenty of his trademark dash and aggressive ball movement. Hall is considerably cheaper than his starting price and has the scoring legacy to be someone who could genuinely be the top-scoring defender over the season’s final few months. The football will spend plenty of time in the Roos backline, his ownership percentage is low, and his scoring upside is as good as any. Aaron holds all elements needed for coaches to make a late-season run, but are you brave enough to pick him? 

How risk averse are you? Jed Anderson is the ultimate risk vs reward option. He’s played just thirteen games of AFL in the past 18 months, and this year alone has put up scores under 40 and scores over 140. In his past three matches in AFLFantasy, he scored two tons, averaging 107.7 and going along at104 in SuperCoach. He’s the significant value forward play when you contrast his price vs potential output, at just over $460k in SuperCoach and under $740K In AFLFantasy. If you can’t get up to the big dog premiums in the forward line, he’s a cheaper option that could match it with some of them on the run home. 

With all the issues we’ve had in the ruck department, it feels odd to be considering Todd Goldstein as an option in SuperCoach, but he legitimately could be the right play for some teams. Since Tristan Xerri went down injured in that format, he’s averaged 111. Even once Xerri has re-joined the team, he’s maintained the #1 ruck status and been going at 103. The additional bonus is that he has RUC/FWD status, so he will enable genuine versatility within your squad, especially if you own Tim English or Brynn Teakle

The leap into genuine premium status for Jy Simpkin is still yet to happen. In his final eleven games last year, he went at an average of 105 across the formats. However, so far in 2022, he’s managed just the four tons and is seemingly well off the pace from his potential. Although thankfully for non-owners, his current season performance hasn’t hurt you, the question is now, what can he do in the next few months. If you’re low on cash but happy to put some blind faith into someone with the upside potential, Jy could be the guy.