Upgrade Targets After The Bye | Round 15

Another week of the multi-bye rounds is over. We now have another six 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.

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Over recent weeks I’ve highlighted that defenders are the line this year where we’ll see some of the greatest variations of combinations. With only a handful of clear topline options, we’ll see great diversity over the final ten games of the season. One of the clear best backs we have is Crows skipper Jordan Dawson. He’s scored ten tons in the past eleven games in AFLFantasy/DreamTeam, while in SuperCoach, he’s given us three scores of 150 or over since round four and has a seasonal average of 115.

Nick Daicos and Jordan have been the best premium defender to own this year. The longer you’ve owned him, the better your seasonal rank. If you are trading into him this week, it’s for a few reasons. First, you are sick of coming up against him in your rank/league battles and want to negate his scoring impact against you. The other is your trading into him because you believe the scoring trend of the year will continue, and you want the best possible players in your team.

All preseason one of the biggest dilemmas of preseason squads was about whether or not they were paying for Rory Laird as a starting squad target or hoping to be able to jag him at a cheaper price point during the year. Thankfully, those who ran the Gauntlet against him worked for the most part in your favour. A few niggly injuries and a bizarre round-one score meant he’d rewarded non-owners with some significant value.

That’s all in the past, as he’s averaging 113 in AFLFantasy and 125 in SuperCoach over the past five games. If you still need to own him, the time is almost out for you to capitalise on getting him. It’s not unique. But if you want someone likely a top-tier midfield premium to bring into your side, then Rory is a serious must-consider.

Round fifteen is filled with pain, especially in the forward lines. It’s why when a forward plays in round fifteen with a proven historical performance like Ben Keays, it’s no wonder the community is seriously considering it. That interest was only further increased when he moved back into the midfield, and in the past three weeks, he’s averaging 110 in AFLFantasy/DreamTeam and 108 in SuperCoach.

On the surface, it looks like a value play this week, and it is. However, the only flag I’ll raise is that I fully expect him to tag Nick Daicos this week. That could see him spending his time across the half-forward flank this week. Will that impact his scoring? Perhaps. An interesting side note is that Nick’s midfield minutes gradually increase as the season progresses. Keays could still see plenty of midfield time. There is some obvious risk in selecting him, but he’s priced at such a level that means any risk of having the scoring failure has been minimised.

The ownership percentage of Nick Daicos is insane. If you don’t own him, the damage has already been done. You should keep going without him, as you will likely gain nothing by neutralising his scoring now.

Over the past five weeks, Tom Mitchell has scored four tons in AFLFantasy, three of which have been above 120, and he is currently going at an average of 112.6. While over in SuperCoach, he’s scored seven tons in the past nine matches and is coming off the back of a 127 & 132. The volume of ball winning for the fantasy ‘Pig’ is different from his peak, but his impact on the game is arguably just as big. If you can’t get up to the big dog midfielders, then I am okay taking the haircut and getting on Tom in any format.

On our most recent podcast, fellow panellist Rids said that in SuperCoach this week, Darcy Cameron is the #1 trade-in target. I agree, and you could build a case he’s not far off the mark in AFLFantasy or DreamTeam, either. He still presents extreme value, and along with his RUC/FWD status to provide coverage across the remaining season, he’s got the potential to be the most valuable trade inclusion you make all season. Over the past 18 months, he’s shown he can deliver a premium scoring north of 100 most weeks, and for me, he’s one of the players coaches should have targeted as an inclusion this week.

I’ll be clear, this next one is an AFLFantasy play only, and it’s only for a two-week window. With no Jordan De Goey, we should see a bump in scoring and opportunities for Jack Crisp. At $669,000, the price tag is right. He’s coming off a 131 against the Demons and has a breakeven 45. Over the next fortnight, It wouldn’t shock me to see him average 100-105 and make another $80k plus. He may be your pathway to trading into Clayton Oliver. It’s not for everyone, but it is one to ponder.

Before an injury, Darcy Parish was having yet another strong season. He was averaging 107 across the formats and was reminding the entire fantasy community of his premium scoring pedigree. It’s been six weeks since we’ve seen him play, but the club have confirmed that Parish is right to play this week. It’d take a brave coach to pick him up during the first week off the back from injury, but sometimes you need to make brave moves to get your team into the places you need. He’s averaged over 100 in all formats for three years. My main flag with trading into Darcy isn’t about the recent injury history but rather the Bombers upcoming fixture. They play some of the hardest teams for midfielders to score against. Over the next month, they play Fremantle, Port Adelaide, Adelaide and Geelong. If trading for a unique premium is your top priority, then Darcy’s an option.

Over the past five weeks, only three players have averaged more than 120 in all formats. Tim Taranto, Marcus Bontempelli and Zach Merrett. The Essendon skipper and his selection in fantasy teams of all formats has been inspired. But trading into him now isn’t something I could advocate for. Firstly, your paying ‘overs for him. He’s currently the third most expensive player in AFLFantasy/DreamTeam and tenth in SuperCoach. Historically he’s scoring at his peak. In addition, he’s already highly owned by those at the top of the tree, meaning not only are you spending a large portion of your salary cap on getting him, but you’re also doing it to create no differentiation from the ranking leaders. And lastly, the upcoming fixture. Without James Aish to tag or Dylan Shiel, who’s being managed, Fremantle should help. But after that, it matches Port Adelaide, Adelaide and Geelong. I wouldn’t say I like the fixtures. With all these elements around, it’s a solid pass for me.

Mason Redman is considered a defender target if the scoring ceiling is the primary objective. He can score with the best option available when he’s been freed up to attack and does not have to be a lockdown back. Already this year, he’s posted multiple 120+ scores across the format and between rounds 9-11, he scored a trio of tons and averaged 113 in AFLFantasy and 127 for SuperCoach. It’s got some risk associated, given his scoring is matchup dependent, but as I said, if you’re looking for a risky play that could have some massive ceiling upside, then Reddog is a play.

Similarly, Jordan Ridley has shown he can score as a premium defender over the past few years. He’s been a solid pick since returning from his concussion-affected game in round eight. In AFLFantasy, he’s posted a 127, 95, 86 & 86. Those are decent, but SuperCoach has always been a stronger scorer. In the same four weeks, he went 122, 130, 102 & 108. At just over $500k, he’s a genuine consideration.

Like his skipper, Nic Martin had been on fire heading into the bye-round. In AFLFantasy, he’d scored four consecutive tons and is priced at under $800k would still create some appeal for coaches. Not to take anything away from Nic and his scoring, but he delivered these tons against Richmond, West Coast, North Melbourne & Carlton. They have four of the better matchups for outside midfielders this year. While I believe he could still be good from here, the fixture was a significant factor in his scoring bump, and as noted already a few times in this Essendon piece, the next month isn’t that kind. Trading into him feels like you’re being driven more by the scores you missed than the ones he’ll generate from here on.

Let me be clear, the time to have purchased ownership stocks of Will Day was in the first few weeks of the year, not now. That’s not because his scoring power or role is less diminished, but what are you hoping to gain by doing so? He’s far from unique, and his scoring, as solid as it’s been, has yet to place him clearly as a top-ten defender for the remainder of the season. So to hold, absolutely a play. To trade into him? You have better options available this week and next, both from a price point and scoring capacity.

I’m not a fan of trading into Dylan Moore. That’s not a knock on Dyl, but rather the reason he’s popped up as an option to you because he’s a forward that has scored 100s this year and is playing this weekend. You’re making a mistake whenever you compromise your upgrades for a one-week score. Why? Because in 2023, we’ve got arguably the best class of premium forwards we’ve ever seen. Whatever points you could gain this week, your likely gain will be quickly lost with the weekly outscoring of our better prospects. Barring Dylan’s scores returning to his ceiling numbers like at the end of 2022, it isn’t a play. Darcy Cameron is a stronger play over Moore if you are desperate to get a forward this week.

James Sicily is the one player from the club people genuinely want to own. However, a three-match suspension means he won’t be available until round 18. Coaches would ideally love to own him, but in the limited trade formats, he might be the one that got away, given that trade scarcity is starting to become evident.

Sadly the news on Wednesday evening wasn’t great, with the Demons confirming that Clayton Oliver will miss yet another week. It means that those in DreamTeam and SuperCoach that have held can now see the move to date as a failure. The logic was sound to hold. However, it’s just a piece of luck that’s not gone your way. Nobody could have foreseen the blister causing him to miss round 13 and the subsequent delay in returning this week.

The only upside for holders is that you’ve already got him and have been upgrading around him. While for the rest of the fantasy community, the race will be on to find a way to bring him in. We saw what he did pre-injury. He was the most prolific and damaging premium midfielder in the game. Each coach in contention should create a margin of space to get him. The small comfort for holders is they don’t have to find the trades or cash to get into him.

This is the best-ever scoring season from Christian Petracca in SuperCoach and his best in AFLFantasy/DreamTeam since 2021. And without Clarry, he’s scoring even stronger. He’s averaging 8 points per game higher and going at 112 in AFLFantasy and 125 in SuperCoach without his premiership teammate. The demons possess one of the best fixtures for fantasy scoring over the final five weeks. They play Richmond, North Melbourne, Carlton, Hawthorn and Sydney. The absence of Clayton may mean coaches will see the fixture and see how good CP5 has been for the year.

Finding value at D6 might be the play for coaches to ensure they can secure the last premium midfield or forward spots they desire. It’s why Christian Salem is an attractive play for coaches. We discussed him during the preseason in the 50 most relevant, where he’s shown the ability to average 90-95 for large chunks of time over his career. It could be a masterful selection if he can do that over the next ten weeks at this price point.

Barring a DPP addition for Max Gawn heading into round 18, he’s probably not someone you should consider. Thankfully he’s still within 1% of the threshold of getting forward status. Monitor this over the next few weeks; he’s a live chance to get RUC/FWD status. If he gets it, he’s a genuine late-season option.

Elliot Yeo is among the most interesting players to discuss and consider a post-bye round break. The Eagles premiership hero has finally turned the corner of his injury past and, for the past month, has started to look back to his scoring best of 2017,2018 & 2019. Over the past three weeks, he’s scored an 84, 94 & 95 in AFLFantasy/DreamTeam and 73, 125 & 113 SuperCoach. The conversation around him starts to open up based on the format you play and each coach’s risk appetite. Whatever decision you make, you need to reconcile these two key points.

It is, firstly, scoring pedigree. Based on his current price, Yeo represents extraordinary value and, between 2017-2019, showcased his ability to regularly average 100+. There’s every chance that, over the final few months of the year, matches it with our topline premium backs. There’s a clear top handful of premiums in the back this year, but prospective owners would be thrilled if Yeo ended up at D6 and performed like this. It’s why those strapped for cash or those looking to bank some value are seriously considering him.

Second, and equally as likely, is that his ongoing soft tissue injuries continue, and we see him physically break down over the coming weeks. While nobody wants to see an injury, his recent history would give little confidence that he can hold out for 10+ weeks of elite topline AFL. So nobody trading into him can have the right to be ‘annoyed’ at him getting injured mid-game and becoming a forced trade-out.

In summary, the probability of him scoring premiums defensive numbers or having his body breakdown is comparable. That’s where this comes down to appetite for risk. It could be a season maker or breaker. Which side of the coin are you landing on? I think he’s worth the risk of picking him.

Ryan Maric isn’t an upgrade trade, but he could be the pathway to one or two upgrades this week as he becomes the option to release the cash off a fattened cash cow. The top selection in the midseason draft holds the best job security of all possible downgrade options. The only concern is that his scoring ceiling will be capped as a key position forward in the league’s worst team. Expect him to average at most 50. However, his scoring isn’t his core purpose; neither is his cash generation. Rather, the relation of money made to create upgrades makes him so appealing this week.

How important is creating some separation on your side for you? Based on your answer, this next paragraph will either be helpful or waste your time. Despite not much going right for the Eagles this year, Tim Kelly has been among the few shining lights. In AFLFantasy/DreamTeam, he’s averaging a career-best 102, which features seven tons, including a season-high 142. While for SuperCoach, an average of 100.2 consists of six tons, of which three are above 120. His scoring variation has been tight across the year, but there are only two reasons you’re considering Tim.

Firstly, you’re an Eagles fan and want to bring in the best-performing player from your club of the year. It’s a move driven by coaches whose fantasy year is done, and you’re now just playing solely for entertainment. The second is for coaches desperate to trade into someone with low ownership as they attempt to separate your team from the pack. There are better plays than him at his price point, but if going unique is the driver, he’s a consideration.