Upgrade Targets After The Bye | Round 16

The multi-bye rounds are over. Our last six teams with no more scheduled rest for the remainder of the season. Here’s a club-by-club breakdown of potential upgrade targets who have had their bye-round.

Sam Walsh couldn’t have started 2023 any better. After returning from a preseason injury in round five against the Crows, Walsh averaged 114 in AFLFantasy and 110 in SuperCoach over his first seven games. Since then, it could have been better. An average of 91 in SuperCoach and 76 in AFLFantasy over the past three is miles away from his scoring potential and what people who paid for him expect. History would tell us his normative scoring is closer to his first seven than his past three games. If you trade into him this week, it’s because you believe two things. Firstly, the bye came at the right time for him to freshen up physically. Second, positionally Carlton will settle the midfield mix back and allow Walsh to be more settled. There’s the undoubted upside of scoring at his price point, but it doesn’t come without risk.

Sam Docherty is the kind of player that, depending on the format you play, will determine how keen you are to own them. In AFLFantasy, he’s a clear topline premium, with only Jordan Dawson, Nick Daicos and James Sicily the only other defenders averaging 100. Currently, he’s ranked fourth for averages (106) for the season and has only one score below 94 in his past eight games. While in SuperCoach, he’s ranked 10th for averages for the season and 21st on a three-round average amongst all defenders. Is he a play in SuperCoach? Obviously, yes! But he’s not as essential in SuperCoach as he is in AFLFantasy. A genuine option in all game formats but more important in AF/DT.

Since round six, Adam Cerra has three AFLFantasy scores over 130 and three other tons over 110. While in SuperCoach, it’s four tons over 130, two additional over 120 and just one score under 96. From a fantasy perspective, he’s starting to deliver on the top end of his scoring potential more consistently. He’s no longer presenting value, given he’s over $600k in SuperCoach and is starting to push towards the high 800s in AFLFantasy. But that’s not the reason some will consider him. It’s his history of big 130+ scores and his low ownership percentage.

If those are your two lead markers for targets, then Adam needs to be in consideration. Over the next six weeks, matches against Hawthorn, West Coast & St Kilda are favourable matchups. However, I have one warning for coaches to consider. That being the Carlton midfield mix. Since round six, we’ve seen multiple variations of how the Blues split that midfield mix-up and some weeks, we see Matt Kennedy get the bump; the next week, it’s George Hewett and another, it’s Sam Walsh. While Adam has been one of the least affected, it’s still hit him. He was pushed into the backline in round nine against the Bulldogs and attended just 17% of centre bounces. By the way, in that game, he scored 62 in AFLFantasy and 79 in SuperCoach. I don’t have the confidence that his role will always hold over the next few months, but if you do, he’s a consideration.

Statesmen from The Draft Doctors / POD POD have been one of the biggest champions for fading players are their Brownlow year. I deep-dived into it when including Patrick Cripps in this year’s preseason edition of the 50 most relevant. He’s fallen approximately 14 points per game from his 2022 averages, and except for his round fourteen ton against the Suns, you’ve got to go back to round seven for his last triple-digit score. I get the appeal; he’s cheap and historically proven. His selection of him may pay off, but in its current form, there’s nothing more than ‘history’ being the reason. Can he go 110 over the final nine weeks? Potentially, but trading into him this week as much as he presents value is a trust fall.

Adam Saad is only an option if you believe the following. Carlton turn the form corner and win plenty of games off the bye. Why? Because Adam, almost more than any other Blue, has his positive scoring linked to the Blue’s win/loss record. 2023 when they win, he averages 105.2 in SuperCoach and 86.8 in AFLFantasy. That’s an increase of over 20 points per game in all formats. The only format I consider is in SuperCoach, but I’d rather own an Elliot Yeo or a Harry Himmelberg over Adam.

Can Harry Himmelberg do it again? In 2022 he was a fantasy revelation when he was moved back mid-way through the year. Over the past few weeks, the coaching staff have thrown him back into the defensive unit, and it’s no surprise that his scoring trend has started to grow again. The club love him in this role; he’s taking kick-ins, and the defensive unit is happy to play through him out of defence.

Over the last three games, he’s averaging 85 in AFLFantasy and 88 in SuperCoach, and he’s done it with less than favourable matchups. In the next two weeks, his Giants play Melbourne and Hawthorn, which historically have been favourable for players in his position. He might not be someone that can rival the topline defenders and average 100+ over the final few months, but he’s got the scoring to get close.

Longtime followers and fans of The Coaches Panel will be all too familiar with my love for Josh Kelly as a fantasy football prospect. In the past five games alone, he’s got a SuperCoach average of 120 and 108.6 in AFLFantasy. But that isn’t just cherry-picking numbers. Josh is having his best season since 2019. He’s currently averaging 107 in AFLFantasy (ranked 16th overall) and 115.8 in SuperCoach(ranked 12th overall). With many now off owning him due to a midseason soft tissue injury, his ownership numbers are insanely low.

I know some will see his injury history as a reason to fade him, but the reality is that the tag of being ‘injury prone’ is now an outdated claim. Before this year, he’d missed only two games in two years and of the four games he’s missed this year, own was a concussion and the other a hamstring. Yes, he’s missed due to an injury, but so have dozens of other highly relevant premiums. So if you’re ruling him out because he’s missed too many games this year, be consistent and do the same with others. Don’t just pick and choose a narrative that suits your bias. If you don’t want him, that’s fine, but don’t use injury as the reason.

We’ve got a clear topline top six premium forward this year. Josh Dunkley, Tim Taranto, Errol Gulden, Connor Rozee, Zac Butters and former GWS skipper Stephen Coniglio. Only a few own all six; in fact, F6 is seeing some great variables with the likes of Ben KeaysDarcy Cameron and Jack Macrae. Cogs is a target if you need to prevent his scoring from hurting you. It’s quite the defensive play, but for certain teams in contention, that might be the right option for you. He’s not unique to own, far from it, so if separation is the aim, or if you’re chasing the ranking leaders, Stephen is not for you.

Tom Green has been one of the best starting squad buys of the year. He’s jumped approximately 20 points per game from his price at the starting point and is currently averaging 110.5 in AFLFantasy (10th overall) & 107.1 (29th) in SuperCoach. For non-owners, the only reason you trade into him from here is you believe he’s averaging 115+ on the run home; otherwise, your best to look for a player with a greater scoring ceiling or someone with significantly more value.

It’s been a few seasons since Lachie Whitfield scored regularly over 100 and was one of the most dominant premiums in the game. But he’s shown us glimpses that his scoring power is still available. This year in AFLFantasy, he’s posted four tons, including a 130 and has yet to drop his scoring under 90 in the past month. For SuperCoach, his scoring is more volatile, but there’s still just one score under 84 and three tons in the past eight weeks alone. He might not be banging the door down with his scoring this year, but even if he holds his current scoring trend, he’s got the history over his career that’d give coaches confidence that a few big scores are still within his capacity in 2023. Fade on him this week anyway due to a suspension.

For whatever reason, it’s never quite clicked together for a full season for Jy Simpkin. The Kangaroos skipper has shown his scoring pedigree in patches but only for part of the season. Thankfully, we don’t need him to do it for 20+ games but rather 8-9. For what it’s worth last year post-bye, he averaged 102 in AFLFantasy and 98 in SuperCoach and scored six tons across the formats. He’s cheap, but most coaches would rather consider Callum Mills, who’s priced in the same range.

Ask anyone who has owned Jack Ziebell this year, and they’ll tell you two things. The first is that on his day, he can be the top-scoring player of the round. For example, in round eight, he scored a monster 168 in AFLFantasy & 172 in SuperCoach. The other thing past owners this year will tell you is that he can go missing in games for long periods for seemingly no reason. Using AFLFantasy scoring as an example, he was on 48 points in round fourteen at halftime. By the game’s close, he managed 11 points, including a 0 in the third term. The dropping of Aaron Hall has shown that under Brett Ratten, they’re happy to go even further ‘ALL IN’ on the rebuild, so it wouldn’t shock me if a similar thing happens to Jack as the season goes on. Let’s put it this way: Jack’s current owners are looking to get off him; that alone should be a giant flag for those looking to jump on. A big no for me to target Ziebell as a trade-in option.

If you’ve held Harry Sheezel and playing him at either D6/F6, that’s fine. I’ll be fascinated to see how North Melbourne uses him in the season’s back half. Development for the young Roos is the top priority, so does the coaching staff hold him at half-back? Or do they experiment with more forward-of-centre positioning through the midfield and half-forward? I’m convinced they try a few things and see what it does. After all, they’ve got nothing to lose.

Did you start 2023 with Luke Davies-Uniacke on your side? It feels like an eternity ago, but LDU ran hot over the first three weeks. He posted scores of 108, 123 & 91 in AFLFantasy and 143, 155 & 102 in SuperCoach. It was this time last year that we saw the scoring of Luke move from proven to potential, so to suggest he’s not got the capacity to go 105+ over the next few months is nonsense. The big hesitation is around his availability. The club is confident he’ll be available to return from his hamstring injury this weekend. If your season is shot and you want to own players you enjoy watching, LDU is the ultimate consideration.

Have you got a gap at F6 currently on your side? And are you limited on cash to outlay? Then Tarryn Thomas might be a tempting option. Priced at $543,000 in AFLFantasy and $343,800 in SuperCoach, he’s shown in moments this year and over the previous few years that he can deliver regular 90+ scores. It’s not for the fainthearted, given the multiple games missed through ‘disciplinary’ reasons this year. But if you are up for a rollercoaster, then ‘TT’ can be in the mix.

So much of the fantasy football population already own Connor Rozee. The Port Adelaide star was one of the most highly-owned players in starting squads, and thankfully, he delivered for us in 2023. Many of our readers have not opted against him. And if you have, it’s best to maintain the uniqueness and go against him.

Undoubtedly, one of the selections of the year is Zak Butters. If you traded into him anywhere between rounds 5-7, then you’ve received the full benefit of his scoring at his cheapest price point. He’s owned by 85% of the top 100 in AFLFantasy and 28% of the top 1% of SuperCoach sides. So if you’re looking at him as a separator from the top teams, he’s unlikely to be it. Additionally, you are now paying top dollar for him. Those aren’t reasons in isolation to fade him, but if your hoping for him as a surge past the pack play, then going against him and looking for the ‘next Butters’ value might be a better play.

We’re just two weeks away from the final addition of DPPs for the season, and you can bank on Jayden Short getting defensive status. He’s currently sitting at 50% as a defender, and with the threshold of 35%, he’s certain to become a DEF/MID in a fortnight. While you could trade into him now, I’d rather wait for two weeks. Not just for the DPP to pop but more due to Tigers fixture. This round and next, they play Brisbane and Sydney. However, the four games post are West Coast, Hawthorn, Melbourne & Western Bulldogs. During that month of footy, there’s a world where I can see Jayden being the #1 scoring defender. A genuine target now, but an absolute must consider in two weeks.

Dustin Martin has the historical pedigree and has shown over the past few weeks under the new coaching regime that he’s back in the middle and back-scoring relatively well. Could you trade into him, hoping he goes 95-plus for the remainder of the season? Of course! But I’d rather wait a few weeks. Not just because of the favourable fixture listed above, but because I want to see under the new coach does Dusty have this more prominent midfield role when both Dion Presita and Jacob Hopper are in the team alongside Tim Taranto, Trent Cotchin & Shai Bolton.

Much like Connor Rozee listed above, I will gloss over Tim Taranto. Not because he’s not worth trading into or highlighting. But rather, his ownership percentage is so high I doubt many of the CP community have gone without him.

Have you been playing any form of fantasy football for more than just this season? Then you’ll be very familiar with the scoring dominance that Marcus Bontempelli has shown previously. Bont, in 2023 has taken his already amazing game to another level. He’s currently ranked first in SuperCoach for total points and averages, and in AFLFantasy; he’s ranked fourth by total points and fifth by average. Like everything at this season stage, it’s all team, focus and format dependant. It’s a significant investment at his price point, so trading into him means you want to neutralize his scoring against you rather than creating separation.

In SuperCoach, it’s going to be very hard to win your league or the overall game without owning him is going to be tough. Thirteen tons, nine of them over 120 and four above 145. That’s some incredible ceiling and consistency. In AFLFantasy, I’d be more open to going against him (at least for the next month) because his consistency rather than the ceiling has made him such a weapon. Ten tons from his fourteen games is excellent, but he’s only had three games over 120. To be clear, I don’t think trading into Bont is a bad trade, rather highlighting that for one million dollars, you might be able to get a comparable performer for a few weeks at a lower price point.

The Western Bulldogs coaching staff have flipped Caleb Daniel around various positions from his more traditional halfback into a centre bounce midfield role, the wing and also as a half-froward which resulted in a gaining of FWD status at round six. He’s currently averaging a career-high 104 in SuperCoach and 97 in AFLFantasy. Even more impressive is that after the first six rounds of the year, he averaged 86 across the formats. So since round seven, he’s gone at 107.75 in AFLFantasy and 117.5 in SuperCoach over the past eight weeks. This hot scoring trend and relatively low ownership mean he could still be an upgrade target despite a hefty price tag.

Like Caleb, Bailey Dale had a slow start to the 2023 season, with multiple sub-60 scores over the first six weeks. However, in the past six games, he’s gone at 103 in AFLFantasy/DreamTeam and 106 in SuperCoach. That scoring is more reflective of what his season was in 2022, where he averaged 90 in AFLFantasy and 102 in SuperCoach. He’s not quite the value he was a month ago, but he’s still a premium play for those looking to get some high scoring and a slightly discounted rate.

There was a period this year when Bailey Smith was rightly viewed as a premium. Between rounds 7-10, he averaged 104.5 in AFLFantasy & 108.75 in SuperCoach. However, since then, he has yet to be able to raise the ton. Positionally he’s seen high volatility this year from play half forward, wing and inside midfield. It’s a risky play to buy stocks to jump on your doing it blindly in the hope that he can return to the scoring from that middle portion of the year. It could be an inspired selection if it pays off. Equally, by doing so, you can be frustrated with a guy that’s constantly close but never really quite there.

Over the final nine weeks of the season, there are two things coaches chasing the top-ranked teams are looking for. Players that have both low ownership and a proven ceiling of scoring. Adam Treloar must be on your radar if you are in the market for one player with both. He’s averaging 117 in AFLFantasy and 131.7 in SuperCoach over his past three. He’s also owned by just 1% of teams across the formats. I have zero role concerns but plenty of injury ones. Having missed fourteen games over the past 2 1/2 seasons, nobody should be shocked if another soft tissue injury occurs. His upside when on the park shows that he can match it with the best premiums this year. Your appetite for risk needs to be high, but the payoff could be equally as big.

I was bullish on Jackson Macrae this preseason. So much so that I stated he was the second most relevant player for fantasy footy in 2023. Sadly, Macrae’s not reached the heights I’d hoped, but he’s still been a solid pick, especially considering he’s now available as a MID/FWD. From his fourteen games, he’s scored nine SuperCoach tons, six in AFLFantasy and across all formats, and hasn’t scored under 80 all year. His most recent form is promising, with four tons across his last five and some of his highest ceiling games from the year.

He’s been stronger this season in SuperCoach than AFLFantasy, but he’s as likely as anyone to average safely north of 100 over the final nine games. He’s had more positional volatility this year than many would like, but one thing we know about the Bulldogs is once they find a winning rhythm, they hold players in that position. Let’s hope that Jack’s back in his fantasy-friendly role alongside it.

Do you need a premium ruck? The vast majority of coaches have a set ruck division. So many won’t need to look at trading into Tim English. But targeting Tim is still play for those running Darcy Cameron at R2. He’s not cheap, but he’s been worth every cent. If not English, it’s only Briggs that’s a play.

One of the most underrated starting squad selections this year was Tom Liberatore. ‘Libba’ Is averaging 104.6 for AFLFantasy/DreamTeam and has scored more points than the more highly owned Lachie Neale. For SuperCoach, he’s averaging 117.7 and has scored the 14th most points in the season. His ownership is scarily low, and as seen this year, his scoring has increased. A genuine candidate for a trade target. Not just because of his scoring but because he has no ‘Bevo’ positional volatility. He is firmly established at centre bounces alongside Marcus Bontempelli and Tim English.