I'll challenge anyone to find me a better feeling in fantasy sport than when you've nailed a low ownership percentage player, that your league mates were giving you stick about all year, only for them to scramble to find ways to add them to their own teams. Below I have identified some unique point of difference players who could become league winners for all of you this year, will you take the gamble on any of the players listed below?
If you listened to the Adelaide Crows edition of the GameDay Squad footy podcast, it’s no secret that we don’t think much of the Crows and their prospects this season. Though if there is one shining light to take away and stash, it’s Matty Crouch. He missed all of last season through injury and the Crows are reportedly being very cautious with his return to full contact. Though, if Matt Crouch is ready to fire round 1 with no restrictions, he should be in your team ready to fire as well. Crouch has been an absolute stud for the Crows and fantasy teams in the past, winning the ball just as well as anybody in the league averaging 26 (covid year), 32, 32, 33, 27 disposals a game in his last 5 seasons. If you pack this guy early on, consider yourself very lucky!
Gold Coast Sun Jack Bowes didn't have the end to the season that many owners would have hoped for, battling niggling injuries and struggling for time on the field. But, cast your mind back to the start of the last season where before Bowesy got injured he averaged 26.5 disposals, 7.8 marks and 3 tackles per game. With those numbers up until injury, Bowes was a top 7 defender option in AFL fantasy. Pretty good for someone who currently has a 1.5% ownership percentage. There's also reports out of pre-season training the Bowes has been spending a lot of time with the midfield group up at the Suns, potentially filling the gap left by Hugh Greenwood? Something to keep an eye on and could definitely change the landscape of your GameDay fantasy squad.
Only 1% of AFL Fantasy users have this guy in their active starting lineups and for me that is criminal and I hope to see the GDS ownership average much higher than that! The first reason I like Simpkin so much is the opportunity he will have. We know opportunity often equals success and with midfield mainstay Ben Cunnington missing a lot of time and Jack Ziebell proving he’s not good enough to be the old Jack Ziebell. Simpkin should be the Kangaroos number one midfield option along with rookie Jason Horne-Francis and Jed Anderson. The second reason is that he just is very good at football and he’s about to enter his prime, at 24 now, he’s got the keys to the club and the Roos are going to rely so heavily on him to perform week in and week out. Last season he had a GDS average of 112, I think he breaks the 120+ mark and could push for a top 15 midfielder finish.
We’ll touch on the rucks because I know that majority of you out there will look to pack Brodie Grundy or Max gawn very early on. But if you find yourself struggling to get hold of one of the two elite picks and you might even be struggling to get your hands on someone like Sean Darcy or Riley O'Brien, then turn your focus to Suns big man Jarrod Witts. Yet another who missed the majority of last year with injury troubles, and the Suns won’t want to rush him back but when he is ready to go, he’s definitely one who could change the dynamic of your fantasy lineups. Witts is so alluring because he’s a ruckman who can do everything, he wins the ball on the ground, he can go forward and kick goals, he makes tackles, there are just so many point opportunities for him because he does it all. So if you decide to go down the route of a unique ruckman, you should definitely be looking Jarrod Witts’ way.
Josh Dunkley is listed as a midfielder in GameDay Squads upcoming 2022 AFL fantasy season, which for me, makes him a fantastic value pick to go and try to pack or trade for this year. We saw Dunkley go down with a shoulder injury in round 6 last year but up until that point, he sat just under 50% of the Bulldogs’ centre bounce attendances, while also occupying the wing often. Dunkley has been a premium fantasy option in the past and he just keeps getting better, all he needs to do is stay on the park. So while everyone is busy going after the big names in the Western Bulldogs team like Marcus Bontempelli, Adam Treloar, Bailey Smith, Jack Macrae, Tom Liberatore just to name a few, I think it's worth zigging while everyone else is zagging and taking a punt on Josh Dunkley in this upcoming season.
Going into the season Zak Butters is one of my own personal favourite forward targets. I’m so high on him in fact that I’ll be looking to get my hands on platinum level card at the very least. Butters just ticks so many boxes for me, he’s versatile, he passes the eye test, he can change any game off his own boot, when he gets some midfield time he can change the dynamic of the midfield completely. Another notch in Butters’ belt is just how important he is to Ports success’s. Champion data proved that when Butters was healthy, Power ranked third last year for contested possession differential, then spiralled to 11th when he got injured. Port were also ranked 1st for clearance differential and then slumped to 11th since his injury. So make of that what you will, but no one can deny that Butters adds so much to this team. Another reason I think Butters has a good year is probably something you should all take with a grain of salt but it is a contract year for the young Victorian, and we know how players like to switch on when they are in those important contract years. So with all that said he’s definitely one of my favourites, he’s unique and he could just prove to be a league winner.
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