Welcome to all Gameday Squad coaches, AFL fantasy coaches, AFL fans or just the curious. Gameday Squad is going to be releasing a series of AFL seasonal reviews that will provide you with all the fantasy insight and recommendations your heart desires. We are just weeks away from the commencement of the 2023 AFL season and if you are late to the party and haven’t done your fantasy research, let Gameday Squad handle that for you. Enjoy this installation of fantasy breakdowns for the Carlton Blues.
Must start player:
The 2022 GameDay Squad MVP Sam Docherty is once again an absolute must-start in 2023! He comes into the season as the highest-ranking defender by a country mile, his 2022 average of 131 GDS fantasy points not only ranked him second league-wide but he also out-averaged the second-best defender (Jack Sinclair) by 8 whole points! We have no reason to believe that Docherty is going to take a backwards step, he should be just as involved as ever, playing that quarterback role off the half-back flank for the blues that he has dominated for his entire career. He's even expect to get some run through the guts this year for Carlton... Lock and load!
Dream legend card:
Sam Walsh has the footy world by the nuts. I mean, he averaged 25 disposals, 5 marks and 3 tackles a game in his rookie year, who does that? Fast forward to today, he's still just 22 years old, already has a top 5 Brownlow Medal voting finish and the scariest part is we probably haven't seen the best from Sam Walsh yet. Which is exactly why I would take Walsh's legend card over someone like Patty Cripps or Adam Cerra. The prospect of knowing that the best is yet to come for Walsh after what he's already produced is frankly freaky. I'd take that card any day of the week!
Avoid this Bust:
This is just a public service announcement to remind everyone not to start Jack Martin after his inevitable round 1 blinder. He's been cooked as a fantasy asset for some time now but has a knack for pulling out worldie game early on. Martin finished the 2022 season with a GDS fantasy average of just 64 points per game, unfortunately, I can only see him regressing further, and my advice would be to leave him out of your teams completely.
Value on the rise:
While Patty Cripps, Sam Walsh and Sam Docherty grab the headlines, Adam Cerra keeps on ticking along at a nice rate and a relatively underrated rate. Cerra put up a 2022 GDS fantasy average of 102 GDS fantasy points per game which slots him in and around the likes of Jai Newcombe, Connor Rozee and Tom Green. I'm not sure how underrated he's going to be early on in the season however, Sam Walsh is missing a fair chunk of the start of the season after having back surgery and Cerra is expected to be the beneficiary of that Walsh-sized missing hole in midfield. His value will shoot right up if he backs up the opportunity with some big scores!
Value on the decline:
Matt Kennedy enjoyed his best fantasy season by far in 2022, averaging a career-best 108 GDS fantasy points ranking him 50th in overall player score average. A spectacular season for Kennedy given his placing in the depth chart at Carlton with so much talent surrounding him. I've placed him under the decline title here because I think he retains that type of form and holds his value early in the season while Walsh is still out injured, but I think he then becomes the guy who loses out when Walsh is back, then when Walsh does suit up we will see a steep decline in value for Kennedy. I hope I'm wrong because he may just prove to be an awesome player of difference and he likely will be to start the season, however, Walsh commands so much of the ball, someone has to lose out.
2023 Hot take:
Sam Walsh goes to another level and polls a top 3 finish in Brownlow Medal voting despite his reduced number of games played due to his injury to start the season. Jet.