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 Essendon Bombers.
Must start player:
It has to be Andrew McGrath. To put it simply, it is his year to show the true potential that we all know he has. He is no longer aspiring to be a midfielder like he was trying to fit in to 2 years ago, and his transition to being a rebounding half-back has been completed and he has already shown that it was a successful move. He is now ready to put that position to full effect, finding lots of footy rebounding out of the back line, with that run and handball footy the Bombers love to use (and over-use on occasions…)
Dream legend card:
Darcy Parish showed in 2022 how good his best is, and we will see it a lot more this year. He is a prolific ball winner out of the middle, as well as around the ground. He does draw a bit of attention from the opposition, sometimes with the odd tag, and is no longer flying under the radar, but he takes it in his stride and has shown he can overcome the challenge. Nevertheless, he will rack up plenty of possessions and clearances and will have his name on the top of stat sheets throughout the season.
Avoid this Bust:
Jake Stringer is the most hot and cold player in the Bombers lineup. He’ll have a standout performance one week, and his ego will get the most of him the following game, resulting in him having an absolute shocker. That should be enough to keep you away, but add in his relationship with injuries the past couple seasons and it’s a recipe to stay far away!
Value on the rise:
Sam Draper will be a big improver this season, even with the improvement that he saw last season. Draper has the potential to solidify himself as a top 5 ruckman this season, as he has shown that his skills in the ruck can be well supported by his time in the forward rotation, and he has shown a true skill for finding the big sticks. The Flying Mullet will be a key part of the Bombers lineup this season, and the 2020 Rising Star can fly to new heights in 2023.
Value on the decline:
James Stewart is unfortunately no longer the same player he once was, and in a team with lots of fresh talent, the key defender may soon find himself dropped to the twos unless he can re-ignite some old form.
2023 Hot take:
He might not be back to his best form by round 1, but AMT’s skill cannot be understated. If he can find some form in the VFL early in the season, it won’t take long for the talented small forward to find his way back into the AFL side and snapping goals from any angle, and have the crowd chanting “Anthony McDonald Tipungwuti playing footy” once again.