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 Melbourne Demons.
Must start player:
You could make a great case for so many in this team that could slot in here but I'm going to land on Angus Brayshaw. I know that's a hot take in itself leaving the likes of Max Gawn, Clayton Oliver, and Christian Petracca out of this title but I think the value Angus Brayshaw presents given his defender positional status is too hard to ignore. Brayshaw has always had a level of fantasy relevance throughout his career but the penny dropped to the point where he finished on what was almost a career-best fantasy season in 2022. Brayshaw finished the season with 16 x 100+ GDS fantasy points scores in 2022, and ran a muck when given the midfield chance by Simon Goodwin, the value that level of production holds with his position status set as a defender is gargantuan. In my opinion he is an absolute must start as a defender and is a real chance at a top 3 finish among all defenders.
Dream legend card:
Consistency, age and talent is what you want when choosing any legend card for a club. There's a standout player when looking at the aforementioned criteria and that's Clayton Oliver. Consistency: An absolute stud fantasy asset who only dropped below 100+ GDS fantasy points once last season. He finished the year with an average of 130 GDS fantasy points per game which ranked him 3rd league wide. You will be hard pressed to find a more consistent player in the game. Age: Oliver feels like a 10 year league veteran but he's only 25-years-old! He's still got 6-7+ years in his prime and you can hold that card for that entire time! Talent: Sometimes Petracca gets the plaudits and sometimes that's deserved, Petracca does amazing things on the footy field that not many can do but it means that Clarry gets overlooked sometimes. Oliver is an elite bull inside who does everything from extracting, overlapping, outside gets and tackling pressure. He led the league in clearances per game and only fell to Adelaides Rory Laird for the disposals per game title. Oliver is one of the best in the game, plain and simple - I'd take that legend card in a heart beat!
Avoid this Bust:
Initially I didn't have the guts to type this out but here goes nothing. I don't want Max Gawn anywhere near my team (unless Grundy gets injured again). It's a hot take I know, but i'm not willing to wait it out and take a risk on the Gawndy experiment. I think it will work well as a system for Simon Goodwin, as for fantasy coaches however? I tend to belive that a decline for both in terms of fantasy production is on the horizon. Gawn's main role from what we are seeing in early reports will be a swingman type role that will spend majority of time plugging holes down back or being a contested target up forward, with obviously some ruck work sprinkled in there. He could still be great, even with the change in role - i'm just not willing to risk it.
Value on the rise:
I'm willing to give half-back flanker Jake Bowey another chance in 2023. With 24 games under his belt now and a Gus Brayshaw sized hole to be filled down back, the opportunity is there for Bowey to take the next leap forward. If he hits the ground running early doors, I think you will see his value increase expendentionally. Keep your eyes on him in practice matches, coaches reports etc because if you can get him cheap early, you don't want to miss out.
Value on the decline:
I'm not sure a change of scenery is enough for Lachie Hunter to return to his fantasy best. 2022 was statistically Hunters worst season since 2014 - averaging only 19.5 disposals, 5.4 marks and 2.6 tackles a game, the 28-year-old winger only mustered up an average of 89 GDS fantasy points per game, which was only good enough for a 152nd league ranking on average points per game. Hunter's ability to stay on the park is also in question, with only 9 games played last season and some interrupted seasons in the past, the jury is out on Hunter with his fantasy relevance in question. He will need a hot start to retain any value I think.
2023 Hot take:
This is going to be about as hot as they come here... for the first time since the 2016 season neither Max Gawn or Brodie Grundy will finish among the top 5 ruckman in fantasy footy for average per game score! A hot take that is more thank likely going to bite me in the backside but I truly stand by it. These are two of the most dominating players we have seen at the position for years, but how does it work for fantasy? We've seen how a dual-ruck system works when the likes of someone like Ivan Soldo takes the fun out of starting Toby Nankervis or how Paddy Ryder had the inante ability to ruin any Rowan Marshall party. The risk (especially early on) far outweighs what the reward can be going forward for me, because I think the two giants have just put a ceiling on top of each other.