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 Western Bulldogs.
Must start player:
I'm incredibly high on Marcus Bontempelli for season 2023! I've had him as high as the 5th overall ranked midfielder on my own early rankings for the 2023 season. The big Bont might not be as sexy a pick as some other Doggies for fantasy, such as the likes of Jack Macrae, Tim English or Bailey Smith but he gets it done and his game suits the GDS scoring system so well. In 2022 Bontempelli averaged 13.1 kicks per game which was complemented with an average of 5.2 tackles per game. Both stat lines are worth +4 points in GDS fantasy scoring and some quick maths tells us that he's generating 73.2 GDS fantasy points per game on just two stat lines alone. I'm expecting a massive time-on-ground percentage for Bontempelli this year as well, mainly due to the departure of fellow fantasy stud Josh Dunkley, but I think what it means for the Bont is that the forward time we saw last year will be used as a 'resting time' for his elevated midfield time. All my chips are in on the Bont, I'll be starting with him... will you?
Dream legend card:
I think it would be rude to go with anyone but the dreamboat himself Bailey Smith here! Aside from his humbling good looks, he's also the smart choice for the dream legend card from the Bulldogs. All you have to do is look at the numbers, a 2022 season average of 124 GDS fantasy points, ranking him 10th overall league-wide, at 22 years of age! 22 years of age! If you're going to have this card for the next decade, he might just be the most valuable legend in the game for a lot of the next decade.
Avoid this Bust:
Jason Johannisen is cooked. Which sucks, because there was a time when Johannisen was fantasy relevant but those days are far gone! He's coming off a season where he only played 7 games, unfortunately, injury troubles have plagued JJ for a lot of his career and at the age of 30, it seems as though that trend will only continue. It feels as though Johannisen is also falling down the depth chart a little bit as well. He made his name playing off the half-back flank and as a winger as well where he's been overtaken by the likes of Bailey Dale, Caleb Daniel, Ed Richards and Bailey Smith. I'm pretending I don't own his card already, he won't be making it anywhere near my team.
Value on the rise:
Toby McLean's value should rise through the roof early on in 2023! The 26-year-old winger/forward played one game last year, which just so happened to be an elimination-round loss against Freo. His stats though? 21 disposals, 2 marks and 9 tackles! Not bad for someone who didn't lace the AFL boots up all home and away season long. He's now tipped to reprise his starting role for the doggies and that has a lot of coaches around the country very excited! He has an unbelievable season in 2018 where he averaged 94 AFL fantasy points, I think he can work his way back up to that level so long as the opportunity for him to start is there.
Value on the decline:
It's tough to pick this because they have so many elite options but I'm going to stick with Rory Lobb. A big-name recruit from the Freo Dockers who will likely play a similar role to what he played out west but I think we see a relatively muted version of that. I don't think we see Lobb work up the field as much and I also don't see him entering the ruck contest as much either. So with a downtick in points, comes a down tick in value and I think that's what we see with Lobb in 2023.
2023 Hot take:
It's a bit of a warm take I think. But the Western Bulldogs will finish the season as the highest-scoring fantasy football team in the league. What that means is that of all their players combined, they will score more points than all the other teams in the league. It's hot because it's a hard title to achieve, and probably superior to winning the premiership, though what makes it a 'warm' take is the players on their list. Marcus Bontempelli, Tim English, Adam Treloar, Jack Macrae, Bailey Smith, Bailey Dale, Tom Liberatore, young guns in Sam Darcy, Ed Richards and Jedd Busslinger. There are points everywhere and I think they should be favourites for the title I just made up.