It always warmed my heart when kids who were selected last in my PE classes went on to dominate games. I was in their very shoes when Melbourne under 19s decided to unfairly de-list me. I know how the feel.
I started to notice a strong correlation between those picked first, and the number of Facespace friends they have. But I always found it wasn’t the popular kids who made the best students.
There’s a similar trend forming in the AFL fantasy community. It’s very easy to load up on your Swans, Abletts, Goddards, but they don’t always win you games, especially if everyone else in your league has them. My old man had a fair say in the fantasy industry. One thing he used to always tell me was “popular picks score you points, unique picks win you games”. I believe he is spot on the money. The lower the number of mutual players, the higher the chance of victory…provided you get your picks right.
There’s a heap of unique smokies raring to show their worth, but I have narrowed the list down to the 5 you should seriously consider.
Andrew Carrazzo (CARL) – MID ($517,800 SC/$467,400 DT)
Highly respected at Visy Park. Andrew hasn’t been feeling the love amongst the fantasy community since losing his DPP (Dual Position Player) tag. In season 2013, Andrew can only be selected as a MID and this will definitely scare away a good percentage of the community. However, the DPP removal makes him a unique pick. One thing’s for sure, there is nothing unique about Andrew’s scoring. He is incredibly consistent, probably the only player in the game who can rack up disposals, while playing as a tagger. In season 2012, he won more disposals than his direct opponent in all but 3 games. He also averaged career high contested possessions and more clearances than any other player at the football club.
However, the stat that wins you’re old friend Crimmins over is this: Andrew has the most disposals per giveaway in the competition, averaging a whopping 43.1 disposals per turnover. In a game like SuperCoach, this is gold. A turnover will cost you -4 points in SuperCoach, so you want someone like Carrazzo who will hit a target. Not the likes of Dustin Martin (who’s in the top 5 fewest disposals per giveaway). He’s on the border of premium price, but could hold down a MID 4 or MID 5 spot depending on how you structure your side. Gibbs and Murphy seem to be the 2 grabbing all the attention, so the selection of Carrazzo is a unique one, and could be a real POD (point of difference in industry speak).
Tom Liberatore (WBD) – MID ($444,400 SC/$401,300 DT)
Son of former Dogs champion Tony, Tom will again – like the rest of that Footscray list – live in the fantasy shadow of Matthew Boyd. I do believe though Tom has what it takes to make his own as a fantasy footballer. His 2013 has gotten off to a pretty solid start – 80 DT points against Hawthorn on Friday night, plus scores of 24 and 32 in round 1. While NAB Cup form isn’t everything, it is a good sign.
Tom is also as hard as they come, and holds a statistic which will surprise most. In 2012 he was the 6th in the league for contested possession out of any AFL midfielder who averaged 20+ disposals per game. He averaged the 14th most clearances, converting 89% of first possessions into a clearance. On top of this, he joins Andrew Carrazzo in top 10 for most disposals per giveaway, averaging 35.1 touches per turnover. However, one area of Tom’s game which lacks is his goal kicking. He only kicked 4 goals last season, which suggests he’ll be playing solely as an in-and-under footballer. But, don’t let that scare you off. Mini Libba is over the 2nd year blues (despite still averaging a solid 83 points) and ready to breakout at age 20 if you look at Higgo’s article on “The Breakout Zone”. SuperCoach only, but could be one who finally challenges Boyd for fantasy top Dog.
Matthew Wright (ADEL) – FWD/MID ($475,300 SC/$438,700 DT)
The buzz player of the competition right now is Patrick Dangerfield. Many, including our own Mad Irishman, are very excited about what he could become this season. With all the attention on young Patrick, a few gems have slipped under the radar. One I’m very bullish about is Matthew Wright. He’s not cheap, but a DPP who looks ready for a big 2013. Scores of 46 and 34 in the round robin games were a little taste of what we should expect this season.
Matthew will spend a bit of time in the middle this year, after a successful change of role last season. This saw the second biggest increase in disposals at the club behind Dangerfield. 51% of these disposals were won in the forward half, and was involved in 22% of Adelaide’s scoring chains. When in the guts, he recorded the third-most clearances of the top 10 centre-bounce attendees at the Crows. This will be his 3rd year in the system now, and after averaging 89 SC points in 2012, expect Wright to break into the 90s. An attacking player who can run through the guts is fantasy gold. Definitely a substantial consideration.
Patrick Karnezis (BRIS) – FWD ($262,200 SC/$238,500 DT)
If you were to mention the words “Karnezis” and “Fantasy” in the same breath prior to NAB Cup, I would’ve told you to get down and do 100 push ups because you’re talking nonsense. However, he’s just about become the buzz player this pre-season, and has many of us excited. It’s one thing to get rowdy about Patrick, but it’s another to actually pick him in your round 1 side. Selecting Karnezis could mean sacrificing a bargain like Varcoe, Burns or Knights. It’s a risk that myself, Mr Crimmins, is willing to take.
His NAB Cup scores have been excellent. He scored 45 in the only round robin game he played, and then 80 the following week. In the pre-season game v GWS, he collected 26 disposals at 80% efficiency. Patrick’s shown in the past he has an eye for goal, kicking 17 goals from 11 games in 2011. While his 2012 was significantly sub-affected, Pat’s form in the NEAFL will raise eyebrows. In 14 games he averaged 28 touches, which included 30+ six times.
As mentioned before, his AFL showing was limited, but scored an 88 and 91 SuperCoach points in 2 of the 3 games he wasn’t vested. A fair number of people are jumping up and down about Patrick Karnezis this pre-season, but not sure many will follow through and sacrifice a Knights or Varcoe. Continue to keep an eye on him as the NAB Cup draws to a close, could be as good value as any mid-priced player.
Michael Walters (FRE) – FWD ($404,600 SC/$330,400 DT)
Ross the Boss loves giving a bloke an opportunity. Like Uncle Jock, he’s willing to put a man under his wing and guide him on his way. Michael Walters was unfit, banished from the club and serious concerns were raised as to whether this kid was going to make it as an AFL footballer. However, given a chance late in 2012, he finally showed us his full potential.
Michael played every game from round 16 onwards, including two stellar games in the elimination and semi finals. He finished with the second biggest rise in SuperCoach points at the club and was also the second-ranked forward at the club, kicking 22 goals in 10 games. This saw him ranked in the elite category of all forwards in the competition. Walters could be a serious player, especially in the fantasy caper. All the focus has centered around Sandiman and Nat Fyfe this pre-season, so Michael has slipped under the radar. Selecting him will be as unique as they come but could be a potential match-winning risk.
Fantasy bragging rights are everything. You nail a potential league-winning selection and you’ll never have to buy a light beer at your local RSL ever again. Our great game is not how many safe option you’ve selected, it’s about the ballsy calls, and they can win you premierships.
Are there any unique picks you’re considering this season?