Unlike his side, Lachie Neale took his game to a whole new level last year and averaged above 110, can he back up this phenomenal season? Let’s find out.
Name: Lachie Neale
Club: Fremantle Dockers
2016 Highest Scores
154 Vs GWS Giants, Round 22 (SuperCoach)
169 Vs GWS Giants, Round 22 (AFLDreamTeam/AFLFantasy)
Personal Best Scores
170 Vs West Coast, Round 3, 2015 (SuperCoach)
169 Vs GWS Giants, Round 22, 2016 (DreamTeam/AFLFantasy)
Why Is He Relevant?
2015 was his breakout year, where he lifted his game from averaging in the mid eighties into the low hundreds. For DreamTeam/AFLFantasy coaches he posted 12 hundreds, 7 of them over 120 and 2 of those were over 150. While in SuperCoach it was slightly better where he scored over 100 in 14 matches and 3 of those were huge scores over 140.
However, last year he became one of the elite fantasy footballers across every format. In SuperCoach he posted 18 hundreds of his 22 games, 8 of those were over 120 and just twice in the whole year did he score below 92. After the opening 11 rounds, he was averaging 116. Remember the first 5 games of the year were with Nat Fyfe still playing, we’ll talk about that later. In DreamTeam/AFLFantasy he scored over 100 in 15 matches, 9 of them over 120 and had only 4 games where he failed to score above 90.
Neale certainly knows how to find the ball! Last year he ranked 3rd last year behind Josh Kennedy and Patrick Cripps for contested possessions (16.3), the 4th highest for contested possessions and lastly he led the competition for the highest disposals average of 33.5. All that done from just 81% game time.
With Aaron Sandilands returns ready to shove the ball down the Dockers throats as well as a raft of big names coming back into the Fremantle midfield and a much more imposing forward line structure than previous seasons Fremantle fans should certainly be much more optimistic of a better season. Can Neale improve his scoring? While current owners would love that to be the case I think a much more realistic aim would be to back up last seasons numbers and again average over 110, one i believe he’s capable of doing.
He can be known to waste the ball by foot, and according to Champion Data he’s rated a below average user of the ball when he kicks. However, he does rate elite as a contested ball winner, in clearances and intercepts. In 2017 He may not get as much cheaper midfield ball as last year. However, with the return of Nat Fyfe, an injury free Harley Bennell and another Hill brother on a wing what will happen is Lachie receives much less midfield attention (can you really tag him over Fyfe and Bennell?) meaning I cannot see a drastic cascading of points from him meaning he’s still very much going to be in the mix as a top 10 midfield option.
What impact does the return of Fyfe have? What we do know is that teams won’t tag him now as you cannot let Nat Fyfe (let alone if Bennell is fit) loose and shut down on a guy who can tend to not be as ‘elite’ with his ball use by foot. The advantage to this is those 50’s-60’s scores should hopefully evaporate from his scoring. For old school fantasy coaches he’s like Matthew Boyd, someone who can rack up plenty of the pill, but won’t often hurt the opposition with his disposal. Secondly, even with Fyfe missing most of the year he did play the opening 5 games and in that time Neale’s lowest SuperCoach score was 92 and was averaging 105 while in DreamTeam/AFLFantasy his lowest score was 79 but in those 5 games, he still averaged 109. Added to all this is that in 2015 they did play together and even though Neale didn’t average as much he still pumped out plenty of hundreds (remember what I spoke about in his breakout year above) so at worst he goes back and averages that and it’s certainly more than respectable.
Does he smashes out another 110 average this season? Great question, I certainly think he’s a chance and I still think he’ll be very close if not one of the top 10 midfielders. What I can see is that he’ll be a unique player to own, so if your 50/50 between him and another player and you can’t split them, these ownership percentages could tip things in favour of selecting him. At time of writing he’s in 3% of SuperCoach sides, 4% AFLFantasy and 7% in DreamTeam. For a guy that was a top 6 averaging midfielder from last season those are pretty ridiculously low ownership numbers.He’s on the return from numerous post season surgeries, but the club are confident he’ll play a majority of the JLT community series.
This guy could seriously slide in a draft 2-3 rounds later than he should. Really, he’s worth considering in in the opening two rounds because I’m quietly confident he’ll be in the top 10 midfielders in every format. However, I have seen and heard of him going as late as the 4th or 5th rounds which is absurd. Happily would have him as my first midfielder selected especially if it meant I was locking away one of the better ruck or defensive options with another early selection.
Who’s Next – #15?
Much has been made about the new defensive options we’ve gained in 2017 and understandably so. However, in our forwards lines we may just have been given one of the best options with this player. Who is he?