He is well and truly the most hyped player this preseason, and for good reason. He’s primed to breakout to be one of the best forward options for us in 2017.
Name: Isaac Heeney
Club: Sydney Swans
2016 Highest Scores
145 Vs Port Adelaide, Round 20 (SuperCoach)
127 Vs Port Adelaide, Round 20 (AFLDreamTeam/AFLFantasy)
Personal Best Scores
145 Vs Port Adelaide, Round 20, 2016 (SuperCoach)
127 Vs Port Adelaide, Round 20, 2016 (DreamTeam/AFLFantasy)
Why Is He Relevant?
Isaac Heeney enters the 2017 season as the most ‘hyped’ player in fantasy footy, and for some good reasons. As a junior Heeney was arguably the best midfielder in his draft year. At the under 18 championships he was a dominant elite ball winner who displayed a good balance between winning the inside ball and quality ball use on the outside. During the championships he averaged 23 disposals going at 89% efficiency.
Over his first 2 full seasons while he did get some midfield time he’s been predominantly used as a forward 50 target where his contested marking has been on full display. Last year he managed to score 4 DreamTeam/AFLFantasy hundreds including personal best 127, while in SuperCoach he score over 100 in 4 matches, while 3 of those tons were over 120.
While these numbers from a kid who’s played just over 30 games of footy would give you some excitement what really has captured fantasy coaches imagination is the role change he had during last seasons final series. He moved up to play predominantly across the wing especially after the losing Qualifying Final and over the next 3 Finals he picked up 28, 32 & 22 disposals and had a lowest score of 84 in SuperCoach and 89 AFLDreamTeam/AFLFantasy during that time. If Sydney is going to take the next step as a side the growth won’t come from their established stars going up another gear, but rather the next generation of Swans (led by Heeney) to take greater responsibility take on more of the heavy lifting in the Swans side.
He now has further opportunities to spend a greater amount of time in the midfield with the departure of Tom Mitchell. While I expect a number of players to take his rotations Sydney coach John Longmire has confirmed in radio interview all preseason that Heeney will be spending more time in the midfield. Added to all these positives is the fact that in 2017 more than any other season the threshold for our top tier of forward premiums is lower than previous years. Just from last year alone, we’ve lost Dustin Martin, Zach Merrett, Dayne Zorko & Leigh Montagna. So for Isaac to ‘breakout’ and become a premium it requires a smaller leap for him to push the top 10-15 averages compared to previous seasons.
Amidst all the possibilities and excitement of Isaac Heeney he’s certainly still got some risk about him. Firstly, he’s no guarantee to to take over the Tom Mitchell midfield. Rarely, if ever in modern day footy is it as simple as one player in and one out. More often than not the rotations are split across a number of players, and while I do believe Heeney will be a beneficiary of some midfield rotations he’s certainly not going to be thrown in and play exclusive midfield. Remember after all he’s 20 and as strong and fit as he looks he’s still building the endurance part of his game to be dominant at the highest level. The other concern for coaches is that over the past 2 seasons Heeney has become a vital part of the Swans forward line, a side that outside of Tippett (who plays more ruck) and Franklin lack goal scoring options especially with Tom Papley set to miss the first few months of the season.
To make the selection really work he needs to go, average 90 and maybe even a fraction more, while it’s certainly achievable given he has shown glimpses of it that’s a jump of 15+ points per game. Given his starting price has not gotten enough ‘fat on the bone’ to be considered a stepping stone unlike a Cam Ellis-Yolmen or Nathan Hrovat. If you’re starting him it’s because you believe he’ll be able to match in and score around the mark of our top forward options of the year.
For what it’s worth, his 90+ scores last season came against Port Adelaide, Essendon, Richmond, Fremantle, Collingwood and the only side that made the top 8 that Heeney scored over 90 against was Adelaide. Can you read much into that? Perhaps, but it’s certainly interesting to note.
His ownership is currently at 40% in AFLFantasy, 28% in SuperCoach and 30% in DreamTeam. Those are some mighty high ownership numbers for a guy who’s played just over 30 games and a handful of 100+ scores. So why is Isaac so high on the list? Simple, given that his ownership is where it is and that for the selection of him to be deemed a success (90+ Avg) some people’s seasons could really be decided based on this selection. If he delivers strongly early coaches will be thrilled and get premium forward numbers at a fraction of the price and set up for overall rankings success as they will have saved $100,000-$200,000 by picking him over other premiums and then invested that cash into improving another player in another line. However, if the midfield minutes or scoring impact isn’t as great you’ll still get some solid scores, but you could find yourself in fantasy ‘no man’s land’ where he’s not averaging enough to consider him a ‘premium’ but also averaging just enough to not justify using one of your precious trades. What happens with this one selection could very much define your season.
The key in all of this is his role in the preseason and who else of the Swans first choice midfield group is playing in those games. No point celebrating that he’s played a full JLT game in the midfield if Luke Parker, Josh Kennedy and Dan Hannebery aren’t playing. While he’s clearly going to pick up some extra midfield time I’m certainly a “Doubting Thomas” when it comes to knowing if it’ll be enough time in the middle, while I’ll happily be proven wrong I’m not yet convinced it’ll be enough.
Isaac Heeney is a star! In 2-3 seasons time he could be the best player in the league, but with that being said in 2017 I wouldn’t want to draft him as my #1 forward as you’d be way too light on in the forward line. The highest I’d want him is my F2, but ideally it’d be as my third forward. For him to be around the range of F2-F3 you’d be looking at drafting him in the 8-10 round range of a single season draft. If it was a keeper league though it’d be a different story as I see him as one of the best possible players to own.
Who’s Next – #1?
It really shouldn’t come as much of a surprise now who’ll be at #1, the process of elimination should make it pretty clear. But why is he my #1? I’ll explain later this afternoon when the final player is revealed in this seasons 50 Most Relevant.