Today marked the first official steps into the 2017 AFL season with the league releasing the seasonal fixture. Throughout the 2017 preseason we’ll analyse the draw in depth and discuss it’s impact on which premium players are more likely to be looked upon as upgrades or starting squad members. This article is just purely a ‘first glance’ reflection.
The Early Bye
The Gold Coast Suns & Port Adelaide Power will face each other in China during the 8th round of the season, both sides will be handed an early bye the following round. The implications of this are that neither the Suns or Power will play in round 9, but will be available throughout the entirety of the 3 multi bye rounds in 11, 12 & 13. This will make players such as Robbie Gray, Gary Ablett, Jasper Pittard, Tom Lynch & Chad Wingard very relevant as upgrade targets from round 10 onwards. Juggling premiums across bye rounds can be tricky, but this early week off certainly gives coaches an extra option. Already at this stage several fantasy footy coaches are hesitant to start with Gary Ablett due to his injury history of the past 2 seasons. With him having the earliest bye possible, he could be a great option to upgrade to and even consider as a captain through those weeks. Personally, I’d doubt (and be against) the idea of the salary cap formats reverting to the ‘best 18 rule’ during this week. I expect it be a normal scoring week, but just minus Port & Suns.
While not officially confirmed it’s likely that the best 18 on field scoring players will again be the way SuperCoach/AFLFantasy/DreamTeam choose to navigate through the multiple bye rounds. Similarly I expect DT/SC to once again allow making up to 3 trades during those weeks. Which many don’t use 3 trades in the opening round of the multi byes previously, we could see that change with Port Adelaide & Gold Coast players being available throughout the whole of the major bye rounds. Here are how the teams will be split to take a week off during the 3 week period.
Round 11: Brisbane Lions, Western Bulldogs, Carlton Blues, St Kilda Saints, Sydney Swans & Melbourne Demons
Round 12: West Coast Eagles, North Melbourne Kangaroos, Geelong Cats & Richmond Tigers
Round 13: Adelaide Crows, Collingwood Magpies, Essendon Bombers, GWS Giants, Hawthorn Hawks & Fremantle Dockers
NB: Round 12 features only 4 teams with the week off do to Power/Suns having round 9 off.
Vice Captaincy Loophole
Yet again we can expect to have the rolling lockout ‘vice captaincy’ option for AFLFantasy & RealDreamTeam available during the 8 Thursday night games next season. The games are:
Round 1 – Carlton v Richmond
Round 2 – Richmond v Collingwood
Round 4 – West Coast v Sydney Swans
Round 10 – Geelong v Port Adelaide
Round 11 – Port Adelaide v Hawthorn
Round 12 – Sydney Swans v Western Bulldogs
Round 13 – West Coast v Geelong
Round 14 – Adelaide v Hawthorn
Dustin Martin looms as a potential early season option with the Tigers playing on Thursday in the opening 2 rounds, However, his career history against the Blues wouldn’t fill you with great confidence. Similarly West Coast have 2 Thursday night games in rounds 4 & 13 and the ever reliable Matt Priddis or new Eagle Sam Mitchell could be tempting options. Another side with multiple Thursday fixtures are the Hawks (Rounds 11 & 14) Tom Mitchell and hopefully a fit Jaeger O’Meara could certainly come into calculations. While In Round 10 & 11 Port come off the early bye with back to back Thursday games. Robbie Gray is arguably the most relevant option (especially if he gains forward status), while a Travis Boak or even Chad Wingard are certainly capable of putting on the points and could be a handy fixture trade during the bye rounds.
During the multiple bye rounds it’s not just important to get 18 players on field, but maximize as many premiums players on field during these rounds as normally your getting a greater scoring output from your premiums. Here are some quick observations for those already wanting to get ahead of the curve with your 2017 plans.
No Ruck Pain: Popular premium rucks aren’t loaded onto one round like last year, last years top 3 Max Gawn (Round 11), Todd Goldstein (Round 12) and Brodie Grundy (Round 13) all share different weeks off. Similarly Stefan Martin (Round 11) and Sam Jacobs (Round 13) are on separate weeks. A potentially popular move during this bye rounds could be trading out heavily discounted rucks Aaron Sandilands, Tom Bellchambers (both Round 13) and Nathan Vardy (Round 12) and being upgraded to one of Gawn or Martin.
Defensive Absence: Round 11 looks like the week our back-lines could take a hit, previous seasons popular options in Sam Docherty, Kade Simpson, Jason Johanissen, Matt Suckling, Matthew Boyd, Michael Hibberd, Dane Rampe, Shane Savage we are also likely to gain Leigh Montagna in our defense and in 2017 all these guys are among the names unavailable that week.
Forward Holes: Just as Round 11 could be tricky for our backs, round 13 may need some planning for our forward lines. Previously popular options unavailable that week include: Brett Deledio, Tom Lynch, Toby Greene, Steve Johnson, Harley Bennell, Jack Gunston, Jarryd Roughead and Devon Smith.
Midfield Muddles: With so many midfield players capable of pumping out big numbers and with 2 of the 4 bye rounds having 4 teams or less in it, it’s impossible to say which of round 11 or 13 is the more difficult bye round as both weeks have some big names premiums. What I do think is that due to the difference in how the byes work, it should be easier than normal to get through the byes and deliver good scores.
In round 11 you’ll be missing Josh Kennedy, Dan Hannebery, Jordan Lewis, Jack Viney, Jack Steven, Patrick Cripps, Bryce Gibbs, Jack Macrae, Tom Rockliff, Dayne Beams and Lachie Hunter just to name a few . That’s some serious points scoring power. However, that being said you could easily fill a midfield with the likes of guys also from round 13 bye round like Rory Sloane, Dyson Heppell, Adam Treloar, Scott Pendlebury, Dustin Martin, Stephen Coniglio, Tom Mitchell and Nat Fyfe. Thankfully Gary Ablett, Patrick Dangerfield, Dustin Martin, Joel Selwood & Matt Priddis are just some of the big midfield names who’ll be able to play in both those rounds due to having a bye in either round 9 or 12.
That’s it for now, we’ll be back in early December with the reveal of the RealDreamTeam positions and prices. Keep in touch with our social media pages over the next few weeks as we start discussing potential new DPP gains and loses for the upcoming fantasy footy season. Follow me on Twitter @mjwant as well as @coachespanel. Of course you can always join the conversation via FaceBook.