2017 Crystal Ball Predictions – Midfield

In this mini series we work our way through each line and ask the panel to complete the sentence. This is all done in isolation to every member of the panel and it’s very interesting to see what they come up with. Today we discuss the midfielders.

I CAN’T PASS ON…

Fish: Tom Mitchell. Has just cruised around and done as he pleased in the JLT. Recruited to be the ballwinning midfielder that he has shown he can be, without the need to worry about him tagging or being “horsed” around.

Tim: Nat Fyfe – go back and look at his scoring in 2015 before he got injured, he was not only one of the top scorers in all formats but he was incredibly consistent. Too cheap for me to pass on.

Rids: Adam Treloar. I am all about owning guys I love to watch in 2017 and I love watching this kid rack them up. His effort and second efforts just make me want to select him.

MJ: Jaeger O’Meara. Has done everything asked of him this preseason and at his price he has enough ‘fat on the bone’ to generate some cash and become a stepping stone after round 12 ahead of his bye. Alternatively, if he’s averaging 95+ you could seriously consider holding him through the year and having awesome M9 bench coverage.

Jimmy: Patrick Dangerfield.  I looked awfully hard all summer for a reason not to pick this bloke given his starting price tag, but genuinely could not find one. Just gets the job done, always a captaincy option and has the perfect bye. Load up.

Kane: Tom Mitchell. No longer has to worry about a sudden role change like he had under John Longmire in Sydney and will flourish as the main man at Hawthorn.

Fox: Only guy I legitimately can’t pass on is Patrick Dangerfield, as boring as that might sound. The hurt factor is huge imho.

Ben: Daniel Hannebery. I can throw question marks over the vast majority of players in the 100+ scoring bracket, but I’ve been unable to come up with one for the elite Swan. High scoring, durable and still progressing in his football development. The scene is set for an almighty year.

MY BREAKOUT CANDIDATE IS…

Fish: Matt Crouch. The battle of which is the better fantasy footballer between the brothers will be well and truly answered.

Tim: Clayton Oliver – he looks fitter, leaner & confident. He looks like he will become a very good footballer, sooner rather than later.

Rids: I have been saying this all preseason. Josh Kelly will go 100+. I won’t be starting him however as I have massive question marks if any of the GWS Giants will go 110+ to become that uber.

MJ: Matt Crouch. Flew home in 2016 and with a the majority of the Crows midfield ‘underdone’ this preseason he’ll be required to step up early. Is a lock for mine to increase his average to above 100 mark in all formats.

Jimmy: Ollie Wines. Looks a million bucks after trimming down a little this preseason. Can I call a breakout on a guy already going at 100? Really think he steps it up another gear this year to finally reach that genuine premium status.

Kane: Matt Crouch. Already a key cog in the Crows midfield after just three seasons and with some of the best junior level fantasy numbers you’ll ever see I think it’s time for Crouch to elevate himself to premium status.

Fox: Tom Mitchell will breakout into Uber Premium territory, no place for his ball winning ability in a forwardline bursting with the likes of Rioli, Bruest, Poppy and Issac Smith. He will set up as a mid and do the things mids do, racking up points at will.

Ben: Josh Kelly. Josh will continue in his gradual progression from above average to elite onballer. Now entering his fourth season of footy and beginning to overcome the residual fatigue of training and matches, Josh has all things going for him. Avoid injury and he’ll be considered one of the best wingmen in the comp post the 2017 season.

SHOULD BE A TOP 10 SCORING OPTION…

Fish: Adam Treloar. The hype is there. Lock him in as a top 10 midfielder in every format. Don’t be surprised if he is #1.

Tim: Scott Pendlebury – he is one of the highest scorers every year in every format, played much of last year through various (and often undisclosed) injuries, though he’d never say so publicly, and I just think he’ll be as good as ever this year. Underrated & forgotten more than he should be, especially in AF/DT.

Rids: Why not go the obvious guy here. Patrick Dangerfield. I am surprised there is so much doubt around about this guy.

MJ: On the condition that his body holds up for him Nat Fyfe is a point scoring beast and will get the job done week in and week out for Coaches.

Jimmy: Tom Mitchell. Certainly won’t be tagging anyone this year or finding himself anchored in the forward pocket for long periods. As arguably the #1 stoppage player at Hawthorn there should be plenty of opportunity for him to cement himself in the top ten scorers this season.

Kane: Zach Merrett. I don’t expect him to replicate his sensational 2016 numbers this year but I don’t think he’ll miss by much. Few players have the well-rounded fantasy game of Merrett, who is equally capable winning it on the inside and outside, tackling and kicking goals, and for that reason he’ll be among the best midfielders again in 2017.

Fox: Jack Steven, was the number one mid two years ago, now sporting a mullet in 2017 that is befitting of Tarzan expect Steven to lift to his 2015 heights, feeding and helping him will be an energetic throng of young Saints who are starting to believe their a team on the rise.

Ben: Scott Pendlebury. The fact of the matter is he gets it done, year in, year out. The Pies are dependent on him and will play him through broken ribs (Rounds 1-6 of ’16). This is fact enough that he’ll do everything in his power to avoiding missing games. His decision making and ball use is second to none and that’ll be prominent from minute one of this campaign.

I JUST CAN’T GO THERE…

Fish: Lachie Neale. There will be a point when he needs to be in my RDT and AF sides, but just can’t start with him due to the restricted preseason.

Tim: Tom Rockliff – ummed & ahhhed about him all pre-season but finally decided that there’s just too many unknowns for me to start him, will leave him as an upgrade target if needed. New coach (less cheap stats?), noted time up forward (Fagan said recently in an AFL facebook Q & A that he’ll spend some time up forward) , so many other underpriced options in the MIDs to start with less question marks and that’s all enough for me to not risk starting him.

Rids: Any Swans or GWS midfielders. Is there enough points for these guys to share around and go real uber? Buying them at their current price tags means I need them to go 110-115. Just not sold the way these teams play and the strength of their respective midfields that any one mid can achieve this. Time will tell I guess.

MJ: Marc Murphy. He certainly presents value if he can get back to his lofty early career form, but with the plethora of outstanding midprice options around I believe they are all better ‘stepping stones’ or potential keepers than him meaning I can’t go near him!

Jimmy: Zac Merrett. I’d love to, I really would. But with all the returning players and moving pieces in that Essendon 22 lineup I just feel that the risk outweighs the reward given his starting price tag.

Kane: Marcus Bontempelli. I was extremely bullish on the Bont entering 2017 but an ankle injury has restricted his preseason. He didn’t look overly phased by the injury in the Bulldogs last JLT game against Gold Coast but I’d prefer to wait and see how he fares to start the season.

Fox: Apologies to Tom Rockliff but i’m looking at you, too much change going on at the Lions and Fagan is working on building a team that is going forward and unfortunately not so interested so much in your points per minute ratio, more time in the forward line won’t help either, sorry Tom.

Ben: Tom Rockliff. Having spoken about Tom at length in MJ’s Top 50 preseason podcast, there has been nothing to alter my thoughts on the fantasy king of the last three seasons. Will he drop significantly in point scoring? I doubt it. Will he drop? I expect so. The way he played footy in 2016 was not sustainable or relevant to the way Fagan wants to play in 2017. The preseason has left me questioning whether he has the required skill set to be part of the long term midfield plan. Time will tell but happy to back against the fantasy messiah.

FINAL WORD PREDICTION…

Fish: This is the most important line to get right. Guys averaging 100 jsu won’t cut it. You need the best of the best. Spend the money and reap the rewards.

Tim: Back to the Future in 2017 with Beams, Fyfe & Pendles all back up near the top of the tree.

Rids: There are some seriously solid mid price options in the mids this year. In years gone by we have tried the ‘break-out’ guy where as this year there are plenty of mid price options that have done well previously. With the lack of cash generating cows it is going to be very important utilizing these guys to get enough $$$’s to complete our teams.

MJ: I’m torn on choosing just one, so instead of making one, I’ll make two! Dayne Beams will play 22 games and average enough to be a Top 10 midfielder. Joel Selwood will finish second as the second highest points scorer in SuperCoach this year!

Jimmy: 2017 will be year of the bounce back more than the break out. Led by Dayne Beams and Nat Fyfe, we’ll also see former premiums Andrew Gaff, Jack Steven & Trent Cotchin climb back over the 100pt average this year.

Kane: No doubt a player we have hardly discussed will fly out of the gate. The question is though: Are they a Zach Merrett (real deal) or David Zaharakis (about to tail off) from 2016? Answering this correctly will go a long way to climbing the rankings.

Fox: The engine room is usually the line you pluck your captain and vice captain from, don’t get too miserly here but get the best 2-3 tried and true going around, don’t pick these from the bargain basement.

Ben: People will get too fancy in this position once again. Picking a bloke at 95 with the expectation of a 105 is always fraught with danger, especially when you can just go out and grab the 105 tried and trusted bloke for 40k~ more. Have fun with the game, but those that play it too fancy will wind up with egg on their face more often than not.


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