Preseason 2018

Christmas Wishlist – Max Gawn

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With Nic Naitanui spending the entire 2017 season on the sidelines, he has already been touted by many as the must-have ruckman for fantasy sides in Season 2018. But whilst Naitanui is one to definitely keep an eye on during the summer, there is another name which, for some reason or another, has flown under the radar for the time being. The name? Max Gawn.

Entering the 2017 season as the most expensive and most popular option in the ruck, Gawn started the season in very promising fashion, scoring 128 and 111 in his first two games. But disaster struck in Round 3 when he went down with a serious hamstring injury in the second quarter against Geelong, stranded on a measly 27 points. He wouldn’t return for another 11 weeks, and struggled for consistency until the end of the season, with just four centuries in the last nine games of the season, but also five scores below 80, to finish with a season average of 91.6.

However, the long-term injury suffered by Gawn last year has gone on to serve as a blessing for fantasy players in 2018, with a price tag set at a relatively cheap $503,700. Whilst it still sounds rather expensive, it’s a far cry from the mammoth $645,000 price tag that was taped to his name this time last year.

Whilst many might resist the temptation to go after Gawn following his inconsistent scoring patterns and lengthy injury that derailed his 2017 campaign, many will do well to remember that his elite standing in the game didn’t come about by accident. For the last few years Gawn has been one of the very best players in the competition – never mind just in the ruck position – and his reputation should count for plenty when it comes to considering selecting him next year.

In 2016, Gawn took the competition by storm and ended up finishing the season as the second-highest scoring player in the competition, carrying a massive 118.5-point average during that season, backing up from a strong 102.1 average from the season before.

Although Gawn isn’t priced quite as high as some of his competitors, that doesn’t mean he is of any less quality and will probably end up being a much more popular ruck option than even some of the highest-scoring players from last season, including the likes of Matthew Kreuzer, Patrick Ryder and Stefan Martin.

Even though they are all quality ruckmen, their respective price tags greatly exceed what the asking price of Gawn would be for Round 1 next season, and the added points are unlikely to make up for the extra money spent, particularly if Gawn can manage a full pre-season. Gawn will be unlikely to be forced share much ruck time with any fellow compatriots, meaning that he won’t be sharing many points, and still has plenty of time on his side (Gawn won’t be celebrating his 26th birthday until late-December). Additionally, with the extra money saved, it will allow extra room in the salary cap to be able to squeeze in an extra start somewhere else around the ground, as opposed to being forced to compromise.

Given that Season 2017 was a stop-start year for Gawn, it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that his output was fairly up-and-down for most of the year, but having trained strongly during the start of pre-season, the signs are good for Gawn to bounce back to his ultra-dominant best in Season 2018, and reclaim his title as the No.1 ruck in the competition.

Follow Matthew Donald on Twitter

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