Move over NAB Challenge – a new pre-season competition is in town. The JLT* Community Series kicks off tonight at Etihad Stadium, in an initiative that is sure to have many people giving a stuff (about fantasy relevant players of course, and probably not a hell of a lot else).
Checking out who is apparently ‘tearing up the track’, returning from injury and supposedly changing roles throughout the pre-season competition is the sacred duty of a SuperCoacher, along with hunting for viable rookie options.
Nonetheless, it is important to take these results with a grain of salt – take the Daniel Rich pre-season hype in 2016 for example.
Here entails a guide of who to watch out for throughout the JLT Community Series. We have tried to avoid the standard premiums, opting for a few cheeky options to keep an eye on instead. Enjoy.
*apparently stands for Jardine Lloyd Thompson (?), which the AFL conveniently described as “one of Australia’s leading specialty-focused providers of insurance related advice, brokerage and associated services”. Can’t say I’ve heard of ’em.
Michael Hibberd | Melbourne | $402,200 | 2016 Avg: N/A
Hibberd comes in at a discounted $402,200 in 2017 and considering he is at an emerging club lacking efficient disposal out of defence, he is certainly worth a look. Expect the raking left-footer to line up on the half-back flank for the Dees in his first game since 2015. Averaged 96 points per game in 2013.
Robert Murphy | Western Bulldogs | $392,300 | 2016 Avg: 103 (3 games)
Arguably the most likeable (or least hateable) player in the league returns after his ACL injured ended his season in Round 3 of 2016. Murphy has averaged over 88 points in each of his three seasons before 2016 and missed just the three games. May get more freedom with Johanissen likely to get more attention from opposition sides.
Jackson Thurlow | Geelong | $267,600 | 2016 Avg: N/A
12 months ago, many touted young Jackson Thurlow to break out, until his knee gave way in the NAB Challenge. The emerging Cat returns with Enright out of their defence at a handy price tag. Can he fill the void and perhaps pull off a breakout year? A lot will depend on new recruit Zach Tuohy’s role.
Andrew McGrath (DEF/MID) | Essendon | $211,800
The number one pick will be unveiled tonight against the Pies. Early word is that Worsfold will ‘ease’ McGrath in this season – a worrying sign for SuperCoachers. If he plays consistently he should do the job, however, averaging 145 points in the TAC Cup last season. Oozes class this kid, and should justify the hype this pre-season.
Matthew Scharenberg | Collingwood | $164,000 | 2016 Avg: N/A
After a horror run with injuries, Scharenberg is back on the park. The former #6 pick of the 2013 Draft will be looking to make an impact across half-back during the pre-season to cement a spot in the Pies best 22. If he gets through the JLT unscathed (easier said than done), he will be hard to pass up.
Curtly Hampton | Adelaide | $160,000 | 2016 Avg: N/A
Boy hasn’t this bloke fallen off the face of the earth! After averaging 75 points in 2014, Hampton has played just five AFL games. He is yet to debut for the Crows since his arrival in 2016 but has been reportedly turning heads this pre-season at West Lakes. A strong JLT could secure Hampton a spot in the Adelaide lineup. One for the ‘potential bargain’ pile.
Tom Mitchell | Hawthorn | $565,600 | 2016 Avg: 104 (22 games)
Mitchell hasn’t been selected for the Hawks first pre-season clash due to injury, but the former Swan should still be on our radars. A midfield free of Sam Mitchell and Jordan Lewis makes TMitch the main ball winner when fit. Will be interesting to see how he fares at a club where he isn’t the fourth best midfielder.
Dayne Beams | Brisbane | $432,500 | 2016 Avg: 79.5 (2 games)
Beams is apparently still not at to full fitness after a mystery knee injury ended his 2016 season. He may feature later in the pre-season competition and if he does, he will be a point of interest considering his bargain price. Considering he has averaged over 110+ in three seasons – including 123 in 2012 – it would be rude not to give him a look.
Jaeger O’Meara | Hawthorn | $318,000 | 2016 Avg: N/A
To quote Anthony Hudson, “I see it, but I don’t believe it!”
The man who was supposedly not going to be right until Round 4 will be in action for the first time in Hawks colours on Friday night. The young gun hasn’t played for two years, yes, but has averaged 93 points in his first 44 games of footy. May not be 100%, but he’s still one to watch.
David Swallow | Gold Coast | $280,200 | 2016 Avg: N/A
The midfield has plenty of promising mid-pricers and Swallow looms as the pick of the lot. Rodney Eade told the media this week that Swallow will be rotated through the wing and half-forward during the JLT. This isn’t the greatest news, but at least he is on the park. A strong few games makes him a lock in my eyes.
Sam Powell-Pepper | Port Adelaide | $135,300
This guy has been talked up a hell of a lot in fantasy circles and for good reason. Powell-Pepper is a teenager in a man’s body and has already impressed at Alberton this pre-season. The Power is short of a contested bull in the midfield, and SPP fits this to a tee. A solid JLT should see SPP placed firmly into Round 1 calculations.
Jake Barrett | Brisbane | $127,900 | 2016 average: 25 (1 game)
Jake Barrett, or ‘that GWS guy who racks up 40 possies every week in the NEAFL’ is now at the Lions after being rookie drafted. Starved of opportunity at the Giants, Barrett knows how to find the footy and will be given opportunity in the JLT Community Series. With midfield rookie options dire, a rookie elevation for Barrett might be just what we need.
Aaron Sandilands | Fremantle | $308,200 | 2016 Avg: 70.8 (5 games)
Sandilands is a seven-foot man-mountain that always appears to be at risk of crumbling. After just five games last season, Sandi finds him on the sidelines again with a calf injury. Word is that the giant will return later in the JLT, so watch his progress. Very hard to ignore a 211cm ruckman with no third man up to deal with – especially one who has averaged 100+ in a season six times.
Jarrod Witts | Gold Coast | $217,600 | 2016 Avg: 50 (2 games)
I never thought I would get to a point this pre-season – or ever – where I would legitimately consider Jarrod Witts. It is not as crazy as it first seems, however, with Witts set to take the number one ruck mantle at the Suns. Gold Coast’s coaching staff have been incredibly impressed with his pre-season and he is just $217,600… Keep an eye on him.
Isaac Heeney | Sydney | $433,400 | 2016 Avg: 79.6 (20 games)
The Swans have said the blond bombshell will be spending more time in the midfield, now is the time to see if they fulfil their promise. The only big name midfielder missing from this weekend’s squad is Kieran Jack, so this should be a good judge of his midfield minutes. Watch the sheep jump on if he goes large this weekend.
Paddy Ryder (FWD/RUCK) | Port Adelaide | $418,100 | 2016 Avg: N/A
Ryder comes in at a discount this season after serving his WADA suspension. It would be lovely to see some evidence of Ryder as #1 ruck during the JLTCS without that crustacean Lobbe in the side. Remember, Ryder averaged 101 points at the Bombers in 2014. Has trained strongly from all reports and looms as a popular selection like Heeney.
Jarryd Roughead | Hawthorn | $367,100 | 2016 Avg: N/A
SuperCoach aside – it will be nothing short of fantastic to see this legend back on the park tomorrow night. Inevitably, he will be under the watchful eye of SuperCoachers across the country at his cheap price, especially after his impressive three-goal intra-club match. Be wary, though, he is on the return and is unlikely to be at his very best.
Toby Nankervis (Fwd/Ruck) | Richmond |$366,400 | 2016 Avg: 74.8 (7 games)
Playing just the seven games at the Swans last season, Nankervis has presented a strong case to de-thrown King Hampson’s #1 ruck thrown at Tigerland. Nankervis is perhaps a touch expensive, but has the makings of a Goldstein-esque tap ruckman, recording the best hitout-to-advantage percentage (38%) in the league last season. DPP status is a bonus. One to keep on the radar.
Hugh McCluggage (FWD/MID) | Brisbane | $202,800
Many had this guy pencilled in over McGrath as the #1 pick. He was also the favourite to be the first name read out on draft night for the majority of the season. McCluggage has apparently fitted in seamlessly at the Lions and has been named in the side this weekend. Not cheap by any means, so have a good look before pulling the trigger.
Riley Knight | Adelaide | $201,300 | 2016 Avg: 37 (1 game)
Riley could prove to be our Knight in shining armour at his low pricetag of $201,300. Knight looks to have put on plenty of size after an injury interrupted 2016 campaign, and will be one of a few Crows hunting for a spot in their best 22. Watch him throughout the JLTCS, particularly if he gets some extra midfield time.
Dan finished 746th in SC 16′ as Batten Hiscox