With so many outstanding options to choose from on this list you’d think it’d be pretty hard to go wrong. Not true. I’ve seen premierships won and lost on the back of the decisions you’ll make over the next couple of days.
Get it right and you could set yourself up for the season. And this year, the rookies are well worth their weight in gold. There’s plenty of options and they’ll not only make you points, you might unearth a gem that’ll serve you well for all of 2011.
Dane Swan (Collingwood)
An absolute stats machine. How’s this for reading. In 2010 he led the AFL in disposals. He had the most kicks. He touched the ball 820 times. That’s more than anyone in the past 30 years. The point is, stats equal points. He’s priced to get more than 120 points a game. He’s capable of that but it’s a lot. I’d bank on a price drop at some point and snap him up later in the season.
Gary Ablett (Gold Coast)
Considered by most the best player in the game. This is his biggest test. If it’s possible, he’ll be tagged even heavier than during his time at the Cats in a midfield full of young, inexperienced talent. I’m going to wait and see with Ablett. At his best, he’s worth his heavy price tag. But I think he’ll get progressively cheaper as the Suns struggle to win early games.
Matthew Boyd (Bulldogs)
Gets plenty of the ball. Averaged 30 touches a game in 2010. Doesn’t often pull the mega score but is just about the most reliable points scorer in the competition. He’s been handed the Bulldogs captaincy so don’t expect anything to change.
Brendan Goddard (St Kilda)
A must to have in your squad. But maximise your midfield options and pick Goddard in defence.
Leigh Montagna (St Kilda)
The third highest points-scorer in Dream Team in 2010. Only Dane Swan had more kicks than Montagna and averaged more than 28 disposals a game. His expensive but well worth it.
Michael Barlow (Fremantle)
The must have rookie in 2010 until he broke his leg. He’ll miss at least the first month of the season, then it’s wait and see. Could be well worth snapping up when he’s back.
Lenny Hayes (St Kilda)
Sneaks under the radar somewhat, and somehow. Averaged 28 disposals a game last year, was third for tackles made, and yet other names will be considered before Hayes. Silly really. This guy is good. And capable of pulling out a mammoth score.
Scott Pendlebury (Collingwood)
I sense there’s a big year of fantasy scores ahead for Pendlebury. Consider these 2010 stats. Sixth for most tackles, sixth for most handballs, top 20 for kicks, sixth overall for Dream Team points. With a Norm Smith medal around his neck, I reckon he can improve on that in 2011.
Joel Selwood (Geelong)
Poised to be the main beneficiary of Gary Ablett’s departure. Fantasy coaches will be hoping he turns a few of that phenomenal number of handballs into kicks though to improve an already healthy scoring average.
Jimmy Bartel (Geelong)
Such a consistent performer in fantasy football. I can’t see 2011 being any different. In fact, the absence of Gary Ablett may just make him more effective. He was hindered by an elbow injury last year but played through it. A clean bill of health in 2011 is just what the doctor ordered for fantasy coaches.
Daniel Cross (Bulldogs)
Was top 10 for tackles and averaged 26 disposals a game last year. But the tale of the tape is this stat. He was the leading handballer in the AFL in 2010 and therein lies the main reason he won’t be in many sides. Disposal by hand is no way to please fantasy coaches!
Luke Hodge (Hawthorn)
Was a fantasy football star last year while listed as a defender. I doubt many will stick with him now he’s a midfielder only. Doubts over his fitness for round one may mask a lack of interest in the Hawthorn skipper anyway.
Nick Dal Santo (St Kilda)
He’s averaged more than 100 for the past two seasons and ranks highly for kicks and tackles stats. I’ve seen too many low scores spiked by great returns for my liking though.
Chris Judd (Carlton)
Great player. Good fantasy footballer. There is a difference and Judd is the perfect example of that. There are better options than the Carlton skipper.
Kane Cornes (Port Adelaide)
Even when he’s tagging the opposition’s best on-baller, Cornes just keeps on getting the Sherrin himself. He does it through an incredible amount of tackles. The question mark is whether his role will change as the Power promotes youth with an eye on the future.
Kade Simpson (Carlton)
Slips under the radar somewhat in a team that boasts Judd, Murphy and Gibbs. But Simpson’s fantasy scores are just as good, in fact, quite often better than his more decorated teammates. Super consistent. He was top 10 for kicks in the AFL in 2010.
Sam Mitchell (Hawthorn)
Missed the first few rounds of 2010 through injury so his overall numbers are slightly down. Still managed to average 100 points a game and finished the season as strong as anyone in the game. Worth considering.
Marc Murphy (Carlton)
I’m tipping this is the year Murphy takes his game to another level. Already on the verge of the game’s midfield elite, I reckon he’ll be among them by season’s end. If he can tilt the scales on his kicking to handball ratio a bit (it’s currently 50:50), he’ll be a fantasy coaches dream.
Brent Stanton (Essendon)
Prefers to kick over handball. Makes tackles. And picks up plenty of touches when the game is being shutdown. Pretty handy traits for fantasy coaches to consider. His pre-season has also been encouraging.
Alan Didak (Collingwood)
If you’re going to pick him, grab him as a forward.
Andrew Swallow (North Melbourne)
Probably won’t be as popular among coaches as his younger brother David, but he should be. He led the AFL for tackles in 2010 and managed to kick 16 goals. I’d like him to improve his kicks to handball ratio considerably but he looms as one of the big improvers in 2011. He’s in my side.
Shane Tuck (Richmond)
Returned from AFL exile a few rounds into 2010 like a man on a mission. He found plenty of the ball and won it both on the ground and in the air. Made plenty of tackles too. Definitely worth considering, especially if he gets dropped at some point. He seems to comeback well from adversity.
Dale Thomas (Collingwood)
If only he was still listed as a forward. I’m sure Daisy would be in a lot more teams then. Really came of age in 2010 and was top five for kicks in the AFL. Could be a unique pick to keep up your sleeve.
Scott Thompson (Adelaide)
Was the star performer in the Crows midfield in 2010. It remains to be seen how his game will be affected by the departure of McLeod, Goodwin and Edwards. His scores may just go to another level.
Colin Sylvia (Melbourne)
Best to pick him as a forward.
Travis Boak (Port Adelaide)
Served me well throughout 2010 but his scores were certainly down when faced with a close tag. And he generally got the opposition’s best tagger each week. There may be players at or around his price who won’t face such close scrutiny and will find scoring fantasy points for you much easier.
Matt Priddis (West Coast)
Prolific ball-winner for the Eagles. His distribution by hand was more than twice as frequent as it was by foot though. And that spells disaster for fantasy coaches.
Jobe Watson (Essendon)
His scores through the pre-season weren’t too bad. Could have been better. The reason? Handballs. There were plenty of kicks but almost half the number of handballs. That costs fantasy coaches plenty of points.
Adam Cooney (Bulldogs)
He’s another like Chris Judd. Great player. Good fantasy footballer. A lot of the hard work he does on the field isn’t reflected in fantasy points.
Kieren Jack (Sydney)
Turned himself into one of the competition’s fringe elite midfielders in 2010 as he was freed of tagging duties. It’s still unknown if that role will continue in 2011. Fantasy coaches will be hoping so because he’s well priced to swoop upon. Top five for tackles. He kicks more than he handballs. Good signs.
David Mundy (Fremantle)
The Dockers leading possession winner in 2010 and is likely to come up with even more ball early in the season in the absence of the injured Michael Barlow. Another handball merchant but an average of around 90 points a week is nothing to sneeze at.
Richard Douglas (Adelaide)
Was one of those unique picks in 2010 who really paid dividends for bold coaches who took a punt on him from the start. Kicks a lot more than he handballs. Got plenty of the ball and kicked 17 goals. He should be on your radar.
Bernie Vince (Adelaide)
Prolific ball-winner hampered by injury in 2010. Be careful though. Injury has stopped him having a pre-season.
Shaun Higgins (Bulldogs)
Seriously good fantasy footballer. He just gets injured way too often. Even a day out from the competition starting, I’m still not sure what to do here. I’ll probably err on the side of caution and leave him out, but something tells me this will be a massive year for Higgins. When he’s fit, he knows how to put fantasy scores on the board. He’s dual listed as a forward so if you’re going to pick him, I’d choose him there.
Liam Anthony (North Melbourne)
From what we’ve seen of this guy, he’s good. Could be a very smart addition to your squad. Managed just the seven games in 2010 before succumbing to a shoulder injury. But gee they were a quality seven games. He knows how to rack up fantasy points.
Daniel Hannebery (Sydney)
Won the Rising Star last year on the back of more than 400 possessions. Only just out of his teens, he should have no dramas adding to those stats now he’s a year older and wiser.
Tom Rockliff (Brisbane)
Has emerged as one of the genuine guns in the Lions midfield. His price has ballooned on the back of a great rookie season but his scores and stats warrant it. I rate this guy. I’m expecting big things in 2011. And I’ll be his coach! I’m sure I won’t be alone.
Tom Scully (Melbourne)
The longer his debut season went, the more touches and more confidence Scully seemed to get. Some of his scores were brilliant. I think he’s a year off being a fantasy gun though.
Rhys Palmer (Fremantle)
If he can regain the sort of form that won him the Rising Star award in 2008 he’s great value. Injuries have not been kind to him though.
Nathan Foley (Richmond)
Back after missing most of 2010, he’s cheap and a bargain buy for astute players. His pre-season has been sensational and you’d assume he’ll be worth many points than what he’s priced at. Only slightly dearer than a rookie with better job security at the Tigers. I can only see an upside with Foley.
Brodie Martin (Adelaide)
Another midfield smoky who should balloon in price significantly. Had a huge round 22 game against St Kilda last year and his pre-season has been encouraging despite a knee injury scare. Worth considering.
David Swallow (Gold Coast)
The number one draft pick who is guaranteed a game with the Suns. Will probably be the most popular pick of anyone in the fantasy ranks this season. He’s slightly dearer than the rest of the first-year options and for that reason alone I personally think there’s better value to be found. Still shapes as a pretty good buy though!
Harley Bennell (Gold Coast)
Showed plenty of promise in the pre-season. Looks a likely fantasy football type. Star in the making.
Jared Polec (Brisbane)
The Lions top draft pick and among a number of first year rookies primed to be the future of the club. Will play at some stage but he only had minor exposure during the pre-season, so its a wait and see on whether that’s round one or not.
Daniel Harris (Gold Coast)
A rookie by name only. Oh, and price. Already has 149 senior games at the Kangaroos behind him. Will be a key plank of the Suns midfield. If David Swallow isn’t fantasy football’s most popular pick this year, Harris probably will be. Be wary though. There are some reports of a back injury having him in some doubt for the Suns season opener in round two.
Andrew Gaff (West Coast)
Looks like he might be suited to fantasy footy. Gets plenty of the ball and the Eagles seem keen to elevate him quickly.
Reece Conca (Richmond)
The beauty of being at Richmond is opportunity comes fairly quickly. And that’s music to the ears of all fantasy coaches. He’s been outstanding through the trials and is expected to get his first taste of senior footy across half-back.
Dyson Heppell (Essendon)
One of the shining rookie lights of the pre-season. He’ll play for the Bombers and he’s dual listed, so you can switch him between the midfield and defence if needed.
Rohan Bewick (Brisbane)
Is coming off a year playing senior footy in the WAFL and has shown all the signs of being AFL ready through the pre-season. This guy is the goods.
Simon Buckley (Collingwood)
Coming off some pretty solid scores in the pre-season Cup and looks likely to squeeze his way into the premiers’ round one line-up. I like that he’s multi-position listed too.
Shaun Atley (North Melbourne)
There’s big wraps on this young lad at the Kangaroos. He’ll be a part of one of the most exciting young midfield groups in the AFL too.
Jarrad Irons (Port Adelaide)
Super impressive in the pre-season, including 22 touches in the Power’s big win over Geelong. Sure to play this season. Possibly from the opening bounce.