At first glance, it looks like there are plenty of top class midfield-forward premium options. However, a closer look shows that there are risks associated with most of these.
There are two clear locks, however. Rowan Marshall might share some of his ruck duties with Paddy Ryder, but he still scored very well last year when that was the case.
In fact, his average without Ryder was only 103, just below his overall average of 104. His DPP is also handy back-up for our ruck stocks. Dustin Martin is approaching 30 years of age, but should be able to keep up his dominance for a couple more years given his durability.
After eight seasons of averaging 100+, it seems unlikely this will change just yet.
After that, it gets a little more tricky. Patrick Dangerfield, the top-priced forward, is a year older than Martin and is struggling with a groin injury.
He will still almost certainly be a top six forward by the end of the year, but his starting value is questionable. Josh Dunkley looks set to continue playing as a forward who pinch-hits in the midfield after Adam Treloar’s arrival. He’s averaged 95 over the past two years when playing forward, which would be a disappointing return given he’s priced at 104.
There is, however, a small chance he’s the value pick of the bunch if he returns to the midfield, where he averaged 128 in the last 16 games of 2020.
I’m less keen on Steele Sidebottom, who averaged 99 from 2016-2019, but is priced at 109 based on a 9-game season. He’s also approaching 30, although Treloar’s departure could see him gain more midfield time.
Dayne Zorko is probably even more of a risk as Brisbane start to give more and more midfield time to youngsters such as Hugh McCluggage and Cam Rayner.
Keep your eye on Zac Butters over the pre-season, who could find himself in the Port Adelaide midfield this year.
Conclusion: Marshall and Martin are locks, while Dangerfield looks a reliable pick if he’s fit for round 1. Dunkley is a risk vs reward situation, as a move to the midfield would make him awesome value, but more forward time is a concern.