In terms of fantasy there are some great options for draftee midfielders. There are a number of players who are likely to get immediate opportunities in 2013. Whether any of these players are draftable is dependent on the number of players and list sizes in any given league. A lot of these midfielders may end up being used as starters but will also be good options to cover injury or byes. Keep an eye on these mids through the pre-season.
Jaeger O’Meara seems to be another fantasy option in the midfield. O’Meara was one of the youngsters not eligible for the 2011 draft and was selected by Gold Coast with the first overall pick in the mini-draft of the same year. This means O’Meara was ineligible to play in 2012 and spent the season in the NEAFL. In 2013 he’ll get his chance. If he entered the main 2012 draft he’d probably be selected in one of the first two picks overall. The NEAFL isn’t the highest quality of footy leagues but all reports are that O’Meara dominated. This has given O’Meara time to play senior football and further develop his game. Its also been the opportunity to add an extra 7kg of bulk to his AFL ready frame. The signs are ominous for the talented midfielder. O’Meara is a great athlete with terrific endurance (14.3 beep test), speed (2.8 seconds over 20m), ability to win clearances, strength in overhead marking contests and damaging in front of goal. He did have groin issues in 2012 but it seems that he is tracking well in the current pre-season.
Like O’Meara, Brad Crouch is another midfielder from the 2011 mini-draft who will benefit from an extra year in the AFL system. He played footy for West Adelaide in the SANFL in 2012, helping to further develop his game. Added 6kg of muscle and at 186cm, Crouch is ready for the AFL. Crouch is best described as a ball magnet who loves winning the hard contested footy. That’s his forte. He has an effective outside game complemented by his disposal. In the preliminary final for West Adelaide, Crouch amassed an impressive 31 disposals, seven clearances, six marks, three tackles and one goal. Overall, in 17 games for West Adelaide, Crouch averaged 19.4 disposals. Make sure he is on your watch list.
Oliver Wines is perhaps one of the best fantasy midfielders in the 2013 crop. Wines is the classic hard nut who relishes the contest. What’s most exciting about Wines is his fantasy potential when you consider his frame. At 187cm and 89kg he’ll be able to compete with the big boys from the get go. Not only does Wines have an appetite for the contest, but he combines this with elite endurance, tackling technique and disposal. Wines averaged 24.2 disposals playing for Vic Country in the Under 18 National Championships. More importantly, he averaged 99 AFL fantasy points throughout the carnival. Drafted by Port Adelaide with the seventh overall pick it’s difficult to see why Wines wouldn’t get opportunities throughout 2013. You wouldn’t want to draft him in early but think about Wines in the mid to late rounds. There won’t be a league where he goes undrafted so don’t even consider him as a waiver wire acquisition.
Melbourne was able to land Jack Viney at the 26th overall pick under the father-son rule. Viney, akin to Wines, is another player who prides himself on winning contested footy. That’s his bread and butter. Viney attacks the ball with ferocity and is recognised for his multiple efforts and fitness. Viney only played the final two games for Vic Metro in the National Championships but averaged 17 disposals and 65 AFL fantasy points. Let’s face it, a hardened inside mid is going to have more opportunities in their first year. Melbourne have been abysmal in recent times and you’d think the idea would be to inject Viney into the senior side sooner than later. Take Viney with a late rounder.
Jimmy Toumpas is another midfielder to keep on your draft boards. He was drafted by Melbourne with the fourth overall pick. Described as an inside and outside midfielder who combines fantastic disposal skills, with speed and a great tank. As captain of the South Australian team in the National Championships he averaged 22.2 disposals and 92 AFL fantasy points. Toumpas had a modified program pre-Christmas after having surgery on both hips in August. If he remains injury free you’d suspect he will get his opportunities this year making him a mouth-watering fantasy option.
Jesse Lonergan was selected by Gold Coast with the 13th overall pick in the 2012 draft. A powerful and explosive contested ball winning inside mid. Lonergan is also noted for his clearance work. At 183cm, 86kg and three seasons playing for Launceston in the TSL, Lonergan is well prepared for the AFL. He’s probably bigger and stronger than a lot of the current Gold Coast midfielders. He averaged 16.3 disposals and 5.3 tackles in the three games he played for Tasmania in the National Championships. In terms of fantasy output, Lonergan averaged 79 AFL fantasy points in the same championships. It seems that Lonergan represents a great fantasy option and it’s likely that he will be in the Gold Coast side for round one. In fact, he’s been so impressive that club football operations manager Marcus Ashcroft said he could have an immediate impact.
Lachie Whitfield was the overall number one pick in the 2012 draft, selected by GWS. Whitfield averaged 23.2 disposals and 100 AFL fantasy points in the National Championships. He’s noted for his work as a classy outside midfielder with elite kicking skills. Whitfield can be damaging in front of goal and possessed elite endurance as evidenced by his 16.4 beep test result. That’s not to say he can’t win his own ball, because he can, and he does. Whitfield should be a good fantasy option. Considering the Giants are putting together a strong young midfield group, Whitfield’s ability to break into the side is something fantasy owners will have to think about come draft time. Perhaps Wines and Viney would serve as better options at this point.
Nathan Hrovat was selected by the Western Bulldogs at pick 26 in the draft. If Hrovat wasn’t the type of inside mid who can win contested ball as well as he does, he may have been overlooked in the draft all together. He averaged 25.2 disposals (10 contested) and 4.4 clearances in the National Championships where he was awarded MVP for Vic Metro. Throughout the carnival he averaged 90 AFL fantasy points. It’s likely that he will be able to work his way into the senior side in 2013. The Bulldogs are going through a rebuild and debuted a lot of players last season. If that’s anything to go by, this trend will continue in 2013. Take Hrovat with a late round pick.
Matt Jones is an interesting prospect. The mature age midfielder was drafted by Melbourne with pick 52. He had a great season playing for Box Hill in the VFL last year. Jones is described as a midfielder who provides run and carry but also wins his own ball. At 25, with senior footy experience, you’d suspect that he’ll find a spot in the side soon enough. All reports suggest Melbourne is pleased with the strides Jones is making in the pre-season. It’s hard to gauge his fantasy potential at this stage but he is someone who should be considered as a possible late rounder or waiver wire acquisition (this is also dependent on the amount of people in your league and the maximum amount of players on each team).
Jonathan O’Rourke is another elite midfielder who combines speed, decision making, skills and goal sense. O’Rourke can play both inside and outside and is described as a prolific ball winner. Drafted by GWS as the second overall pick, O’Rourke has fantasy potential. He averaged 18.5 disposals at 77 per cent efficiency and 72 AFL fantasy points for Vic Metro in the National Championships. How much opportunity O’Rourke gets at senior level in 2013 is still questionable. If not draft worthy he may be a handy acquisition as a free agent.
Honourable mentions: Jackson Macrae (averaged 19.4 disposals and 89 AFL fantasy points in the National Championships), Tim Broomhead (averaged 15.2 disposals and 50 AFL fantasy points in the National Championships).