Updated: Feb 23, 2021
Finishing bottom of the ladder after looking like they might not win a game, I think it's safe to say the Crows didn't fair to well in 2020. This year however is a new year and you would think that Adelaide would have to improve to some degree. The crows present as an intriguing club from a fantasy perspective with players presenting as value across all price brackets.
Firstly, which Big Boys are worth considering.
Elite rebounding defender and now inside midfielder Rory Laird ($763 000 DEF/MID) once again presents as a solid option to start with in 2021. After a role switch to the midfield in the second half of last season fantasy coaches got a gist of what Laird could produce as a mid storming home to average 117.5 (adjusted) over the last 7 matches. The departure of Brad Crouch ($708 000 MID) along with the emergence of multiple young defenders leads me to believe that Laird should see a spot in the midfield this year. After much speculation whether this would be Lairds role in 2021, a recent intra club game would see Laird play purely as an onballer in which looked to be the "stronger" of the two sides. Being an intra club game essentially you have 6 mids running around but I think you can say with confidence Laird will be playing midfield in 2021 and therefore I think he can bump his average up at least 5-10 points from last year. Defenders who play midfield are gold in fantasy and the fact Laird will be a top 3 defender come season end with upside on his current starting price I think you need to start with him in 2021.
Going into his 4th AFL season Reilly O’Brien ($828 000 RUC) has managed to make a big impact in his short time in the AFL. Having increased his fantasy average every year (74 -> 95.5 -> 108.1). Reilly O’Brien went to another level in the back end of 2020 averaging 121.6 over the last 6 games and having only played the 37 games there is no reason why O’Brien couldn’t further improve in season 2021. At the age of 25, O’Brien is just starting to reach his prime, and in my opinion could get to 115 in 2021. I think Reilly is a great option for anyone looking for a point of difference to start with in 2021. He also saves a little bit of coin compared to the traditional premium rucks in Gawn ($944 000 RUC) and Grundy ($867 000 RUC).
Rory Sloane ($580 000 MID) looks too cheap to ignore in 2021. There is no doubt there is value in picking Sloane but how much value really is there and what role is he going to play this season. Over the past 5 seasons Sloane has managed to average 105.9, 107. 89.9, 99.6 and most recently 75. After suffering multiple injuries and not being able to play any consistent footy along with the fact Corona ball must have had a negative impact on him you can some what disregard his 2020 fantasy output. Getting on in age I wasn't sure if the crows would use Sloane through the middle as they look to develop some of their younger midfield brigade but a recent intra club game had Sloane spend all his time inside for the "stronger" side. Earlier in the pre-season I had thoughts we could see Sloane play a lot more at half forward but I'm a little bit more bullish on a midfield role now. I tend not to select players over 30 years of age as I generally look to younger players with more potential for sharper point rises. Sloane breaks this rule but priced at 75 for someone who has a combined average of 100.6 in his last 4 years (excluding last) he may be too much value to pass up on.
Flashback to the 2020 pre-season where Wayne Milera ($446 000 DEF) was touted to breakout and average 85-90, providing a good POD for those ballsy enough to start with him. Unfortunately, this never eventuated as Milera was only able to manage 2 games in 2020. As fantasy coaches this is exactly what we look for, heavy discounts! Recent intra club footage saw Milera play predominantly on the wing but also saw him see time at half forward and inside. All things point to Milera having a fantasy friendly role in 2021 and providing he stays injury free I can't see why he cant average 80+. Priced at 58 Milera presents as one of the better bargains of the season and is one I advise you to strongly consider starting with.
Players for the Watch List
After last seasons dismal effort, I never thought I would say that Adelaide is an exciting team going into 2021 (At least from a fantasy perspective…). With many young guys seeking development along with the fact they have a fairly new coach we could see the magnets thrown around this year leading to many value propositions and opportunities to be capitalised on by us fantasy coaches.
Jackson Hately ($486 000 MID) is one of the most hyped names this pre-season and sees himself at Adelaide searching for more midfield minutes after a move from GWS in the off season. Limited opportunity has meant we have never been able to see the true potential of Hately but I think 2021 could be the year this changes. Priced at 64 if he gets the right role he could present as huge value. A recent intra club hit out saw him play predominantly inside midfield but for the "inferior side" meaning he could still be on the outside looking in for a regular midfield position. He is still one to watch though going in the AAMI series and if his CBA's are high he could be one to start.
Schoenberg ($370 000 FWD) is another name rumoured to get midfield time in 2021. Word is that him and Hately may rotate through the middle and half forward. Having shown decent numbers at junior level (100 avg at U18 state champs and 74 avg state league) decent roles could see Schoenberg develop in his second season to a 70ish guy from his current price tag at 49. In the intra club Schoenberg played predominantly forward so we may not see this development this year but he's still one to look out for going forward.
While battling an injury in the early part of the pre-season I was surprised to see Lachlan Sholl ($442 000 DEF/MID) in the intra club match. Not only did he play but he was a highlight for the crows linking up play with his superb foot skills up and down the wing and from half back. After showing his potential in round 17 last year where he managed 89 (111.25 adjusted) Sholl has already demonstrated ceiling and is one I can see developing much further in 2021. He is awkwardly priced at 58 and quite a risky pick. I think I would advise if you were looking at a player this price to go with his team mate Wayne Milera but Sholl is certainly one I'll be watching over the early rounds to potentially bring in.
Players to Avoid Early on
Now this one may be a little bit harsh but after having pre-season hip surgery I think that is enough for me to suggest avoiding Matt Crouch ($844 000 MID) to start the season. Finishing enormous to average 126 over the last 8 games Matt showed us how damaging he really can be in Fantasy footy and with his brother leaving the club many speculate that Matt will increase his output in 2021. My concern with Matt is that while playing in the intra club game and ramping his training loads you think he still comes into the season slightly under done. With lots of young guys Adelaide may look to throw a bunch of names through the middle to start the season as Crouch gets back to full fitness. We could see a similar situation to last season where Crouch starts off relatively slow and steams home to finish the season. Look to upgrade to Crouch as I think he will finish the year a top 8 mid but with an interrupted pre-season and at the price of $844 000 (Big boy bucks) I think you avoid him to start the year.
Rookies to Look Out For
Rookies are always something you have to wait and see on but from recent intra club footage I have been quite impressed with both Luke Pedlar ($250 000 MID) and Sam Berry ($216 000 MID). Both played predominantly inside for the "inferior side" but looked up to AFL level and seemed to display high pressure and tackling efforts around the ball. Could be in line for an early debut and possible selection in your fantasy side. James Rowe ($196 000 FWD) is another one who looked at home up in the forward line having kicked multiple goals and displaying good forward pressure I can see him getting selected early and providing a good bench option to start with. James Worrell ($170 000 DEF/FWD) looked good at half back and with injuries to Talia and Doedee the Crows are depleted which could see Worrell get a game. Could be handy with DEF/FWD dual position. Riley Thilthorpe ($268 000 RUC/FWD) looks to potentially play early but could be a struggle with lots of tall options up forward available. I don't think Riley's scoring potential is high enough to warrant his inflated price and it actually looks like we might have decent ruck cover this year in the likes of Matt Flynn etc..
As always comment below any players who I might have glanced over and that you think hold relevance this season. I'll be sure to get back to you with my opinions and viewpoint.