Wow, bloody hell was it a good feeling to watch some footy this weekend. It's officially business time gentleman and sourcing information to help put together that crucial starting squad has never been more important than now. Having watched a majority of the games myself I have put together some important takeaways to help guide you in building your pre-season knowledge.
St Kilda takeaways
Jack Higgins: Solid game overall, spent time both in the midfield and forward attending 3 out of 30 centre bounces (10%). Although his CBA numbers were pretty low he was up and around the ball more than this would suggest and when forward proved deadly popping up with a couple snags. He's on the higher price of mid price so he comes with more risk. I think you need to see more mid clock to be certain he can bump his average enough and maintain it. Watch going forward.
Brad Crouch: Looked good out there and in my opinion only got better the longer the game went on. No reason that suggests that he can't get back to his former heights and put up an average close to 110. Attended 20 of the 30 centre bounces (Most at St Kilda) all but confirming he is well and truly in their midfield mix. Crouch will miss the first two games so he isn't a starting option but one to highly consider when he comes into the side.
Jack Steele: Jack Steele was Jack Steele. After last season super heights along with the inclusion of Crouch many people seem to think Steele will be taking a backwards step in 2021. I can't see this being the case and I think he averages around the 115 mark again. Expensive but will hold his price and should be around the top 5 midfielders in 2021.
Jack Bytel: Super impressive and was one I hadn't actually had on the watch list. My watch list is already about 40 pages long so I don't really need more names on there but after what he produced he has to be of some interest. Attended 14 of 30 centre bounces (47%) which is a fair chunk and managed to find the ball quite a lot. 299k is expensive for a rookie type player but especially with Crouch out for the first 2 rounds he could produce some handy scores early. Only slight concern is that he suffered a finger injury but he came back on and should be fine.
Thomas Highmore: Has showed enough that he could be a decent fantasy rookie prospect this season. It's looking very thin down back this year so if he plays you pick him. Only managed the half a game and James Frawley looked super good out there so he might be pushing his luck for a round 1 spot.
Hunter Clark: Is this the year we finally see Clark in the midfield. Very similar to Callum Mills in a way that he gets hyped up for a new role every pre-season and it never eventuates. I have no doubt this season he will play more midfield as he attended 15 of 30 CBA's (50%) on the weekend. He's an awkward price and it might not be enough mid clock to take a big enough leap but he's got the talent and is one I'm watching intently going forward.
Paul Hunter: Looked to rotate into the ruck to give Ryder a spell. Ryder looked very good so it will be interesting to see what the saints do with their ruck set up. Ryder is old so you would expect his TOG might be a little limited and will need support in that department. Whether they choose to go a second ruck like Hunter or use a forward I'm not sure but he could be a bench option with no Marshall around.
Notable Absentees: Rowan Marshall, Zac Jones, Dan Hannebery, Jarryn Geary and Jade Gresham
Jaidyn Stephenson: Wasn't very impressive in my opinion. Did get slightly better as the game wore on but didn't receive that mid clock that had been talked about having only 1 of 30 CBA's (3%). Spent his time between wing and half forward and in a side like North those types of positions won't be able to score consistently. He's cheap but there are better options I think.
Dom Tyson: If you read my North Melbourne pre-season preview you would know that I was relatively keen on Dom. Priced 39 under his career best is ridiculous and looks to be moving super well. Attended 21 of 30 CBA's (70%) so he is certainly in their midfield mix. Only concern is there was no Cunnington and Anderson so you would expect these numbers to decrease. Watch next week to see how much mid clock he gets but he is super underpriced.
Kyron Hayden: One that surprised me a little bit as I wasn't expecting him to play a predominantly midfield role. Attended 21 of 30 CBA's (70%) although I think North may have been using this game to experiment and I don't see him in the rotation regularly when they have a full strength side. 327k puts him in the same category as Young, Cumming, Fantasia etc... and after seeing him inside I think you have to watch him.
Tom Powell: Started the game really well and tailed off a bit towards the end. Seemed to play mostly forward but did get up the ground and around the ball at times while also attending 2 of 30 CBA's (6%). North seem to rate him and out of all their young talent they seem to rate him at the top. Looks to play round 1 at this stage and his junior numbers suggest that he's worth the inflated rookie price tag.
Charlie Lazzaro: Lizardman looked alright out there. Not sure he's best 22 but if he is he could be an option. Didn't really get the midfield time needed to score but he's certainly got potential. Throw him in the mix for now.
Tom Campbell: Went alright in the ruck in Goldy's absence. Goldstein will be back next week after sitting out with sore ribs and you'd think takes a majority of the ruck work. Still Tom is cheap enough at 223k that if they do decide to play the two big men he could be worthy as a bench spot forward although there seems to be quite a few options that way around the 170k price tag.
Luke McDonald: Looked poised down back and up to his old cheap tricks. Took a lot of kick ins and should prove to be up their with the top end defenders. At 692k he could be an option if you can't get up to Laird/Lloyd but personally I would be finding that extra coin. Not sure on how much he can improve off last years average of 91
Notable Absentees: Ben Cunnington, Jed Anderson, Luke Davies-Uniacke, Trent Dumont, Jared Polec, Will Phillips and Todd Goldstein.
In conclusion it looks like the Saints are going to be very dangerous in 2021. They played close to a full strength side so you can take with some sort of confidence that these notes will reflect how the players go in the real deal. North on the other hand had a stack of best 22 players on the sidelines and so they will be one to watch closely next week in terms of player roles. Especially through the midfield where arguably their whole starting midfield didn't play (Cunnington, Anderson, LDU). Cheers for reading legends, I've missed a couple players as I want to keep these short and relevant to AFL Fantasy classic.