10 must-have players for AFL SuperCoach restart
Some of the top 10 should be obvious.
No serious KFC SuperCoach started 2020 without Richmond's Grand Final hero Marlion Pickett, the most-popular player in the game.
His teammate Dustin Martin, Lachie Whitfield and last year's top scorer Brodie Grundy were others who figured prominently in Round 1 sides.
But more than 80 days will have elapsed since the final siren of West Coast's Round 1 victory over Melbourne when footy restarts with a clash between Richmond and Collingwood on June 11.
KFC SuperCoaches have five trades to prepare their teams, while those who have recently signed up start with a clean slate.
From Round 1 bolters to top rookies and those with favourable fixtures, these are the 10 players every KFC SuperCoach team needs to prosper in Round 2 and beyond.
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KFC SUPERCOACH'S 10 MUST-HAVE PLAYERS FOR ROUND 2
*Ranked in order of importance
1. Marlion Pickett (Richmond) $123,900 MID Ownership: 77.3 per cent
KFC SuperCoaches have got this one right. Well, mostly anyway. Pickett scored 94 in Round 1 against Carlton and is projected to rise by more than $60,000 after Round 2. If you were to miss out on one of SuperCoach's greatest cash cows of all time, you'll be left kicking yourself. All indications are Pickett will become a mainstay in the Richmond team and SuperCoaches can confidently start him in midfield as long as he's selected. He's got all the makings of a final midfield upgrade.
2. Brodie Grundy (Collingwood) $705,900 RUC Ownership: 66.4 per cent
Often in KFC SuperCoach, you get what you pay for. That's certainly the case with Grundy. He was the most prolific points scorer last year and the evidence from Round 1 suggests ruckmen are going to dominate during 16-minute quarters. Grundy scored 179 points in Round 1 at an incredible 2.3 points per minute. To put that number in perspective, Nic Naitanui had the best PPM ratio of 2019 at 1.37. Grundy is a perfect VC/C option every round and going without him would make any coach very nervous.
3. Dustin Martin (Richmond) $543,000 FWD-MID Ownership: 65.3 per cent
Time for a slice of humble pie … for me. I can't believe there was a point of pre-season where I had myself convinced you could survive without Martin this year. While they weren't the top-two scoring forwards of Round 1 - that honour went to Isaac Heeney (152), Chad Wingard and Jy Simpkin (131) - Martin and Lachie Whitfeld are short odds to be top-two at season's end. Martin's ability to influence a game in a matter of minutes was evident against Carlton in Round 1 and the Brownlow winner is likely to be one of the main beneficiaries from 16-minute quarters.
4. Sam Sturt (Fremantle) $123,900 FWD Ownership: 17.2 per cent
Sturt is understandably the top rookie trade target for most coaches ahead of Round 2. The young Dockers forward earned the Round 1 Rising Star nomination after booting three goals from 10 disposals against Essendon. His performance was rewarded with 100 KFC SuperCoach points and Sturt has the lowest break even of any player at -53. His Marsh Series scores of 39 and 29 were concerning but with a projected price rise of more than $60,000 he's a must-have. Reports of a back issue were a worry, but he's still the leading rookie downgrade target. Don't expect him to post 100s every week as rookie forwards are historically volatile scorers.
5. Devon Smith (Essendon) $335,800 FWD-MID Ownership: 58.6 per cent
How is Devon Smith not in more teams? 93,479 coaches made one of the easiest calls of Round 1 when they selected Smith - the bargain pick of 2020. How often can you get a player who has twice averaged more than 90 and produced a career-best season of 97.9 two years ago for what equates to the lower-range of mid-price value? Smith vindicated those who started him with 105 against Fremantle from only 15 disposals. If he's not in your team, make him a priority trade before prices rise.
6. Lachie Neale (Brisbane Lions) $658,500 MID Ownership: 40.4 per cent
The Brisbane ball magnet is ready to stamp himself as KFC SuperCoach's premier midfielder. Neale lifted his average from 111.9 to 121.3 in his first season as a Lion, posting 120 or more 10 times and averaging 30.9 disposals. His Round 1 score of 157 was boosted by 10 tackles and eight clearances. With a break even of 94 he's going to be more expensive after Round 2 and is unlikely to be less than $600,000 for some time - if at all. Neale scored 79 (Fremantle), 127 (West Coast), 148 (Adelaide), 177 and 118 (Port Adelaide) last year against Brisbane's next four opponents.
7. Sam Docherty (Carlton) $436,100 DEF Ownership: 56.6 per cent
In his first game for two seasons, Docherty was back to his old self with 117 points against Richmond. The Carlton co-captain produced a typically assured performance across halfback, collecting 26 possessions and seven marks. Docherty is unlikely to be less than $500,000 for long and a repeat effort of 115 in Round 2 would result in a rise of about $25,000. Sometimes it's safer to be one of the pack rather than betting on a point of difference pick and more than 90,000 coaches have already invested in Docherty. Join them before it's too late.
8. Lachie Whitfield (GWS Giants) $604,100 FWD-MID Ownership: 58.6 per cent
GWS star Whitfield only ranks five spots lower than Dustin Martin due to the $61,100 price difference between them. As if often the case with KFC SuperCoach's most-expensive players, there will come a point in 2020 when Whitfield is available for a similar price to Martin's $543,000. However, the longer you hold off, the more points you are potentially sacrificing to almost 60 per cent of coaches with Whitfield in their teams. His average of 111.2 from last season was considerably better than any other player listed as a FWD this year, including Martin (100).
9. Jeremy Howe (Collingwood) $431,900 DEF Ownership: 5 per cent
The bolter. Jack Viney had claims to this spot after scoring 186 in Round 1, but Howe gets the nod due to proven KFC SuperCoach scoring. Viney's highest season average was 97 in 2016, which is about 10 points below the elite bracket of midfielders. Howe's 79.5 point average last year was the first time since 2015 he averaged less than 91.6. Howe's career-best average of 94.1 would have ranked him 13th in defence last season, yet the high-flying Magpie is the 46th-most expensive defender this year. He won't come cheap for long with a break even of eight after amassing 156 in Round 1 against Western Bulldogs from 25 disposals and nine marks.
10. Patrick Dangerfield (Geelong) $625,500 MID Ownership: 20 per cent of teams
The new fixture has done the 20 per cent of teams who started Dangerfield a huge favour. He's seen off KFC SuperCoach nemesis Matt De Boer and the 2016 Brownlow winner has a dominant record at GMHBA Stadium - where Geelong will play all of its home games in 2020. Last year, Dangerfield averaged 122.4 in nine games at home, with Tom Stewart (108.1) the next best. Mitch Duncan (104.1) ranked third. Dangerfield has averaged 131 from his past four games against Hawthorn and Carlton, the Cats' next two opponents. Geelong then takes on last year's bottom-two, Melbourne and Gold Coast. Dangerfield has averaged 143 in his last four matches against the Demons and 133 against the Suns, including a mammoth 187 when he last faced Gold Coast in Round 23, 2018. A sideways trade from a player such as Marcus Bontempelli to take advantage of that run could pay handsome dividends.
Originally published as 10 must-have players for SuperCoach restart