Bargain Buys: Assessing the midfield cheapie crop

We take a dive into the all-important bargain buys to begin the 2022 season, starting with the midfielders to keep an eye on.

AFL Key Analysis Pre Season

With the Draft complete, pre-season underway, and the AAMI Community Series just around the corner, there’s never been a better time to take a first look at some relevant midfield cheapies to add to your round one team.

We’ve defined cheapies as anyone priced at $220,00 or lower


Jake Soligo (MID, $117,300, 1%)

Soligo looks like he could be a smokey to debut for Adelaide in Round 1 after apparently “turning heads as a forward”.

In his top-age campaign, he was awarded the Eastern Ranges Pennington Medal (best and fairest) after averaging 22.6 touches, 6 marks, 6.3 tackles, and in 2021; so evidently, the ceiling is there.

If the Crows do intend to play him as a forward (which they are desperately in need of), he’ll be competing for the spot against Josh Rachele.

Verdict: Watch

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Zac Taylor (MID, $117,300, 1%)

Averaging 26 touches, 5.9 marks, and 4.1 tackles in 2021, Taylor had an unbelievable three game stretch to round out the year; going at 34.3 disposals, 7 marks, 6 tackles, and 5.6 inside 50’s.

The scoring potential is evident, but the Crows aren’t really looking to experiment with rookie midfielders just yet; especially with the addition of Dawson on the Wing, and the return of Crouch in the engine room.

Keep him on your watch list though, he could pop up later in the season.

Verdict: Watch

Luke Pedlar (MID/FWD, $123,900, 9%)

Pedlar didn’t quite put his name in lights when he debuted last year, averaging a measly 20 from his two games. It will be interesting to see whether the Crows continue to give him some games this year, because he undoubtedly has talent, leadership, and can match it with the bigger bodies. Pass for now, observe for later.

Verdict: Avoid

Josh Rachele (MID/FWD, $184,800, 31%)

The #6 pick in the Draft, Rachele has a lot of hype around his name coming into the season, and there’s a reason why.

The Small Mid/Forward oozes silk and X-factor; traits that the Crows haven’t seen much of since the departure of Eddie Betts.

Rachele averaged 129 SC points as a forward in the NAB League last year, and if he plays Round 1 (which I think he will) you can absolutely lock him in for your team.

Verdict: Buy

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Jackson Hately (MID, $188,700, 3%)

Well, well, well… I kind of can’t even be bothered writing about Hately because every year it’s the same old story.

He was starved of opportunity during his brief stint at GWS, only mustering 13 games, and an average of 69.5.

However, it was his performances in the NEAFL that caught the eye of Supercoach managers around the country.

In 2019 (just his first year in the NEAFL), Hately averaged 26.7 disposals, 5.6 marks, and 6.5 tackles.

A move back home to Adelaide looked like the perfect thing for him; a fresh start, a chance to play some footy, an opportunity to show his potential.

Unfortunately, though, it hasn’t quite worked out for him just yet. Look, I’m not saying pick him up; but I’m also not saying that you should leave him out completely.

There’s no denying that he has premium upside. If Hately plays, and gets consistent game-time + confidence, he could be one of the bargain picks of the year. It’s risky, but so is everything in this game.

Verdict: Watch





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Reef McInnes (MID, $123,900, 4%)

Nick Maxwell has already confirmed that Collingwood will want to expose McInnes in the midfield in 2022.

Standing at 194cm, the midfielder wasn’t able to get a game at AFL level last year, but displayed promise during his time in the VFL, averaging 61.

He certainly has some competition for spots, but there’s no better time to be an up-and-coming Collingwood midfielder.

Verdict: Watch

Nick Daicos (MID, $193,800, 63%)

The equal most owned player in the game at the time of writing, as well as arguably the most talented player from this year’s draft pool, Daicos has unbelievable upside… Genuinely it’s unbelievable.

I’m sure he doesn’t need any introduction, but just read this: Daicos played five NAB League games last year and averaged 159… Hahahahah.

Collingwood even came out and admitted that he probably would’ve got a gig after averaging 35.8 touches, 5.8 marks, 3.4 tackles, AND 2 goals a game.

Seriously, you don’t even need to read anything else. Just lock him in. Lock. Him. IN.

Verdict: Buy

Finlay Macrae (MID, $206,800, 5%)

The brother of SuperCoach Hall of Famer Jack Macrae, Finlay struggled to find momentum in his freshman year in 2021 as he was continuously in and out of the 22.

His ability is evident, showcased when he collected 20 disposals in just 61% of game time (plus good footy clearly runs in the family).

Fin has also been hitting the gym HARD, and looks primed for a second-year breakout.

Nick Maxwell has floated the idea of a consistent midfield role; so, IF he plays round one, I would suggest picking him up without hesitation. Don’t let the slightly lofty price-tag scare you, this kid is a born ball-winner.

Verdict: Watch

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Ben Hobbs (MID, $153,300, 15%)

Ben Hobbs is good… Like, really good. There’s no doubt that he’s a future star, and if he stays at Essendon, it wouldn’t be silly to assume that he’s their future captain.

A natural born leader who goes hard at the contest, there’s a lot to like about Benny Boi. However, Essendon have one of the best midfields in the comp, and that was without Dylan Shiel and Jye Caldwell last year.

It’s going to be tough for him, but as soon an opportunity opens up for him, I can assure you that Hobbs will take it and not look back.

In an intraclub trial match, Hobbs had 18 touches in three short quarters playing for the “young” team.

Oh, and I forgot to mention, he averaged 148 SC points in the NAB League last season… Job security is a bit iffy, but if he plays round 1, lock him in.

Verdict: Watch

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Matthew Johnson (MID, $117,300, 6%)

Despite a fractured foot during pre-season, Matthew Johnson boasts a pretty remarkable CV.

Averaging 119 in the WAFL Colts, the tall on-baller is extremely versatile; and with a spot opening up due to the departure of Adam Cerra, Matthew Johnson may well be the man to fill the void. However, he will face competition from the young man below.

Verdict: Watch

Neil Erasmus (MID, $166,800, 6%)

Someone, who in my opinion, has flown under the radar a bit is Neil Erasmus. In the WAFL Colts last year, Erasmus averaged 164… Including scores of 204, 141, 161, and 149. The kid is a jet. If he plays (which he possibly could), you can expect his ownership to rise.

Verdict: Watch


Finn Callaghan (MID, $198,300, 4%)

I really, really want to include Callaghan in the rookie discussion because he is such a gun.

But unfortunately, the Giants aren’t too kind to their rookies, so I don’t think he’ll be getting many games this year.

In the unlikely event that their whole midfield gets injured and Finn does get a game, put him in straight away. Averaging 129 in his last four NAB League games, Callaghan knows how to get the ball; however, his price tag just seems like too much of a risk.

Verdict: Avoid

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Mitchell Knevitt (MID, $117,300, 1%)

Knevitt averaged a whopping 122 in the NAB League last year, and took his game to another level in the last few rounds where he scored 151, 136, and a massive 165!

He has the ceiling, but like GWS, Geelong has a track record of not prioritising their young guns. Wait and see if he’s named.

Verdict: Watch

Cooper Stephens (MID, $123,900, 7%)

Entering his third year, Stephens has sadly had an injury riddled start to his career, being unable to even play at VFL level. By all accounts, he’s had a strong pre-season, so the 188cm midfielder looks like he could debut this year.

Verdict: Watch

Gold Coast

Elijah Hollands (MID/FWD, $123,900, 59%)

Hollands was hot gossip when he got drafted in 2020. The crafty MID/FWD boasts a ton of X-factor, but a torn ACL kept him out of AFL contention for all of last season.

He made his return to footy after 16 months in Round 10 of the VFL; collecting 9 touches, 5 marks, 3 tackles, and a goal.

It was his third game back that really stood out though, tallying 22 touches, 2 marks, and 3 tackles. He’s got lots of upside, and at a discounted price, he’s ready to lock in for your round 1 team.

Verdict: Buy

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Alex Davies (MID, $202,500, 1%)

Davies made his AFL debut in the final game of the season last year, and showed a heap of promise when he collected 17 disposals, 6 tackles, and 62 SC points.

The departure of Greenwood has left a void in the Suns’ midfield group, and Davies looks like an ideal replacement.

Verdict: Watch

Charlie Constable (MID, $213,000, 12%)

I’m so glad Charlie got a move away from Geelong. The mature-ager has a ton of talent, and the longer he stayed at the Cats, the more that talent was slowly fading.

He got his move to Gold Coast, and with Greenwood now gone, the Suns could decide to throw Constable in and let him do his work.

When he debuted in 2019, Charlie started his SuperCoach career with a BANG: scoring 85, 84, and 99 in his first three games.

He finished off his seven-game season with an average of 80. Last year he averaged 120 in the VFL, and I am confident that if gets game time this year, Charlie Constable will not let his owners down. He does come with a lofty price tag though.

Verdict: Watch

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Sam Butler (MID/FWD, $117,300, 17%)

The brother of St. Kilda forward Dan, Sammy averaged 98 in the NAB League last year.

Fellow X-factor teammate, Tyler Brockman saw some game time last season, so there’s nothing to suggest that Butler won’t either.

Job security is an issue, so proceed with caution. I think there’s better options elsewhere.

Verdict: Avoid

Connor Macdonald (MID, $117,300, 5%)

Macdonald averaged a massive 148 in the NAB League last year, including 29.8 disposals, 6.8 marks, 4.8 tackles, and 0.8 goals. I’m not sure if he’s above Josh Ward in the pecking order, but he certainly should be able to get a couple games this year.

Verdict: Watch

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Finn Maginess (MID/FWD, $143,000, 18%)

I’ve been on the Finn Magin hype train for the last couple weeks, and seeing this boy hit the gym, shave his head, and turn into an absolute beast has made me feel like a proud dad.

He’s been in the system for a few years now so he has experience on his side, and by all accounts the Hawthorn coaching staff are loving him.

He shared CBAs in Hawthorns match sim, and also ran for a bit off half back. His disposal efficiency may be the only thing that lets him down, and the final spot in Hawthorn’s 22 could be down to either him or Connor Macdonald.

Verdict: Watch

Josh Ward (MID, $180,300, 17%)

“With the seventh pick in the draft, Sam Mitchell has selected… Himself?!”.

Josh Ward is an absolute work-horse, and emulates his coach to a tee.

The Hawks are amidst one of the biggest rebuilds in the club’s history, and Ward will be right at the centre of it.

O’Meara and Tom ‘Pig’ Mitchell grow another year older, and coach Mitchell will want to give his young guns heaps of game time this year.

According to reports from Hawthorn’s match sim, “Ward, Worpel, and Newcombe beat Jaeger, T.Mitchell, and Maginness”. Keep an eye out for Josh Ward… He’ll play this year.

Verdict: Buy



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North Melbourne

Jason Horne-Francis (MID, $207,300, 59%)

Don’t think about it, just get him in your team and keep him there. Lock.

Verdict: Buy

Port Adelaide



Tyler Sonsie (MID, $117,300, 1%)

As a rookie, spots in the Richmond 22 are hard to come by; just ask Riley Collier-Dawkins.

Sonsie has the ability and potential to break into the line-up this season though. Averaging 104 in the NAB League, and even collecting 24 disposals, 2 goals, and 64 points in his VFL debut last year, Tyler Sonsie is one to look out for.

Verdict: Watch

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St. Kilda

Mitch Owens (MID, $117,300, 1%)

Mitch Owens fits the mould of the new-age midfielder. He’s tall, skilful, agile, and strong.

However, the Saints midfield group currently consists of Steele, Crouch, Jones, Gresham (if fit), Hannebery (if fit), and maybe finally we’ll see Hunter Clark play some consistent on-ball minutes.

My point is, I just don’t think there’s a spot for Owens just yet. There’s a chance the Saints could play him down forward, but we’ll just have to wait and see.

Verdict: Avoid

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Matty Roberts (MID ($117,300, 8%)

The South Adelaide boy has proved that his teammate, JHF isn’t the only hot property to emerge from the Panthers in last year’s draft.

In his three Under 18 games, Roberts averaged a whopping 32 disposals, 8.3 marks, 7.7 tackles, 1.8 goals, and 201 SC points…

Then when he played league, he averaged 11 touches, 1.7 marks, 3.9 tackles, 0.9 goals, and 63 points.

The fact that the Swans have played so many youngsters in recent years is a promising sign, but he’ll have to compete against a lot of other kids for spots. If he does play, get him in.

Verdict: Watch

Angus Sheldrick (MID, $130,800, 1%)

Despite being listed as a midfielder; reports have suggested that the Swans have been using Sheldrick as a small forward in trainings.

Last season in the WAFL Colts, he showed a ton of scoring potential; averaging an incredible 152 points from nine matches with a lowest score of 129.

He’s a born ball winner who loves contested possession, and I don’t care if the Swans play him as a small forward, I’m picking him in my team.

At just 1% ownership, he could be an absolute game changer for your team (if he plays).

Verdict: Buy

Dylan Stephens (MID, $167,800, 12%)

Dylan hasn’t quite been able to establish himself in the Swans midfield just yet, only averaging 30.8 from six games. The former #5 draft pick has tons of potential, and John Longmire has already teased that more game time could be on the cards for the Norwood product.

He has more experience and upside than most other cheapies who fall around the same price; I’m a big fan of Stephens this season.

Verdict: Buy

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West Coast

Greg Clark (MID, $117,300, 46%)

One of the most popular players this year, Greg Clark has an immense amount of upside. The 24-year-old averaged 121 in the WAFL last year, and looks like an absolute lock to debut in round 1. Get him in.

*Update: Reported to have a shoulder injury and in doubt for the early stages of the season.

Verdict: Buy (fitness pending)

Western Bulldogs

Robbie McComb (MID, $102,400, 2%)

The 26-year-old looks ready to play AFL this year after dominating in the VFL. Look, it’ll be incredibly hard to break into the Dogs midfield, but with Lipinski gone, it might just be a little bit easier.

In terms of experience, he’s better than any other cheapie in the game. The only question is whether he actually gets games.

Verdict: Watch

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