Cheapie watch: Mids, Rucks, Forwards

With Round 1 rapidly approaching, Charlie Dadds takes a dive into the all-important bargain buys from the mids, rucks, and forwards to see who you should begin the 2023 season with

AFL Pre Season

Hello everyone!

It’s been a while since the last lot of cheapies were discussed (the defenders), and with Round 1 rapidly approaching, I thought there was no better time than now to quickly run through the most relevant cheapies from all the other lines.

As like every year, cheapies are the cornerstone of every great team, so it’s critical that you start with the right ones so you don’t have to waste your trades chopping and changing to get the blokes you missed out on.

Let’s get to it!

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Luke Pedlar (FWD, $173,400)

For a guy who has only played three games and has a career high score of just 40, you’d be correct in assuming that Pedlar is perhaps slightly overpriced.

But, that three games of extra experience over the likes of certain first year players priced similarly could be worth it’s weight in gold.

It was rumoured he might see some CBA’s this year, but judging by the big fat zero next to his name from the game against the Eagles, I think that ship has sailed.

I wouldn’t trust him on field, and I certainly wouldn’t have all that cash sitting on my bench.

Verdict: Avoid

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Will Ashcroft (MID, $202,800)

Just for future reference, if I don’t type out any reasoning for a player it means they are absolutely, unequivocally a lock.

Verdict: Buy, lock and throw away the key… I don’t care what you do, just pick him

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Harry Sharp (MID, $123,900)

He’s fallen completely under the radar this year, and while I understand to some extent, I also don’t really understand why at all.

My argument against Pedlar was that yes, he had experience at AFL level, but I still thought his $173,400 price tag was way over odds.

However, Sharp has played six AFL games as he enters his third year, and he’s priced at just $123,900.

I know, I know, he definitely hasn’t set the world on fire with his scores, but you can’t deny the value.

Job security is the obvious issue here with Sharp as evidenced by his minimal TOG against the Cats.

Still, I like him as a mid-season downgrade option should the time come.

Verdict: Watch

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Oli Hollands (MID, $162,300)

He looks sensational don’t get me wrong, but with Sam Walsh reportedly defying the laws of physical rehabilitation, I have doubts over Hollands’ mid to long term job security.

17 touches, 6 marks, and a tackle against the Swans is an encouraging sign of good things to come for the highly rated draftee.

But will he make the $150k needed for it to be a worthwhile investment by the time Walsh returns?

Verdict: Avoid

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Jesse Motlop (FWD, $240,900)

27 points in 87% TOG??

Verdict: PASS

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Elijah Tsatas (MID, $189,300)

Out with a knee injury until halfway through the season.

Is it bad that I hope he doesn’t play this year so we can get him cheap next year?

Verdict: #PrayforMojo

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Jye Menzie (FWD, $154,200)

Has experience and showed that he can score well without kicking a goal (62).

I had him locked in at F6 for a fair while until Eddie talked me out of it.

I still think it’s a good pick, and he’s probably just cheap enough that you could slot him in at F7.

Verdict: Buy

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Alwyn Davey (MID/FWD, $117,300)

Already in over 50% of teams, Davey seems like the pick of the bunch from the Essendon youth.

He managed to rack up 67 points against the Saints from 13 touches, 2 marks, 3 tackles, and a goal.

I didn’t watch his practice games so take my words with a grain of salt, but I’m hearing that he was pushing pretty high up the ground which is always a promising sign.

Verdict: Buy

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Sam Sturt (FWD, $123,900)

Sturt has been in the system for five years now, but has only mustered up the four games, with his last game being in Round 4 of 2021.

As a result, he is cheap! Woohoo!

Fyfe moving to the forward line doesn’t help him much, but Sturt bagged two goals and 80 points against the Power which should see him on a lot of benches to start the year.

Verdict: Buy

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Matthew Johnson (MID, $123,900)

Played just 24% of game time against Port.

Verdict: Wait

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Finn Callaghan (MID, $244,000)

Verdict: Lock

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Aaron Cadman (FWD, $207,300)

Is definitely in the mix to debut in Round 1 but after not playing in the practice game, I find it hard to make a case for the most expensive rookie in the game.

Key forwards are never good options, and Cadman is no exception.

Verdict: Avoid

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Esava Ratugolea (RUC/FWD, $174,000)

A move to full-back had many coaches licking their lips at a potential Paddy McCartin-esque season from Sav.

His first pre-season game against the Hawks looked extremely promising, but a 49 in just 89% TOG against the Lion put an end to that.

If you have a few injury prone ruckmen in your team then you might need to pick Sav out of pure necessity just in case.

Verdict: If you have to, yes

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Gold Coast

Ben King (FWD, $176,300)

Key forward returning from a torn ACL in a struggling team?

Verdict: No thanks

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Cam Mackenzie (MID, $180,300)

Mackenzie looked unreal against the Pies; seemingly slotting into the AFL with ease.

Sam Mitchell has been slightly less buoyant over him with still no confirmation of a debut.

If he is named, his 99 points against Collingwood is a clear indication that he belongs at M8.

Verdict: Buy

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North Melbourne

Harry Sheezel (FWD, $198,300)

I firmly believe Sheezel should be in all teams.

Yes, he’s very expensive, but it’s worth it.

I was nervous that he would have a very minor small forward role, but thankfully that doesn’t seem to be the case.

After spending time around half-back and up forward, it’s clear that the ‘Roos just want him wherever the footy is most likely going to be.

Verdict: Buy

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Will Phillips (MID, $158,300)

He’s cheap, but his unproven scoring and lack of game time over the last few years has scared me off.

What’s even more concerning is his measly score of 48 against the Bulldogs.

He’s out of on-field calculations for me, but hey may be able to find a spot on the bench.

Verdict: Buy

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Charlie Comben (FWD, $123,900)

I kid you not, he actually scored -3 in a practice match… From 84% TOG…

Verdict: You could not pay me to pick him

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Port Adelaide

Brynn Teakle (RUC, $198,500)

Even if he does play, he’s not good enough to be at R2, and he’s too expensive to have on your bench.

Verdict: Avoid (not because his name is literally Brynn… I just don’t think he’s a good pick)

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Josh Sinn (MID/FWD, $123,900)

He won’t start the year in the team, but he should feature at some point during the year given how much Ken Hinkley fanboys over him. Will be a handy downgrade option.

Verdict: Downgrade watch

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St Kilda

Mattaes Phillipou (MID/FWD, $166,800)

Phillipou boasted some extremely high junior numbers last season which should put him in good stead for 2023.

Although, I do have doubts over his role.

With the amount of injuries in the St Kilda forward line at the moment, I’m expecting to see Phillipou as more of a leading deep forward, as opposed to a half-forward who occasionally rotates through the middle.

Again, similar to most of the arguments in this article, I wouldn’t trust him on-field and I certainly wouldn’t be willing to have all that money sitting on the bench.

Still, that’s just what I’m thinking in relation to my own team; I highly rate him as a player and I recommend you picking him up if he fits your structure!

Verdict: I’m just glad I didn’t make a joke about poo throughout all that. Buy!

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Jack Bytel (MID, $158,600)

The injury to Marcus Windhager should open the door for Bytel to come in and get some midfield minutes as a tagger which is what we saw against the Bombers.

The Saints must have a dedicated tagging coach because he picked up where Marcus Windhager left off, nullifying Darcy Parish to just 10 touches and 54 points.

All while doing this, Bytel himself collected 16 touches, 3 marks, and 7 tackles for 75 points in just 60% TOG.

Verdict: Buy(tel)

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Lachlan McAndrew (RUC/FWD $123,900)

Job security is iffy, scoring potential is even more so.

Verdict: Avoid

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Matt Roberts (MID, $123,900)

After making his debut in Round 11 and scoring just eight (yes, 8), Matty Roberts looks to have had a monster pre-season and is set to get his career at the Swans fully underway.

He had 69% TOG against the Blues and racked up 14 kicks, 5 marks, and 2 tackles.

The only disappointing thing was his 46% disposal efficiency, but if that’s my biggest worry then I guess I’m not worried at all!

Verdict: Buy

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West Coast

Oscar Allen (FWD, $210,200)

Read what I wrote for Ben King…

Key forward in a struggling team = hard to make a case for

Verdict: Avoid

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Elijah Hewett (MID, $148,800)

Unfortunately didn’t get the call-up for a Round 1 debut, but he’ll be in the mix throughout the season.

Verdict: Watch

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Noah Long (MID/FWD, $117,300)

He didn’t play in the trial game against the Crows which I think makes this debut even more special.

Clearly he has been doing something right this pre-season to earn a Round 1 gig, so good on him!

To be honest, I’ve got no idea who he is but I’m seeing that he’ll likely play as a small forward.

Not a bad bench option.

Verdict: Buy

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Western Bulldogs

Toby McLean (MID/FWD, $178,900)

Had an absolute STINKER of a match against the ‘Roos, playing 85% of the game for just 45 points.

He won’t score this bad every week, but that 45 was the final nail in the coffin for many onlooking coaches who had seen him training with the B’s and even playing with the B’s in intra-clubs.

I’m still very tempted to pick him because the value is undoubtably there.

Verdict: Buy

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Josh Bruce (FWD, $161,200)

*Cough* Harry Himmelberg 2.0 *Cough*

Let’s just wait and see…

For the time being, Bruce’s move to defence looks rather fruitful with 17 touches and 5 marks to his name from his practice match.

There are a lot of mouths to feed in that Bulldog’s defence though.

He’s a better option than most rookies priced above him.

Verdict: Buy

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Oskar Baker (MID, $123,900)

This was an eye catching performance from Baker who racked up 22 touches, 8 marks, and a goal for 111 points!

Apparently there were some doubts from the coaching staff over whether he would play in Round 1, but those doubts have been surely put to bed now.

Verdict: Lock

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