10 fallen AFL SuperCoach stars who could return to top
Finding the next big thing occupies a large part of our pre-season KFC SuperCoach planning.
But sometimes the next big thing was the last big thing.
Or a big thing a few years ago.
Players are often overlooked or written off after one poor season, when there may be a good reason for a drop in form.
So-called "fallen premiums" - one-time elite SuperCoach scorers who have fallen out of favour - are a proven source of top-end SuperCoach scores - if you pick the right one.
Todd Goldstein is one of many case studies.
He was the dominant SuperCoach ruckman in 2015, averaging 128 points a game, but by 2017 his average had dropped to 95.
Last year he showed his full range of SuperCoach talents, rivalling Brodie Grundy and Max Gawn in the second half of the season.
Which players could return to the top in 2020?
The 10 listed below are all underpriced based on previous form. Even if you don't have the guts to pick them in your SuperCoach Classic team, they could be fantastic under-the-radar selections in SuperCoach Draft.
Rory Laird (Adel) $525,800 DEF
The attacking Crows defender has been a reliable SuperCoach scorer for the past five seasons, but he produced his best numbers in 2018 when he averaged 108 points a game. Last year he couldn't back it up, shedding more than 11 points from his average as his numbers dropped across the board.
Laird won four fewer disposals per game than in 2018 and recorded the lowest contested possession and intercept possession rates of his career. As a result he posted only four scores above 110 - down from 11 the year before.
Can he bounce back in 2020? A lot will depend on how the Crows play under new coach Matthew Nicks and after a player exodus that means Laird will have even more responsibility down back. But he has never had any problems finding the ball and it would be a shock if he went backwards again. Track his pre-season.
Sam Docherty (Carl) $436,100 DEF
The Blues co-captain falls into the category of premiums returning from injury - you can add Devon Smith, Dylan Roberton, Jack Steven and Tom Mitchell to the list (although he hasn't fallen too far in terms of his SuperCoach price).
Docherty was the topscoring SuperCoach defender in 2017 when he averaged almost 115 points a game. It might be wishful thinking to hope he can score like that again after two years out of the game but he's going to be in a lot of teams if he lines up in Round 1.
Jeremy Howe (Coll) $431,900 DEF
The high-flying Magpie's 2019 SuperCoach average of 84 was his lowest since 2015. His disposal numbers, contested marks and intercept marks were all down, but the blame could lie with Collingwood's shocking run with injuries in defence.
They meant Howe was forced to play on opposition key forwards 48 per cent of the time, leaving more defensive spoils and fewer spectacular leaps over the pack. If the Pies get a better run, he should be freed up to return to the 90-plus averages he recorded from 2016-19.
One unknown is the impact of Darcy Moore - is he stealing Howe's points?
Chad Wingard (Haw) $412,300 FWD/MID
The former Port Adelaide star featured in SuperCoach discussions this time last year but he missed the start of the season, was scratched from SuperCoach sides and has seemingly been forgotten about since. That's a mistake.
Wingard posted premium numbers in 2017 (average 93), 2015 (98) and 2013 (99 in just his second season in the AFL), so we know he's capable. He's had a year to find his feet at the Hawks and is set to enter 2020 injury-free (touch wood).
Hopes of a midfield role might be misplaced - last year he played further up the ground and the resulting drop in scoreboard impact (fewest goals and score assist since his debut season) impacted his SuperCoach return.
Sam Jacobs (GWS) $348,400 RUCK
Remember the glory days when the new Giants ruckman averaged 115.4 and was one of the premier ruckman in the league? That was back in 2014 and even we have to admit a return to a 115-point average is unlikely.
But Jacobs should see a spike in scoring after switching to GWS where he will be the No. 1 man in the ruck, having been overtaken in that role at Adelaide by upstart Reilly O'Brien.
One thing you can say about "Sauce", he's ultra reliable. Taking out last season, he played at least 20 matches every year since 2012. He's also incredibly cheap compared to big name rucks Brodie Grundy and Max Gawn. But are you brave enough to start without one of them?
Tom Lynch (Rich) $388,800 FWD
Lynch would be pretty happy with his move to Punt Rd after claiming a premiership in his first season as a Tiger. But his SuperCoach numbers took a hit - his average of 71.6 was his lowest since 2013.
After virtually no pre-season, Lynch took a while to warm up but came home with a wet sail, averaging 99 from Round 17 to the Grand Final. That run included scores of 132, 149 and 47 - par for the course with key forwards. But this year there should be a lot more of the bigger numbers. Expect Lynch to challenge his personal-best season average of 93 in 2016, which would equate to a big price rise.
Dan Hannebery (StK) $417,000 MID
It would take guts to pick Hannebery after his injury-cursed start at St Kilda that restricted him to just five senior games. And he broke his foot falling down a set of stairs just after the season finished.
But if we set that aside for a moment to look at Hannebery's SuperCoach history, you only have to go back to 2017 to find premium numbers (97). From 2014-16 he was one of the topscoring midfielders in the game. And when he did play last year his numbers weren't shabby at all, topping 90 in four of those five matches with a high of 122.
You would want to be VERY confident about his body to take the punt, but it could pay off.
Michael Hurley (Ess) $432,900 DEF
Hurley averaged 90-plus from 2015-18 but his average fell to 79.7 last season. What made him a great SuperCoach pick was his ability to collect big disposal numbers while playing as a key backman, but that dried up as he averaged just 19 touches a game. His 6.8 intercept possessions were also his fewest as a defender.
Confidence in a bounce-back year isn't high after his finish to 2019 when he averaged just 62 from Round 14, collecting 20-plus disposals in just one of his last seven games.
Sam Menegola (Geel) $441,700 MID
One stat illustrates Menegola's struggles in 2019. After averaging a goal a game the previous year, he kicked just two for the entire season. A career-low scoring accuracy of 33 per cent didn't help, but the former SuperCoach gun also recorded career-lows for disposals (19), contested possessions (eight), clearances (two), tackles (2), and SuperCoach points (82).
It's easy to forget he was the second-most expensive forward last season after averaging 100 SuperCoach points the previous two seasons. Was 2019 just one bad year?
Bryce Gibbs (Adel) $375,100 MID
Remember when Gibbs was a must-have SuperCoach pick? He has averaged at least 100 in six seasons and over 90 as recently as 2018, but dropped off a cliff last season to finish with an average of 69.1 in 12 matches.
That has resulted in what looks like a crazy bargain, but his demotion to the SANFL came after recording his lowest disposal numbers since 2007, and the second-lowest contested possession rate of his career (28.3 per cent).
He will enter the season aged 31, and with an uncertain role under Matthew Nicks. You would have to be braver than me. If you are - good luck!