With the 2022 AFL H&A season set to begin on March 16, @aflratingsPete provides a fantasy outlook for Essendon.
The 2021 season was a growth year for Essendon, it was the first full season under senior coach Ben Rutten.
The Bombers made a successful run at the finals, a narrow loss to the Bulldogs in the Elimination Final capped of their year.
Essendon were impacted by injuries throughout the 2021 H&A season, Dylan Shiel, Jye Caldwell and Andrew McGrath were all missing for significant chunks of the year from the midfield and the Bombers still qualified for finals.
There is still significant growth available in 2022, Sam Draper is just getting started while a core young tall group is yet to fully develop.
There is upside available.
Under Rutten the Bombers moved the ball quite efficiently in 2021, that will be a key area of focus again in 2022.
Essendon averaged 369.0 Disposals in the 2021 H&A season (AFL Rank: 8).
Zach Merrett (31.5) and Darcy Parish (30.5) were the only 2 players to average more the 25.0 disposals in 2021.
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Zach Merrett ($925k MID) was outstanding again in 2021 averaging 110.5pts from 23 games, he scored 100pts or more in 78.3% of games and 120pts or more in 30.4% of games.
He was ranked No.1 at Essendon with a usage rate of 79.8% at team centre bounces, he is expected to be used at a strong level again in 2022.
Merrett has been extremely durable of his career, he has played in 98.5% of games since the start of the 2016 H&A season.
He is arguably appropriately priced to begin the 2022 season, ownership may only be light at Round 1.
Darcy Parish ($885K MID) was finally released into the midfield last season, injuries did provide an opportunity and he delivered in a big way averaging 106.2pts from 23 games.
He scored 100pts or more in 56.5% of games for the season and 120pts or more in 34.8% of games.
Despite the return of several mids to full health in 2022 Parish is expected to maintain a strong role through the middle of the ground, other adjustments will likely be made to accommodate his role.
Parish has been quite durable over his career, his ceiling games in 2022 were certainly noteworthy and aligned to his midfield role.
Ownership could be light at Round 1 with many looking at value options at a lower salary.
Jye Caldwell ($488K MID) had his first year at Essendon interrupted severely by injury, he scored 104pts in Round 1 and managed just 3 games which included a return in the Elimination Final against the Bulldogs.
He was expected to see a decent amount of midfield usage in 2021, that should be the same for the 2022 season.
His starting salary is extremely appealing, he has an opportunity to provide a decent ROI.
Ownership could be moderate to strong at Round 1.
At the age of 23 to begin the season Sam Draper ($481K RUCK) is starting to enter a period where he should see strong development at the ruck position, he averaged 62.2pts from 13 games in 2021.
He scored a season high of 121pts in the Elimination Final against the Bulldogs in wet conditions, he recorded 44 hit outs against a Tim English/Lewis Young ruck combo.
Draper is a speculative pick to begin the season which does elevate risk, however based on his role as the No.1 ruck at the Bombers there is certainly scoring upside potential.
Expect light ownership in Round 1.
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2021 AFL Draft
13. Ben Hobbs (Essendon) Fantasy
46. Alastair Lord (Essendon) Fantasy
50. Garrett McDonagh (Essendon) Fantasy
Don’t Forget About
Jordan Ridley ($671K DEF) averaged 79.9pts from 22 games in 2021, this included an average of 108.3pts from his opening 4 games of the season.
He was consigned to defensive match-ups out of team necessity, his scoring was limited as a result late in the year.
The Bombers will likely make a conscious effort for Ridley to play off an opponent in 2022, the recruitment of Jake Kelly could enhance that opportunity.
There is upside scoring potential for Ridley at his starting price, expect moderate ownership to begin the year.
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2022 FANTASY RESOURCES