KFC SuperCoach 2022: The Phantom’s best mid-price options and value picks

Mitch McGovern. Matt Rowell. Will Brodie. James Sicily. The mid-price value is tempting in KFC SuperCoach. The Phantom’s verdict on who to pick – and avoid.

Welcome to the The Phantom’s KFC SuperCoach mid-pricer guide.

I know you are excited to be here – everybody loves a bargain.

And there are plenty of them around in 2022 - especially in the forward line.

But the key, as it is every year, however, is picking the right ones.

Here are all the numbers and my final verdict on all the mid-price candidates in every position.

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KFC SuperCoach 2022: Mid-price forwards
KFC SuperCoach 2022: Mid-price forwards

FORWARDS

THE TOP PRICE

Jordan De Goey (Coll) $463,500

2021 Ave: 85.2

AAMI Series score: 74

De Goey is back in the fold at the Magpies, and training predominantly with the midfield group, so he has to again re-enter the KFC SuperCoach conversation. It’s now easy to forget he posted seven KFC SuperCoach tons and averaged 110 points in the final nine matches of last year, as he finally made his mark in the Collingwood midfield. His centre bounce numbers went up and De Goey tallied 25 disposals or more in all but one game in the run home. But, after starting the year inside-50, and recording an injury-affected four-point score in Round 5, the 25-year-old is priced at his 2021 season average of 85.

Phantom’s post-AAMI Series verdict: A broken rib in February stalled his return by he did feature in the AAMI Series, splitting his time between the midfield and forward line. Coach Craig McRae was happy with De Goey just getting through, so expect his onball role to increase over the opening month. In the role he played last season, De Goey is a top-six KFC SuperCoach forward every day of the week. But I’m waiting just to be sure.

Tarryn Thomas (NM) $459,300

2021 Ave: 84.4

AAMI Series score: 70

The skilful Roo is another who produced a big second half of 2021, on the back of an increased midfield role. In his third season in the competition, Thomas was part of North Melbourne’s centre bounce rotation just a quarter of the time in the opening month. He averaged 14 disposals and 58 points, and kicked five goals. But as the year went on, that increased as David Noble looked to fill the on-ball void left by Ben Cunnington and Jed Anderson at different times. In the last five matches of the year, Thomas was used at almost half of North’s centre bounces. He averaged 22 disposals, 9 contested possessions, five tackles and 109 points, while also booting seven goals.

Phantom’s post-AAMI Series verdict: Given his mix of attributes, Thomas is a three-figure man in KFC SuperCoach as a midfielder. Attended 13 centre bounces in the AAMI Series – only Luke Davies-Uniacke and Jy Simpkin featured more at the restart of play for North – in another big tick for his role in 2022. Can you pick him over Zak Butters?

PREMIUM PICKS: ULTIMATE GUIDE TO THE TOP-PRICE STARS

ROOKIE RANKINGS: BEST SUPERCOACH CHEAPIES IN EVERY POSITION

Isaac Heeney says he’s ready for the new role in 2022. Picture: Phil Hillyard
Isaac Heeney says he’s ready for the new role in 2022. Picture: Phil Hillyard

Isaac Heeney (Syd) $454,500

2021 Ave: 83.5

AAMI Series score: 113

“The body is feeling amazing. I have had a full pre-season and a bit of a change of role with me jumping into the midfield,” Isaac Heeney told News Corp on February 8. Hello, darkness, my old friend. We know an injury-free Isaac Heeney, who plays predominantly as a midfielder, is a top-three KFC SuperCoach forward. We knew that in 2017, his third year in the competition, when he spent 65 per cent of game-time in the midfield and averaged 98 points per game. The following season, he posted nine KFC SuperCoach tons in the first 12 matches to average 107 to the bye. Even last year, as Champion Data’s Fantasy Freako tells me, Heeney’s two highest scores – 128 and 135 – came on the only two occasions he spent more than 50 per cent of the match playing as a midfielder.

Phantom’s post-AAMI Series verdict: Swans CEO Tom Harley says it will be “significant” midfield minutes, even coach John Longmire said it could be a 70/30 midfield-forward split for Heeney. But with Lance Franklin missing, Heeney started inside-50 against the Kangaroos in the AAMI Series. He still reached three figures, on the back of four goals, but this all sounds too familiar. I do think his midfield time will actually increase this year, but he’s one I’m happy to wait on, especially with so much value beneath him.

Zak Butters (Port) $443,600

2021 Ave: 81.5

AAMI Series score: 114

There’s a theme here. Butters, too, has been earmarked to spend more time in Port Adelaide’s engine room in 2021. And with his speed, skill, attack on the ball and ability forward of centre, he instantly makes Ken Hinkley’s midfield more dangerous. After an injury-interrupted campaign, Butters is fit and has attacked pre-season training with the aim of joining the Power’s on-ball group full-time. And it’s almost certainly set to result in a KFC SuperCoach scoring spike. In his second season in the competition in 2020, Butters spent just seven per cent of his time in the midfield. But given his impact-per-possession as a forward, he averaged 88 points per game. That figure increase to over 40 per cent in the opening month of 2021, resulting in scores of 98, 163, 55 and 96 in a half against the Tigers before injury struck. He had surgery on an ankle syndesmosis injury, before learning he had also suffered nerve damage in his knee – and it was tough going after that.

Phantom’s post-AAMI Series verdict: Butters posted scores of 168 and 114 in Port Adelaide’s pre-season matches to confirm his place as a KFC SuperCoach premium-in-waiting.

Errol Gulden scored consecutive KFC SuperCoach tons to start his career. Picture: Phil Hillyard
Errol Gulden scored consecutive KFC SuperCoach tons to start his career. Picture: Phil Hillyard

THE BREAKOUT

Errol Gulden (Syd) $415,600

2021 Ave: 76

AAMI Series score: 91

The young Swan’s first two games at AFL level will go down in KFC SuperCoach folklore. Gulden had 21 disposals, three goals, three goal assists and 139 points on debut against the Lions in Round 1, before following it up with 22 disposals, 11 score involvements and 136 points week later. The teenager gradually fell away after that, before spending time on the sidelines with a stress reaction in his foot. But he returned late in the year and posted another ton against the Dockers in Round 19. Again, there was no huge possession tally – this time 23. It’s what Gulden does with the ball, and where he wins it, that counts. In his first year, the skilful left-footer rated elite for inside 50s, effective kicks, intercept possessions and goal assists as a forward. And it’s been that way for a while – Gulden has always been what some call a Champion Data player. He posted scores of 168, 131 and 105 in his three NAB League games in his draft year and went 245, 177 and 149 at the national under-16 carnival the previous season.

Phantom’s post-AAMI Series verdict:Second-year breakouts are rare but so are back-to-back 130s to start your career. This is the guy I really want to pick. But, at this stage, there looks to be too much value around him. More great signs in the pre-season matches, but I’m still in the same position.

Tom Powell (NM) $368,500

2021 Ave: 67.7

AAMI Series score: 38

In his fourth AFL game, Powell tallied 19 disposals, eight tackles and 101 KFC SuperCoach points. In his sixth, he recorded a season-high 25 disposals, 10 contested possessions, five intercepts and 96 points. It was 97 points, on the back of 23 disposals and six tackles, a week later. To those who were across his junior career, those numbers came as no surprise. The ball magnet averaged 33 disposals, 15 contested possessions, 10 score involvements, eight clearances and 154 points in the SANFL under-18s in 2020, passing three figures in every one of his 15 matches and recording two KFC SuperCoach double tons. But after 13 games, a groin injury ended his season as North Melbourne took a cautious approach.

Phantom’s post-AAMI Series verdict: Despite the Roos’ increasing midfield depth, he’ll prominently at times after another pre-season. But will it be enough to start him in KFC SuperCoach? He might be one for next year.

THE VALUE

Jade Gresham (StK) $299,000

2021 Ave: 68.7

AAMI Series score: 77

After gradually moving into the midfield, the Gresham breakout has been on for a while now. But, unfortunately, injury just keeps getting in the way. His body is still a question mark, but his potential in KFC SuperCoach as a full-time midfielder is undeniable. Gresham, who was an elite scorer as a junior, tallied a combined 47 disposals, 17 inside 50s and 14 clearances in the opening two rounds of last season before injury struck in Round 3. The talented Saint is priced at 55 for 2022. At his fully-fit best, he doubles that. Even if he’s not at his best, but out on the park, it’s hard to see him dropping below 80.

Phantom’s post-AAMI Series verdict: The value is undeniable and long-time listeners will know I like him. But despite some impressive pre-season form, there are cheaper on-field options who look safer.

Cam Rayner at Lions training over summer. Picture: Josh Woning
Cam Rayner at Lions training over summer. Picture: Josh Woning

Cam Rayner (Bris) $278,600

2021 Ave: DNP

AAMI Series score: Dnp

Just as he looked ready to take another step forward in the midfield, after averaging 73 points and posting two KFC SuperCoach tons in the final three rounds of 2020, Rayner tore his ACL and missed the entire 2021 season. But, 12 months on, it might be on again. The 22-year-old has impressed in recent match simulation through the middle, showing of the power and explosiveness that saw the Lions take him with pick 1 in the 2017 draft.

Phantom’s post-AAMI Series verdict: I don’t think Rayner will suddenly leap into KFC SuperCoach premium territory after a year out, but with more midfield stints, he should, at least, eclipse the 73-point average, which will see him make early cash. Don’t worry too much about the 41-point score in the practice match. Not much separating Rayner and Mitch McGovern in my view.

Stephen Coniglio (GWS) $261,300

2021 Ave: 60

AAMI Series score: 112

He’s been dropped, played forward and just flat-out struggled to win the ball over the past two years. But the fact is Coniglio averaged 108, 101 and 98 in the three years before an injury-ravaged 2021. And his average last season isn’t even as bad as it looks, with scores of 26 and 14 coming in injury-affected games.

Phantom’s post-AAMI Series verdict: Lock it up.

Mitch McGovern (Carl) $256,000

2021 Ave: 59

AAMI Series score: 100

The forward-turned-defender must be considered in KFC SuperCoach. Don’t worry, I tried hard not to be impressed, either, but it was hard not to be in Carlton’s AAMI Series win. McGovern lined up behind the ball, just as he’s done for most of the pre-season, and proved very hard to get past. The 27-year-old took a game-high six intercept marks and had 19 disposals, on his way to 100 KFC SuperCoach points. When he wasn’t marking it back off the opposition, he was spoiling, and he played on with his two kick-ins.

Phantom’s post-AAMI Series verdict: The role is a KFC SuperCoach-friendly one – and McGovern showed he can play it. At this stage, I’m picking Will Brodie instead, but plenty of value here and not a lot to lose, if McGovern stays on the park.

KFC SuperCoach 2022: Mid-price rucks
KFC SuperCoach 2022: Mid-price rucks

RUCKS

Let’s get straight to the point, with the rookie-priced Braydon Preuss suspended for Round 1, you’re probably going with a set-and-forget premium combination in the ruck.

But there are a few contenders in the mid-price bracket ($250-$500k) who could make a significant jump in 2022.

You just have to ask yourself, will it be big enough to challenge the big few?

Let’s see.

Tim English aside, you will find him here.

Peter Ladhams (Syd) $415,100, Fwd

2021 Ave: 76.3

AAMI Series score:Dnp

Pending fitness, Sydney coach John Longmire has forecast that Tom Hickey and Ladhams will often play in the same side in 2022. And with Hickey’s performance as the No. 1 man last year, and Ladhams’ ability to play as a forward, that should work for the Swans. But it’s Ladhams getting his chance as the lead ruckman that KFC SuperCoaches want to see. The 24-year-old averaged 76 points in 15 games for the Power last year but he posted scores of 67, 95, 130 and 93 in the four games he played without Scott Lycett. It was a similar story when Port Adelaide’s No. 1 ruckman, Lycett, was hit with injury in 2020. If you include Lycett’s return game, when he played 69 per cent game-time against the Tigers, Ladhams recorded scores of 80, 106, 45, 123 and 138. He scored 89 alongside Lycett a week later, but was then dropped.

Phantom’s post-AAMI Series verdict: Ladhams could develop into a premium KFC SuperCoach ruckman with more opportunity but, after he played in the reserves trial, I’m not sure when that comes.

Peter Ladhams is now a Swan, but he is likely to be behind Tom Hickey in the ruck queue. Picture: Sarah Reed
Peter Ladhams is now a Swan, but he is likely to be behind Tom Hickey in the ruck queue. Picture: Sarah Reed

Sam Draper (Ess) $396,400

2021 Ave: 72.8

AAMI Series score: 74

After averaging 131 points in the VFL in 2019, Draper finally got his chance at the top level last season. He just battled injury last year. The 23-year-old missed three months after suffering a syndesmosis injury in Round 2, but he returned with a bang, tallying 15 disposals, nine hitouts-to-advantage, nine clearances, six intercept marks and 126 points against the Hawks. He posted two other KFC SuperCoach tons in the run home, but also six scores of less than 70. Is this the year Draper, who scored 122 in just his fourth career-game in 2020 after averaging 131 at VFL the previous year, produces big score consistently?

Phantom’s post-AAMI Series verdict: If he does, then he could be the one to challenge the big few. But I’m tipping maybe it’s more the year after.

Can Sam Draper make the jump this year? Fingers crossed! Picture: David Crosling
Can Sam Draper make the jump this year? Fingers crossed! Picture: David Crosling

Luke Jackson (Melb) $389,800, Fwd

2021 Ave: 71.6

AAMI Series score: 53

The No. 3 pick from the 2019 draft outscored Max Gawn in the grand final, after he finished with 113 points, on the back of 13 disposals, nine score involvements and six hitouts-to-advantage. Gawn, who scored 95 points of his own, attended 48 ruck contests and Jackson 37. It was a similar story against the Suns in Round 20, with the young star (141) eclipsing his skipper (138) again. On that day, the pair booted six goals between them, with Jackson kicking four. All up, it was five KFC SuperCoach tons in the home-and-away rounds for the 20-year-old, who added 14 points to his average.

Phantom’s post-AAMI Series verdict: Heading into his third season, there is little doubt Jackson takes another step forward, as he continues to work with Gawn to devastating effect on opposition sides. But the fact is, Gawn is still there. The dual-position status has kept him in the KFC SuperCoach conversation but it’s not enough.

Jarrod Witts (GC) $380,300

2021 Ave: 87.3

AAMI Series score: 97

After missing all-but three rounds of 2021 with an ACL injury, Witts is priced at an average of 70. He scored more than that (72) in a half of footy before hurting his knee against the Crows in Round 3 last year. In the previous four seasons, in which Witts missed just four games – all of them in 2017 – he averaged 93, 100, 89 and 94. But it won’t even be 12 months since the injury by the time Round 1 rolls around and the Suns have also recruited Mabior Chol from the Tigers.

Phantom’s post-AAMI Series verdict:Scored 97 in half a game in the AAMI Series and coach Stuart Dew said they will “keep stepping him up” after having to “hold him back a bit” over summer.In a perfect world, Witts averages 95 from the get-go and makes quick cash, getting you up to a premium ruck who has lost a bit of value. That now appears a strong possibility. He’s the one, if you’re looking for value in the ruck.

KFC SuperCoach 2022: Mid-price midfielders
KFC SuperCoach 2022: Mid-price midfielders

MIDFIELDERS

THE TOP PRICE

Scott Pendlebury (Coll) $492,300

2021 Ave: 90

AAMI Series score: 102

One of the big changes to KFC SuperCoach this year is the integration of Champion Data’s in-season position changes. It means Pendlebury, who has been training with the defenders and taking kick-ins at Collingwood training, could be a dual-position defender-midfielder by Round 6. The Magpies confirmed the skipper will feature across half-back in 2022, as the club looks expose its emerging group of midfielders. And, with the way Pendlebury makes decisions under pressure and uses the ball, it’s a role he could thrive in. The KFC SuperCoach Hall-of-Famer may not trouble the top-eight in the midfield any more, but it could be a different story in defence, if the change is a substantial one.

Phantom’s post-AAMI Series verdict: Remember what Jack Ziebell did last year? And Pendlebury appears to fit the role even better. Starting with him could save you a trade if the time comes, but I’m still not sure if it’s worth it in a crowded midfield pool. Plan with his potential defender status in mind through the early part of the year, though.

Adam Cerra (Carl) $490,200

2021 Ave: 90

AAMI Series score: 123

If you take out the injury-affected 15 against the Crows in Round 5, Cerra averaged 94 for the year – a four point jump on an impressive third season in the competition in 2020. The 22-year-old posted a career-high 147 in Round 20 and made a blistering start to the year with three scores of 120 or more in the opening four matches. And he was in and out of the centre bounce mix at the Dockers – something that could change at the Blues. Skipper Patrick Cripps has praised Cerra’s work so far on the track and it’s likely we’ll see Michael Voss deploy his new recruit at the coal face from the outset. So is this the year Cerra puts up big numbers consistently and cracks three figures? Maybe.

Phantom’s post-AAMI Series verdict:But is this the year he gives the top-10 midfielders a nudge? It’s still hard to be sure, despite the impressive pre-season, and that’s why you’d be picking him at that price. Could be a great get in the draft format, either way, though.

Adam Cerra has made an impact at the Blues already. Picture: Michael Willson/AFL Photos
Adam Cerra has made an impact at the Blues already. Picture: Michael Willson/AFL Photos

Matt Crouch (Adel) $482,000

2021 Ave: DNP

AAMI Series score: 83

The Adelaide ball-magnet is priced at an average of less than 90. Across his past 14 matches, Crouch averages 115. In his past six, he posted scores of 132, 133, 162, 148, 96 and 105. The only problem is those games were in 2020, with the 26-year-old missing the entire 2021 season with a persistent groin issue. He played one SANFL game before having more surgery in November. But he’s back in full training and, as he put it in early February, “feeling fit and ready to go”. So is there really a problem at all?

Phantom’s post-AAMI Series verdict:He’s fit and firing and will need to step up again in the absence of Rory Laird early in the year.Like Cerra, you would be picking Crouch as a underpriced premium keeper – and the star Crow has proven he’s more than capable of being one. The pre-season of Matt Rowell has made this selection a little more tricky, though.

Elliot Yeo (WC) $470,800

2021 Ave: 86.5

AAMI Series score: Dnp

Like Crouch, Yeo is genuine A-grader, who comes with a discounted price tag. The West Coast midfielder averaged 108 in his last two full seasons in 2018 and 2019. But the difference is Yeo has been plagued by injury in the last two years and put up inconsistent numbers either side of extended lay-offs. Yeo may have posted 10 KFC SuperCoach tons in his 22 games since 2019, but he also failed to score 71 on seven occasions as he recorded back-to-back career-lows for kicking efficiency. In good news, however, despite being on a modified pre-season program, like a number of Eagles veterans, he’s on track for Round 1.

Phantom’s post-AAMI Series verdict: No Yeo.

Patrick Cripps (Carl) $454,800

2021 Ave: 83.6

AAMI Series score: 157

Patrick Cripps hasn’t started the season at less than $500k since his breakout year of 2015, when he averaged 96 points per game as a $211k rookie-price player. That seems a KFC SuperCoach lifetime ago, after the Blues skipper passed three figures just twice in 20 games last season. Cripps ranked 61st for disposals per game, but fourth for clangers, as his mistakes hurt him in KFC SuperCoach like never before, given his overall production was down.

Phantom’s post-AAMI Series verdict: Proved many, me included, wrong over the past month – he’s still a big KFC SuperCoach threat. Cripps moved better than he has in the past two years against the Demons in the AAMI Series, on his way to 157 points, on the back of 30 disposals, eight tackles and four goals. He’s had a “flawless” pre-season and is underpriced on what he’s achieved previously. But is he a top-eight chance? That’s the question you need to ask yourself.

THE BREAKOUT

Luke Davies-Uniacke (NM) $462,100

2021 Ave: 85

AAMI Series score: 110

After battling groin and shoulder injury in his first three seasons, the 188cm midfielder showed off his explosiveness, ball-winning ability and game-breaking traits in 20 senior matches in 2021. It resulted in five KFC SuperCoach tons, up from just two in his first 30 appearances at the top level. Davies-Uniacke averaged 22 disposals last season and had 38 in a huge performance against the Tigers late in the year. From Round 14 onwards, he averaged 95 KFC SuperCoach points. But the key to the fourth-year Kangaroo taking another step in 2022 could be where he wins the ball. In that career-best showing against Richmond, 29 of Davies-Uniacke’s possessions were uncontested. Across the year, 40.7 per cent of his possession was won in a contest – a percentage that rated just average for a midfielder. In his draft year, the now 22-year-old recorded a contested-possession rate of 48.3 per cent. He then won 59.6 per cent of his footy in a contest in his first VFL season for North Melbourne in 2018. It was a similar story in four reserves games a year later – 52 per cent.

Phantom’s post-AAMI Series verdict: No change in my thoughts here. With a consistent year under his belt, Davies-Uniacke could win more of the ball in 2022 – and more of it in contest, resulting in another KFC SuperCoach spike, one that could reach 105.

Noah Anderson is flying under the radar at the Suns. Picture: Chris Hyde/Getty Images
Noah Anderson is flying under the radar at the Suns. Picture: Chris Hyde/Getty Images

Noah Anderson (GC) $455,000

2021 Ave: 83.6

AAMI Series score: 101

Fellow 2019 draftee Caleb Serong is getting plenty of KFC SuperCoach attention after a significant spike, and strong finish, in his second season. But Anderson wasn’t far behind. He added seven points to his KFC SuperCoach average in 2021 after tallying more disposals (+6), uncontested possessions (+4.9), clearances (+2) and marks (+1.4) per game. And the classy right-footer, who posted two KFC SuperCoach double-tons and averaged 143 points alongside Matt Rowell in the NAB League in his draft year, should only get more midfield responsibility in 2022.

Phantom’s post-AAMI Series verdict: He’ll be a KFC SuperCoach premium at some point, but the price is a little too awkward to start him in 2022.

Caleb Serong (Freo) $451,000

2021 Ave: 83

AAMI Series score: 100

Often last season – his second in the competition – Serong was used as a tagger by coach Justin Longmuir, who described the role as the 20-year-old earning his midfield stripes. But when he was given more freedom to win his own ball, he thrived. Serong, who averaged 130 points for Vic Country at the national carnival in draft year, tallied 26 disposals or more in seven matches last season and won at least 30 in each of the final three rounds. In that huge three-game stretch to finish 2021, Serong, averaged 32 disposals, 10 contested possessions, seven clearances and 118 KFC SuperCoach points. And his graduation to full-time ball-winner is likely to be fast-tracked with the departure of Cerra - as long as he’s able to increase his time-on-ground from 74 per cent.

Phantom’s post-AAMI Series verdict: He’s been in and out of my side all pre-season – I do really want to pick him. But Jarrod Berry and Matt Rowell are a lot cheaper and their likely cash generation could justify their selection alone. That might not be the same for Serong.

Tom Green (GWS) $430,000

2021 Ave: 79

AAMI Series score: 84

Dropped after one round. Played forward, or sat on the bench for long periods, when he was picked. Sent back to the VFL to tally 41 disposals and 189 points in June. It was an interesting year for Green. But his best was still brilliant for a 20-year-old in his second season in the competition. The tall midfielder had at least 22 disposals and 10 contested possessions in nine games to post KFC SuperCoach scores of 88, 111, 104, 71, 123, 98, 92, 70 and 119. And Green, who is still the Champion Data contested possession record holder at junior level, spent more than 76 per cent of time on the field in just two of those matches.

Phantom’s post-AAMI Series verdict: I’ve admitted I went too early on Green last year but I’m back on board for a third-year breakout. Won’t start him, but will enjoy watching.

Harry Schoenberg has worked hard on his fitness over summer. Picture: Sarah Reed
Harry Schoenberg has worked hard on his fitness over summer. Picture: Sarah Reed

Harry Schoenberg (Adel) $390,200

2021 Ave: 72

AAMI Series score: 73

He’s worked hard on his fitness over summer in a bid to play a bigger midfielder role but Schoenberg’s growth as an on-baller started in the second-half of last season. The 20-year-old averaged 22 disposals from Round 15 onwards after his centre bounce attendance increased by 15 per cent post-bye. The numbers are even more impressive given he played 72 per cent game-time or less in five of those nine matches. Schoenberg, who averaged 128 points at junior level, posted three consecutive 90-point scores between Rounds 18 and 20, before breaking through for the second KFC SuperCoach ton of his career in the final game of the season. The 115-point score, on the back of 24 disposals, 10 contested possessions, 10 score involvements, eight tackles and six clearances, again, proved he has multiple scoring avenues.

Phantom’s post-AAMI Series verdict: Next step? Yes, I think so. Full-blown breakout in KFC SuperCoach? I’m not sure yet, he needs to tidy up his kicking first.

THE VALUE

Jarrod Berry (Bris) $268,500

2021 Ave: 49.3

AAMI Series score: 82

He may have played 11 games, but Berry’s 2021 season was hampered by injury - first a hamstring, followed by a persistent groin issue and then a strained calf. And when he was out there, the 23-year-old spent plenty of time forward. But he posted six KFC SuperCoach scores of 120 or more in 15 games in 2020 - his fourth season in the competition - and will be priced at a 49-point average next year.

Phantom’s post-AAMI Series verdict: Scored a huge 158 points in the practice match, resulting in a big ownership spike. Then backed it up with a solid showing against the Bulldogs to well-and-truly confirm his place as one of the best value picks of 2022.

Jye Caldwell (Ess) $266,700

2021 Ave: 70

AAMI Series score: 111

The young midfielder showed plenty of promise in his first pre-season at the Bombers, and posted scores of 74 and 66 in his first two senior games for the club. But he played just 42 per cent of that second match, after being struck down by another hamstring injury, which wiped out the rest of the minor round. Caldwell was straight back in for the elimination final despite having no competitive footy under his belt, tallying 14 disposals, six contested possessions and 63 points in 70 per cent game-time. The midfield role is there, unlike it was when he averaged 65 in nine games at the Giants in his second season of 2020.

Phantom’s post-AAMI Series verdict:Caldwellspent plenty of time forward in the practice match but then, with Dylan Shiel sitting out, he tallied 24 disposals and 111 points in the AAMI Series. What will it be in Round 1? That’s the concern putting me off at this point – I’d go with Berry instead.

Matt Rowell (GC) $342,900

2021 Ave: 63

AAMI Series score: 121

Rowell is flying on the track, and has starred during the Suns’ match sim. Most importantly, he looks set to complete a full pre-season - something he couldn’t do last summer. After averaging an extraordinary 124 points in the opening four games of his career in 2020, we raved about Rowell at $495k ahead of Round 1 last year. So $342k could be a steal, if he can get back to his best.

Phantom’s post-AAMI Series verdict: The sight of the Gold Coast midfielder running around freely and without layers of strapping in the AAMI Series was a sight to behold. His 27-disposal, 18-contested possession, 124-point performance was even better. I’ve made room. At the price, unlike last year, Rowell doesn’t need to be a keeper. But I’m tipping he will go close.

Jordan Clark is set for more opportunity at the Dockers. Picture: Justin Benson-Cooper/The West Australian
Jordan Clark is set for more opportunity at the Dockers. Picture: Justin Benson-Cooper/The West Australian

Jordan Clark (Freo) $338,200

2021 Ave: 62

AAMI Series score: 103

Opportunity is the key word for Clark, because there have been glimpses. The 20-year-old speedster averaged 73 in the opening three rounds of last year, justifying his $240k price tag before being dropped in Round 5, recalled as the sub in Round 6 and then playing just three more senior games for the year. Clark averaged 22 disposals and 111 points in his five VFL games, though, recording huge KFC SuperCoach tallies of 165 and 135. The Dockers are set to use him across half-back and on a wing next year, and, unlike over the past two seasons, he’s likely to get a consistent run at it.

Phantom’s post-AAMI Series verdict: Clark was terrific in the AAMI Series clash with the Eagles, providing plenty of run and finishing with 24 disposals. Almost a lock as a mid-price defender but, sadly, he’s a midfielder-only.

THINK TWICE

Dylan Shiel (Ess) $361,100

2021 Ave: Dnp

AAMI Series score: Dnp

In his first two seasons at the Bombers, Shiel averaged 97 and 102 KFC SuperCoach points respectively. But, after playing just seven games last year, Shiel is priced at an average of less than 70. There’s no denying the value in the numbers, but, at $361k, with the rise of Darcy Parish and the return of Jye Caldwell and Andrew McGrath, where will Shiel get you?

Phantom’s post-AAMI Series verdict: Not where you want to go, I don’t think. Pick Rowell or go down to Berry instead.

KFC SuperCoach 2022: The best mid-pricers in defence
KFC SuperCoach 2022: The best mid-pricers in defence

DEFENDERS
THE TOP PRICE

Jack Sinclair (StK) $469,700

2021 Ave: 86.3

AAMI Series score: 78

Sinclair’s transformation into a running defender really flew under the radar of KFC SuperCoaches. Coach Brett Ratten challenged the 26-year-old to adapt to a position in defence he had never played ahead of his seventh season. Sinclair was inconsistent to start, averaging 18 disposals and 69 points in the first six rounds. But from that point, he really found his groove, finishing the year with career-highs for disposals, marks, intercepts, metres gained, uncontested possessions and KFC SuperCoach points, and a second-place finish in the Saints’ best-and-fairest. Sinclair, who rated elite for contested possessions, score assists and pressure acts as a defender, averaged 93 points from Round 7 onwards and finished the year with four scores of 96 or more.

Phantom’s post-AAMI Series verdict: An intriguing option. At the price, are you better off spending a little more on a proven star? Probably. But Sinclair might surprise in 2022, and could prove a steal in KFC SuperCoach Draft.

Changkuoth Jiath (Haw) $459,300

2021 Ave: 84.4

AAMI Series score: Dnp

It was a breakout year for the young Hawk, who exploded onto the KFC SuperCoach scene in the opening month of 2021. Jiath, who started the year at $266k, posted three KFC SuperCoach tons in the opening four matches, prompting an avalanche of selections. The 22-year-old rated elite for intercept marks and total intercepts, but passed the 100-point mark in just two of his next 12 matches. There was the variation in his role, which saw him play more as a lockdown defender at times and opposition attention, as well as the injury that ended his season in Round 17. Jiath’s potential is obvious, especially if he can win more of the ball consistently, but there, again, might be a few things in his way in 2022. While there is still a bit to play out, the return of James Sicily and Will Day could force Jiath to play deeper this year.

Phantom’s post-AAMI Series verdict: Not to start with, especially after an injury-interrupted pre-season.

James Sicily is back for the Hawks. Picture: Photo: Gaye Gerard
James Sicily is back for the Hawks. Picture: Photo: Gaye Gerard

James Sicily (Haw) $448,100

2021 Ave: DNP

AAMI Series score: 87

Hawthorn coach Sam Mitchell said the returning star was ready to go in December, and his work in defence has been the highlight of the club’s recent match simulation. Given he averaged 108 in the opening 11 rounds of 2020, before tearing his ACL against the Eagles, Sicily, at that price, is a KFC SuperCoach lock playing as a defender. There was just some concern he may also be used forward, like he has at times in recent years and early in his career, given the rapidly-developing depth of Hawthorn’s backline, which will also be boosted by the return of Day in 2022.

Phantom’s post-AAMI Series verdict:Mitchell knows Sicily plays his best football in defence and all the evidence over the pre-season suggests he’ll play there in 2022. And, given his scoring power, maybe the odd cameo inside-50 won’t hurt that much. In my side.

THE BREAKOUT

Hayden Young (Fre) $418,400

2021 Ave: 76.9

AAMI Series score: 77

After recovering from an early-season injury, the attacking defender made an outstanding return – at all levels. Young posted KFC SuperCoach scores of 100 and 109 in the WAFL before finishing with 13 disposals and 54 points in his return to the senior side in Round 19. But it didn’t take long for the elite left-footer to make his mark, averaging 19 disposals, seven intercepts, seven marks and 98 KFC SuperCoach points in the final four games of the year. Young, who passed three figures in each of his 12 NAB League appearances in his draft year, on his way to a 129-point average, scored a KFC SuperCoach ton in games 10 and 13 at AFL level.

Phantom’s post-AAMI Series verdict:It’s an awkward price, but there is plenty of value here. Still fits under the ‘really wanted to pick but couldn’t fit him in’ category for me.

Lachie Ash (GWS) $413,400

2021 Ave: 75.9

AAMI Series score: 45

Two big KFC SuperCoach tons and five more scores of 80 or more saw the dashing defender average 87 points before the bye in just his second season in the competition. Ash averaged 22 disposals, seven marks, and five rebound-50s in the impressive stretch, as he helped fill the running void left by Lachie Whitfield’s pre-season injury. But things were a little different post-bye as Ash moved further up the ground to do a few defensive jobs in the midfield. And, after blanketing Bombers star Darcy Parish, like not many others could do at the time, it’s a role that looks likely to continue in 2022, with the neat-kicking right-footer training with the midfield group over summer.

Phantom’s post-AAMI Series verdict: Still not really sure where he will spend most of his time after the pre-season. I won’t be starting him.

Is it finally Hunter Clark’s time in KFC SuperCoach? Picture: Michael Klein
Is it finally Hunter Clark’s time in KFC SuperCoach? Picture: Michael Klein

Hunter Clark (StK) $401,100

2021 Ave: 73.7

AAMI Series score: 64

Is it finally Clark’s time? Yes, I’ve been saying the same thing for a while now, but he just continues to tease us with glimpses of his best. The young Saint, who is heading into his fifth season in 2022, posted four KFC SuperCoach tons in the opening seven rounds of last year. He was the Saints best midfielder in Round 1 against the Giants, tallying 23 disposals, 12 contested possessions, seven clearances, 112 points and close to no fumbles on a wet day. Despite that performance, he was in and out of the on-ball rotation over the next two weeks. Clark then recorded consecutive KFC SuperCoach tons playing behind the ball. He also had nine disposals playing forward against the Swans in Round 12, before that sickening collision with Crow David Mackay ended his year. So what’s it going to be, Ratts?

Phantom’s post-AAMI Series verdict:Do the Saints need Clark’s clean hands and class in the midfield? I think so. Brett Ratten might now think the same after Clark’s impressive first three quarters in the AAMI Series. Unfortunately, though, he hurt his shoulder in the final term.

Will Day (Haw) $345,700

2021 Ave: 79

AAMI Series score: Dnp

Like Sicily, Day’s return is a big boost for Mitchell and the Hawks. Day exploded out of the blocks with a 122-point performance in Round 1 last season, but hurt his ankle the following week and managed just five matches for the year. Before he injured it again later in the season, however, the skilful Day tallied another 112 KFC SuperCoach points, on the back of 29 disposals and 10 intercepts, against the Giants. In fact, if you take out the injury-affected score in Round 2 – which was 55 in 59 per cent game-time – Day’s average in four games last year was 85.

Phantom’s post-AAMI Series verdict: I was all over Day earlier in the pre-season but the Hawks still aren’t sure when he will be ready to play.

Heath Chapman (Fre) $275,200

2021 Ave: 56.2

AAMI Series score: 86

In his draft year, the attacking defender led the WAFL Colts for intercept marks, intercept possessions and spoils, while also rating elite for score involvements and posted a KFC SuperCoach ton in every one of his eight games, three of them in excess of 150. So, his 23-disposal, eight-mark, 86-point performance could come as no surprise for any one who watched him as a junior. Remember, he also scored 86 and 91 in his second and third games of AFL last year.

Phantom’s post-AAMI Series verdict: That AAMI Series performance, along with Keidean Coleman’s injury, has brought Chapman right into the KFC SuperCoach conversation. I rate him highly as a player, but there are a number of ball-winners in the Fremantle defence now, and that’s why I might wait and see first. I’m not against you doing it, though.

Keidean Coleman (Bris) $263,200, Fwd

2021 Ave: 48.4

AAMI Series score: 40

The great Gilbert Gardiner predicted the rise of Jiath last summer so, when he includes Coleman, the 23-game Lion, in his must-have starters for 2022, we have to, at least, listen. Coleman spent the early part of last season playing a role in the forward-half, before moving into defence, really making his mark late in the year. The 21-year-old finished with a career-high 90 KFC SuperCoach points, on the back of 14 disposals, six intercepts and six score involvements, in the qualifying final against the Demons. A week later, Coleman tallied another 15 disposals, eight intercepts and 77 points against the Bulldogs. But, in good news for KFC SuperCoaches, those scores are not factored into his 2022 starting price, only the 87-point display in Round 23 does.

Phantom’s post-AAMI Series verdict: Three-game average of 85 to finish the year, then an impressive start to the AAMI Series clash against the Bulldogs. But in a big blow to KFC SuperCoaches, the missing piece in defence hurt his hamstring in the second term and will miss up to 10 weeks.

George Hewett looks set to add to Carlton’s midfield depth in 2022. Picture: Dylan Burns/AFL Photos
George Hewett looks set to add to Carlton’s midfield depth in 2022. Picture: Dylan Burns/AFL Photos

THE VALUE

George Hewett (Carl) $399,000

2021 Ave: 73.3

AAMI Series score: 106

Hewett may have averaged just 73 points in his final year at the Swans – the lowest since his debut season of 2016 – as he played predominantly in defence. But new skipper Patrick Cripps says Hewett has come in and made a “big impact” in the midfield at the Blues. And, in his most-productive year numbers-wise, the 26-year-old averaged 88 points playing on-ball for Sydney in 2019.

Phantom’s post-AAMI Series verdict:Tallied 33 disposals, 10 contested possessions and 106 KFC SuperCoach through the midfield against the Demons – great numbers for a $399k defender. Might not have the ceiling as some but, as a permanent midfielder at the Blues, he’s a chance to push three figures. The extra $150k from going down from ‘premium’ defender has helped me.

Wayne Milera (Adel) $271,100

2021 Ave: Dnp

AAMI Series score: Dnp

A big finish to 2018 saw the classy Crow average 80 KFC SuperCoach points in his third season in the competition. He then averaged 95 in the opening month of 2019 before missing four matches through injury and failing to find consistency on return. And in the past two years, Milera has played just two matches. But he’s back and, although the Crows will be cautious, the 24-year-old is gunning for a Round 1 return, after impressing on a wing in recent match sim.

Phantom’s post-AAMI Series verdict: There’s value here, for sure. But, despite making a successful return through the SANFL trial game, the Crows are unlikely to rush Milera back into the senior team for Round 1.

Jake Bowey (Melb) $265,600

2021 Ave: 61

AAMI Series score: 87

When you have 19 disposals, five intercepts and 80 KFC SuperCoach points in your first final, before backing it up with 17 disposals - at 88 per cent efficiency - and 66 points in a grand final, and you’re only just above top-end rookie pricing, you’re on the watchlist. And that’s exactly what Bowey did in his debut season, which also featured an 84-point performance in just his second game.

Phantom’s post-AAMI Series verdict: Good kicking is good KFC SuperCoach, as Bowey again proved in the AAMI Series. But his 22 disposals came in a side missing Christian Salem, Steven May and Michael Hibberd. Still, given the current state of defender rookies, he’s a money-making D5 candidate.

Originally published as KFC SuperCoach 2022: The Phantom’s best mid-price options and value picks