Is this the year? Three SuperCoach stars in waiting
THE first bounce of the 2020 AFL season is five weeks away and with practice matches on the horizon, anticipation is high surrounding many players in our sides.
Some players are locked and loaded regardless of their performances in the Marsh Community Series, which begins on February 20.
However, there are some that always require a close eye to be kept on them, many of which fall under the dreaded tag of "breakout contender".
Let's be honest, everyone has been burnt over the journey by a breakout contender they fell in love with through February/March, only to be left stranded with an underperforming mid-pricer and an increasingly nagging headache by Round 6.
Gun and rookies, they say. Coaches know that's the tried and true formula for success in SuperCoach, but let's indulge for just a second.
Let's embrace that disruptive voice in our SuperCoach heads that frequently whispers "go on, pick him, he's primed for a breakout season".
The team at Doctor SuperCoach have listened to that voice and have come up with a few names to give coaches something to think about leading into the practice matches. We're not saying lock them in, but the temptation for these players is certainly there.
HUGH GREENWOOD $463,100 FWD/MID
Greenwood finds himself at the Gold Coast Suns in season 2020 and he, along with a large number of SuperCoaches, will be hoping this fresh start can provide him with some much sought-after midfield time.
The big-bodied Greenwood often found himself spending time up forward at Adelaide given the Crows' midfield depth, but when he did receive strong minutes through the middle he showed exactly what he is capable of.
Huge tackle numbers (a career average of 6.5), a natural around the clearance (4.4) and a thirst for the contest (winning 67 per cent of his possessions in contested fashion) - this man could thrive with more exposure around the ball.
A latecomer to the game, in the 27-year-old's three seasons at AFL level he has averaged 84.6, 86 and 85.3 SuperCoach points, pricing him at $463K this season. Last season Greenwood managed just 72 per cent time-on-ground.
In what looks to be a difficult forward line this year to find reliable premiums, Greenwood may only need to find another 7-9 points per game to be a keeper. If the signs through pre-season suggest he will be one of the key bodies in the guts at the Suns, with increased game time to boot, this boost will loom increasingly likely.
TIM ENGLISH $448,400 RUCK
It is hard to gather thoughts about any other ruckman outside of the tried and true Grundy/Gawn combination, but let's look into this one further.
Yes, Grundy is a lock - undoubtedly. But, as of writing this article, big Maxy is in the rehab room aiming to be fully fit by March following a minor knee concern, so it's only fair to ponder over some possible replacements. Enter Tim English.
The Bulldogs ruckman has long been touted as a future star, but the rumblings throughout preseason at the kennel suggest the mobile big man is about to arrive.
An ability to take it to the next level should not be questioned, given English has already proved capable enough to enjoy a 19-point rise from 2018 to 2019. The real question is, what average is required to justify picking English at a smidgen under $450K?
Can English deliver mid-90s? Three figures? Is he a stepping stone to Gawn or does he have the potential to command a premium spot for much of the season?
Thankfully there is time - a number of weeks and a couple of practice games - to evaluate his potential. With an ever-improving Doggies midfield surrounding him, English's hitout-to-advantage numbers should also improve in season 2020.
CALLUM MILLS $444,100 DEF
Every preseason there is a familiar conversation - could this be the year Mills breaks out into premium status? Season averages of 77.2, 73.3, 79 and 81.8 across his four AFL seasons have put the highly rated Swan constantly in the mix of breakout contenders.
Mills has developed into a reliable member of the Sydney defence, capable of intercepting and rebounding as well as shutting down opponents, but if he's going to rise to premium company, coaches will need to see him transition a role in the Swans the midfield.
The highly-touted 22-year-old was drafted as an elite midfielder but due to the Swans plethora of midfield stocks, he has been made to ply his trade elsewhere. But it is widely thought Mills will inevitably make his name as a top flight midfielder. So is 2020 the year?
Zak Jones has left the club, Josh Kennedy is a year older, the likes of now-retired duo Kieren Jack and Jarrad McVeigh haven't been a key part of the midfield for some time now. If you're pondering the idea of a mid-priced option in your backline, it's well worth keeping a close eye on Mills' pre-season games.
As such a prolific and impressive junior, there is still hope that one day coaches will talk about Mills as one of the best scorers in the game. But to start coaches off on that path, they will need to see that average of 81.8 signification rise this season.