It’s finally time to talk about the mighty Essendon Bombers!
In this article, we’ll dissect their list and try to find some draft-worthy players for our keeper leagues.
Tom Cutler (C)
I’m incredibly excited about the arrival of Tom Cutler at the Dons, not only as a player but as a fantasy prospect.
The 24-year-old wingman only played 3 games in 2019 for an 80.3 average. He was starved of opportunity at the Lions and needed to look elsewhere to cement a first-team spot.
Cutler had a career-best year in 2018 which saw him play 18 games for an 84.7 average which included 5 tonnes and a massive 28 touch, 142 point game against Carlton.
Fitness was his major issue in 2019 and when he actually got on the park in the NEAFL he played 8 games for a 100 point average which included three scores in the 120’s.
What I love about Cutler is that he has an incredibly high ceiling for an outside ball winner and on his day he can be a fantasy match-winner.
I think he slots nicely onto a wing at Essendon and provides them more speed and drive.
With a lot of injuries at Essendon this pre-season, Cutler is rock hard fit and ready to stake his place in their side for a big season.
Conor McKenna (B)
The Irishman came home like a freight train in 2019.
McKenna averaged 90.5 points in his last four games, including his first fantasy tonne and career PB of 116 against Collingwood in Round 23.
That night he registered 27 kicks, 8 handballs and 5 marks.
His kicking and explosive running are huge assets and while he was a player I may have avoided in the past, his late-season form has me seriously interested.
The Dons wanted the ball in his hands at all times and the way they play, you can rest assured that this will continue in 2020.
While I don’t think his 70 point average will turn into an 85+ average, I believe he can average high 70’s and do it very consistently which is great for a D4/5 option.
He may go a bit higher in drafts than he should due to his high last 5 average being so high but if you can get him mid-draft, he looks like a solid pick for your backline.
Will Snelling (F)
The midseason recruit started his career incredibly well at the Dons last year.
Snelling had huge SANFL and VFL numbers last year averaging 102 in the VFL from 7 games and 128 in the SANFL from 7 games.
A real feature of his game was his tackling and he averaged 10 tackles a game in the SANFL and 7 a game in the VFL.
He only played 3 games at AFL level but averaged a respectable 71.7 points a game which included a 93 point PB against Port Adelaide.
I think he’s very close to a spot in the Dons’ Best 22 after an impressive start to his career and while he was playing that half-forward flank role last year, a midfield berth isn’t out of the question in 2020.
With guys like Heppell, Shiel and Zaharakis all injured during the preseason, his chance of midfield time has risen significantly.
He’ll be a big watch in the Marsh Series and could be a fantastic asset to your forward line this year.
Orazio Fantasia (F)
Fantasia started off his 2019 season with a couple of poor performances and then had a decent run with two tonnes where he kicked a few snags.
We saw the best of him in those weeks with 104 points in Round 3 vs Melbourne and then 101 points vs North in Round 5.
Unfortunately for him and the Dons, injuries hit and he had an interrupted rest of the year.
From that point, he went on to average 54 for the year which was a stark contrast to 2018 where he averaged 80.
Heff believes that 2018 was an out of the box year for him and as we know has a strong hatred for small forwards.
I’m a bit more confident he can get back to that 80ish average if fit but things haven’t necessarily been going well for him this pre-season injury-wise.
There is no doubt after a poor 2019 he will be undervalued this year and is a good player to pick up mid-draft, as his best is very good.
Kobe Mutch (C)
Mutch had the amazing stat of averaging 0 last season.
He pinged a hamstring in the first few minutes of his only game in 2019 and that was his only taste of AFL footy last year.
Looking at his VFL numbers, he only averaged 66 points but saying that he only played three games for the season.
That average is a bit skewed as his 3rd game back after the initial hamstring injury, he injured himself again only scoring 19.
The two games prior he scored 91 and 88, which is a great return to footy after a decent injury.
Going back to his 2018 VFL numbers, he had 9 games above 100 points with a top score of 140.
There is no doubt the kid has scoring potential. He just needs to get on the park.
The positive is that Essendon’s extensive injury list should give him a chance to get another crack at AFL footy and if he does, look out.
Definitely one worth taking a punt on in 2020.
Sam Draper (R)
The big ruckman did his ACL in the VFL in Round 5 and was not sighted again in 2019.
Before his injury he was averaging 100 points per game in the VFL and given Essendon’s ruck situation last year, you’d expect he would have played some senior footy if fit.
In 2018 he was one of Essendon’s best players in the VFL averaging 40 hitouts a game against some very good players.
It seems like he was ready to go last year if injury didn’t hit and the fact that Essendon were super keen to re-sign him is a great sign for his future.
Essendon’s ruck situation is an interesting one too.
Who is their number one ruck? Will Bellchambers ever be fit? Why did they recruit Andrew Phillips?
There are so many questions but what we know is Draper is on the up and Bellchambers and Phillips are coming to the twilight of their careers.
If he can remain fit there is a huge chance that we’ll see some AFL games from him in 2020.
Heck, he could even be the Tim English of 2020 (or 2021)
Take a listen to our latest podcast: Pre-season 2020: Collingwood, Essendon and Fremantle.