The ultimate list of 11 must-have SuperCoach players has been updated across the pre-season. From rookies to top-scoring guns, see the players you can’t start without.
Well, the unthinkable has happened.
And it isn’t down to last-minute jitters or being spooked by trial games.
I’ve come to the realisation that my boy Darcy Cameron isn’t a KFC SuperCoach must-have.
Like many players who have been left off this list — such as Nick Daicos, Clayton Oliver, James Sicily and Tom Stewart — Cameron still has a strong case to be included in the must-have 11.
In fact, there was a period where he was the No. 2 ranked player.
But, the longer pre-season has dragged on, it has become clear there are more important players to build your team around than the Magpies tall.
His omission is one of two changes in the latest update of the must-haves and it wasn’t an easy call to make.
Cameron was one of the heroes for my team last season after taking over as Collingwood’s No. 1 ruckman when Brodie Grundy was injured.
The reality is there are four big guns most teams are targeting up forward — Josh Dunkley, Stephen Coniglio, Connor Rozee and Tim Taranto.
Then in the rucks, Rowan Marshall is the only player who KFC SuperCoaches can pick with any certainty.
Scroll down to see our updated list of must-have players for KFC SuperCoach.
That means that Cameron has to make way, mainly due to concerns over how much of the ruck load he will share with Mason Cox this year.
In Collingwood’s pre-season hitout against Carlton it was roughly a fifty-fifty split, although Cameron was working back from injury.
He might not be a must-have anymore, but Cameron would be in the top 13 or 14 players if this list was extended.
However, 11 is our magic number in KFC SuperCoach and as much as it hurts me, I just can’t justify having Cameron in the top 11 ahead of the mid-price gem who has replaced him.
I hope he proves me wrong.
Toby McLean is the other player who has been dumped despite featuring in more than 50 per cent of teams.
Based on price and job security, Hawthorn’s mature-age draftee Fergus Greene is probably more of a must-have than McLean.
Like Cameron, McLean would still be classed as a must-have if I could list 12-13 players.
But, that’s not how this works.
This is about finding the 11 players who should be in every KFC SuperCoach team and as I found out with Cameron, there’s no room for sentiment.
1. Will Ashcroft (previous rank: 1) $202,800 MID Ownership, as of Feb 15: 70.9%
The only doubt about Ashcroft was his role but he has slotted seamlessly into Brisbane’s midfield rotation in his first AFL pre-season. He scored 119, 126 and 146 in the VFL last season and Brisbane’s own media team described the No. 2 draftee as “dominant” after a recent match sim. In earlier February, football manager Danny Daly told SEN: “Everyone is going to see what he can do, but we had a practice match on Friday night, and he was probably close to one of the best on the ground.” Is 71 per cent ownership too low? Yes. He should be in every side. He might even carry that M8 spot in your midfield for a while when you’re close to full premium status.
2. Jacob Hopper (previous rank: 2) $332,000 MID Ownership, as of Feb 15: 48.5%
Don’t be deterred by Hopper sitting out a recent intraclub hitout. It’s all part of the plan to ensure the former Giant is ready to unleash in Round 1 against Carlton and then build into his first season as a Tiger. Hopper has averaged 90.9 or more three times in KFC SuperCoach and all signs point to a return to those sort of numbers in 2023. Considering he’s only priced at an average of about 60, Hopper is the clear standout of this year’s mid-price pool. He should comfortably make the $150,000 most KFC SuperCoaches target before cashing a player in.
3. Josh Dunkley (previous rank: 3) $596,400 MID-FWD Ownership, as of Feb 15: 63.9%
Thank goodness the KFC SuperCoach king Al Paton talked me into making sure Dunkley was on the first version of our must-haves list. For some strange reason I thought there was enough value in the $500k range of this year’s forwards to justify leaving him out. Don’t make the same mistake I almost did. The only thing which has stopped Dunkley joining the top echelon of KFC SuperCoach scorers in recent years has been his role. But (touch wood), Chris Fagan doesn’t appear to have any intention to use Dunkley as a back-up ruck. He’s as close as you can get to a guaranteed top-two or top-three forward and so highly owned you can’t miss out.
4. Elliot Yeo (new addition) $338,000 DEF Ownership, as of Feb 15: 49.4%
All we needed to see was an injury-free pre-season to justify putting Yeo on this list — and so far, so good. Yeo has been one of West Coast’s standouts throughout the summer and was used in the midfield/defensive role which had been mooted in the first pre-season trial against Port Adelaide. Yeo attended about 60 per cent of centre bounces during that match, a pleasing sign for a player who built his scoring around contested possession during his career-best campaigns of 2018 and 2019 – averaging 107 KFC SuperCoach in both years and career-high disposal numbers of 24.6 and 23.8. Only Hopper, who is available for $5k less, is a better mid-price buy. Pending his fitness, you’re getting a possible season keeper for less than 340k. KFC SuperCoaches will be hoping the worst-case scenario is Yeo jumping out of the blocks, making a quick 100-150k and then can be flipped for a fallen premium. Either way, his ownership should be higher than the current 49 per cent. With more trades than ever before, KFC SuperCoaches can afford to take a risk on at least one player with an injury history who has considerable scoring upside. Based on role, that’s clearly Yeo.
5. Jack Steele (previous rank: 4) $604,400 MID Ownership, as of Feb 15: 21.5%
One of the pre-season bolters onto the must-have list, coming from outside the initial 11 to sit fourth in the first update (he lost one spot to accommodate Yeo). I just can’t help but feel the Saints skipper being in less than 25 per cent of teams is criminal. We’re talking about a player who started last year at $685k, the season before at $658k yet is available as the 15th most expensive midfielder. If that doesn’t scream value, I don’t know what does. Steele is in his prime at 27 years of age, has averaged 122 or more twice and scored 111 or more in 10 of his 18 games last year. He should be in 50 per cent of teams, at least, not 21. His reduced price tag puts him ahead of Oliver and Laird as the must-have premium midfielder.
6. Darcy Wilmot (previous rank: 6) $123,900 DEF Ownership, as of Feb 15: 46.2%
Two Lions rookies in defence? You bet. Wilmot is almost $45k cheaper than teammate Conor McKenna, just as much chance to play Round 1 and priced to sit at D7 or D8 even if he isn’t picked for the opening round. The bubbly youngster produced scores of 52, 61 and 73 in Brisbane’s last three games of 2022 as well as averaging 83 in the VFL. As he only played in finals, his KFC SuperCoach price remains about as low as it can go for a second-year rookie. He might not play every game, but if he’s not in the team, McKenna should be. That’s reason enough to pick both. His role has fluctuated between wing and halfback during pre-season.
7. Charlie Constable (new addition) $123,900 DEF Ownership, as of Feb 15: 41.5%
How did we get here? Well, we’ve probably got to ask Stuart Dew. Gold Coast was forced to have a look at its backline options late last year after long-term injuries to Wil Powell and Connor Budarick which depleted its small defensive stocks. Enter Constable. The former Cat, who was a popular KFC SuperCoach selection in his debut season at Geelong, was redeployed as a halfback and enjoyed a strong finish to the VFL campaign, averaging 120 ranking points in the last four rounds. Constable continued that role in Gold Coast’s first match of the pre-season and produced an encouraging display, being used as one of the Suns’ outlets from defence. There’s no shortage of defensive rookie options, with Wilmot and McKenna also featuring on this list. But the beauty is you can pick Constable as a defender or midfielder, opening up potential swings with other cheapies such as West Coast pair Reuben Ginbey and Campbell Chesser. Most had ruled a line through Constable as a KFC SuperCoach option and decided he was a one-trick pony who relied on contested footy to score well. But it’s clear now that’s not the case and Constable could emerge as one of the best rookies picks of the year.
8. Connor Rozee (previous rank: 8) $513,800 MID-FWD Ownership, as of Feb 15: 40.3%
Rozee’s ranking was initially No. 5, but he has dropped a few spots during pre-season. Don’t let that deter you though, it’s more to do with the importance of the seven players ahead of him than any slight on Rozee. He averaged 110 KFC SuperCoach points per 100 minutes as a midfielder last year and that’s where Ken Hinkley is going to use him this season. Don’t stress about Rozee’s ability to play forward and be a matchwinner. Port Adelaide’s off-season recruitment of Junior Rioli and Francis Evans means its small forward role is well covered. Rozee is a midfielder now and a serious chance of pushing Josh Dunkley to be the No. 1 forward of 2023. I’m that bullish on him, I think he might win this year’s Brownlow Medal.
9. Conor McKenna (previous rank: 5) $167,500 DEF Ownership, as of Feb 15: 38.7%
I’ve ummed and aahed about McKenna’s position on this list and almost left him out. But Herald Sun reporters Mark Robinson and Jon Ralph have both labelled the Irishman the KFC SuperCoach buy of the year and who am I to argue? KFC SuperCoach colleague Dan Batten had me in a spin when he suggested McKenna might be used as a pressure forward, but the latest word out of Brisbane is the Lions fancy him in his customary halfback role where he has averaged 80 before. His ownership has dropped slightly in the past week, which likely comes down to his slightly elevated price. But if you can spare the extra $44k, McKenna is likely to reward you. Weigh up the obvious risk of missing a rookie gem before you leave him out.
10. Rowan Marshall (previous rank: 7) $506,500 RUC Ownership, as of Feb 15: 43.7%
A new big dog is ready to emerge in the KFC SuperCoach rucks. The ‘set and forget’ duo of Gawn and Grundy now play together, Luke Jackson will eat into Sean Darcy’s minutes and Jarrod Witts costs $230k more than last year. Those factors have forced KFC SuperCoaches to look elsewhere and after a spate of injuries to other talls at St Kilda, Marshall has emerged as a potential No. 1 KFC SuperCoach ruck. Who could forget his round 20 outing against Hawthorn last year when Paddy Ryder missed? Marshall finished with 30 disposals, 35 hit outs, seven tackles and nine marks. His ceiling is huge, it’s just playing second fiddle which has held him back. Don’t miss out.
11. Will Phillips (previous rank: 11) $158,300 MID Ownership, as of Feb 15: 53.5%
The No. 3 draft pick from 2020 played 16 games in 2021, averaging 56 points from rounds 15-23. What has KFC SuperCoaches most excited is that after his entire 2022 campaign was wiped out, Phillips has been one of the most impressive Kangaroos in Alastair Clarkson’s first pre-season as coach. With so many midfield rookies appearing to be on the fringes of the best 22, Phillips’ likely place as a senior regular at North Melbourne means it’s worth paying the extra $36k. Phillips is available at a discount of more than $100k from last year.
OUT: Toby McLean, Darcy Cameron
IN: Elliot Yeo, Charlie Constable
Originally published as KFC SuperCoach 2023: The 11 players every team should start with