Don't be seduced by line St Kilda are rebuilding and need get games into kids&rdquo; and automatically think the Saints are relevant in 2014, because the cold hard truth is that they are not relevant at all. You might think that's little bit harsh, but in all seriousness apart from few players (who I'll touch on later), on the whole the Saints don't have a lot to look forward to in fantasy world in 2014.
The Saints will play the kids, but they will be heavily rotated like in 2013 meaning unless you want slow burning cash cows you should steer well clear. The kids will probably play 3-5 games, with couple those as a sub at a time. Then they'll go back to VFL for few weeks, hit the gym and work on other areas of their game and thus allowing more kids to play 3-5 games in AFL. The rebuild will be about getting as much time into as many players on the clubs list as possible.
If you look at new kids that played in 2013, you'll see they all played 7-11 games across the entire season.
Tom Curren - 7 games (7 games in row, 21 year old rookie)
Brodie Murdoch - 8 games (2, 4, 1, 1)
Nathan Wright - 8 games (5, 1, 2)
Tom Lee - 10 games (2, 7, 1)
Josh Saunders - 10 games (2, 1, 7)
Jimmy Webster - 11 games (7 and 4)
Whilst few those played 7 games in row, they were mainly in back half of season and they were used as sub on occasion during that time. These kids will also be high on list to be pushing for more game time this year, making it harder for new guys to break into the side. The recruitment of Josh Bruce, Luke Delaney, Shane Savage and Billy Longer also push younger, mature players into the frame before the raw 18 year olds.
One of the other major factors in looking at how Saints will approach the rebuild is that in only couple of seasons the entire list has completely changed. The Saints only have 16 players on their list that they drafted/traded into the club before the 2011 AFL Draft. That's 29 new faces in only few seasons, they need to get as many games into all of them as they can. Picking a best 22&rdquo; is near on impossible, apart from clear 12-14 players there is literally about 20 players that could easily fill the remaining spots.
When you take all this into account, you really need to ask yourself if the kids you want to use as cash cows are real options. If you want slow burners that will take half season to get to anywhere near topping out then yes select them, but if it was me I'd be seriously looking elsewhere.
THE GREAT RUCK DEBATE OF 2014
The Saints traded Ben McEvoy and invested heavily in recruiting Billy Longer so he will be number 1 ruck and will be a great selection&rdquo;
Seriously if I hear people say that line one more time I might just snap. Just because a player is traded and another ruckman is brought in it doesn't mean they are all sudden the number 1 ruck and will be fantasy relevant. People forget the Saints have invested far more in Tom Hickey from previous year then we have Billy Longer. As it stands, Hickey will be the number 1 ruck and Longer will be 2nd ruck. Well actually they'll probably most likely share it 60/40. Both Hickey & Longer are very young rucks still, they won't be able to shoulder the ruck load by themselves, they will need to work in tandem throughout the year and you can expect them to miss games here and there. The other major factor is Rhys Stanley, who will be moved from the backline (about year too late!) and will play as forward/ruckman. You could also expect see him in ruck as number 1 at stages.
At the end of the day, unless you want to have an expensive ruckman on bench as backup then I'd be steering clear. They won't score or make enough money to warrant starting them at R2, there are far better options out there for similar price.
**unless one of the rucks go down injured then jump on! **
FANTASY RELEVANT PLAYERS
2013 Average: 110 up from 90 in 2012
There is no doubting 23 year old Jack Steven is a superstar in the making. In 2013 he became one of youngest Saint since Nick Riewoldt to win the Best and Fairest and along the way had a breakout season. Interesting to note that in 2013 he averaged 93 mins per game, down from 98 in 2012.
Jack Steven was the second most benched player in the competition and averaged the sixth-fewest minutes per stint on the ground of any midfielder to play more than three games.&rdquo; - AFL Prospectus
In opening 6 rounds of season Steven only averaged 90.83 points, with only one score over 100, a 123 vs GWS. He scored 3x78, 89 and 99 in other 5 games. For the remainder of the season Steven averaged 117, which consisted of 4 scores fewer than 100 but only 1 under 98. He scored over 120 on 6 occasions, 3 of which were over 150.
There is no doubt Steven has a lot of improvement left in him, but the biggest question marks surrounding his fantasy relevance is fact Dal Santo has now left who always copped the tag. This now only leaves Leigh Montagna and Jack Steven in Saints midfield worthy of opposition tagger. Given the importance of Steven and how damaging he can be you can expect him to cop a lot closer attention in 2014.
For mine I think it's a pass, even given Saints early fixtures vs Melbourne and GWS as its important to note Montagna is suspended Round 1 so can bet your bottom dollar he will cop the tag.
2013 Average: 63 up from 58 in 2012
When looking at Shane Savage his 2013 stats can be pretty misleading. He struggled to break into Hawks team on regular basis and when he did he was more often than not used as the sub. He was given the vest on 5 occasions which saw his average plummet to 63. But if you take out his sub effected games then he averaged a healthy 82 points and shows when given chance he can dramatically improve.
Savage was traded to Saints in the off season and given the inexperienced and young Saints midfield he is a walk up start in the 18 and will stay well clear of the dreaded vest. For a player priced at around $350K and given Saints play Melbourne and GWS in opening 2 rounds he could be a unique and smart pick. He has shown he can improve his average by almost 20 points and it's not beyond him to improve that to about 95-100 mark at his new club.
So far this preseason he has been one of most impressive on the track, he picked up plenty touches and kicked couple goals in Saints recent Intra Club and has fitted in nicely down at Seaford.
Luke &lsquo;The Man-Child' Dunstan will feature prominently this year if his outstanding preseason continues during the NAB Challenge. Dunstan has an AFL ready body and looks ready to step up straight away. Oh and the coach absolutely loves him, which is always a big positive when looking for cash cows. He is easily best option of all Saints rookies and will see plenty of game time. Only concern is if he is eased into season with dreaded vest.
2013 Average: 56 down from 65 in 2012
Alright I'm going against my better judgment on this one but Stanley will be used as forward and ruckman in 2014 after playing entire 2013 season down back as a, umm let's call it as a defender&rdquo;. He is listed as a $300K defender but watch his NAB Challenge closely. Tom Lee will miss few weeks; Nick Riewoldt will play up ground bit more so it leaves Rhys Stanley and Beau Maister as tall forwards. Could be a unique selection as he will get points from hitouts aswell.
That's basically the only Saints players that are fantasy relevant in 2014, Leigh Montagna misses Round 1 so he should be upgrade target but as with Jack Steven the tag is a concern. Nick Riewoldt had a season out of the box last year, will take something remarkable for him to do that again and with Patrick Dangerfield, Luke Parker, Chad Wingard and plenty other midfielders available as forwards you would be better off going with them.
Sam Fisher - Plenty of talk around that given Saints have recruited couple key defenders that Fisher now becomes fantasy relevant again. Don't be fooled, he is nearing end of his career and has plenty of injury issues that has plagued him recently. He won't get back to his scores of old, look elsewhere.
Lenny Hayes - Last season in the RW&B and could even see him with vest on. Don't expect to see him play every game, will be managed through season and is more playing on as a mentor.
Tom Hickey/Billy Longer - Well if you need reminding just read part about ruck situation above.
Adam Schneider - Another hamstring setback in preseason after couple years hampered by them, just can't seem get good run anymore. Not worth the risk.
Arryn Siposs - Will be played up forward more this year but apart from his kicking he has nothing to write home about. Can't make a career in AFL with beautiful kick. Will struggle to break into the side and needs to work his backside off to continue his career. Has the talent but doesn't know how to find and use it.
Feel free to ask questions about any other player and I'll be happy to answer in the comments! You can also follow me on twitter<a class='twitter-atreply pretty-link' href='https://twitter.com/stkildathunda]<s>@</s>stkildathunda[/url]