Chook’s Rooks – Round 4

Anyone read the book JPod, by Douglas Coupland? It’s a bit weird, but plenty awesome. I don’t know if James Podsiadly is weird at all, but he’s plenty awesome. Awesome enough to bring him in for an under-developed cash cow? That’s the burning question facing those who spurned the Geelong forward and his Brisbane buddy Tom Rockliff from their original squads.

After missing the opening two rounds, JPod, T-Rock and Carlton midfielder K-Luc (too much, right?) have produced eye-catching DT scores over rounds 3-4 to be on the verge of very big pay days. But before we get to the tasty two-gamers, let’s have a look to see if there’s anyone ripe for the picking in the three-or-more games bracket.

Three-or-more gamers

Your dreams of finishing the year with a midfield six of Ablett, Swan, Bartel, Montagna, Stanton and Dal Santo (or something equally kick-arse) are never going to be realised if you cash in your cows for anything less than $100k profit. You’d be hoping for quite a bit more than that, in fact. But DT’s an evil beast at times. While you’re hanging around waiting for your rookies to gradually appreciate in value – $5k at a time – downgrade targets with the potential to make much more keep whizzing past. The trick is knowing when to jump on the gravy trains, cause there’ll be nothing but crapola left when they’re gone.

The choice is an easy one in the backline, with all of the three gamers (here I’m excluding Jackson Trengove, cause you’re mad if you picked him anywhere other than the ruck) still boasting negative breakevens. Richmond’s Ben Nason has got some way to go in particular, with his past three scores of 68, 70 and 78 giving him a BE of -19, despite already rising $86,600. Freo’s Alex Silvagni and Brisbane’s Matt Maguire are in a similar position.

Rucks make for rubbish cash cows, so I’m not even going to mention Carlton’s Robbie Warnock or Trengove again unless they start pumping out 70s and 80s, which is as likely as Calvin’s captain not doing a hamstring this week.

There’s cause for concern in the midfield, with seemingly rolled-gold rookie Dustin Martin so far failing to reproduce his outstanding pre-season form. Martin has made just $47k on his starting price and travels to WA with his Tigers teammates this week sporting a BE of 32. Concern, not panic, is all it should be, though. While we were all expecting more at this point, stick with Martin for a while longer yet. A few 70s will force his BE back down and start bringing the dough that we so desperately need before off-loading his under-performing arse. And the rest of him. Fremantle midfielder Michael Barlow should be back to his high-scoring ways against the Tigers, so his BE of 43 should be smashed out of the park. Other popular rookies Jack Trengove, Tom Scully, Anthony Morabito and Lewis Jetta also take positive Bes into round 5, but none of them are high enough to start considering a downgrade.

Scully was one of the round’s best performed three-or-more gamers, along with Demons teammate Rohan Bail, Geelong’s Mitch Duncan and North’s Ryan Bastinac. Apart from round 2, when the Roos were slaughtered, Bust-a-nut has been delivering very nice scores. Good boy.

The forward line is where most will be tempted to use a trade to make a downgrade. Not only is this the part of the field were many a medium-pricer is doing a number on their coaches, but a few of the three-or-more gamer rookies are already struggling, too. One of the most promising forward rookies, Port’s Cameron Hitchcock, has started to go off the boil. He managed just 32 points last week, nudging his BE up to 17. Essendon’s Scott Gumbleton scored only one point better against West Coast, making his BE 21. That means he’ll go backwards in price if he does as poorly as he did in round one, when he scored a paltry 17 points. Surely, surely that won’t happen again, but the low level of points being pumped out by these two is a worry. You’ll only get $50-75k from a downgrade trade to JPod or T-Rock, but there’ll be plenty pulling the trigger on one of those trades this week. Unless you’ve got fwd-mid option Duncan down here, the only other forward to have featured in three or more games is Carl Peterson, who looks to be travelling okay, despite having his lowest score thus far in round four. You’d think selection pressure would be a bigger worry than Gumby-like scores for this Hawks rook.

Two gamers

Obviously, JPod and T-Rock are the two attracting all the attention this week. Pods took the opportunity granted to him when Cam Mooney got himself rubbed out to such an extent that some reckon he’s now ahead of Tom Hawkins in the pecking order at the Cattery. I don’t know whether that’s more of an indictment on T-Hawk than praise of Pods, but either way it’s clear that the 28-year-old has made a big impression. Whether the Geelong coaches see it that way is another thing, so you’ve got to at least consider the long-term chances of both JPod and T-Rock, who looks set to face selection battles on a consistent basis at the deep Den, before drafting them in. By the numbers, Podsiadly has scored 85 and 115 and comes in at the basement-bargain price of $77,800, while Rockliff has the palindromic scores of 78 and 87 for a slightly inflated price of $101,100.

If you really don’t think Martin is going to come good, then Carlton midfielder Kane Lucas might be your best bet. The 12th pick in last year’s draft, Lucas has knocked up scores of 67 and 93 in his first two. Another option is Essendon’s short speedster Travis Colyer, who has scored 68 and 73 and costs almost $25k less than Lucas ($113,500 to $89,500). Of course, fellow Bomber Ben Howlett remains on the cusp of a price rise too, but needs to get over his ankle injury and back into the side first. The Bombers have a third rookie in this bracket, although he’ll cost a little more due to having been taken in the top 10. Jake Melksham costs $121,500, with scores of 57 and 59 first up.

Finally, there are a couple of defenders in the two-game bracket in Adelaide’s Chris Schmidt and Hawthorn’s Ben Stratton, but, as we said earlier, the fact that the backline cash cows are no where near maturing counts against them. For the record, Schmidt has scored 81 and 60, while Stratton has notched a less-impressive 62 and 41.

One gamers

The Connors booze-and-biffo saw the Tigers debut three rookies against Melbourne – Matthew Dea, Troy Taylor and David Astbury – but none of them managed to light up the DT scoreboard with scores of 30, 46 and 51 respectively. All are listed as forwards in DT, like Port’s Daniel Stewart, who also made an underwhelming start (33). A little better was West Coast first gamer Ashton Hams with 48, but he was overshadowed by fellow backs Phil Davis, of Adelaide, and Simon White, of Carlton. All of Carlton’s scores have to be taken with a grain of salt given they played the officially woeful Crows, but White’s first-up 74 is impressive nonetheless. Davis showed why he was so popular in January with a decent 69.

Speaking of grains of salt – you might want to take my rookie advice well seasoned, too. My rookies copped a hiding from Calvin’s rookies in my big league loss on the weekend, while my captain took his to the cleaners. Go figure.

If you’re downgrading this week, let us know who’s getting the chop and who’s coming on board.

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