Rooks On The Radar – Forwards and Rucks


Melbourne is indubitably a team on the rise, which bodes well for DT, and the main area it needs to improve is in the forward line, where Dees supporters are still desperately waiting for former number one pick Jack Watts to deliver on his potential. Some of the fans have already earmarked Jeremy Howe for the full-forward role and are tipping early games for the Tassie high-flyer. He may take a good grab, but we all know how long it takes KPPs to develop into decent DT scorers. Rookie-priced teammate Luke Tapscott is also in the mix for some time in the Demons forward line after failing to debut last year when injury cruelled his first season at AFL level. Tapscott is ridiculously strong, but you don’t get DT points for having the thickest neck in the league, unfortunately. A far more remote chance at the Dees is Tom McDonald, a ruck-forward at TAC Cup club North Ballarat last season, but, disappointingly, only listed as a forward in DT this year. Consider Howe and Tapscott if they look set for game time after the NAB, but be aware there may be higher points scorers out there.

A better prospect for points will be North Melbourne’s mature-age recruit Cam Richardson, who played for the Roos’ VFL affiliate North Ballarat during the past two years. A lot of early-season best 22s that I’ve seen have Richardson starting on North’s half-back flank, a position which could help him generate quite a few cheap possies running out of defence, which, of course, translates into tasty DT scores for us. As big a rookie “lock” as you can have in January, I’d say.

To switch tack completely, a long-shot could be West Coast’s Jack Darling. He’s popped up on a few planner teams so far, so he’s on the radar of some coaches, no doubt ones who recall his efforts at the under-16 national carnival in 2008, when he was clearly the best kid in the country. In the latest Prospectus, Champion Data’s Fantasy Freako draws attention to his “world-record” 308-point Supercoach score in an under-16 game. Unfortunately for Darling, a mixture of injuries and off-field indiscretions saw his peers not only catch up but surpass the West Perth starlet. He dropped to 26th in last year’s draft, where he was picked up by the wooden spooners. I wouldn’t bank on early games, but there’s clearly potential if he can get his body – and head – right.

Finally we turn to the new kids on the block, the Gold Coast. The Suns will offer us lots of cheap, fresh meat for our forward lines, but the problem will be points production, given that many of them are tall, key position-type players, and guessing exactly who’ll get the early games with Gold Coast scheduled for the season’s first bye. Brandon Matera looks the best bet from a scoring point of view, being a small forward who kicked 23 goals and averaged almost 17 disposals a game in the VFL last year. He failed to crack a DT century in 2010, but reached the 90s five times in his 17 games. Charlie Dixon kicked just one goal less than Matera last season (that’s 22 for all the mathematicians out there), but has never been as big a ball winner so expect a lower average. He is, however, considered a reasonable chance to play from the start in Gold Coast’s underwhelming forward set-up, as is fellow tall Sam Day and, to a lesser extent, Nathan Ablett. It’s wholly unfair to compare Nathan to his DT slut brother Gary, but it gives you some idea of his scoring potential to note that Nathan averaged 70 points less than Gary Jr in his last season at Geelong back in 2008. A look at his limited appearances in the VFL last year show little improvement from a fantasy perspective, scoring under 45 in seven of the nine games he played, including three 20s and an 11. Yuck. While Day is considered an extraordinary athlete, that doesn’t necessarily translate into mammoth DT scores – just ask those who picked Nick Naitanui last year.

In short, it’s lucky we’ll have some decent mid-fwd options to bolster our forward benches, because – at this early stage – there doesn’t appear to be much on offer here outside of Richardson and Matera.


If quality rookie forwards look thin on the ground, then wait until you see the ruck stocks. Not that we should be surprised, it’s the same story every year: rucks simply take an eon to develop and quite often won’t play a senior game until their second, third or fourth year in the system. The exception this year will be Zac Smith at the Gold Coast, where the fast tracking of players is an unavoidable reality. Smith is tipped to one day don the DT ruck crown recently handballed from Dean Cox to Aaron Sandilands, but for now he’ll have to be content playing second fiddle, at least for the opening half of the season, to former Magpie Josh Fraser.

Ruckmen aren’t growing off trees at Richmond or Port Adelaide, apparently, giving Tom Derickx and Jarrad Redden an outside chance of getting some top-tier experience at the Tigers and Power respectively. Both have played senior footy: 23-year-old Derickx in the WAFL seniors and 20-year-old Redden in the SANFL reserves. Both are also at clubs with late byes, although I’d be flabbergasted if either played enough games or scored enough points to grow into good-sized cash cows.

People have been doing an excellent job of raising the rookies on their radar that I’ve skipped at this stage. Keep it going. I’d been saving the midfielders until tomorrow, but will now pop them into a couple of posts next week. That way we’ll have the proper prices (I think FanFooty’s fanplanner may have overpriced Swallow by about $20-25 grand), and you can really start to weigh up whether it’s worth paying the premium on high picks, or take the potential risks over job security and points production that come with basement-priced rookies.


  • Nice work, AGAIN!
    That”ll be nice-$20,000 less for Swallow-hope it’s the case!

    • Lewis Johnston from the Swans.
      From North Adelaide, Johnston is seen as a future key-position forward as he is tall, strong in the air and a clever ground player. However, he severely injured a foot soon after he joined the Swans and missed the entire 2009 season. Took the most contested marks in the 2008 NAB AFL Under-18 Championships and is an AIS/AFL Academy graduate. Originally from Port (Pirie) Bulldogs.

      Draft history: 2008 NAB AFL Draft 1st round selection (Sydney) No. 12 overall.
      Another who has been training the house down…… blah blah blah.

  • yeh that jack darling sex scandal at a school camp was actually a media mistake. Darling didnt actually do anything wrong. but he was around people who were doing something wrong but i cant remeber wot. it went something along the lines of that.

    • Right, nice spot. Seems he was suspended by his private school after being found in his tent with a girl and booze. Will change to “off-field indiscretions”. Sorry, Jack.

  • what does everyone think of Prestia?? Will he get games and what type of scores will he manage??

    • CHECK OUT Rooks on the radar dpp’s- was posted a couple of days back.

    • Hi Mate Prestia will be in my dream team because he is built like a footy player and wont easily be brushed away when the the heavy bodies come his way. Should average 60 points Give him a crack

  • Great write up again Chook ;)

  • Ben Griffiths is an integral part of Richmond’s plans. Dimma is desparate to get games into him which will free up Jack to play further up the ground. He may not be a big scorer, but if he is not injured, he WILL play every week. He got a taste of it last year, has muscled up over Summer and Richmond are on the improve so he should be able to improve on his pretty darn embarrassing average last year of 20.

    • An interesting state with Griffiths, is that Richmound won every game that he played in.

    • There is no doubt that Griffiths will play quite a few games for Richmond this year but I just can’t see him getting anywhere near enough points to warrant selecting him in your DT. He just isn’t a high possesion type player as evidenced by his scores last year.

      • Yeah, I’ll pick him only if I can’t find 3 fwd rookies that have performed over the scratchies. Even if he can get his average up to 40, he will still make almost $80k and I may need that 40 points one day.

  • Chook what are your thoughts of Tommy Walsh from St Kilda?
    He is at 73k and there is talk he might be a big part of there back six next year.
    Even though he is named as a forward.

  • Another great write up Chook!

    Theres a few others that may also be worth a look:
    John Butcher
    Gerrick Weedon
    Luke Mitchell
    Tommy Walsh
    Tom Lynch
    Haven’t heard much about them but from what ive heard they could be good.

  • Marlon Motlop – a tad pricey at $133k, but is finally injury free, has bulked up a bit, has been training well and could take Krakeour’s old role.

  • Opinions – who would you rather pick in your team – Sam Day, or Charlie Dixon?

  • will petrie play nab or not fit ? if he doesn’t play nab it’s a big no

  • Dont think Darling will get much if any game time this year

  • Off topic, but I haven’t seen a discussion anywhere as to the sub rule and DT.

    i.e. if a team selects a sub and the sub never actually comes on the ground, will there 0 count?

    If a sub comes on at 3/4 time and scores 15 points, that is going to suck! i.e. having a versatile player who is on the fringe and is a sub will kill their DT scores and they may go down in value!

    • You have made the best point ever! Next years DT averages are going to be f*&^ed up unless their time on ground vs points is taken into account. Imagine if someone comes on in the fourth quarter and scores 30 points like a champ, then their average for that game is 30 and is added into it their average. This is outrageous. My mind is spinning. I need this shit to be locked tight. With women and work to deal with, I need this man!

      • Most likely the doughnut will count if a sub comes on and dosen’t score any points for any reason. This will have an impact on your score, national ranking drops, the player’s price decreases. The sub rule is a joke and will impact on Dream Team scoring.

    • Could work both ways not just the negative way

    • Nice question Daniel.
      Without knowing, I guess clubs will have to name their subs at team selection.
      At least you will be able to bench those players from your onfield side pre lockout.
      As far as the points per minute thing, read the freako report every week GJay.

  • I don’t see many teams not using the sub, maybe it’ll just be for a quarter but they won’t sit out an entire game

    • It sux, heaps of our rooks will now earn thier wings playin as subs till they find there feet.

    • Why wouldn’t you give a kid a run on the ground if you are 40 points ahead with ten minutes to go? For a player to sit on the bench, they have often missed VFL. They can loose match fitness. Why wouldn’t you take Volt off and put Cripps on if you were winning by a mile? That is how they would do it in Soccer. And even though our game is so much better than soccer that I am smug, they are onto some things.

      • That is a great point … we won’t make any money out of rookies that play as subs.

        Even if we don’t put them on the field (so we don’t take their cheap score) then a measly 25 points (even if it’s all in one quarter) will fool the computer into thinking they’re terrible and price them accordingly.

        • Thanks guys, thought it was an interesting point. One of the first things I thought of re the sub, can’t beleive that there has been no discussion on it here or on BigFooty that I can see.

          Having a player as a sub, unless they come on early due to injury, is going to suck. Their averages will be shot.

          And yes, I am sure that the clubs will generally use the sub, but unless an injury the player will play 1/2 a game at most. Sometimes the sub won’t be used till 3/4 time for sure, as clubs won’t want to pull the trigger on the sub too early in case there is an injury.

          Will we see the sub be a midfielder type, or will the sub be a Scott Stevens style player that can play forward/back, on talls or smalls.

          Sure if your player is the sub you can put him on the bench, but that still kills his average and therefore his price.

          The 22nd player in the list that is a sub, could actually decrease in price from last year significantly due to less time on the ground. Therefore, having fringe players in the team could be disasterous as even worse than not playing 5 or 6 games for the year, they might be the sub for quite a few games.

          In most cases you would rather that your player doesn’t even play, rather than being the sub!

          • Yeah, unless there’s gonna be some sort of TOG factor, the sub thing is going to become very painful.

            Someone like Mitch Morton, for example, could easily become a designated sub for his sprinting, height, goal-kicking and ability to swing back and forward where needed. And, score about 35 points a game from coming on in the second half every week. It’ll hurt when he’s priced at what, 80-odd at the moment?

            The other scenario that I’m not looking forward to is when (say) Geelong are about ten goals up at 3/4 time and Scott pulls Chapman off the field to rest him for next week. Unless I don’t have Chapman at that point, in which case the little dip in price might be appealing. But still; not cool.

            Surely the DTTalk boys know what the plan is by now… bombshell, anyone…?

          • reading this has got me thinking..
            i have come up with 2 ways that this could be worked out and both are kinda shit in a way
            first idea if player X is subed off he is rewarded with a extra 20 points per quater he is off, same with player B that comes on he is rewarded with 20 points that he is off before coming on( if bought on during the quater he is given the extra 10 points)
            second idea is pretty simliar to what yours are talking about, if player X is subed on/off he is rewarded with a average of the quarters he is on/off for, (so if player X is on 80 at 3/4 time he gets a extra 27 points for getting subed off). for player B getting subed on say he gets 15 for the last quarter he get will get 60 for the entire game.
            what are your thoughts any better ideas?

  • DO YOU Want a 1st and 2nd ruck combination for $379,200?

    How you ask, it’s easy!

    With Josh Fraser and Zac Smith.

    • And what do you come the byes? Plus your rucks will suck in scoring throughout the year

      • sorry i meant KNOB!

      • Benatration, I’m thinking that the ultimate ‘set and forget’ in rucks is;

        1, Darren ‘my wife wanted to move to Melbourne so the pies won a granny’ Jolly
        2, Kurt ‘I’m a spud but play 22 and season and can be swapped with Petrie’ Tippett
        3, Josh ‘Just don’t watch me’ Fraiser
        4, Zac ‘When Josh get’s injured I’ll get game time’ Smith

      • I didn’t mean they would be my No. 1 and 2 ruckmen. I meant that they are the No. 1 & 2 ruckmen for their club. And to be able to pick them up as part of my 4 ruckmen is very appealing.

        • People don’t seem to get this is actually a good idea. In 2009 I picked Browne and Graham (both for Richmond) as my two bench rucks. most people went Browne/someone else as Browne was named for Rd 1 but only played that 1 game for entire year. When he got dropped Graham came into the team and played 16 games going up shitloads and was good cover.

          We all know rucks are rarely cash cows as they (200cm KPP’s) take forever to develop, so you really just want cover. If your premium ruck is out injured I just hit the trade button immediately.

  • It will be Matera vs Prestia in round 2 and which one will be more likely to make his debut Chook?

  • will there be a page setup dedicated to these guys scores over the nab cup?

  • How about Eagles Scott lycett

    “The Eagles recruited South Australian ruckman Scott Lycett with conservative expectations for next season, but he has made a big impression on the track and the club is reassessing its short-term plans for him. Forward line coach Peter Sumich has worked closely with the 202cm 18-year-old, and is bullish about his potential as a key forward.”

  • He’ll be good but still think he’ll take a while to come on

  • i’ve heard that jimmy hird is gonna put david zakarakes up in the midfeild so watch for him in the nab cup guys

    • Medical room: After a few injury hurdles, the Bombers looked good heading into Christmas. David Zaharakis (knee) and Tom Bellchambers (knee) were in full training for the first time in the club’s last week, David Hille (knee), Scott Gumbleton (knee) and David Myers – who started pre-season in a moon boot – were close to rejoining the main group and Tayte Pears (foot) and Taite Silverlock (foot) were progressing well.

  • No midfield edition today? Suprised Sam Day wasn’t a Fwd/Ruck. I thought it was a sure thing.

    • Chook said in the article he will look at midfielders next week. Stay tuned for that.

      Also, be on the look out for Preseason Episode 2 of DT TALK as we will have Chook on talking up the best rookies to pick for your team!

  • Rookie forward Ben Johnson, who is in line for a NAB Cup berth, said the arrival of new coach Chris Scott and a remodelled game plan had re-energised the club.

  • whats happened to “rooks on the radar – mids?

  • A player to watch in the NAB cup

    Troy Taylor (Richmond)

    Played 4 games in 2010, should get plenty of TOG for the Tigers during 2011.

    Keep an eye on him…

  • what about dion prestia? thoughts on him?