The Universal Soldiers: Back from Serious Injuries

Ok, so you may not have gotten the reference to the great 90’s Van Damme film where they took dead soldiers and rebuilt them to be super soldiers.  Well, this is happening in footy every year.  We are seeing guys go missing for half a year or more and then they come back after miracle surgeries.  But, the issue that we have as DT coaches is… do we trust these guys who are coming back to be just as big and confident as they were before their injuries?  Well let’s have a look at a few guys that are coming back from major issues last year and whether or not we should put them into our teams this year.

Jack Grimes

Injury: Fractured Navicular (foot bone)
2011 Games: 6
2011 Ave: 74
2010 Games: 14
2010 Ave: 88
DT Price: $329,400

Now one of the co-captains at Melbourne he will be a certainty to get a game as long as he is fit.  He was a lock in a lot of teams in 2011, mine included.  He had a great 2010 and was getting a lot of possessions across half back which were predominantly kicks.  In 09 he had an average of 94 from 11 games so was really looking like developing into one of the premium defenders.  If he can come back injury free and continue his quarterback role for the Dees defence he will be a valuable player in any team.

Given this was a bone fracture the likelihood of reoccurence in the short term should be lower and I think that he is a fairly safe risk to take into your 2012 team.

Jonathan Brown

Injury: Smashed face
2011 Games: 10
2011 Ave: 73.4
2010 Games: 16
2010 Ave: 97.6
DT Price: $331,400

The Browndog is a guy that a was an automatic lock for most teams in the past, and with good reason, he has been the main focal point for Brisbane for the last few years and gets the job done.  Since 05 he has averaged between 86 and 110 so has always provided a reasonable return for his price.  His problems in 11 came from Luke McPharlin’s knee and then Mitch Clark’s elbow.  Well they have solved the Clark problem for the majority of the season and had about 2tonne of metal put into Browny’s face so that should be all good.  He is one of the most courageous players and takes a lot of marks and kicks more often than not.

Given these two were impact injuries and the way he plays invites these sort of injuries he has always been a risk.  Last year, luck just caught up with him.  I think that he should be able to average in the 80’s again and for the price of $331k that would be a reasonable return.

Jason Porplyzia

Injury: Shoulder
2011 Games: 1 (6 mins)
2011 Ave: 16
2010 Games: 19
2010 Ave: 68
DT Price: $202,500
This guys shoulder has been known to pop out as he gets out of bed.  However, in the past he has often had the “quick fix” surgeries and been back later on in the season.  This time, they have opted for the full deal which kept him out for the year.  He has been hampered throughout his whole career with these type of injuries and still managed an average of 86/87 in 2008 and 2009.  He is the focal point for the Crows up forward and is a great kick for goal.
I think we have every right to be concerned about him coming into this season.  He is a risky pick, but at that price and the potential to average around 80 for a $200k outlay, I think it is a risk that you should be seriously considering taking.  Personally, I will have a keen eye on him in the NAB and am keeping an ear out for Crows training news (not hard to do here in Adelaide) to see just how solid that shoulder really is.

Lenny Hayes

Injury: Knee Reco
2011 Games: 2
2011 Ave: 86
2010 Games: 21
2010 Ave: 108
DT Price: $382,800

Lenny is an out and out gun of the competition and he hasn’t averaged less than 92 since 2003!  When he did his knee many thought that he was a certainty to go through with the LARS surgery, but he opted for the traditional route.  This was an interesting decision given that he will be 32 at the start of the 2012 season.  However, such is his quality that many, myself included, think that he can return to that form of the previous few years and average in the 90’s again.

A couple of concerns that I have with Lenny are basically the knee is an injury that can go again, and this is a bigger risk in players of his age (unlike Morabito below).  The Saints midfield did struggle without him, so there are a lot of posessions left there in the midfield for him to grab.  Just watch his NAB form to see how much trust he has in that repaired knee, however, I think he may be a steal at that price.

 Hamish McIntosh

Injury: Achillies (both of them)
2011 Games: 1
2011 Ave: 79
2010 Games: 20
2010 Ave: 81
DT Price: $273,500

H-Mac was well on his way to being one of the elite fantasy ruckmen after playing every game in 2009 and averaging 92.  Whilst he experienced a dip in 2010 he was still a very servicable 2nd ruck to Cox or Sandi.  However, his poor luck last season where he basically lost the entire year has really put a bit of a shade over whether or not he still holds the same value.  Whilst he did play 7 games for Werribee, it was the emergence of Todd Goldstein that has really hurt the value of H-Mac.  Goldstein has clearly taken the number 1 ruckman post off of McIntosh and this may mean a move to being a permanent forward.  Whilst this wouldn’t be the end of the world, McIntosh was known for picking up a lot of possessions around the ground as well as kicking goals whilst resting up forward.

Given these soft tissue injuries and the issues others have had whilst coming back from them, I am very wary of the health of Hamish.  I am mostly concerned about how his body will hold up when we are at half way in the season.  On the other hand, if he does last that long, his value should have appreciated to the point that you can trade him for one of the premo ruckmen that has perhaps dipped in price.  He is a bit of a watch and see from my perspective.  See how much training he misses after NAB games and where they use him.

Anthony Morabito

Injury: Knee Reco
2011 Games: 0
2011 Ave: 0
2010 Games: 21
2010 Ave: 56
DT Price: $168,000

Morabito had a fairly good rookie season averaging 56 and during that season we certainly saw why the Dockers were so keen on picking him at number 4 in 2009 draft.  He has a great engine and will certainly find plenty of the footy.  With the disappearance this year of Rhys Palmer, there is a spot in the midfield rotations for him to walk back into.

Given he is so young, his body’s natural healing ability should really kick in here and see him fairly solid in terms of his recovery.  As with all guys that come back from a knee there will be that bit of uncertainty in his mind, but given his youth he should get over that fairly well.  I think that this guy is a great buy at this price.  But as with most of the others, make sure you keep a keen eye on him in the NAB to make sure he is in that midfield rotation group.

 Brian Lake

Injury: Hip, Shoulder and Knee
2011 Games: 5
2011 Ave: 52
2010 Games: 22
2010 Ave: 100
DT Price: $255,200

Talk about the bionic man!  He had 3 separate operations in the 2010 off season and unfortunately he just didn’t get back the sensational form that he had in 2010.  There were also the committment and attuitude issues that were circling in the press also.  Of his 5 games last year, his highest score was only a 61.  This coming from a guy that averaged 73, 81 and 100 in the previous 3 years and had only missed 2 games in the prior 5 years!  One other factor that will see him be a risk to some punters is that he turns 30 at the end of February so will be over that magical 30 by the time the season starts.  The big question is whether his body has recovered enough for him to keep up with the pace of the game after all those operations and effectively a year out?  Personally I won’t be risking him, but I see that Dr DT and Mr Fantasy both have him in their starting lineups!

Michael Barlow

Injury: Broken Leg
2011 Games: 9
2011 Ave: 86
2010 Games: 13
2010 Ave: 110
DT Price: $424,800

Not sure that I need to say alot about Michael Barlow.  We know he is a gun!  Those 13 games in his rookie season were sensational until Palmer broke his leg (and the hearts of every DT player).  Last year he came back in for the last 9 of the season and he had the green vest in one of those which netted him 25pts, but there was 3 tons and 2 98’s in those 9 games also.  To me, the end of last season was really about him blowing out the cobwebs after effectively a year out of the game and starting to ramp up for this season.

Given it was a bone break, the likelihood of reoccurrence is pretty minimal so I wouldn’t be put off by that.  What interests me most is the nice little discount he has given what we know he can average.  I expect to see him in a heap of teams this year!

Now I know that there are more players than this that are coming back from injury this year, but they are the ones that I thought had the most fantasy relevance to us when selecting our initial sides for 2012.  But the most important thing is to understand what you are getting yourself into when you select these guys and to make sure you have a close eye on them during the NAB cup to see just how well they are over their injuries and if the pre season has really done them some good.

Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

Find me on twitter @pkd73


  • I’ll be taking at least three of these players this year. The good thing about most of these guys is that they’re not out for reoccurring soft-tissue injuries; getting your head smashed in or breaking your foot are freak accidents that are unlikely to happen again.

  • Cheers Dunny , a good read. Had to laugh at brian lakes injury list, reminds me of the song i sing to my kids! Head shoulders knees and toes, knees and toes lol. Currently going with 4 of these blokes in my side. Dont have grimes at this stage but i would think a reasonable pick, the broken foot last year was just dead set unlucky!

  • Can’t have any of them, very tempting though!

    • TKOL…..??>?..!!??..

      You are being way too nice this season. Where has all the bravado, arrogance and confidence gone…

      I am waiting or you to break out of your pre-seaon slumber and declrae yourslef as the undipsuted King of DT and a moral to win the car !!

      Last years TKOL was much more amusing than this years Ho Hum boring cliched version !!

      Will the real TKOL please stand up !!!!

      By the way TKOL Warnie metioned your great sideways trade from season 2011 during thier live fead from the Hawks intraclub – Remenber your ingenious sideways trade – Skippy Montagna for Sammy Mitchell prior to the Saints multi bye only for Sammy Mitchell to miss the game due one of hs children being gravely ill – DT Folklore that Trade !!! Absolute GOLD from the best DTer in the land !!!

      • He doesnt wanna get banned again! Plus the fact he didnt do as well last year

      • Tkol is crap compared to me. He’s the prestigicomo of the competition while I have been and remain among the elite of the comp. By the way don’t bother playing DT this year, they’ve already given me the car.

      • I’m surprised Warnie didn’t mention TKOLs trade of Gram out 1 week and then back in a few weeks later, only for Gram to stink it up again. That was also gold!

  • Great article with some interesting perspectives.

    Grimes, Brown & Lake all on my (NAB) watchlist

  • I dont’ have any of these guys in my team but reckon Grimes is good value. No soft tissue injury last season so may have had a chance to put those to bed. Foot should be ok.

    Another great article. Keep up the great work guys!

  • I only have Grimes at this stage. I was hoping to see Jason Winderlich in the write up. Atthe moment Iwill have one of the cheapies in the forward line between Byrnes, Winderlich and Warren. I cant have Porps. Just don’t trust him to last one game let alone a full season. NAB Cup next week. Hopefully will answer my question for me :-)

    • Yeah could have added him in mate. Good call. Must admit, had to limit it at some point… so many guys getting injured these days. He is certainly going to be in a lot of teams.

  • Currently have JB, Barlow and Hmac. Even though Grimes sounds tempting I got burnt last year. Good article; now am a little worried about Hmac

  • Another good article with sensible conclusions. Breakout year from DT Talk…………..

    Many of these have been in and out of my preseason team

    Grimes – hurt me last year and seems unlucky over last few years. Probably $70k undervalued but is that enough. May depend on quality of rookies around in def.

    Brown – brought him in but then disregarded after looking at his weekly scores through 2010. Ave is fine for overall, but noticeable volatility in scoring is not ideal for league. Could be $100k undervalued.

    Hayes – had him also in until recently. Quality of rookies in the midfield made it hard to keep him in the side. Concerned whether he may slowly ramp up over first few rounds. Watch screen.

    Barlow and Porp looking likely targets.

    Morabito will be watched, vying for a spot against quality (expected) midfield rookies.

    Not taking the risk on Lake and rest, cannot afford to be wasting trades on premiums/mid pricers if they don’t deliver.

  • I have 4 of these players. What about Windelich? I put him in the same boat.

    • there is a deck on dt article on winderlich that has a heap of info if you go through the archives

  • Dam i didnt realise i had so many old/injured bastards! I have hayes, lake, hmac and brown. the thing is with these guys though is that they are not exactly injury prone when you step back and take a look at their careers as a whole. comparatively, grimes and porp have had a heap of injuries in their short careers. morabito is a different case on the other hand. wouldn’t call him injury prone, just a major injury that he was unlucky to get but doubt he’ll ave any more than cheaper rookies, so pass on him even though i am a shockers supporter

  • Great article!
    Off subject though i am late into my DT Talk reading and i was wondering if like last year an article has been put together on The Byes (which team has them in which round and which rounds are league bys).


    • Byes are as follows:
      (There is a picture of the bye set out on the DT Talk home page)

      Rnd 11 – Adelaide, Brisbane, GWS, North Melbourne, West Coast, Western Bulldogs
      Rnd 12 – Collingwood, Essendon, Fremantle, Geelong, Melbourne, Sydney
      Rnd 13 – Carlton, Gold Coast, Hawthorn, Port Adelaide, Richmond, St Kilda

  • Round 1 Teams Are In!

    B: Tomas Bugg 18 (0) Tim Mohr 23 (0), Chad Cornes 32 (239)
    HB: Luke Power 32 (282) Phil Davis 21 (18) Adam Kennedy 19 (0)
    C: Rhys Palmer 22 (53) Callan Ward 21 (60) Adam Treloar 18 (0)
    HF: Curtly Hampton 18 (0), Jeremy Cameron 18 (0) Nathan Wilson, 19 (0)
    F: Setanta O’Ailpin 28 (80) Israel Folau 22 (0) Devon Smith 18 (0)
    R: Dean Brogan 33 (174) James McDonald 35 (251) Tom Scully 20 (31)
    INT: Jonathan Giles 24 (0), Dylan Shiel 18 (0), Stephen Coniglio 18 (0), Steve Clifton 24 (0)
    *Age first, AFL matches played in brackets


    • Damn! My picks are benched

    • wow no Tomlinson, but many will be happy to see old mcdonald is hanging around next to brogan.

      Sheil, Clifton and Treloar im happy with (all in my team). No Anthony Miles though

    • You guys can’t take this line up seriously…

      1- the nab cup hasnt even STARTED yet!

      2- coaches never release there actual player line up before a game

      3- Sheeds isnt stupid he’s not gunna give longmire his team line up 2 months in advance…

      • Sheeds was a Supercoach pimp a few years back. Getting the big bucks to talk is baby boomer shtick. Selling like only a joker can.

        Sheed’s has released the mock up team for headlines and the DT CRAZIES!

      • We’ll get plenty of laughs all year from Sheedy. What round will he tell us Folau should get 3 brownlow votes I wonder?

    • Looking at this team I’d say Sheedy is just throwing it out there @ how his best 21(22) may look.

      I’m not sure about what all you guys n girls in the our DT community thinks but I reckon this team is a farce.

      It’s going to be beyond embarrassing when GWS play throughout the year, the team will be a laughing stock. If you don’t believe me CLOSELY look at this team.

      • It’s all about timing.
        Don’t forget, the giants first ever intra-club match is tonight. Sheedy is trying to light the fire under the boys.

        • Agree. A few guys have Josh Toy type size about them. Anyone less than 80kg may not easily last week in week out

          • I was surprised that Darley and Miles were not named. But, after the last few years I am tempted to hold onto rooks not named rd 1, as some of them come in pretty soon and stand up.

      • Can’t wait for Goodesy to line up against them in round one.

    • No Anthony Miles :(

    • And WTF is with interstate ‘newbies’ flogging our CHB’s from Crowland?? FFS we have lost 2 BIG KKP’s for nothing- God if Talia goes half good he’ll be in a different club in no time….. 3rd time lucky?

      • As a Crows supporter, I totally agree Brappin.

        Sheeds is a big believer in sports psychology so I like the theory that he’s lighting a fire under his youngsters in preparation for their intra-club match. Puts the challenge out there for others to force their way in. The other thing he is probably trying to achieve is desensitising his young players (ie so they know well in advance of the game and can go through nerves now rather than finding out 2 days before the game and having to settle quickly).

        Regardless, the above theories that Sheeds is messing with the minds of DT selectors is a joke. I seriously doubt that he would be focussed on something like this. I am prepared to entertain theories on how naming the team now will effect the minds of his own players.

        • Uncle Fester mate, one of Sheedy’s jobs is messing with his players heads like he is Yoda.

          The other is keeping GWS in the papers.

          Naming the team obviously did both.

          By my comments I didn’t mean that Sheeds would be putting out a team just to mess with DT fanatics. I meant that he was getting attention for his team. Hundreds of thousands of fans play fantasy footy. Marketing pimps and used car salesmen like Sheedy know this.

          To assume that I would not see the benefits that Sheedy’s naming of the inaugural GWS team – two months early – is insulting.

          Surely we could come to a mutual understanding the only the brightest minds assemble here for conversation.

          Cheers, GJB

    • ha ha. for people who said miles would be a good dt scorer I agree…….

      but if he’s not gonna get a game he won’t score any points!

    • Get around C Hampton

  • I would like to see a Swan Vs Pendlebury Vs Jellwood.
    These three have the same bye, and most will be looking to pick two of theses three.
    I beleive they are the best three premos in the middle.

    I realise i could play all three and sidways trade. but thats not my style.
    what do people think?
    whats the best combo?

  • I dug a little into the navicular fracture (Jack Grimes) on previous footy stars…

    On Matthew Egan-
    2007 – Against the Brisbane Lions in Round 22, (Matthew) Egan fractured the navicular bone in his right foot during a marking contest with Jonathan Brown, requiring emergency surgery to insert screws into his foot. Egan capped off an excellent season with selection in the 2007 All-Australian Team as the Centre Half-Back.
    2008 – In November 2008, Geelong admitted it was unlikely that Egan would play AFL again, as a result of the foot injury he sustained in 2007.

    On James Hird –
    One of the most feared injuries for a running athlete, Hird was first struck with a stress fracture of his navicular bone early in the 1998 season. After traditional treatment for the injury, Hird returned for the start of the 1999 season, but broke down with the same injury again in only his second return game.

    Maybe Grimes isn’t such a lock after all with that type of risk???

    • ….and out again!!

    • Wow that’s some awesome information. Well Done. I suppose NAB cup will hopefully test the foot, right now he is a lock for me.

      • Like the article said, the navicular is the most scary word in sport. Which article, I can’t remember.

    • I wasn’t going to pick him after having him last year based on the Egan injury, Hirds one I hadn’t considered. Nice info, Pitbull. No Grimes for me.

  • Shhhhh keep it on the down low :) all that info

  • Jason Porplyzia, Anthony Morabito, Brian Lake ;)

  • Off-topic but very DT relevant – Sheedy has named a prospective round one side for GWS – very useful if accurate!

    • Next lockout in: 43 DD 08 HH 58 MM 39 SS

    • alot of people are worried about Giles on the bench i reckon.

      • Also Steve Clifton looks like he might be in line for a vest, on that line up.

      • Why would anyone be worried about Giles being on the bench ?? What do coaches picking him expect that he will play 100% game time – surely not ??
        The fact is he is one of their 2 first choice ruckmen and given Brogan is 47 years olds and unlikely to play 22 games then Giles job security looks rock solid as expected. Who cares who takes the first centre bounce ???

        Side is only indicative and also in this day and age with the level of rotations it is hardly a need for concern if a player in your DT is named on the bench.
        As a ruckman you wouldn’t think he is a vest candidate so wether him or Brogan are named as first ruck is irrelevant, as there is every chance they will rotate off the bench and forward.
        Some weeks Giles might have 60% game time to Brogans 40% and other weeks it may be the other way around. Brogan could pop a calf meaning Giles might get 80% game time with some other young rook ruck on the list giving him a chop out. Giles being named on a bench is a non-issue !!!

        I personally think people expecting Giles to average in the 70 range are kidding themselves. In my opinion a 50 average will pull him up. GWS won’t have the pigskin all that much so Giles primary source of scoring will be 1 point hitouts and the odd grab across half back. He isn’t going to be a high possession ruckman nor is he likely to hit the score board a great deal like Cox, Berger, Goldy etc. Zac Smith from GC I think only averaged 70ish last year and he is a much more mobile high possession DT friendly type player than Giles. Pesonally I think the Big O from Geelong has the potential to score much higher than Giles and given the current injuries to Vardy and Simpson at Catland he is a lock to ruck with big Westie come Rd 1 and is JS for the first 6 rounds it least looks pretty good – who knows by then he may have established himself in the side ??

        Similar issue with the GWS mid rooks they maybe the cream of the crop and high draft picks – but a Dylan Shiel for example may average 75 plus if playing for a good side like Geelong, Carlton, Hawthorn, Collingwood etc but I think all GWS rooks scoring ability is limited by the fact they will get belted a lot and not have the footy all that much, compared to a Rookie who manages to break into a more established side.

        Naturally the upside of the GWS rooks is job security and the fact they will get games compared to a rookie trying to break into a Top 6 side.
        I think the Giles question is if you are only going to play one premo ruck is can you live with a 50 average from your second ruck until you upgrade to a second premo. So what is the cost benefit – Gilo in the ruck allows and extra premium fwd, back or mid (who you want to score more than your second premo ruck would) but it costs you a rookie spot in your fwd, back or mids who potentially could average more than Giles.

        Who knows what is the best one to go – depends on how well you extra premium goes and how well the rook you missed out on in the fwds, mids or backs goes ?? Some coaches will end up in from some won’t depends on players selected. Eg. If by having Giles as your second ruck you missed out on Luke Brown from Adelaide as an example and he goes bang like Heppel did last year then you lose !!! Or if you only have Cox and Sandilands averages 120 and he was your option as 2nd ruck then whoever you extra premo in the fwds, backs or mids was would want to be flying as well.

        I personally like the one premo ruck idea as I think b/w Giles and the Big O there should be enough coverage there to back yourself to find a better premium as a fwd, mid or back than your 2nd premo ruck and then just hope than by running three ruck rookies you don’t miss out on this years boom rookie in one of your other lines where you have your extra premo.

    • Yeah because Sheedy would never mislead anyone. Not his coaching style…

    • Keyword: IF

  • Good article but I have to disagree on Jack Grimes. A fairly safe risk? The man may be cursed. Scoring potential can’t be questioned, but in terms of durability his best run so far is 14 games in a season (2011). On my ‘never again’ list.

    With so few high-scoring backmen many coaches will be tempted again this year, IMO he isn’t worth the gamble until he has proven he can hold it together for a season.

  • Does anyone know how Coad from the Suns is going. He tore his hammie off the bone I think.

    • Not sure, but I think he’s still rookie listed.

    • Yeah he is stil rookie listed. He severely tore his hammy last year. Not sure how his recovery is.

      • I had him last year. When he got a game he was on the money. But when he played his second, I think it was, he got a cramp and came off, but they sent him back on because the kids are the priority. Bang! Went the hamstring and GC lost out, but not as much as my DT.

  • FYI Jack Grimes 2010 average was 81.9

  • Having a look at a few of these players. Porps,Mora, Hayes.
    Will probably restructure once I get an idea of the rookies.

  • Learnt a long time ago not to pick players coming off serious leg injuries the year before. Yet every year I consider them because of price. Durability is key, trades spent on injuries always have you going sideways.