Versus – Round 6: Swan v Pendlebury

Undoubtedly two of the best guns in the land of DT, most good teams will end up with both of these boys by the time finals roll around. But who should we start the year with? Last year I took the unheralded and much criticised decision to start with Pendles instead of Swannie. Fortunately for me it paid off with Swan having a mid-season breakdown, before becoming the perfect upgrade target and storming home in the second half of the year. But will this happen again in 2012? Both are absolute champions and will be among the first picked, but the key questions will be who to start with; and who to upgrade to after the bye?

Also, it must be considered that the pies are one of many teams that will line up behind a new coach in 2012. It remains to be seen how different Buckley’s game plan will be; and what effect this will have on their DT scores. However given the ability of both players to find the ball, I’d suggest that this won’t have a negative effect on eithers output.

Dane Swan

Price: $598,300
Position: MID
Bye round: 12
Age: 27

2011 Details
Avg: 120.9
Games played: 21
High Score: 171
Low Score: 83
No. 100 + scores: 16
Expected average for 2012: 120

Scott Pendlebury

Price: $576,900
Position: MID
Bye round: 12
Age: 24

2011 Details
Avg: 116.6
Games played: 22
High Score: 166
Low Score: 87
No. 100 + scores: 18
Expected average for 2012: 118

Scoring Potential/Consistency

Everyone already knows that both of these guys have amazing scoring potential and have already proven their ability to produce this week in, week out. Swan has averaged 119, 123 and 121 in the past 3 years to be known as the best DT player the game has ever seen. His ability to consistently rack up possessions, whilst simultaneously finding space makes him almost unstoppable once he gets going. Only dropping below 100 points in 5 games last year (3 of which were when he was carrying an injury); he will give you a ton almost every week, all the while giving you a reliable, walk up captain choice. He also had some outstanding games last year (including a massive 171 v Essendon), further elevating his standing as the game’s best Dream Teamer. His fellow magpie and captain-in-waiting, Scott Pendlebury has enjoyed a much faster rise to prominence. Having averaged 116.6 in his sixth year, he is a 24 year old ball magnet who continues to get better in each year he plays. Similar to Swan, he rarely drops below 100 (4 times in 2011) and is an extremely reliable option for a spot in your midfield group. Having also scored 140 + on four occasions, Pendles will give you more than a few titanic scores in 2012. Based on 2011 alone, no one in the AFL can take this one from Swan – but Pendlebury is fast catching him. Could 2012 be the year he takes over?

Durability

Using the past 6 years as a guide, Swan has played 129 games out of a possible 132, only missing 3 (prior to 2011 he played 4 seasons without missing a game). Pendlebury has also shown himself to be ultra-durable during his first 6 years in the AFL. Taking out his first year, he has played 105 out of a possible 110 games. Keeping in mind Swan took 3 seasons to get to his durable best; Pendles has once again gotten to where he sits much faster. This one is as close as it is irrelevant – barring a massive injury shock expect both of these men to play out a full season in 2012. As a sidenote, the only thing that could hurt coaches that pick either this season is the issue of resting. If the Pies are sitting pretty in pole position coming into their last few rounds, we could see a raft of Collingwood stars sit out their final match against Essendon in R23.

Value

This section is arguably irrelevant when talking about super premiums. We pay a high price based on the guarantee they will dominate and give us 100 + points every week. Sure, the likes of Swan, Pendles, Boyd and Mitchell will all drop in price at some point – but unless they improve their avg by more than a few ppg, so too will everyone else. And do the price changes really matter if we’re going to keep them anyway? Not if we have them to begin with, no. Now, whilst I’m a Subscriber of finding ‘underpriced premiums’ and love a bargain; when choosing our top players (who may also be a regular captain), value simply does not weigh as heavily as other factors. As a side note: if you are looking for ‘value’ in your midfield, see my previous ‘Versus’ article on Barlow v Hayes.

For the record – whilst I still believe Swan will average slightly more, Pendles is improving rapidly and may well take over this year as the best Dream Teamer in the league. And at roughly $22k cheaper, one could argue that Pendles offers more value. Whilst Swannie will still be the no. 1 man in most coaches’ eyes at this point; I believe that it is no longer a massive risk to pick Scotty over the Great Dane.

Team Draw

Whilst both players are enjoying trouble free preseasons, Pendlebury looks to be a man on a mission with everything he does. After recently being praised for his commitment, professionalism and leadership; he appears to be on a quest to take the mantle of # 1 player at Collingwood from Swan in 2012. With Swan also recently being removed from the Pies’ leadership group; could this be a sign of things to come in the upcoming season? With Swan’s injury worries from 2011 now well behind him, both men should start the year in peak fitness – resulting in high DT scores and quality football from round 1.

Playing for the same team, some may think this section is irrelevant. However I beg to differ. Aside from playing Richmond, Port, Essendon, Bulldogs and Brisbane inside the opening 7 rounds; the Pies appear to have the toughest draw – being the only team to play 4 of the top 5 teams from last year twice. Now, whilst they play the same teams, both players have different records against certain teams – particularly against their ‘double up’ opponents. Looking at the teams Collingwood play twice in 2012, consider these statistics from 2011:

Swan

Essendon – 104 + 171
Carlton – 116 + 101
West Coast – 89 + 144 (QF)
Hawthorn – 130 + 122 (PF)
Geelong – 115, 84 + 68 (GF)

Pendlebury

Essendon – 166 + 141
Carlton – 95 + 123
West Coast – 131 + 138 (QF)
Hawthorn – 105 +103 (PF)
Geelong – 89, 106 + 131 (GF)

From these stats it doesn’t seem that either will particularly struggle against their ‘double up’ opponents, however Swan did falter against the Cats twice last year. Whilst Pendlebury scored higher on aggregate against these 5 teams, both players boast an encouraging record against all of the top teams. So the ‘tough’ draw should not be considered in any way a negative factor in choosing either Collingwood gun in your midfield.

Bye Week Relevance

Collingwood share the round 12 bye with other midfield jets in Selwood, Bartel, Watson, Mundy, and Barlow; along with fellow pie guns Thomas and Beams. Ideally, you don’t want to start the season with more than two of these guys however an upgrade to another in R13 and beyond will be a popular choice. Starting with both Swan and Pendles would be expensive, but not overly costly as most coaches will be missing 2 midfield guns in this round as well.

The Numbers

Finally, as a quick summary I’ve put together some interesting stats on each player to outline their DT credentials (like I really need to at this point).

Swan

• Scored 100 + 76% in 2011 (80% in the past 3 years)
• Scored 120 + 48% in 2011 (54% in the past 3 years)
• After returning from Arizona in R14 he averaged 128.45 between R14 – R24
• In 2010, he returned 13 consecutive 100 + scores
• Take out his injury affected R9 – R11 and he averaged 126.33 in 2011

Pendlebury

• Scored 100 + 82% in 2011
• Averaged 153.5 v Essendon in 2011 (play twice in 2012)
• Scored 12 consecutive 100 + scores from R9 – R21 in 2011
• Just turned 24 in January this year and is years above his super premium peers in Matthew Boyd (29), Gary Ablett Jnr (27), Dane Swan (27) and Sam Mitchell (29)

Conclusion

This has become a bigger debate than usual this year – due largely to the rise of Scott Pendlebury. Dane Swan still remains as the best player the DT world has seen however with a new coach and more competition in the Pies’ midfield in 2012; his time at the top may soon come to an end. Both players have a remarkable ceiling, whilst their consistency is startling. But with so many great picks in the midfield this year, it will be difficult to fit both players in as they are the two most expensive names in the game. The word from team McRath is that Scotty Pendlebury has one foot in the door; with Swan on the radar for a mid–season upgrade. Choose one to start with and upgrade to the other. Which one you pick is up to you. However can you really go wrong with either?

Cheers for reading – Feedback appreciated.

McRath

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