Melbourne Demons: AFL Dream Team Picks

This series of ‘club preview’ posts are written by DT TALK regular contributors choosing their 5 players they have on their watchlist from the respective club. These aren’t who we think will be the top 5 highest scoring players… and are not necessarily in order. They are just our opinions of the 5 players who we have on our watchlist heading into the 2012 season.

Chook’s five from the Dees

1. James Magner (MID), $85,800

It’s a sad reflection of where the Demons are headed this season that a rookie player under an injury cloud remains their most DT-relevant commodity. You’ve all heard the background story by now: a 24-year-old tough-as-nails type midfielder who led the VFL in possessions last year arrives at a club whose new coach is demanding a more hard-at-it approach to the footy. Magner shone through the Dees’ opening two rounds, totalling 70 DT points from his first two outings against Brisbane and the Gold Coast, before knocking up an 89 against Collingwood. Elevation off the club’s rookie list looked a mere formality, with the Dees having three spots available. At that stage, Magner was a lock in every serious Dream Teamers squad. Then came the finger injury in last weekend’s third round of the NAB Cup. The Hawks dismantled an insidpid Demons outfit and, while they were at it, dislocated a finger belonging to one of their most promising off-season recruits. The player himself has tweeted that it’s not a serious injury, though we’re still awaiting an official timeframe. Injury aside, the other knocks on Magner are that his disposal is less than elite and his game style might mirror that of teammate Brent Moloney too closely to warrant having both in the same side. I’m prepared to overlook those criticisms and lock him in if he’s elevated in time for the Demons’ season-opener against Brisbane.

2. Tom Couch (MID/FWD), $85,800

There’s certainly a spot for a new face in Melbourne midfield after Tom Scully scooted to Greater Western Sydney last year, but the only other loss from the team’s best 22 was defender Matthew Warnock’s defection to the Gold Coast, meaning it might be hard for one let alone two rookies to get an early gig. A new coach in the form of ex-Collingwood assistant Mark Neeld opens the door to a bit of shake-up, however, and Tom Couch at least has history with Neeld after playing 12 games for the Magpies’ reseverves in the VFL last season. The son of Geelong champion Paul, Tom averaged 20 possessions a game, including four clearances, and the 23-year-old has been helpfully listed as a dual-position player for DT purposes this year. While he hasn’t scored at the same heights as Magner, it hasn’t been too shabby either (NAB1 52, NAB2 72, NAB3 21 in half a game) and if he gets a go as early as round one of the serious stuff, then pop him on your pine.

3. Jack Grimes (DEF), $329,400

A popular DT defender when fit, Grimes was making his way into a lot of plan team prior to the pre-season competition, but a two-week shoulder injury and the emergence of several other mid-priced backs has seen him reduced to a touch above 10% ownership across the game. Still only 22, the club’s new co-captain is priced at a 74-point average and should improve on that (remembering he averaged 89 in 2009) if he stays on the park. That’s a big “if” though. Certainly a gamble, but one that could pay off handsomely.

4. Colin Garland (DEF), $288,000

Let’s be honest, few coaches are going to have two Demons in their Dream Team this season, let alone three or four, but the job specs said five, so let’s see what we can come up with. Ah, there at the bottom of the barrell is Colin Garland, who hasn’t averaged more than 74 in his five-year career (including just 58 last year), but finished the 2011 season strongly and has shown glimpses of DT relevance this pre-season. His final five scores last year read 70, 65, 98, 124, 62, and, he had another century in the Demons win over Collingwood in round two of this year’s NAB Cup competition. Garland started like a steam-train against the Hawks last week, revelling in a non-accountable role, but finished with just 56 points following a move on to Buddy Franklin. How often he gets handed the loose-man-in-defence job will really define his Dream Team season.

5. Matthew Bate (FWD), $248,000

Really? Five? If I went by popularity in Dream Team at the time of writing, it would be $85,800 forward Leigh Williams (in 4% of teams compared with 19% for Magner, 12% for Grimes and 8% for Couch), but all that tells me is that Williams comes from a ridiculously large family and all of them play Dream Team. I have to overlook Colin Sylvia because he’s suspended for round one and is horribly inconsistent in any case, and we know that new recruit Mitch Clark will be playing a less-profitable key forward position as opposed to the sole ruck role that made him a DT stud at Brisbane a few years, so I’m going with Bate. Maybe the new coach won’t hate on him as hard as the last bloke. He has already been spotted in the midfield more often than not and was the highest scoring Demon over the two mini-games in round one of the NAB Cup with 74 in total. And, at $248,000 he’s not going to be the most expensive mistake you make this year.

Taking any Demons into your fight for the 2012 Dream Team flag? Let me know in the comments or in the twittersphere (@ChookDT).

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