As promised, here is my Top 10 list of AFL Dreamteam players who I consider high Risk vs Reward options for 2013. What makes them high risk??? Well, they are all skunks…..
1. Jordan Russell
Jordan Russell’s best quality is that he makes poor decisions with the ball. That’s right, his best football quality is that he only makes POOR decisions with the football. Not horrendous decisions, (like his disposal) not awful decisions, (like his accountability) but just poor decisions.
I shouldn’t be so derogatory. Jordan Russell was an inspired selection for a few crazy AFL Dreamteam coaches back in 2010. He turned in a solid season after being Carlton FC’s whipping boy for the three years prior and even after preseason surgery, 2011 was far from a disaster averaging 71.2 pts from 16 games.
2012 however was as bad as Henry Slattery’s entire career. Falling out with Brett Ratten saw Russell play only a handful of games for the meagre return of 57 pts. I personally blame Bryce Gibbs for not getting midfield time and mothing around the half back line for Russell’s inability to break into the seniors.
Collingwood swooped on the rebounding half back and with Marty Clarke being groomed for the defensive midfielders role in 2013 I can see Russell slotting into his role. If he can show Buckley and co in the preseason that he is back to his 2009/2010 form, Russell can comfortably increase his average to 90 pts.
2. Tom Bellchambers
Bellchambers is just about the perfect case study on Tasmanian men. He is dumb as a box of hammers and can quite simply look confused when ordering a Happy Meal. However, the Essendon ruckman is also ready to explode in the world of Dreamteam.
13 games in 2011 for an average return of 66 points was then solidified in 2012 when big Tom averaged 80 points form his 16 games. Mid year he even started to sound like a player who finally thought he was capable of assuming Essendon’s number 1 ruck. Coinfidence deserted him for a while mid year but he returned in the later part of the season to show that he was indeed ready to take the game apart.
Bellchambers will never be a Dean Cox or a Nick Natanui but he will be a uber unique ruck choice who can average 95 points. If the ruck carnage of 2012 continues in 2013, Bellchambers might be the ballsy selection ala Ivan Maric, at a higher price and without the mullet.
3. Max Gawn
Max who? In 2011 a gangly unco looking ruckman played 4 games for the Melbourne Football club. He was played two years too soon and although he averaged only 56 points he showed me enough to keep an eye out. 2012 was ruined by a season ending knee injury before it began however ‘GawnDog’ was given his very own segment on DeeTV so the kid must be able to play right?!?
Mark Jamar is a shadow of his former self and is still crying over the fact that Brent Maloney has left so there is no one for him to tap the ball too! When Jamar retires, or more likely breaks down, Gawn is his heir apparent and at less that 150k a 80 average is on the table for those with the Kahunas to select the Gawndog
4. Alex Rance
Rance looks like a good player. Richmond supporters will say that his is, god bless them and their one-eyed ways, and although he has done a solid enough job in the past few years, he has certainly not been Dreamteam relevant.
72 points from 19 games in 2011 was followed by 71.4 points in 2012 and although his curve is as flat as the Adelaide Oval wicket I believe 2013 will see Rance take it to the next level.
I am basing this on is the inclusion of Troy Chaplin who escaped Port Adelaide faster than Bill Brownless skols a frothy!
Rance will be released to be the damaging rebounding defender who will rack up +6’s with ease. A beautiful mark for his size, Alex can really rack up the points when he can be what us Dreamteam coaches love in a fantasy pick, unaccountable.
Rance’s disposal under pressure has been questionable however the Tigers are really developing their skill with Dimma in charge as head cocker, so with another preseason of handling numerous balls I foresee Rance smashing out some big scores as a unique defender in 2013.
5. Nathan Lovett-Murray
Not many good AFL players have a hyphenated surname. In fact, I actually discriminate against all ‘hyphens’ in real life and I am actually quite reluctant to talk up NLM’s prospects in 2013 but it would be remiss to exclude based on a name.
Lovett-Murray was used as a sub more times in 2012 than Lindsay Lohan had sex in LA night clubs. To average 56 points in 17 games with 9 green vest starts speaks volumes of NLM’s scoring potential. I have it on good authority that he will be used as a rebounding half back in 2013 and will avoid the vest as Hird wants to blood more young players next year.
A tackling machine, NLM also has a great kick to handball ratio and is good in the air so his +6’s are strong when he is playing the role that enables it.
Essendon will be a high Dreamteam scoring side in 2013 with their game style so don’t be afraid to look outside the Watsons, Goddards, Stantons when evaluating Essemdon players for your Dreamteam side.
6. Harley Bennell
In years gone by anyone with the name Bennell, had to be avoided at all costs in Dreamteam. This is possibly the first Bennell that is actually able to play the game. Overcoming home sickness Bennell quickly established himself as The GC Suns second best player.
An outstanding junior career pointed to a stella AFL career however a few doubted his ability to be a fantasy relevant option. In his second year in the system 19 yr old Bennell averaged 85 points, an almost 20 point increase from his first year.
He runs all day, kicks goals and has so far handled the tag that opposition players were starting to apply. Bennell benefits also from being the only other player on the list that Gazza Jnr has confidence to give the ball to. As we know Gazza gets it 50 times a games so Bennell will continue to rack up the disposals and although awkwardly priced, could push through the 100 point average in 2013.
7. Ben Cunnington
Cunnington was selection 5 in the 2009 AFL Draft. As we know, high draft picks don’t necessarily make top Dreamteam players, ask Mitch Thorpe, however I believe that Cunnington is ready to explode in 2013.
I was a fan from his junior days and selected him as a starting rookie in 2010. A strong body didn’t help Cunnington and he really struggled to adapt to the pace of AFL. Two solid preseasons and his curve is heading the right way, as a re The Kangaroos.
52.6 points from 16 games in 2011 leapt to 75.2 from 19 games in 2012. Natural progression and more midfield time due to his improved engine should see Cunnington smash through the 90 average in 2013.
Like his skipper Andrew Swallow who Cunnington models his game on, he is a tackling machine. His skills are not the silkiest in the team however he is a future leader of the club and a fierce competitor which his coach loves.
Again, he is awkwardly prices, however all of these players I am profiling fit into my mid-priced unique options.
The riskiest of them all and the greatest opportunity to reward in my eyes. According to many at Richmond, Vickery was ready to dominate the game in 2012. I always thought he was a year or two shy of becoming fantasy relevant however injuries will see Vickery priced at less than 250k.
He is a big, strong kid who despite appearances is a great mark of the Sherrin. He will be played as a permanent forward with forward half ruck duties and will get the second best defender behind Jack Reiwoldt.
Vickery has been working on his engine to anable him to get up the ground and Richo has been working on making him a modern day clone of himself. If Vickery can get on the end of a lot of uncontested marks on the flanks and wings his +6’s alone will make him worth the selection.
I don’t know too many people who will have the aggots to pick big Tyrone as FWD/Mids are becoming flavour of the month. At the price, he is surely worthy of consideration.
9. Michael Walters.
Walters has as many bad tattoos as I have grey hairs however this kid might have finally had the ‘Ross’ kicked into him. Behavioural problems have hindered Walters ability to be a good AFL player. So had his love for pies, chips, doughnuts, should I go on?
His talent has always been unquestioned and after a club banishment in the first half of 2012 he came back to show the football world what he is capable of. 8 games, a 64 average for a guy who hadn’t trained to an acceptable level his whole career has tremendous upside.
Walters is a goal kicker and had to stay close to goal in 2012. If he is still looks lean in the NAB Cup he will be able to push up the ground and really add to his Dreamteam scoring.
The only problem I can for see with picking Walters is that he is coached by Ross Lyon who could decide to make him an accountable back pocket after playing him through the midfield in the pre season. Sound familiar anyone????
10. Scott Gumbleton
Go on I dare you!!!
There is no exact science to picking when a player is going to turn their fortunes around. I have based my predictions on a few KPI’s that I have been researching and am happy to have my selections dissected.
After all, opinions are like assholes, everyone has one its just that yours stinks!
Hit me up on twitter @stueyden
* These thoughts are those of the author and not necessarily DT Talk – especially that Tasmania bit…