Versus – Round 2: Swan v Ablett


A head2head analysis of Dream Teams Elite

Each year we are faced with selection decisions that turn into headaches that effectively shape our seasons as Dream Team Coaches. It is imperative to look at all of the issues; all of the positives (and negatives); and get an accurate, well informed opinion before you make that call. This preseason, McRath (with the help of Rob Rusan) will again look at a series of players who, for whatever reason may find themselves in one of these 50-50 calls. This analysis will help you to make an informed decision and let us handle the headaches.

As the two premier Dream Team players from 2012 (and for several years preceding 2012) Ablett and Swan come with big price tags in 2013. Factoring in this along with the fact that they share the bye with many other DT relevant midfielders, coaches could be at a struggle to fit both of these proven superstars into their squads come round one. So that leaves the painstaking question of which one of these two guns to pick if you can only fit in one of them? Hopefully this round in the ‘versus’ series will help answer that question for you come my final verdict.

Dane SwanSwan Profile

Price: $688 100
Position: Midfielder
Age: 28
Bye round: 13
Average Last 3 Years: 133.56, 120.95, 123.09

2012 Details
Average: 133.3
Games played: 18
High score: 187
Low score: 95
No. Of 100+ scores: 17
No. Of sub 100 scores: 1

Gary AblettAblett Profile

Price: $642 500
Position: Midfielder
Age: 28
Bye round: 13
Average Last 3 Years: 124.7, 112.15, 119.05

2012 Details
Average: 124.7
Games played: 20
High score: 186
Low score: 61
No. Of 100+ scores: 16
No. Of sub 100 scores: 4


Fixture Analysis

Based on 2011 & 2012 Stats (Injured games are excluded)

Dane Swan

Teams Played in the first 4 rounds:  North – 155avg (2 games against), Carlton – 107.66 (4), Hawthorn – 132.33 (3), Richmond – 123.5 (2)
Total average against teams played in the first 4 rounds: 129.625
Teams Played Twice: Hawthorn – 132.33 (3), Carlton – 107.66 (4), Essendon – 158.25 (4), North – 155 (2), Sydney – 125 (1)
Total average against teams played twice: 135.65

Swanny has a decent record against the teams he comes up against in the first month, especially against North in round 1 where chances are he could pull out a massive score and get your season off to a nice start as captain. Another positive for Swanny is that he carries a record of a combined average of 135.65 (over the 2011 & 2012 season) against the teams he comes up against twice in 2013.

Gary Ablett Jnr

Teams Played in the first 4 rounds: St Kilda – 107.33 (3), Sydney – 152 (1), Brisbane – 107.5 (4), Port Adelaide – 94.5 (2)
Total average against teams played in the first 4 rounds: 115.33
Teams Played Twice: St Kilda – 107.33 (3), Port Adelaide – 94.5 (2), GWS – 102.5 (2), Melbourne – 113 (2), Brisbane – 107.5 (4)
Total average against teams played twice: 104.96

As you can see from the stats above Ablett has a poor record (by his standards) against both the teams he plays in the first month and the teams he plays twice throughout the season. Also, in light of his 2012 scoring breakdown displaying that when the suns win or play against the lesser teams his scoring is affected, possibly by the reduced reliance on him, the suns weaker draw seems as though it could play against him.

Verdict: Overall it appears as if Swan has a rather favourable draw for his DT scoring while Ablett, despite arguably having the easier team draw, is seemingly worse off in terms of his fixture for DT output. Therefore Swanny gets the points here (Swan 1 – Ablett 0).

Scoring Potential/Ceiling & Consistency

Both Swan and Ablett are in a league of their own when it comes to consistently smashing out huge scores and that is why they do not come cheaply heading into the 2013 season. The following graph displaying the comparison between the two in a deeper break down of their scores:

Swan-Ablett Graph





Verdict: Keeping in mind that Swan was injured in his only game below 100 and unable to finish the game he displayed greater consistency than Ablett throughout the season which grabs him the points once again given their similar ceiling (Swan 2 – Ablett 0).


Swan missed just 3 games from to 2006-2011 before missing 4 in 2012, 2 due to a club imposed suspension and the other 2 being attributed to a hamstring complaint of which he had no further issue with throughout the season. From this we can say that yes, Dane is very durable, but like most is prone to have the occasional minor injury. On the downside he can also get into a bit of trouble off field which is something to worry about but is only a minor issue. Throughout the same period of 2006-2011, Ablett missed a combined total of 11 matches before missing a further 2 in 2012. However none of these matches missed can be attributed to a major, recurring injury.

Verdict: Both have relatively strong records that show their durability is quite good. Ablett has missed more games however Swan is prone to the occasional off field misdemeanour, so they can’t be split in this category (Swan 2.5 – Ablett 0.5).

Current Health and Fitness Reports

According to newly re-instated Collingwood captain Nick Maxwell, Swanny is apparently having one of (if not his best) pre-season to date and is absolutely tearing up the track following a supposed positive change of attitude.

Swan on Song

Ablett on the other hand suffered a back injury pre-Christmas, which put him out for a month. He did, however complete a main session just before the Christmas break and is well on track for round one.

Gary Ablett back on deck for Gold Coast

Verdict: Due to his early interruption in the preseason, Ablett may not live up to his price tag in the early part of 2013 whilst he climbs to peak fitness, however I could very well be wrong and it may not affect him at all. With a quality pre-season to date however, Swanny could be absolutely flying from round 1. If he does come out firing then look out if you don’t have him from the get go. Swan again by a small margin (Swan 3.5 – Ablett 0.5).

Bye Week Relevance

Given the Best-18 approach Virtual Sports has taken this season and the fact that both Swan and Ablett share the same bye round (13) there is no ‘winner’ or comparison that needs to be provided in this category. However an important thing to note is that Collingwood and Gold Coast also share the same bye; as do Adelaide, Carlton, Essendon and GWS. Meaning that Swan and Ablett will be missing at the same time as midfield players such as: Beams, Pendles, Watson, Murphy, Stanton, Dangerfield, Thompson, Sidebottom and Toby Greene. Despite the Best-18 being introduced this year I wouldn’t be overly confident heading into the season with any more than 3 of those players mentioned, including Ablett and Swan, so be weary of this when selecting your initial squad.

Verdict: They share the same bye, so no there is no point’s differential (Swan 3.5 – Ablett 0.5).


Taking into account their starting prices and likelihood that they won’t improve on their averages very much (if it all), neither player offers any great value in 2013. To put it simply: you will be paying for either the most (or second most) proven; consistently high scoring; captain option in Dream Team. You will be picking them with the mindset that they are likely to be in the top 3 scoring players for 2013 – and ideally, #1. Therefore in this category they once again can’t be split and will share the points (Swan 4 – Ablett 1).

Numbers to Consider

Dane Swan

Average of tons: 135.82
Average Pre Bye: 125
Average Post Bye: 141.67
Average in winning teams: 138.77
Average in losing teams: 120
Average against eventual top 8 teams: 128.71
Average against eventual bottom 10 teams: 136.64

The breakdown of Swan’s 2012 season tells us no more than what we already knew. The man is an absolute freak and is consistently good regardless of who and where he is playing. There is a couple of little things to note however: Swan likes to bully the weaker teams – averaging almost 8 more points per game in matches against bottom 10 sides in comparison to matches against fellow top 8 sides. He also plays a lot better when his team is performing better, evidenced by his massive 138.77 average in winning sides compared to his 120 average in losing squads. However, given the fact that he topped the ton in all but one (injured and subbed on 95 with almost a quarter to go) of his 18 matches, including 14 of those scores between 116 and 187, I wouldn’t be looking into his ‘weaker’ performances that seem to come in losing games and against tougher opponents.

Gary Ablett

Average of tons: 134.25
Average Pre Bye: 126.2
Average Post Bye: 123.2
Average in winning teams: 105.33
Average in losing teams: 128.12
Average against eventual top 8 teams: 139.125
Average against eventual bottom 10 teams: 115.08

It can be noted from Ablett’s 2012 season that his performances against top 8 teams and in losing sides, far exceeds his performances against bottom 10 teams and in winning matches. I believe this can be attributed to the belief that against the lesser sides his team mates do not have to rely upon him as heavily as they do in their matches against top quality opponents. It can also be seen that in the second half of the season Ablett averaged marginally less than in his first half of the season. I believe that this, in a sign of things to come, is associated with Gold Coast’s improved team performance in the second half of the year slightly relieving the heavy reliance on Ablett and in turn affecting his scoring output.

Verdict: If one was to base their selections purely on 2012 statistics Swanny would easily get the nod here following his unprecedented 2012. Great Dane gets the final points (Swan 5 – Ablett 1).


Gary Ablett Jnr will no doubt be a quality selection in 2013. However with the likelihood of a lighter reliance on him due to the likely progression of the Gold Coast list, I can’t see him reaching the same heights as his 2012 season. In a bold statement likely to backfire quite heavily on me, I actually believe Gaz Jnr will struggle to be in the top 3 DT players come season end. Now onto the Great Dane – Swanny is an unparalleled force so far in the Dream Team world and there is good reason to believe that this will more than likely continue in 2013. He may slip in his average this year with a possible reduced load in the midfield due to the natural progression of Collingwood’s young midfielders and Ball returning to the field.

Final Verdict: Discounting injury, Dane Swan will be the #1 player in Dream Team come years end and remains a deserving selection in your initial team despite his hefty price tag; and in my opinion worth the extra $45k over Ablett in 2013.

FOLLOW ME ON TWITTER: @robertrusan8 to share your thoughts on this Round of ‘Versus’.


  • Both.

    There that makes it easier.

    Interesting write up though. I would not have considered Swan so far out in front of GAJ, but I can’t dispute the logic Robdog.

    • +1.

      Although your harsh critique of GAJ almost has me thinking twice about him LOL.

      If he’s not going to be in the top 3 who will be? Surely as the Suns improve there will be more DT points to go around, others scoring doesn’t mean he will have to score less?

      • I think Swanny & Pendles will average more than ablett and Stanton, Beams & Cotch will be up near him, i know its a big call but honestly think he will not be top 3.

        • LOL, current Premos in my midfield Swan, Pendles, Ablett and Cotch. Not sold on Stanton and Beams – if someone goes down it will probably be Watson that comes in (hopefully I can get away from the fact that JPK looks ready to improve and keeps popping up in my fiddling).

          Amazing how everyone ignores Boyd – me included.

    • Didn’t notice that part of the article.

      That is a big call.

      Andrew (comment below) has ended any shred of doubt I had about going with both from the start. Thanks for that!

  • Same here, both for me. I have considered dropping Gaz to free up cash for other areas, but he, like Swan, is just too good. Both locked and loaded.

  • Same again sir. Both locked & loaded once again in 2013.

  • If you think about it, locking them both is a smart play.

    After 2 rounds if one or both are under-performing you can always make a trade or 2. Looking at their prices and the way price change is only effective after round 3 you could potentially trade in 2 premo players (like a cotchin or watson) and make $170,000 in profit. There is no way you can do that with anyone else in the league bar these 2.


  • you cannot discount GAJ based on the natural progression of the players around him. swanie continues to thrive in a midfield composed of pendles, beams, sidbum et al, so why can’t GAJ?

  • Rob i think your forgetting ablett became god when he was sorounded by great players… Remember when Ablett, Bartel & Corey were the top 3 dt players? With the improvement of the suns mids comes more ball for the suns wich means more ball for smj… Im starting with both & Ablett will be my first pick in elite.

    • i realise that mate but looking looking at the stats from last year (i know stats are not always the best indicator but this is a stat based game) it appears as if when the team performs better as a whole there is less of a reliance and less cheap ball for ablett which could be why he scored less prominently when the Suns either won or were more competitive against the lesser teams. Don’t get me wrong, i think ablett will once again be up there but i just don’t think he justifies his initial price tag, especially with his apparent tough start to the year.

  • This is a great Versus for draft games… if you’ve got pick one, who do you take?

  • I think you were much too harsh on GAJ there.
    I recon he will DEFINETLY be in the top 3 scoring DT players tgis season.

  • Can the next one be Rocko and Zorky?

    • I’m still deciding who the next Versus matchup will be. Lot of love for Rocky and Zorko so it may well be that exact combination. Stay tuned for clues later this week on who will actually be next.

  • Very hard to argue against those stats. I keep on changing between Gaz and Swannie – now I’m leaning back to Swannie again.

  • Personally I’ll be looking at GAJ as an upgrade target. Not because of Gold-Coast’s natural progression, but because in the first 6 rounds he comes up against Clinton Jones, Andrew Raines and Ryan Crowley. Undoubtedly the three best taggers in the comp. This combined with his back injury may result in him starting slow. Great article Rob, and I look forward to more in the future.

    • Joke_R you have raised the most valid point. If my memory serves me right Raines shut GAJ down to 80 something, however their last game GAJ scored about 110. I had both locked in but now I’m thinking of freeing up some cash and just going with Swan.

    • That may have a bearing, it also may not. He put 143 on both Raines and Jones last year as well as 175 when he last played Freo in 2011, but on the other hand he got a paltry 61 against the Saints the second time around and Crowley has reached new levels. In the 97 against Raines last year he missed a fair chunk of the final quarter with the knee injury, so that was on track for a standard score.

  • interesting.. either way I have both anyways. agree swanny will be better, but disagree he will be at least top 3. But I see some logic in what your saying, but there won’t be much keeping him away from getting the ball…

  • I forget to change it but the final conclusion on Ablett should say:

    Gary Ablett Jnr will no doubt be a quality selection in 2013. However with the likelihood of a lighter reliance on him due to the likely progression of the Gold Coast list, along with his tough start to the season and interrupted pre-season, I can’t see him reaching the same heights as his 2012 season. In a bold statement likely to backfire quite heavily on me, I actually believe Gaz Jnr will struggle to be in the top 3 DT players come season end.

  • Great write up- solid research. I will be starting with Swan over Ablett- the back issue before Christmas a concern I reckon. Also I cant fit both in my starting squad – not in the 87 diferent teams I have put together so far anyway!

    Cheers for the info

  • Abletts BE will ensure he will drop in price, Buy in round 4/5 much better value.

    • Or, as has been suggested, start with him, trade him prior to round 3 for whoever has the most massively negative BE, and trade him in again once his price has stabilised

  • If the suns midfield is better than last year, won’t that result in GAJ getting more of the ball as a result of his teammates having more of it?
    Just a thought.

  • I think this article just highlights how good Swanny is in terms of DT. Also when it comes to GAJ, i believe his better scoring against top 8 sides is because the top 8 sides win so easily that they don’t worry how much ball he gets……whereas bottom 8 sides need to stop him to make sure they win but as GC’S mids get better the bottom sides will need to stop more than just GAJ to win.

  • I browsed through Ablett’s previous seasons and found that he consistently starts seasons well. Swan on the other hand is prone to slower starts, so my immediate decision was start with GAJ and upgrade to Swanny after 4-6 rounds. However, with Swan supposedly finding a better attitude, Gaz hampered by injuries and the early fixture appearing to suit Swan better, that may change. As simple as something like Sandi –> Mummy to make it happen.

  • Having both. Can’t live without Swan/Ablett in Fantasy Land as in air and water in life.