Versus – Round 8

Defenders are back on the cards again for the round 8 versus. This round shapes as a historic one given the exploration into China. I personally have my doubts over whether this extravagant experiment will actually work, but that’s best kept for another article. Without further ado, here’s Kade Simpson and Dylan Roberton to kick things off. Enjoy.


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Kade Simpson ($593,000, Tom) V Dylan Roberton ($586,000, Leighroy)  

No matter how much you might dislike the Blues, one man you can not hate is Kade Simpson. Simmo is one of only a few out-and-out leaders at Visy Park. Having been a cornerstone of the navy blues defence since introducing himself to the competition is 2003, Simmo has since featured in 271 games. Key features of his personal game include his drive off half-back, good decision-making and consistently neat disposal by foot. But what he brings to the table, unlike many other rebounding half-backmen is his courage. Simmo is not one to shy away from the contest – despite playing a predominately un-contested role where he is not often required to win his own hard ball. Kade has always been a Fantasy prospect worth having on the watch list at-least. Having dropped under a season average of 80 just once since 2005, Simpson has also managed to play all 22 games eight times.

Image result for kade simpson s.afl.com.auSimpson, along with teammate Sam Docherty whom he is often compared to in Fantasy circles, barely waste a possession with ball in hand. And the ball finds its way into those hands regularly. Simpson is currently exceeding his career averages for kicks, handballs, disposals, marks, tackles and Fantasy points – not bad for a 33 year-old veteran. You could say he’s enduring a career best year. It’s no secret the young Blues will seek the assured skills of Kade when looking to transition from defence to attack.

Leighroy makes the point below that Roberton has a very mark/kick style game which may not hold up as well when put up against the harsh Melburnian climate. And the same can be said for Simmo. However we have seen Simpson’s game stand the test of time, and weather for that matter, and against Essendon and Collingwood this year, where the rain has been out in force, he has performed well scoring 90 and 101. Consistency is what you get from Simpson. He is almost a shoe-in for 90+ every week and is the type of guy you can rely on in close head-to-head match ups. And this year we have seen Simpson’s ceiling which, thanks to scores of  126 and 161 against Richmond and Sydney respectively, has proven to be right up there with the very best defenders. I’m scratching my head, trying to point out a flaw attached with picking Simmo, but the standard ‘he’ll be rested’ or ‘he’ll get injured’ which is linked to some of the games elder statesman, simply doesn’t apply to Kade. You know you’re getting a quality, top six defender.

Simpson featured in Versus only a few rounds ago and its a testament to him that he returns again this week. Admittedly, Roberton is having a very good season, but if you look at his record, jumping out of the page is the fact that he’s only averaged over 70 points in a season once. Ask yourself, would you be prepared to take the plunge on a guy like Roberton, who will average around the same as Simmo and may well come to a screeching holt soon enough.

Dylan Roberton….. Roberton? …. RoberTON as I like to call him, just keeps on getting it done! In my eyes, Roberton has become this years’ ‘2016’ Heath Shaw In that he appears to be one of, if not THE general down back for St Kilda. Realistically we should have definitely paid more attention to him during the pre season and those lucky coaches who took the gamble on him back in round 1 will be frothing at th e $165,000 he has made since then. Now priced at $586,000 Roberton has undoubtedly broken out and looks to be a genuine consideration as a top 6 defender come years end. Who’d have picked that? Let’s take a closer look shall we.

A player breaking out in Fantasy land is genuine gold and is often the difference between the top 1000 odd coaches. Last year for example it was Hunter and although there are several options this year, you’d be foolish to disregard Roberton’s form as a mere fluke. This year alone he has smashed his career best numbers for individual games eg; disposals (32), kicks (25), marks (12), goals (2) and most importantly AFL Fantasy (134). What these stats tell me is that there has been a significant increase in confidence in not only himself, but his fellow players to give him the ball, and that there has been a possible role change that has greatly increased his Fantasy output.

Image result for dylan roberton s.afl.com.auAnother Shaw-like trait that RoberTON has adopted is his kick to handball ratio. Dear lord he loves a kick, so much in fact that his kicks outnumber his handballs by more than four times! 140 kicks to 34 handballs this equates again to more points. In the interest of disclosure however, Roberton isn’t breaking any tackling records anytime soon, as so far this year he’s only laid 22 tackles, which is just a day out for someone like Sloane…. I mean, he’s not avoiding tackles like a certain Eagle who shall remain nameless… ‘cough’ Gaff ‘cough’, but it genuinely concerns me when a player relies so heavily on marks to score their points. Coming into Winter, especially Melbourne’s Winter which would put Westeros’ to shame, I do see a few games when the conditions simply do not favour Roberton’s mark/kick style of play which could realistically end up with him producing a pretty putrid score for someone who may very well be above $600k in a few weeks. This is all hypothetical of course but it’s definitely something you need to consider when forking out big bucks for a player.

Just briefly, I must admit Simpson’s ceiling has certainly proven to be much higher thus far, but who knows it’s still very early into Roberton’s break out year and the potential for a 150+ is certainly there.

A lot of coaches on Twitter have been asking me the question Simpson Vs Roberton and put simply, it’s a lot tougher than it seems. Another point that makes it difficult is the fact they share the same bye and a lot of coaches already have a combination of Doch, Lloyd and Marchbank all sat there, which means can you really afford to add another round 11 bye player to your back six before the byes actually start? It’s tough, but let me put it this way… Even though I’m supposed to be on Robbo’s side here, I can’t help but to admit I would feel much safer opening up my AFL Fantasy app on my phone and seeing Simpson’s determined little eyes staring right back at me. It’s a personal thing, perhaps brought on by the years of security we’ve had with Simpson/Docherty by our side. However, if you find yourself only being able to afford Roberton, do not take this as being anything but praise for the young 25-year-old. I foresee many many years with Roberton firmly in our fantasy sides and if this year is anything to go by, I wouldn’t be surprised if he becomes one of the must haves at the start of every year.

Michael Hibberd ($446,000, Tom) V Heath Shaw ($497,000, Leighroy)

Remember this guy? Old mate Hibbo? The former Bomber turned-Demon has fallen off the radar over the past year or so. This was largely because of the ban put in place to prevent certain Essendon players from competing in the entirety of the 2016 campaign. Whilst the Bombers managed to secure many of their banned stars, Hibberd saw his future elsewhere and in the most recent trade period, made the move to Simon Goodwin’s mob in exchange for pick 29 and a swap of late selections.

Image result for michael hibberd s.afl.com.auHis Demon career didn’t get off to the brightest of starts, succumbing to an achilles injury which kept him sidelined for the final JLT match and the first four rounds. But since he has come into the side, Hibberd’s ability to find and distribute the football with precision has been integral to the Melbourne back-line. So far this season, Hibbo has produced scores of 97, 84 and 73. With an average of 26 disposals and 4.6 marks, Hibberd has slotted back in well.

If it wasn’t for his pre-season injury, I have no doubt many more coaches would’ve jumped on board the defender who, as a result of the discount, was available for sub-450k. And he is still very cheap for the sorts of scores we can expect to see. At $446k, Michael is more than $150k less than the uber-premium defenders and is reliable for an average of at-least 80 points.

Hibberd is one of those guys who hasn’t, and I dare say probably never will manage to hit great heights in terms of his Fantasy output, having only peaked at an average of 89 back in 2014. But what he does offer is consistency – you know you’re going to get your 80-90 points per week.

No-one quite knew how the banned Bombers would perform this year. Will they have enough in the tank to be able to run out games? So far the answer appears to be yes for Hibbo. He’s spending an average of 84% time on ground and, as Hibbo continues to adapt back  into the AFL environment further improvement is likely.

Like Heater, Michael Hibberd has a break-even of 72 ahead of this weeks games. I think it’s pretty safe to say he’ll exceed that mark and should make his owners plenty more cash beyond the bye rounds. Fair enough, I will concede that Shaw is the more likely of the two to press on and life his average back to the level it should be. There’s no denying it, Heater is the better Fantasy player but he isn’t having the same sort of influence of the half-back line for the Giants, with the likes of Zac Williams, Nick Haynes, Adam Kennedy and Nathan Wilson all having more of an impact. Hibberd, the Demons best kicker and capable intercept marker, is their first port of call in the back half. Will the Dee average more come seasons end? I’d probably say no. But Hibberd is cheaper and Shaw no longer plays a lone hand in the Giants backline.

If somebody told me during the pre season that it would take 7 rounds, that’s right 7, for Heath Shaw to register a Fantasy ton I’d have laughed and probably called them a wally (silently and under my breath of course) as I smugly walked away feeling superior in my Fantasy player picking abilities. Alas, as this season has shown, some of our most trusted veterans have gone and let us down and for some unlucky coaches, this has cost -$117,000 if you’ve had him since round 1. Ouch.

So what exactly has gone wrong? No seriously can someone please enlighten me? I’ve genuinely not been able to watch a GWS game all year so forgive my ignorance but I will still attempt to win this argument against Hibberd….. my god, how can we seriously be comparing Shaw against Hibberd? Oh how the mighty have fallen.

Image result for heath shaw gws s.afl.com.auOk, so from what I’ve looked into and from what my mates tell me, Shaw is still being his traditional kick happy self. Great! Case closed move on…. well not exactly, you see what Shaw is massively lacking at the start of this season is his insane amount of marks. Looking at his first 7 games of last year he averaged 9 marks per game as opposed to this year whereby he’s only averaging 5. Not to mention the fact that during those first 7 games in 2016 he had a string of games where he took 10,14,11 and 10 marks in rounds 4-7 inclusive. Comparing the start of 2016 vs the start of 2017 could go on for hours but the bottom line and realistically the most important point is that he is all round just not getting as much of the footy as what we’re used too, that’s it. Now as I said above please feel free to discuss why you think this is and enlighten me too. My best guess is perhaps a role change or maybe more focus is being put into Wilson/Williams and a changing of the guard is in motion?

From a Fantasy perspective, Shaw going missing is not a new thing (headache Heath anyone?) but usually he goes bang more often than not which makes his invisible days justifiable. That is EXACTLY what I’m angling for here. I genuinely think that it is still within the realm of possibility that Shaw can average 95-100 for the year. Admittedly he might need to borrow Travis Cloke’s controversial glove form last year to boost those marking stats, but it’s something that Shaw is extremely capable of.

With a break even of 72, it is highly likely that this is the cheapest Shaw will be for this year so jumping aboard now may prove to be a great value decision. Moreover, Shaw has a handy round 13 bye which would help those coaches who have a round 11 bye headache involving players like Doch/Simpson/Lloyd/Marchbank/Roberton and HIBBERD!!!

Picking Shaw now comes with a risk, but the reward at his current price is an extremely tempting proposition for many coaches out there. He is on the verge of dropping a huge 130+ score soon and my lord wouldn’t it be good to get him in a week before he does that?

Finally, history is everything and where as Shaw has averaged over 100 before, Hibberd has still yet to even average over 90…..

That wraps up another addition of versus. We hope the comparisons helped you gain more knowledge regarding these four defenders – all of whom are ‘in the mix’ for a top six defender spot. As always, hit Leighroy up on Twitter using the handle @leighroyDT. If you have any suggestions for future comparisons, this is the place to go. Best of luck for round 8!

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