This is the next of our submitted Club Dream Team Previews. Thanks to Nathan Coop for sending this one in! You will receive a stubby holder and if your article is one of the two that gets the most Facebook “Likes’ (just above this blurb), you’ll get yourself an AFL Prospectus! Read on!
After a 2010 season filled with turmoil and disappointment, the refreshed Essendon Bombers will look to put the disastrous year behind them. With a new head coach at the helm, club champion James Hird, and an overhauled coaching panel, the rejuvenated young list will try get back on track and pull themselves out of the bottom 4. Apart from removing a few rookie players, the list has not changed much from last year. Add in first round draft pick Dyson Heppell, natural improvement in the young players, and a fit list, and it’s not hard to see why many Bomber supporters have optimism for this season.
Essendon’s first five weeks could prove to be a difficult period both for the club and your DreamTeam. They open the season playing 5 out of the 8 finalists from last year, including top four teams the Bulldogs, Saints and Pies. This tough start may mean rookie players find it harder to get settled and put up decent scores, as they will be coming up against some of the league’s best straight away. Essendon do however, hit a nice patch of beatable teams from that point on so hopefully it evens out. If you’re selecting a premium player from Essendon, beware. Essendon’s byes fall in Round 10 and, more importantly, Round 24 – Grand Final week! You may want to have trades up your sleeve at this point. The round 10 bye is of course good for rookie players, as they will get 9 straight weeks to inflate in price before being rested.
Essendon’s pre-season thus far has been pretty good. For the first time in years, 90% of the list is fit a firing. Scott Gumbleton is training well despite preseason surgery, little Colyer has bulked up like you wouldn’t believe, and fantasy-relevant Stanton ran an amazing 16.2 in the beep test. New coach James Hird has also been heavily implementing defensive plays and structures, something which that other pale skin bloke who coached before him didn’t do as much. Mark Williams and Jay Neagle have toned down. Prismall is apparently ‘training the house down’. Make of that what you will. It seems as though everyone is training well and looking to have an impressive 2011 season (as is every player on every team at this time of the year, am I right?). There is a big worry though. Tayte Pears, one of Essendon’s most important up and coming young stars, is still not back in training after surgery on a foot injury in the off-season. He could even miss the first few rounds of the season if he doesn’t recover in time. Oh no!
David Myers ($242,400) – Please David, please have a good season. It seems as though every Essendon supporter has been endlessly waiting for this high draft pick to break out. It hasn’t happened yet. Plagued by injuries all throughout his career, Myers has never been able to string more than 8 games together in a season yet. More so, his role in the team has not yet been defined. After showing impressive VFL form as an inside midfielder, Myers played the majority of his 2010 AFL season off the half back line. He wasn’t really impressive, scoring wise, in that role either. However, a solid outing of 109 against the Bulldogs in Round 22, where he collected 29 touches, showed us a glimpse of what he can do. If there was ever a year for Myers to finally explode, this will be it. He’s had a great pre-season and with a new coach striving for class in the midfield, Myers just might be the guy to step up. God knows he needs to! A very, very, very risky pick, but if he gets games he just might be a solid unique improver for your team.
Dyson Heppell ($158,600) – Originally touted as a top 4 draft pick in 2010, young Dyson slipped down to pick 8 where Essendon quickly snatched him up. He’s been classified as a running half back who can also play well in the midfield; two of the most prominent scoring positions in DT. Ching ching! With a deadly left foot kick and an ability to find a big amount of the pill, look for Dyson to get early games in 2011 (Hirdy already loves the young fella). Has been training well and impressing a lot of Essendon insiders thus far. Like Hurley, he is also a DPP player, and can be interchanged between your backs and your midfield. Very handy. If it looks like this kid will get early games, jump on!
Michael Hurley ($264,900) – Young gun Michael Hurley made an immediate impact in the AFL in his debut season back in 2009. After amassing 69DT points in his debut game while holding Warren Tredrea goalless, many claimed Hurley to be the next big thing. 2010 was a disappointment, however. Hampered by continuous role changes throughout the year, Hurls never really kicked into second gear. He did show us a bit of his potential in the Round 18 game vs. StKilda though, grabbing 30 possessions, 13 marks and an impressive 118DT. Not bad Hurls! In 2011, look for Hurley to finally be settled into one position (most likely up forward) and to start dominating games on a more regular basis. That legendary ‘third year rule’ also applies here. Expect the cabbie-kicker to bump up his average to around about 80, maybe a touch over. Whether that is enough improvement to warrant a spot in your team is up to you. But he is certainly one to look out for. The fact he is a DPP makes him an even better prospect.
Contested possession magnet Jobe Watson ($394,000) and DreamTeam whore Brent Stanton ($413,100) are the two main Essendon midfielders that you could consider. After an impressive 2009 season where Watson announced himself to the entire football world, his averaged jumped over the 90 mark, pushing him into the premium category. His 2010 was similar, and he managed to bump his average up to a notch under 95, despite playing the entire back half of the season with a leg injury. What separates Watson from most other midfielders is his consistency. He dropped below 80 just three times last year despite, again, playing a lot of games injured. However, if you’re looking for a game-breaking, monster scorer, look elsewhere. Watson had just three games over the 120 mark last season. Despite getting the first tag every match, Watson will deliver you a respectable score week in week out. Gotta love a player who does that. Stanton.. well, what needs to be said? The guy is a filthy, dirty, degenerate slut of a DT scorer. And he knows it. With scores of 145, 139 and 134, how can he deny it? Obviously Stants picks himself in his own DreamTeam, as junk time will usually see him add 30-40 points on his final score. After averaging 101 and 100 over the last two years respectively, Stanton’s main key is his ability to rack up 30+ useless (ok, I’m being harsh) possessions each and every week. The dude knows how to find the ball for sure. Beware though, Stanton has been known to crumble if a hard tag is applied to him, resulting in a fair bit of inconsistency. Still though, you can’t complain about an average of 100+ for one of your midfielders, just be ready to ride the roller coaster. Brent Prismall ($397,200) is also lingering around the same price range, if you want to take a risk.
David ZAAHAAARAAKIS! ($295,400) – This guy does tend to fly a bit under the radar at Bomberland. If you were to ask any opposition supporter who this kid is, they’ll say “He’s the dude that kicked the winning goal on ANZAC Day, right?”. True, but he is also one of Essendon’s brightest up and coming talents. After spending all of his career to date playing as a half forward flanker, Zaharakis has showed some impressive form. However.. this guy is a midfielder, plain and simple. He has been played out of position so far, yet has still showed some great signs. Although he has only cracked the tonne once in his entire career (and that was his debut game… scary) this kid has some serious upside. If Hird is able to realize that he is a midfielder and thus plays him there, he’ll improve in leaps and bounds. However, I don’t think that will be this year. He’s far too risky at this point to get a spot in your starting team (unless you’ve looked into the future and know something I don’t? Or maybe your just extemely lucky). Maybe in 2012. Leroy Jetta is also floating around this price range. Again, a guy who is a much better midfielder than anything else and should improve this year. Not confident it will be enough to select him though.
Michael Hibberd ($92,500) – A PSD pick, this young fella was a gun VFL player, and even won it’s Fothergill-Round Medal for most promising young player. He says he resembles Luke Hodge (talk it up, Mick!) and describes himself as a running, ball magnet half back who can win one-on-ones. Sounds good to me! A mature age pick, this guy should get to see at least some action in 2011; don’t know if it’ll be at the start of the season however. At this point it looks as though he’s competing with Heppell and the more mature players in Dempsey, Slattery and McVeigh (tough competition I know) for a spot on the half back flank or in a pocket. If he does look like he might sneak some games though, he’d make a great selection for a bench spot. Mature age, ball magnet, and dual position player (D/M). Me likey.
Paddy Ryder ($356,100) and David Hille ($346,200). In terms of point scoring ability last season, only two other rucks in the league averaged more than this duo – the human oak tree Aaron Sandilands and DT legend Dean Cox. Ryder and Hille formed a deadly ruck combo for the Bombers in 2010, with both having the ability to rest forward and kick goals. Ryder improved his average from 2009 by 3 points while also playing many more minutes up forward. Hille had a successful return year from a serious knee injury in 2009, and although he started slow, improved as each game wore on, including pumping out a monster score of 156 in Round 9. Impressive. Either of these guys would be a perfect second ruck to Sandilands or Cox. Ryder because he still has a lot of improvement in him and could easily increase his scoring further, Hille because he is at a good age for a ruckman and will have a full pre-season this year; something he didn’t have in 2010.
Yeah… not much to see here unfortunately. Essendon have one of the youngest, and probably one of the weakest forward lines in the league. Doesn’t contain any premiums now that Lovett and Lloyd are goneski, and no real midpricers that jump out at you as someone who would be a worthwhile pick. Kyle Reimers ($290,600) is entering his third year… maybe he’ll do well? Mark Williams ($161,900) is cheap and has lost some weight. You might want to pick him if you have no cash left.. or lost a bet with your mate. There’s not even any promising rookies to talk about here. Ah well, I guess we’ll have to wait until 2013 when Mighty Joe Daniher enters the league. Then this space can be filled with some genuine talent. Beware everyone else, he’s coming! So there’s the preview of the Essendon Bombers for 2011. Not much on offer for coaches here apart from a few promising rookie-priced players who should be pushing for games this year. A new game plan and a new coach means in football terms, the Bombers are an unknown quantity at this point. Whether this translates to an improvement or a decline for Essendon in 2011, we’ll have to wait and see.