This is the next of our submitted Club Dream Team Previews. Thanks to Andrew Martini 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!
With the arrival of Chris Scott and the departure of Gary Ablett and Mark Thompson, it’s the dawning of a new age at the Cattery. Or is it? The structure of this great side remains largely unchanged, apart from the one noticeable absence. That being the case, many in Dream Team are looking warily at the Cats in 2011, and with good reason. Chris Scott has stated recently that the Cats will be contenders in 2011, but that their game plan must change. How it affects Dream Team is anyone’s guess.
In determining a Cats Best 22, it’s hard to imagine any of their rookie priced players starting with any certainty of retaining their spot. The team below is the same that played Collingwood in the Preliminary Final, with the exception of Ablett out and Mackie in, and Lonergan switched to the fourth bench spot. Lonergan, Hawkins or even Mooney look like perfect candidates for the new substitute role, as all three, at a stretch, can play back, forward or in the ruck.
BACK Milburn Scarlett J Hunt
HB Enright Taylor Wojcinski
MID Kelly Ling Bartel
HF Johnson Mooney Varcoe
FWD Chapman Podsiadly Stokes
FOL Ottens Corey Selwood
BENCH Hawkins Byrnes Mackie
LUCKY Mackie, Milburn, Wojcinski
UNLUCKY Duncan, T Hunt, Menzel, Motlop
UNLIKELY TO RETURN Blake, Hogan
Bye Rounds: 6 & 22
If you’re going for the car, the Week 6 bye shared with Fremantle and Hawthorn is a tough one for the forward line, with Buddy, Rioli, Isaac Smith and Tendai Mzungu all leading contenders for forward line spots (Mzungu has C/F eligibility according to FF). Backline spots could also be in trouble, with Broughton, Duffield and Paul Puopolo all in the mix.
If it’s the league win you’re after, the Cats have the shared bye round, which means no league game, but they also have second week of DT finals off. If you’re in the top four, this won’t be a problem. If you find yourself in the bottom four, it might be handy to have some trades available!
Corey Enright: At 29, he’s played over 20 games every year the last five seasons, with last year’s average of 91.8 his highest yet, making him a top ten defender. His scoring suffered at various times last year when tagged, and he will probably get the same level of attention this year, with some teams playing a shut down role on him to limit the drive off half back. He still looks fit, and will probably play out a full season at around a 90 average. Should be picked only if you need a solid, second-string premium. He will most likely not finish in the top five defenders.
Andrew Mackie: Mackie missed one game of the regular season last year with a virus, however it was his dumping after the Qualifying Final loss to St Kilda that should have fantasy players worried. Chris Scott will likely institute a much more accountable game style at Geelong, and that could mean the end of Mackie. His SC scores have always been lower than his DT scores, and for someone who gets a lot of uncontested posessions in the back half, he doesn’t create as much forward drive as he should. Could be an outside chance for the fourth bench spot as well, he can play on tall and short forwards. A role change, which is a distinct possibility for him, could change all this.
Darren Milburn: 34 years old, don’t pick him.
Joel Selwood: Founding member of my team, Selwood United! This nugget should improve slightly on his scores from 2010 (avg. 106.8), and is as durable as they come, playing 18 games his first year, and over 20 in the three years since. DT wise he’s more of a Lenny Hayes type than a future Ablett or Swan, and I think he probably has a 110-115 ceiling. His in and under game style won’t change under Scott, so his scoring based mostly on tackles, frees and handballs, and lack of goals, will continue. He’s shown he can still score while handling a tag, and so he will likely have a natural upwards progression in scoring in 2011.
Jimmy Bartel: Dream Team Royalty, Bartel has averaged over 100 the last four years while playing 20 or more games in each season. He topped the league in 2007, his Brownlow year, with a 114.4 average, but has slowly declined in scoring since, getting down to a 105.4 average last year. In 2010, his scoring was hampered by both carrying an elbow injury in the latter part of the year and being used in various positions as needed, due to his adaptability. With Ablett gone, Jimmy could be used consistently as an inside mid again, and having only just turned 27, now is the time he should be peaking in DT. His early rise and subsequent decline in scoring means Jimmy is being overlooked this year, and he could surprise many people. Just as good a pick as Selwood, if you’re struggling for cash at the end, he’s $6K cheaper!
Joel Corey: Selection of Selwood or Bartel can be easily justified, but Corey is a bit different. From 2007-2009 he played all but two regular season games at an average of 106.6, playing a traditional ruck rover position. In 2010 he suffered a lateral meniscus tear in the pre-season and rushed back in too early, starting slowly and re-injuring the knee after Round 4, just after a best on ground, 125 point performance. He came back in Round 14, but then missed Rounds 15 & 20. Unfortunately for DT he played just enough games to not warrant a discount, so his pricing relfects only his below average season of 93.8. Meniscus tears generally heal ok, although they can tear again at the same location. The knee Corey injured was the same as in 2005, when he missed three games but then came straight back into the team.Corey could make a comeback to around a 105 average, but he is turning 29 soon and there may be better options out there. Watch his preseason.
James Kelly: As a defender, Kelly was a premium last year. As a mid, he’s not, and shouldn’t be selected. He can struggle to play a full season, and is unlikely to average over 100.
Brad Ottens: 28 games in three seasons, pass.
Paul Chapman: Chapman turned things around fitness wise in 2010, and after stating that a new training regime had sorted out his much maligned hamstrings, he went on to play 21 games at a barnstorming average of 113.7, well clear of the next highest forward, Buddy, at 99.4. With Buddy and Riewoldt likely to get back into the 100’s this year, the selection of Chappy is an interesting one. He should play more time in the midfield with Ablett gone, and you could argue that his consistency and captaincy option makes up for his injury potential. As Ablett’s role changed last year, Chappy’s scoring wasn’t affected, and that’s likely to be the same this year. He’s just turned 29, and still has a year or two left as the premium forward. You’ve got to have him at some point, so why not from the start!
Steve Johnson: He’s only played one season of 22 games, and the loss of Ablett may affect the good delivery he’s received in his role as a roving half forward. I would be looking to him as a downgrade target this year and not as a starter, as a string of quiet games can lead to a good pickup price. His average dropped by 5 points last year, although that was largely attributable to a horrible game against Carlton in Round 5 where he scored 35. Apart from this, he was still at the height of his DT scoring.
James Podisadly: I only include him as a ‘premium’ as some may think of him that way. The feel good story of 2010 averaged 81.2 after a starting price of $78K. He’s not that price this year, so don’t pick him!
Only Travis Varcoe should be considered for DT, and currently he’s not back at full training after injuring his shoulder in the International Rules Series. It sounds like he will miss the NAB Cup, and there are plenty of other mid-priced forwards around to not take the risk on him. He didn’t complete a full pre-season last year either, the year that he does (and asuming he’s still listed as a forward) will be the time to get him, but not this year.
Matthew Stokes and Shannon Byrnes will not change in role, have some risks in job security, and shouldn’t be picked. They may have the occasional big week, and if it’s early in the season, don’t let them fool you!
Geelong have blooded a few new players in the last two years, but guys like Duncan, Menzel, T Hunt and Hogan just don’t have the job security to justify an initial selection. Hogan lacks good decision making, which won’t suit a Chris Scott gameplan, and he may struggle to get a single game this year. Duncan is probably the most likely to step up this year, recently being labeled by Cameron Ling as a future midfielder. Hunt and Menzel could press Milburn, Mackie and Wojcinksi for selection in defense, but again it’s hard to pick who will be in favour.
Sub $200K Players
The best candidate for a cheap Geelong player this year is Steven Motlop. He was picked in Round 2 last year for his debut, but suffered a dislocated shoulder early in the match. After only scoring 13 before leaving the game, he’s priced at $86K. Motlop has had plenty of shoulder problems, so durability is a concern. He’s currently still in the rehab group, so a Round 1 start is unlikely. He could be a good downgrade target mid year if he gets his chance.
For the other cheap options it’s slim pickings. Allen Christensen was selected as an emergency several times in 2010, but has not yet debuted. He is a forward/midifelder who was a consistent performer in the VFL side last year, and should get a chance at some stage. Mitch Brown is a much talked about Cat forward, and he may get a chance in the forward line this year. He’s tipped as an exciting key forward prospect, so while the DT scores may not match the hype, Cats supporters will be hoping they’ve got a future star. Draft picks Billie Smedts and Cameron Guthrie may be blooded this year, however T Hunt and Menzel should be first in line for regular spots in defence. Smedts is listed as a B/F, so could be a valuable downgrade target if his number comes up, although he has a first round draft premium. Nathan Vardy and Marcus Drum could push for selection, but will probably be irrelevant for DT, as their potential and positions won’t yield high scores.