When captain comes to mind in the AFL, most think of Chris Judd, Matthew Pavlich and Jonathon Brown. When it comes to dream team, we all think Dane Swan, Dane Swan and Dane Swan, with a chance of Ablett. For last season, almost every coach had either Dane Swan or Gary Ablett as captain for the majority of rounds, most having Swan, I having Ablett for the opening 10 rounds, Swan until round 21 then Ablett for the ground final.
This year, with the introduction of byes, you will need at least 2 captains throughout the season. The strategy of most coaches will be to have Swanny all season bar his bye rounds, where names like Leigh Montagna and Matthew Boyd come to mind. I offer an alternative strategy- not just going with Swanny because he’s a gun, but going by many variables, especially past form against the upcoming opponent. I will list multiple captain options for 2011.
One main tip for captaincy- don’t give the captaincy to a player because you have a good feeling. This never works, unless you locked in Brian Lake in that game against the Kangaroo’s, like a certain Damian Barbaro. Risk may work some times, but mostly will not and instead of getting 300-odd with Swanny captain you’ll end up with 170 with Steele Sidebottom captain.
Dane Swan– Can’t resist. If you don’t have Swanny locked into your team, you’d better have Ablett-Boyd-Montagna-Bartel-Stanton in your mids to make up for that. In 2010, Swanny averaged a shade over 123, a dream team record. He and the Collingwood midfield were the backbone of the premiership side; this guy was severely unlucky not to win the Brownlow – apparently dream team scores do not mirror footballing skills, see Darren Glass.
Final word– The most consistent and devastating player Dream Team player in the game. Top dog in the league and should be for years, although he comes at the hefty price tag of 511k- place your captain option on him almost every week.
When to and when to not give him captaincy: Against Fremantle and Carlton he has his greatest averages with 109, but this is dragged down quite a bit due to poor dream team scores in his first two seasons. He scores best at Patersons Stadium, averaging 117 there, scoring 161 and 158 against the Eagles and Dockers there. If you have doubts at times in Swanny, make sure you lock him in against the Western Australia teams.
Gary Ablett– After being the best dream teamer for several years, he had his crown removed by one Dane Swan. He averaged 119 in 2010, and amazingly he was averaging 137 after 10 rounds, headlined by 167 against the Swans, seeing his price skyrocket to 548k, starting this season at 494k. His move to the Suns could be good/bad- the good part is that in a young side the players around him will look to him for guidance, which will improve ball gathering. The bad part is he could score poorly with a higher tag; the cats had Chapman, Bartel and others to absorb some of the tag.
Final Word– I think his score will slightly fall, but he will still be a dream team gun and his average will ride the wave: if you do not pick Swan, go to Ablett for captaincy.
Brendon Goddard– The saints leading-man is a must have in the defence; he topped the defence list in 2010 with 113.4. He has DPP which is even more bonus, and comes at 471k this season, not that much when you consider he is a very consistent player- topped the century in 19 games last year, from all 22. The games number one utility will prove you wrong when you go for a cheaper option when he increases his average even more.
Final Word– Average may rise or fall, but GOD will never fail completely, and should remain the competitions best defender for the year. A possibility for vice-captain behind Swanny or Ablett.
Matthew Boyd– The third most expensive midfielder, the new bulldog captain should be great this season. Very consistent, only came below 80- and that should improve this year with the captaincy. Best bulldog at the Brownlow Night and sixth best overall, but fourth in the best and fairest. He scored 154 points in round three against Hawthorn.
Final Word– Super dream teamer, with an amazing average in 2010 that looks set to improve. Isn’t flashy but a great dream teamer, and should be a contender for vice-captaincy.
Leigh Montagna– When he is on fire, you just can’t stop him. 112 average in 2010, he will start this season at 465k, and looks to improve as the Saints improve. His mid-season form is outstanding, averaging 131 from rounds 13-16 in 2010, and scored 151 against the Crows in round 10. Not cheap, but a great player.
Final Word- Premium dream team option and is ready to go for 2011. Him or Boyd for vice-captaincy in 2011.
Brent Stanton– A truly unique option for captaincy. Many praise him for his ability to find the ball in stoppage-time, but just as many criticise for his lack of dealing with tagging. He led the up-and-coming Bombers in kicks, marks, inside 50’s and handballs received in 2010. His pre-season has been enormous, and has been proven by his outstanding NAB Cup form. Runs off half-back into the midfield and can rack up the possessions in his day, shown by his 145 against Geelong in round one.
Final Word– Although many will be against this, I think Stants will be a brilliant player this year, and come into the top 7 players in 2011 with an average of 115+. Has a knack of finding space and racking up cheap possessions. Vice-Captain material if he can avoid the tag for the season.
Paul Chapman– With Ablett leaving, Chapman is now Geelong’s leading dream-teamer. Although his hammy’s are weak, he player next to every game in 2010, and scored over 100 in the first half of the season in every game, broken with a round 12 score of 99. Smashed 140+ in 3 games, and is a specialist of the 12-point play- Mark, kick, goal. The most consistent player in the league, dropping to a season low of 88 in 2010.
Final Word– Moves between the midfield and forward line with ease, and with Ablett gone will find more space to explode. Amazing player and well-worth his price tag. Vice-captain option if you want supreme consistency.
And that’s it; those are the players you should consider for your captaincy duo. Swan and Ablett should easily take the supreme captaincy for this season, but the main question is who to cover for them in bye rounds, and who to put vice-captain. Boyd, Montagna, Goddard, Stanton and Chapman should all fight over it- alright, maybe not Stanton…for now. Boyd and Montagna are unsplittable, both should fight it out for your number two ruck position; or, like me, you can have both. Goddard and Chapman are similar in that they both run in and out of the midfield. Then, there’s Stanton- a dark horse for the captaincy this year.