When Mercury, Venus, Mars and Jupiter aligned in mid-May, there was plenty of talk about the planetary formation causing people to adopt “film-star mannerisms”, show “considerable artistic and creative ability” and enjoy “strong sexual magnetism”. What the astrologists criminally overlooked, however, was the effect it would have on our Dream Teams. The planets align and next thing you know, the best DTers on earth take their scoring into another galaxy. The premiums and mid-pricers were stellar, but the rookies weren’t about to miss out, either. Last week I reported that 10 rookies scored 80 or more in a massive scoring week for our young guns. That increased to 11 in round 9, with four guys cracking a century, including a first-gamer. Making this particularly remarkable, of course, was the fact that a bevy of youngsters were sat on the sidelines courtesy of Gold Coast’s second bye of the season. Nuts.
The big decision last week was whether to offload Fremantle DT defender (actual midfielder) Nick Lower or Melbourne DT forward (actual defender) Luke Tapscott, who both looked to have peaked. Those who ditched Tapscott will be delighted with the decision after he was stranded on 16 points when he was struck down with a hamstring injury in the Dees’ loss to St Kilda. Those who dumped Lower won’t be as happy after the former Port player ripped his old team a new one, chalking up 119 points. It’s new Bes of 101 for Tapscott and 9 for Lower, then. Essendon’s Dyson Heppell became the first rookie this season to crack the $300,000-mark with another big score, this time a 109 against the Tigers. Just missing out on triple figures in the same game was Richmond’s Reece Conca, who looks set to reach the same price point as Heppell now that he’s being used more frequently through the midfield. Like Lower, Blues defender Nick Duigan continues to reward coaches who kept the faith, churning out a 97 that reinvigorates his rolling average. Adelaide’s Brodie Smith could well do the same, backing up his sub-affected 11 last week with an 81-point performance, despite scoring just three points in the final quarter (dominated by Collingwood, of course).
Other than Tapscott, there aren’t any rookies desperately needing the boot from your team this week. Even underperforming North Melbourne midfielder Shaun Atley could wait another week without leaking too much cash, if you need him to. He’s averaging a touch over 50 and has a BE of 80 this week, but shouldn’t drop more than about $10k. West Coast forward Jack Darling (BE 60)will be sacrificed by coaches wanting to go down to Gold Coast forward Tom Lynch or up to Geelong’s Paul Chapman, but I’m sticking with the big-bodied Eagle. He looks a decent eighth forward, for mine.
If you haven’t already, do yourself a favour and slip Port Adelaide def-mid Ben Jacobs into your team this week. Jacobs started his second AFL game at a similar pace to his first: pedestrian. However, a move into the midfield after half-time gave Jacobs the chance to deliver on his potential and, 22 possessions, later, he’d put together a tidy 91-point game. The Power still have both of their byes to go, but that’s the only fact not in Jacobs’ favour. Decent job security, high scoring potential and dual-positionality to boot, you’d be mad to pass this one up. If he was a choice on Most Awesomest Thing Ever, he’d win every time. Gold Coast forward Tom Lynch is a slightly trickier proposition. While there’s no doubting his scoring potential after amassing 187 points in his two games to date, Lynch starts his DT life at an inflated $120k. That’s quite a bit of coin to shell out for a downgrade target. While the Gold Coast are in the opposite position to Port in terms of byes, having served both of theirs now, the risk of a rest is still a reality for Lynch in a team that has no qualms about making four or five changes each week. After Jacobs and Lynch, the rest of the two-game bracket is a bit meh, to be honest. Hawthorn’s Isaac Smith is an option if he returns from “general soreness”, but Tendai Mzungu is the better bet if you want to add another mid-fwd to your squad. Smith’s teammate Luke Bruest isn’t a terrible option, having scored 70 in the Hawks’ big round eight win and then a 30 off the substitute’s bench in round nine. Job security’d be a concern. Gold Coast forwards Steven May and Sam Day, Sydney midfielder Luke Parker and Suns defender Joseph Daye have failed to show much scoring potential in their two outings thus far, and Day costs a shiteload – coming in at $150k.
It’s a reminder of what a weird game DT can be that the lowest scoring debutant of the seven who made their first AFL appearance in round nine is also the most enticing. Fremantle fwd-mid Tendai Mzungu had to wait until almost three-quarter time to see some action, having started as the sub, but the fact that he debuted in round nine at all is still a good result, having bypassed the WAFL completely. Mzungu didn’t waste any time regaining the pre-season form that made him one of the most popular rookie picks prior to his injury, picking up 21 points in the final quarter. Like Jacobs, Mzungu is one you could justify trading in before he’s reached the regulation two-game mark, although the fact he hasn’t played any lower-level footy makes him a sub candidate for at least another week, you’d think.
The round’s other debutants all scored more than Mzungu, although it’s not like Hawks ruck Max Bailey, Brisbane mid Josh Green, North back Luke Delaney, St Kilda mid-fwd Nick Winmar and Geelong ruck Nathan Vardy went berserk, with all failing to score above 50. The same can’t be said for Melbourne mid Michael Evans who, after a string of good performances in the VFL did score above 50… twice. His 112 combined with a $80k price tag sent pulses racing, although it pays to remember that the Dees have Tom Scully and Jack Trengove to come back into the side soon. Let’s see how he fares in his second game.