2012 will be a year of opportunity for the Blues. A year where improvement is expected, a top 4 position is the goal and the Premiership window now slightly ajar. Whilst many perceive the boys from VISY Park to still be pretenders in the race for the cup, the belief in the navy blue camp says otherwise. With an improving backline buoyed by the return of Michael Jamison and the emergence of Lachie Henderson; a potent forward line with arguably the best small forwards in the competition; in addition to what may very well be the best midfield going around – Carlton is well positioned to make a good charge at the Finals this year.
The Blues finished 2011 as the 4th highest ranked team for points scored in Dream Team, and for a long time was 2nd only behind Collingwood. 2012 should bring another good year with plenty of viable options for your team that could prove to be the key to your league win or ultimate overall glory.
B: Henderson, Jamison, Laidler
HB: Duigan, Waite, Yarran
C: Simpson, Murphy, Scotland
HF: Gibbs, Kruezer, Walker
F: Betts, Rowe, Garlett
Foll: Warnock, Judd, Robinson
Int: Carazzo, Curnow, Joseph
Fringe Players – Ellard, Russell, Hampson, Thornton, Lucas, Davies, Tuohy, McLean, White, Watson, Bower
2012 Draw and Byes
Carlton have a mixed draw this year. Starting with two winnable games against Richmond and Brisbane; they then go on to face Collingwood, Essendon and Freo in the weeks following. They do play GWS in round 6 though – so expect some high scores in that game. Overall they will play the Cats, Pies and Saints twice and Sydney, Hawthorn and West Coast only once. Whilst playing traditional rivals Richmond and Brisbane twice in the year, they only face whipping boys Port, GWS and GCS once.
The big downside with the byes this year is that Carlton share the round 13 bye with Hawthorn, Richmond, St Kilda and Gold Coast. So for those coaches picking up the likes of Goddard, Suckling, Deledio, Ablett, Martin, Mitchell, Dal Santo, Riewoldt and Franklin – be wary of picking too many premiums that share the bye. This will be crucial to coaches going for overall ranking this year as these byes will hurt a lot of teams
Heath Scotland – DEF/MID – $493,500 – 2011 average – 99.8 (22 games)
Scotland has a rare mix of durability, class and consistency that few players boast over a long period of time. Since coming to Carlton from the Pies in 2004, he has played a possibly 166 games out of 176! Also, in the last 6 years he has averaged 85 + in DT making him one of the most consistent players around. The big turn off for Scotto is his age – he is turning 32 in 2012 however looks fit and firing and could very well go on a few more years at this pace. Whilst holding the unfortunate title of the most expensive defender, his qualities and scores suggest he is worth it.
Verdict: With Gibbs losing his DPP status, Scotland is the best Carlton defender in DT. Period.
Predicted average for 2012: 95
Andrew Carazzo– DEF/MID – $454,800 – 2011 average – 91.9 (16 Games)
‘Carrots’ had a mixed year in 2011 with 6 x 100+ scores (including a massive 142 v Essendon in round 4) but with several sub 70 scores denting his average. One thing that let him down last year was a few injuries, coupled with the emergence of many young players at Carlton. Carazzo had undoubted talent and the ability to be a huge DT slut. However as Gibbs was in 2011 – he is prone to tagging jobs and shutdown roles from time to time meaning you never know when a bad score will come until game day. Despite these points, I still think he is very firmly in the Blues’ best 21 and if fit will continue to score well.
Verdict: Capable and underrated, Carazzo is a solid choice for your team in 2012.
Predicted average for 2012: 90
Chris Judd – MID – $506,800 – 2011 average – 102.5 (22 Games)
CJ (aka JC, Jesus Christ) had another superb year in footy and many argue he should have won the Brownlow (myself included). He remains one of the few players in the game that can change the course of a game and decide the result with his own actions. DT wise, he took a backseat to Murphy this year and had a few games where he was shut down by tags. Regarded as a legend in SC for his supreme delivery, he still racks up the possessions enough to be considered a Dream Team Gun. This year he prevents great value for money and should increase his average with an improving midfield and Murphy now attracting more attention in the middle.
Verdict: A gun player and overall nice guy, Judd should be strongly considered for your team, if not for a mid-season upgrade.
Predicted average for 2012: 105
Marc Murphy – MID – $551,300 – 2011 average – 111.5 (22 Games)
2011 was the year that Murph officially broke into the ‘elite midfielder’ category in both footy and DT. He raised his average from 99 to 111 and looks to be a very rounded midfielder capable of consistent, high scores against any opposition. He kicks, he tackles and loves to go forward and kick a goal. Murphy is now a genuine DT gun. The one downside to his new dominance is that he will more than likely attract a tag every week which can subject him to an off low score. However, from what I’ve seen he seems to still score highly anyway even with a tag.
Verdict: Likely to continue his improvement and hitting his DT prime, I’m expecting huge things from him in 2012 and to move into the upper echelon of ‘super-premiums’.
Predicted average for 2012: 116
Matthew Kruezer – RUC – $326,000 – 2011 average – 65.9 (12 Games)
Taken as the number 1 pick in the 2007 draft, it was always going to take a few years for Kruez to hit his straps. Add to that a few unfortunate injuries and it’s understandable that he hasn’t begun to make an impact in the AFL. Yet. He has talent and potential to burn and has shown at times he is very capable (case in point – his 133 point demolition of Sydney in his 2nd game back from his knee reco). Since rupturing his ACL in mid-2010, he has slowly worked back to full fitness and from what we hear coming out of Carlton, Kruezer looks fitter than he has ever been. Sitting at an awkward price of $326k he may not fit into many coaches’ structures. But if he stays fit I can see him lifting his average by around 20 points per game in 2012.
Verdict: My pick for a breakout season for a mid-price ruckman, he looks ready to take the next step up and finally start to dominate AFL
Predicted average for 2012: 85
Robbie Warnock – RUC – $363,000 – 2011 average – 73.4 (18 Games)
As their first choice ruckman, Warnock is highly rated at Carlton and will be given every chance to become an elite big man in the game. Turning 25 in 2012 and entering his 5th year, he is also set for a breakout year ala Kruezer. Whilst he is a great tap specialist and will guarantee you 30 points each week there alone, he is not the most mobile ruckman so can struggle to get possessions at times. With another year under his belt and what is hopefully a good preseason in 2012, this could well be his year to also step up to the plate and become a dominant big man.
Verdict: I think Robbie will be a force in the AFL and is capable of averaging 90+. But I don’t think it will be 2012. Look for him to improve this year and watch for him in 2013.
Predicted average for 2012: 80
Andrew Walker – FWD – $376,800 – 2011 average – 76.2 (22 Games)
After having a tense end to 2010 almost cultivating in being traded from Carlton, ‘Tex’ had a breakout year after Ratten gave him a different role. He found his niche on the half forward line for the Blues, resulting in 29 goals for the year. He played every game and was a key reason behind Carlton’s success this year, finding a great combination with Betts and Garlett in attack that few teams could find an answer to in 2011. With Kruezer back fit and big Sam Rowe coming in from Norwood in the SANFL, this should give Walker more time to move and get the ball up the ground, where he loves to play. Whilst he may not average 100 points, he is bound to have several big scores and improve his scoring given another year in the role and bit more security than he had in 2012.
Verdict: A solid mid-price option, if you pick him then he’s sure to become a keeper but don’t expect him to average above 100.
Predicted average for 2012: 85
Jeffrey Garlett– FWD – $359,300 – 2011 average – 72.6 (22 Games)
Turning 23 this year, Jeff has become a mainstay in the Carlton forward 50 and a genuine star of the competition with his freakish goals and tackling pressure a great sight for fans. Whilst he is capable of the impossible; small forwards are generally too risky to pick unless they also spend large amounts of time in the midfield (ala Chapman and Didak pre-2011).
Verdict: Great player to watch but not for DT. He should improve his average with a more consistent year, but not high enough to warrant
selection in your team.
Predicted average for 2012: 75
Mitch Robinson – MID/FWD – $456,200 – 2011 average – 92.2 (21 Games)
Whilst priced as a premium in the forward line, Robinson is in this section as a predicted breakout player and one I believe will push for midfield premium status by the end of 2012. This guy is a kamikaze, no doubt about it. Loved by Carlton supporters for his hard at it approach and crazy toughness; and loathed by opposition supporters for much the same reasons people hate kamikaze pilots. He is an absolute weapon – and as much as the AFL needs players to love, it needs ones to hate. Robinson is one of the few on both lists. Given the all important DPP link to the forward line this year, Robbo is suddenly in the spotlight and will feature in many teams this year. Even if he only raises his average by 5 points he will be one of the highest scoring ‘forwards’ in the comp. However with his ability to find the ball and simultaneously take out opposition players without somehow getting reported, he should increase his average by more than that this year. If he can avoid injury and suspension, he will be a must-have. He’s a lock (in the forward line) for me.
Verdict: A high possession, durable DPP midfielder in a potential top 4 team –Mitch Robinson is locked up and ready to run headfirst out
onto the field.
Predicted average for 2012: 105
Ed Curnow – MID – $376,700 – 2011 average – 76.2 (12 Games)
Seemingly coming out of nowhere to star in the Blues first 6 games last year, Curnow became a must have rookie (averaging a juicy 97 points up til round 7) as not only a serious Barlow-esque cash cow, but an awesome 5th/6th mid in the early part of 2011. After going down in round 7 (again, like Barlow) he returned to play another 5 games for the year without much impact. The fact that Curnow played well enough to break into Carlton’s much vaunted midfield shows the quality this bloke is capable of. From all reports out of VISY Park, he is fit and determined to make a spot his own in the team. In my opinion he may well do just that. Unfortunately for Curnow there are a multitude of amazing mid-price midfield options this year so may very well be the smokey that gives you the edge of the other coaches in your league.
Verdict: If you can fit him into your structure; and have the mettle to pick him, he could prove to be the Fyfe of 2012 and (if fit) will
be a handy 6th mid for the rest of the year.
Predicted average for 2012: 95
Nick Duigan – DEF – $336,600 – 2011 average – 68 (20 Games)
Duigan… I bet I wasn’t the only one that was unsure how to say this guys name at this time last year – even Dennis Cometti probably had to double check. He was one of the most reliable rooks of 2011 and found himself very comfortably inside Carlton’s back six. He’s shown that he is capable of scoring well and consistently, as well as being very durable (only missed 2 games in 2011). He has a spot in the best 21 locked down and with another good preseason he could easily improve his average by 10-20 points. Unfortunately for him, he sits at an awkward price, and therein lays the risk. Given you could get Jack Grimes or Beau Waters for a bit more this year, Duigan is likely to become one of the forgotten ones this year, despite having a great first year. Add to this, he shares the bye with Goddard, Deledio, Scotland, Birchall, Suckling and co. I don’t think he will be picked by many coaches in 2012.
Verdict: More durable than both Grimes and Waters but with a lower scoring potential, Duigan would be a solid pick and could come out firing – but I don’t think he’ll average enough to warrant selection yet.
Predicted average for 2012: 80
Sam Rowe – RUC/FWD – 98,700
Given the tag ‘Duigan II’, Rowe is another mature graduate from Norwood’s AFL nursery. A hard bodied Ruck/Forward, he is sure to come straight into Carlton’s 22 and take the spot vacated by big Setanta. Whilst he may not come out and score 70 points a game, his job security and readiness for AFL footy should see him play out most of the year ala James Podsiadly a few years back. The plus for Carlton is that he is still only 24 and has a lot of time to grow into that strong full forward they’ve needed since Fevola was traded.
Verdict: As there aren’t a whole lot of good forward rooks this year, this guy presents great cover and enough games to guarantee a good price rise to use for a later upgrade mid season.
Predicted average for 2012: 65
Stay away from
Brock McLean – MID – $264,100 – 2011 average 66.8 (6 Games)
This guy was lucky not to be traded at the end of 2011 after an indifferent year due to bad form, along with the emergence of similar players in the Blues team such as Ellard and Curnow. McLean needs to work very hard to force his way back into Carlton’s best 21. He may well become the highest paid VFL player in 2012 if he can’t get a game. After being traded into the team from Melbourne to fill a specific void at the Blues, he appears to be in nowhere land with this void now seemingly filled by other, younger players.
Verdict: Pick him at your own risk. Unless he shows unbelievable form in the NAB and can usurp the aforementioned players in Carlton’s best 21, then don’t waste a trade and avoid Brock at all costs.
Others to consider
Bryce Gibbs – Its funny how literally everyone jumped off the bandwagon when he lost his DPP – he was the highest picked (and highest scoring) defender in 2011. Still a DT gun – when he plays midfield he is among the best. But many won’t find room for him with so many midfield guns around.
Paul Bower – If he looks like getting early games he could be good value as he’s almost rookie priced and would score fairly well.
Kane Lucas – He could slot into the wing spot if Scotland goes down but I’m not sure he’s ready to become a regular in the best 21 just yet. Consider in 2013.
Jordan Russell – This guy was improving rapidly until last year but got sort of lost at times in 2011. If he can stay in the 22 he will provide good value for his price as can easily average 80 + points.
I know this was a long read, but cheers for reading it through. Any feedback would be appreciated and feel free to agree, dispute and discuss.