Year of the Cliche
Firstly, welcome to DreamTeam for 2012! After a pre-season that’s been in effect since the 10th of October (AFL Trade Week), it’s finally great to see some actual footy being played! None of this intra-club business, where results need to be taken with a crate of salt; none of this ‘Burning up the track’ or ‘Toughest pre-season ever’ crap – we finally have something competitive and concrete to analyse in our search for the prefect DreamTeam.
Personally, my team hasn’t changed since Feb 1, when I eagerly inputted the fruits of 3 and a half months of solid DT labour into the slick new website. Since then, it’s been a lot of umming-and-ahhing, interspersed with a significant amount of thumb-twiddling while I waited for news of substance to shake my initial selections.
I can safely say that after these next few weeks, Tbetta Than You will undertake a list turnover like no other. Needless to say, this week’s action has definitely put some changes into motion.
As we’ve come to expect, teams unveiled plenty of fresh meat for us (and them, I suppose) to audition for spots in our sides. As far as Friday Night newbies go, I was very impressed with the production out of the much-hyped mature-ager in Sam Gibson from the Roos. He only played the 2nd game, but was runner-up in scoring for a paltry North with 29. Ellis and Morris were solid without being spectacular, while Hawthorn simultaneously signalled their intentions for 2012 and inconvenienced fantasy coaches nationwide by refusing to play any inexperienced Hawks.
On Saturday, it was rookies galore with GWS suiting up against the Dogs and Pies. I’ll leave most of that analysis for Chook, but I will say that Giles looked very solid (and his output matched, 45 & 44), Old McDonald didn’t disappoint with 38 in his only appearance and Bugg and Darley snuck onto my radar with their respective performances. The Magpies fielded plenty of rookies but none really stood out, and those who did (think Yagmoor and Marley Williams) have almost non-existent job security. Clay Smith didn’t exactly set the world alight (maybe due to early cork?), but he did enough to maintain a heartbeat.
From Sunday’s games there was actually a fair amount to track. I attended the game at ground level, and I constantly found myself checking my AFL Record to confirm player identities, so regrettably I missed a lot of the action. What I can tell you is that Blayne Wilson looked good (although getting games will be a mission there), Bomber trio Baguley, Dell’Olio and Kavanagh will remain on the watchlist with solid performances, Brendan Lee was rarely sighted in his only game and Kobe Stevens did enough to pique my interest. The biggest DT nugget though was Fremantle’s nugget goalsneak Lachlan Neale. His hardness and awareness were impressive enough that he wouldn’t look out of place in Freo’s best 22. Definitely one to monitor.
Blips on the Radar
I want to spend a little bullet here talking about some of the better-known players that for one reason or another avoided my radar initially, but have found themselves firmly entrenched on my watchlist. I’m particularly interesting in these players given Conca’s pending suspension and my doubts over Barlow’s fitness.
BRAD SHEPPARD DEF/MID $253,700
He didn’t dominate by any stretch of the imagination, but he was flashy at times and looked comfortable running through the midfield rather than exclusively off half-back. Also didn’t shy away from physical contact which has been a knock on him in the past. Scored 17 and 28 in full matches.
NIC SUBAN DEF $272,100
Suban’s more on the radar due to Conca’s mishap than anything he did on the weekend. He seemed to be the Dockers’ designated kicker, but was soon closely followed so Duffield took over. He scored 22 and 13, nothing eye-popping there.
JACK ZIEBELL MID $384,900
It might be a blessing that the Z-man is rubbed out for the first two rounds, because I think I’d have a very tough choice to make with him. He scored 20 and 39 in his two appearances, but most importantly he showed a desire and hunger that will always translate to fantasy value. Could still be a break-out contender.
BRAD MILLER FWD $280,900
I didn’t even know this guy was still playing?! Regardless, he had a good night for the Tiges, posting 47 and 29, courtesy of some scoreboard impact. Will probably be this year’s Ryan Gamble.
RYAN HARGRAVE DEF $232,700
Hargrave is another that I’m considering to cover the possible loss of Conca. He posted dual 47’s, showing me plenty with his ability to rack up the +6’s. Was once fantasy-relevant, maybe he will be again? Could be a steal at his initial price.
MATTHEW BOYD MID $573,800
I’ve probably been very unhealthily narrow-minded with my premium Mids, as I ruled out Boyd early, for no real reason. 55 and 90 DT points later and he is well and truly back in vogue! Not saying he’s straight in for Swan as some knee-jerkers have suggested, but he’s definitely getting his due diligence now. He’s earned it.
HEATH SHAW DEF $454,000
I’ve just re-learnt the same lesson I always seem to forget – Heath Shaw is a nob, but he can play fantasy footy. He wasn’t exactly on the ‘Never Again’ list, but he was definitely on the ‘I’d rather you tanked the pre-season so I wasn’t forced to consider you’ list. Hmmm. 47 and 43 point games and one wrecked plan later, he’s on the watchlist.
CHRIS MASTEN MID $278,500
For those of you that have read my DoDT article on Masten know that I hold high hopes for him this year, but I wasn’t seriously considering him until now. In the first game against Essendon he was everywhere, racking up touches all over the ground on his way to 50. In the 2nd game he was slightly less prolific, notching 24. The disparity in scoring may have something to do with a change of roles from Midfield to Half-Forward. Another eclectic DT puzzle to mull over… And was it just me, or was his hair slightly less sh*t last night? Or maybe I’m just used to it.
MATTHEW PAVLICH FWD/MID $466,200
Ross Lyon made his presence felt in the form of Pav’s role. He played the classic ‘Riewoldt’ role, stationing himself around half-forward and repeatedly making long leads. He was productive in his only match, scoring 52 matched up on Hooker. I said I was going new school this year… But Pav is cautiously tempting me at this stage.
Is anyone here a Doctor?
No, I’m not referring to the faux PhDT residing at the AFL headquarters, but more to the inevitable pre-season pain we get in the form of injury. Last year it was Morabito and Mzungu amongst others (I know I’m forgetting someone here…) that went down in the pre-season. What bandaid- related news have we got ourselves this year?
Well, we know LeCras is out for the year with a ruptured ACL. That one hurts for me two-fold, with the Eagles and my Upgrade watchlist both suffering with the news. Macaffer faces a similar fate, although his poor luck shouldn’t affect too many DreamTeams.
Barlow didn’t play on the weekend, but it was his absence that has me discouraged. The club has planned that he has 3 weeks of light duties to manage his leg soreness… If he’s struggling this early, how will he fare halfway through the season? Other than that, there were a few other minor injuries, but nothing that threatens the DT status quo. In saying that, be prepared for many more bad luck stories prior to Round 1 – it’s not over yet.
As much as I like to stay positive, there were a few watchlist options of mine who I’ve cooled on significantly. They won’t be banished off the radar all together (remember, it’s only the nab cup, and we haven’t even played any full games yet), but they face an uphill battle to convince me to spend precious moolah getting them into my side.
With all the DPP forwards on offer this year, some had to miss out. Last night Zaharakis was barely sighted (although at ground level, every Essendon player looked the same) totalling 16 in his only hit-out. While this is not indicative of his talents, it makes me feel slightly more justified in taking Sidebottom over him so far.
Goldstein vs McIntosh took a interesting turn also… While playing together, HamMac topscored with 24 to Goldy’s 18. Neither particularly impressive whilst sharing the ruck duties there. Without Goldstein there in the 2nd match, HamMac scored 23 (top 5 for the Roos) which included two FAs. This will be an engaging battle over the year, I think.
Devon Smith was one that I was looking at to replace Zorko (if needed) as my Fwd/Mid DPP link, but he failed to impress me as much as he’s been impressing Sheeds. 16 and 17 in two hit-outs was lukewarm for mine, but luckily he has a few more weeks to stake a claim.
“Those are some stats for your ass” – Coach Carter
Like Samuel L, I enjoy a few statistical anomalies. Here’s a few I noticed out of the weekend.
# Aaron Sandilands had 19 hit-outs against the Bombers, easily the most of any ruckman over the shortened games. He also had 9 against the Eagles.
# Shannon Hurn had the highest Kick:Handball ratio of anyone on the weekend, totalling 13 kicks and 1 handball in his only appearance.
# On the flip-side, Kobe Stevens had the lowest K:H ratio, earning 13 handballs but not a single kick.
# Before Sunday, the highest team score was 44 points (North and Hawks) for the shortened games. Both the Eagles and Dockers smashed this, with 57 and 56 points respectively, and both against the Bombers.
# Izzy Folau totalled a massive -3 points in his two games. He had as many FA’s as possessions.
# There were only 6 occasions when a player accumulated double-figure kicks. 5 of them were Bulldogs players. Will they be more fantasy friendly this year?
# The Eagles had easily the worst Shit Haircut Differential, with Masten, Ash Smith and Swift all sporting seriously average ‘dos. Follow the links to see some of the worst noggins you’re likely to see.
# The Bulldogs were easily the best DT team from the weekend, while North pipped the Giants as the worst. The following table shows the average score For and Against, and the average Differential between them.
As many of the clubs do over the nab cup, I’ve decided to try a few different things with the Bullets, to see what works and what doesn’t in preparation for the season propper. As everyone doesn’t have Twitter, I thought I’d chuck up a couple of tweets I’ve received.
Gerrick refers to Gerrick Weedon from the Eagles. He scored 55 and 27, including 3 goals. I wouldn’t get too excited about him… He looked great around the footy, but his fitness is not quite there and struggled around the ground as the games wore on. Besides, I’m tipping Hams and Hill to fill LeCras’ and Ebert’s vacant psoitions.
I’d love to help you there… But I’m just as confused as you! He ran through the middle predominantly and collected a few +6’s, but didn’t see much else from him. Still in for mine, but nowhere near locked.
For those who haven’t seen aforementioned article, it’s here. Stevens… he looked great – nice tan! But seriously, he looked really fit and not afraid to get inside and get the footy. He got a little lost around the ground though, probably finding the pace a little surprising – he pulled up late in the 2nd match with a cramp, which makes sense. His 13 handballs and no kicks was worrying, but it could have been a by-product of his inside work.
Cheers to everyone who gets on the Tweet-vine, and sorry to those who were expecting updates from the ground last night – technical difficulties. Although, sitting in the middle of 25,000 supporters with a dodgy internet connection probably isn’t the most effective rookie-watching anyway!
The first half of nab 1 was highly fantasy relevant, but now we can cast our thoughts to those auditioning this weekend. I’m looking forward to seeing rookies such as Saad, Milera, Lockyer, Walsh, Smedts, Stephenson, Wingard, L. Brown, and Kerridge showing us what they’ve got (if selected, obviously), while feeling disappointed that the likes of Zorko, Docherty and Mitchell will be absent with injury. As for the more experienced crop, pay special attention to guns in Goodes, Gibbs and Selwood, as well as mid-pricers such as Brown, Porplyzia, Lucas, Duncan and Christensen.
Also, I should mention that although it seem I’ve condemned Conca to banishment from my team, It may not pan out that way, particularly if he doesn’t miss Round 1. A new rule change means that any suspension incurred over the nab cup may be served over the rest of the pre-season competition. So if he only get 3 weeks, he’ll be good for Round 1… But will he have shown you enough on Friday for you to pull the trigger?
By the way, Cheers to Warnie for the new Bullets pic, and sorry to you guys who have to see my face smeared all over the Bullets! Anyway, as always, good luck!
Twitter Town – @tbetta9