Still Waiting for the Real Stuff
Is it just me, or has the novelty of the nab cup tri-series well and truly worn off? The games are much too short, the substitutes are much too plentiful, and the breaks much too damaging to the flow and momentum of both the quality of football and DreamTeam scoring. Last week I said it was great to see the return of actual football with Round 1 of the Nab Cup; now, I’m convinced that Round 2 is where footy really returns.
This leads me to a new pre-season rule: The tri-series ‘slices’ of football (I can’t bring myself to call something so brief a ‘match’) should only be used to widen your radar, or add people to your watchlist. Never should we discount someone based on 40 minutes of pseudo-AFL (the horrid last-touch rule, anyone?). I mean, if a player has a bad patch in a normal game, he has another 20, or 40, or 60 minutes left to redeem himself – but when the games are barely longer than a quarter of real football, it’s pretty damn hard. To me, it’s like that pulpy orange juice where all the flaky bits sink to the bottom if you leave it unattended for a while. Well, the tri-series ‘slices’ are like when you shake it up before you pour yourself a glass – anyone can come out on top.
Okay, that was a pretty negative way to open the Bullets, but things weren’t all doom and gloom this week. While I’d have to say that last weekend had slightly more fantasy value, there were still quite a few little gems slowly revealing themselves, and quite a few smokeys fanning the flames. As you may have gathered earlier, I’m not getting too excited about any of these performances, but rather looking ahead to this weekend to see whether they can back it up in a full-length outing!
Let’s talk rookies! I can’t go any further without mentioning the efforts of James ‘The Magnet’ Magner, who stormed into my current side by 2nd top scoring for the Dees with 39 and 33 in his two outings. The best thing is, like fellow rookie bolter Sam Gibson, he’s rookie-listed and therefore rookie-priced! Definitely one to watch for a senior-list upgrade.
From Friday night, Saad looked lively, Stephenson didn’t disappoint and Hogan burst back onto the scene with two productive games (38 and 28). Horlin-Smith (38 and 20) put his hand up for monitoring, as did Cunnington, Milera and Ross. The issues there will be finding senior opportunities for the season proper. Smedts, Wilkes, and Walsh were others in line for fantasy selection, but failed to set the world on fire for mine.
Apart from Magner, Saturday Night’s fresh meat came in the form of the Suns’ Aaron Hall (45 and 25), Demon Thomas Couch (23 and 29) and Lion surprise-packet Elliot Yeo (49). A common theme with that bunch is again Job Security, which looks pretty thin at this stage.
From Sunday, Wingard (46) and Kerridge (22) were the only two on my radar still currently on there, scoring and job security considered. Disappointingly, none of Rowe, Blee or Luke Brown showed up to give us a sneak-peek of their fantasy value.
Playing the Percentages
One of my favourite things to do when I’m bored is to check out the %-owned stats. It’s priceless for knowing whether your Smokey is gaining popularity, or conversely whether there’s someone gaining selection that comehow evaded you. But there are always some quirks that continue to surprise me:
# Sandi-Cox is still the people’s choice Ruck duo. They are, once again, the two most selected premium Ruckmen. While this really shouldn’t surprise anyone, it’s sort of interesting as the majority of the talk has been centred on McEvoy and Leuenberger, not to mention one-premo ruck stocks. A great example of the casual DTer vs the Fanatical DTer.
# Brad Dick is in 7% of teams, despite being injured for the first half of the year. I don’t know whether people are getting mixed up with him and Josh Hill, or auto-select weirdly loves him, but that’s a terrible stat.
# Boyd, Selwood and Mitchell aren’t in the top 29 most-selected. All three are coming off awesome 2011 season’s and have put in great pre-season performances already. The only reason I can see for their non-selection is the high competition for spots in the midfield this year.
# Porplyzia is in 16.3% of teams. And that is a couple of days after news of his calf injury broke… Seriously, how many times does this guy need to injure himself before we close the door on him?
# Israel Folau is in 9.6% of teams. Really?! Karmichael Hunt didn’t serve as a sufficient-enough cautionary tale?
# This next oddity is so outrageous, it needs a photo. How can this happen?!
Unlimited Trading? Challenge Accepted
At this time of year, your team structure should be taking some sort of shape. The big decisions, like how many mid premos you start with, your ruck structure and the number of mid-pricers you select should be close to being finalised. Which means, like me, you’re making like-for-like trades at this stage of the pre-season. Here are the top 5 sideways swaps I would be entertaining given the weekend’s action.
OUT Barlow ($424,800), IN Sloane ($429,500)
Sloane only played the one game on Sunday, but was everywhere, collecting 12 kicks and kicking a goal on his way to 51 points (next best for the Crows was 31!). Many have been preaching a Sloane break-out, and while it was just Nab 1, I’m steadily becoming convinced. Making way for Sloane could be your other mid-price mid option, the one and only Barlow. His knee soreness is expected to keep him out until the latter stages of the Nab series. I don’t know about you, but I don’t know if I have a big enough set to take the risk on someone like that after only one outing… So this makes Sloane the perfect fit for an exiting Barlow.
OUT Tyson ($170,700) IN Wingard ($157,200)
Playing a little extra bit of something-something for a high draft pick has never been one of my favourite manoeuvres – I was one of those that took McKenzie over Swallow last year – but Wingard showed enough on the weekend to be considered. Especially if you tentatively have someone like Dom Tyson already in your team. Tyson wasn’t mentioned in Sheedy’s (bullsh*t) first 22, although he did score well in his only Nab appearance with 35. It’s close, but I’m a bit more confident in the Chad’s JS over his fellow 2012 Draftee in Tyson, and you’ll have a little bit of cash left over.
OUT Walsh ($104,200) IN Saad ($115,800)
The hype surrounding Walsh after the International Rules series (they still do that?) was huge, but once you put an oval ball in his hands he was brought back to earth. Actually, he barely had it in his hands, only registering the two possessions for a grand total of -1 DT points. Meanwhile, Saad was very active for the Saints and wouldn’t look out of place in their best 22, putting himself right in the frame for Round 1. H’s a little pricier, and I’m still not 100% he’ll be a DTer (small forwards often aren’t rewarded by the scoring system) but he’s miles ahead of Walsh in my planner team at the moment.
OUT McCarthy ($251,000) IN Lucas ($206,000)
New opportunities for McCarthy at Port should mean better scoring, and he’s not the worst option for a cheap midfield mid-pricer. His only appearance garnered 5 possessions and a tackle, so nothing horrible – it’s just that Kane Lucas looks that much better! He’s cheaper, he scores more prolifically (45 and 33), and he’s a perfect candidate for the 3rd Year Breakout Rule! If you’re thinking of taking a Smokey in your midfield, stack him up against Lucas and make a call.
OUT Zac Smith ($355,400) IN Stephenson ($98,700) or McEvoy ($447,500)
While this is not strictly a like-for-like trade, Zac Smith’s performance has to have you worried if you’re rolling with the big guy as your R2 at the moment. He was lukewarm (an understatement, probably) on the weekend with 15 and 2 in his two appearances on Saturday. Why take a risk on a mid-priced 2nd year player when Stephenson (27 and lively against the Swans) and McEvoy (29 and 25, solid as the Saints only legit ruckman) are both tracking so well?
That’s a big question, and the lack of an answer is the reason why I’m going Sandi over Leuenberger at this stage. We’ve only seen the one game where they both played, and Leuey had 36 while Hudson had 8, but we can’t read too much into that at this stage. Ultimately, my gut says that Hudson is just there for insurance, and Leuenberger should continue to grow as a DTer – just don’t quote me.
Oops – sorry Rainman, cat’s out of the bag! But seriously, he’s matched the hype so far. A fit Sloane could be a real break-out contender.
Firstly, thanks Jack. As for Stevie J, I think you’re spot on. He has been overlooked, for sure. The Mid/Fwd DPP’s are in vogue in a big way, so players like Martin, Beams, Zaka and Sidebottom are absorbing all the talk. As for whether we should all slide him straight into our teams, I think probably not. He’s a prime candidate for the Premiership Hangover, apparently sporting a little beer bump after the festive season. For me, I’ll play it safe and stick with the DPP’s, and wait on Stevie as an upgrade option.
Too true, he’s right in the mix! But I am worried about his JS, especially as Stevie J, Christensen and Byrnes were all absent from the side in Nab 1. As is the case with many players on the watchlist, we’ll know a lot more from how he goes towards the end of the Nab in full-length games.
The Week Ahead
The three matches I’m most looking forward to is Eagles vs Port (probably because I’m an Eagles fan and I’ll be at the game), Adelaide vs Brisbane and Fremantle vs Richmond. That’s where most of the line-ball decisions for me lie, not to mention plenty of rookie-watching.
Ones to watch for me this week are Neale and Broughton for the Dockers, Sloane (to see whether he’s the real deal), Lucas and Hogan for their roles in the team, and, not surprisingly, all the GWS rookies against a legitimate contender in the Hawks. Bugg, Darley, Tyson and Devon Smith will all be in the gun at that game.
Thanks for tuning into to this week’s Bullets! Hopefully we are treated with some more reliable DT data next week, as I expect we will. Tip of the Week – keep a keen eye on team roles and the job security of your rookies, as these are things which the casual DTer can’t gather from a stats summary.
As always, good luck!
Hit me up on Twitter: @tbetta9