Plenty to Crow About
A huge week to cover, so let’s get straight into it!
Congratulations to the Crows, who emerged Nab Cup victors over the Eagles on Saturday night. It was a fitting end to the pre-season for the Crows, who didn’t miss a beat all Nab Cup under new head coach Brenton Sanderson. Combine that with a fixture that makes even Collingwood jealous, it’s fair to say that the hype over break-out contenders Dangerfield and Sloane, and midfield mainstay Scott Thompson is almost at breaking point.
A barrage of stats has been thrown at us about the parallels between a successful Nab Cup and a successful season. While I think it’s foolish to read too much into a pre-season where the Pies didn’t try, the Cats barely showed up and Carlton didn’t fire a shot, 2012 certainly looks promising for Adelaide and its DT relevance.
Other results were varied but ultimately untrustworthy in determining potential competitiveness for the coming season. It was, however, priceless in helping determine which players are in a side’s current best 22 (or 25 at least) with Round 1 in mind. Miles, Treloar, Koby Stevens and Gibson were just a few examples of rookies who concerned me with their lack of game time in Nab 4.
The Scoring Project
Like last week, I decided to compile projected scores for each player from the weekend. It isn’t perhaps as useful as last week, where we had up to 29 players per team compared to the 25 this week, but I believe it still prevents us DT coaches from disregarding a seemingly ‘poor’ score without considering TOG. The file for Nab 4 is here: Nab 4 – Projected Scoring. I’ve modified the projection formula slightly, to take into account player fatigue. It uses the same legend as last week, plus injury-affected players are highlighted in grey.
In combing through the TOG data, I found 5 players that I believe shouldn’t be discounted due to low scores in Nab 4.
Dyson Heppell 80DT – 53% TOG – 142 Projected
Not much has been said about Hepp D this year, which is probably due to a reflex pessimism by the DT public where 2nd year players are concerned. His numbers have been promising in his two pre-season games so far, projected for 75 last week and 142 this week. He seems to be playing more of a wing role than a purely defensive one, so he could be great value as an OOP pick. I can’t see him regressing from last year either, which makes him a very safe pick.
Ivan Maric 45DT – 47% TOG – 90 Projected
Maric should be considered based on the same reasons people are all over McEvoy and jumping off Leuenberger – he is his club’s standout ruckman. I projected him for 99 last week and he backed it up with 90 this week based on his half a game. With Hardwick preferring to mobilise Vickery as a key forward, I see even more daylight between him and the next best ruck option. At $262,700, he is the definition of a speculative mid-price option.
Ryan Griffen 51DT – 33% TOG – 147 Projected
I love the look of Griffen as a point of difference in your midfield this year. He is really benefitting from the extra possessions on offer at the Bulldogs, which shows in his projected scores of 172 and 147 the last two weeks. These are surely boosted by low TOG (meaning he can run out games faster than he normally could) but are impressive nonetheless. That said, his lack of game time the last two weeks is puzzling.
Kane Lucas 43DT – 45% TOG – 90 Projected
At $206k, I can’t help but stare at Lucas the same way that it’s impossible not to stare at stipples on a Cougar at your local supermarket. He had a projected 90 from 91% TOG in Nab 3 but was once again used as the sub on Sunday where he managed to secure another 90 projected DT points from half a game. The guy can score when allowed, but his proclivity to the vest really has me worried.
Stephen Coniglio 54DT – 39% TOG – 130 Projected
Like Heppell, not a lot has been said about Coniglio lately. Sure, there was plenty of talk early on, but with the general consensus being that you’d be overpaying for him or Tyson, we gradually started looking elsewhere. He found plenty of the pill despite playing less than half a game against Richmond, and since I’ve cooled significantly on Neale, Magner, Gibson and Stevens for various reasons, I could use someone with his job security in the midfield.
Hopefully over the course of the Nab Cup I’ve suggested a few possible emerging trends that has provoked some thought. The Western Bulldogs’ new game-style is an obvious example, but one that has wide-ranging DT consequences. Like Hawthorn last year, we should see Bulldogs players increase their average through sheer weight of possession, making the likes of Hargrave, Lake, Howard, Murphy, Boyd, Griffen, Minson, Higgins and Giansiracusa interesting prospects for 2012. A glance at their Nab 4 stats show that they once again won the possession count (as they have done in each 5 Nab outings), but ended up losing the game, finishing with a 2-3 pre-season record. Interestingly, their uncontested possession differentials have been on the slide as the competition went on, registering only one more contested possession than their opponents over the last two weeks, as opposed to +132 over the first two weeks. Is the new Bulldog playing style struggling to take?
Carlton has lost every game this pre-season, so should we be worried about picking Blues this year? Weekly DT differentials read: +94, -238, -295, +103. This doesn’t particularly worry me, given Robinson and Judd have missed pre-season games amidst an injury crisis at Carlton this year. I’m not saying the Blues will be great at the start of the season, but once the group returns to a reasonable fitness level they should be competitive again. Besides, quality players like Murphy, Gibbs, Scotland and Robinson will still find plenty of the rock even when they are losing. With Carlton, it seems to be won or lost by their last 6 players on the field, not their stars (Gibbs, Simpson, Murphy, Carrazzo, Kreuzer and Robinson were all projected over 97 DT points at the weekend).
Horses for Courses
Still testing your team up against those byes? In the excitement of the Nab Cup and all the new data we have to analyse, I almost forgot about important bye structure when fiddling with my team. I have since run the numbers, forcing a few changes to my premium selections just a week out from the commencement of DreamTeam 2012. Here are a few of the niches I found difficult to fill.
The R11Bye Premo Forward Spot
A conservative structure model suggests that you should select a Premo from each Bye round across your three main lines. I found this particularly difficult with the forwards, as Round 11 Premos are thin on the ground. We have Cloke, Sidebottom, Beams, Zaharakis, Fyfe, Pavlich and Goodes from the Round 12 bye, complimented by Robinson, Franklin, Rioli, Lewis, Martin and Riewoldt in Round 13. What are we left with? With Brown Dog and LeCras both incapacitated, the best I can see are Dangerfield, Giansiracusa and Petrie – none of which I could pick with any degree of confidence. All three could go Boom or Bust.
The R11Bye Premo Defender Spot
I promise you I’m not hating on the R11 Bye teams (which includes the Eagles), but I’m definitely having more trouble with that pesky bye week. Adcock, Butler, Hanley, Waters… None of these guys scream ‘Pick me’ (although I suppose that would be a little pathetic), especially seeing as I promised myself that I wouldn’t go near injury-prone Premos like Jed and Beau. The solution? I’ve chosen to go mid-price, with Howard, Lake and Hargrave all reporting for duty.
The Reliable R13 Rookie Spot
Structurally speaking, Round 13 rookies are the best for a GnR trading strategy. They have two extra weeks to fatten up, and you have two weeks to trade them from R13Bye Rookies to R11/12Bye Premos or Rookies in an upgrade-downgrade scenario. Unfortunately, there doesn’t seem to be a whole lot on offer, with Carlton and Hawthorn failing to offer anything and Gold Coast only throwing up Hall. Saad is promising, as are Ellis and Morris from the Tigers, but Milera, Ledger, Wingard, Pfeiffer and Wilkes are sporting some serious question marks.
I’m sure I wasn’t the only one who found myself mentally declaring ultimatums to those on the fringe of my team over Nab 4. Here is a shortlist of players who made it to the final audition to Tbetta Than You, and this is how they fared:
# Broughton: A+
I’m finally convinced. Convinced that Lyon’s defence model has translated to Fremantle, allowing Broughton to play a DT lucrative role even when assigned a job down back. 104 in Nab 2 was followed by 75 and 110 the last two weeks – that’s enough for me.
# Koby Stevens: C-
Koby was only activated at half-time, but impressed me in general play in the 2nd half. He played a HFF role predominantly, which probably won’t see him play to his potential. Even if he makes best 22, I’d say he earns the vest most weeks… Although Nicoski’s injury opens up an opportunity for Koby up forward in the short term. Ultimately though, I’ll probably give him a miss.
# Sidebottom: A
Sidebottom was once again in the Pies’ top 3 scorers by projected score, with a raw 87 DT points preceding this week’s 95. True to pre-season rumour, he has floated through the guts for long periods, making Sidey a great DPP forward option. I’m keen.
# Christensen: D-
Christensen was a no-show, following a weak projected 50 in Nab 3. I don’t think I can pick someone after such minimal pre-season data.
# Masten: B
Masten… I hate you. I just wanted a blinder or (preferably) a stinker, so I was mentally confident either way. But still, you remain in DT limbo, teasing me. Masten was again busy while not scoring as well as he appeared to (a little handball happy with a few FA’s), notching a projected 75 in 55% TOG. I have no idea which way I’ll go here yet.
# Jarrad Redden: C
Like Jeremy Lin, Redden (51 projected from 69% TOG) was bound for a game that dampened the hype a little. If he had another blinder I would have slid him into that R2 position, but this confirmed my gut feeling and I’m sticking with Giles at this point.
# Stephensen: C
My confidence in a 1-3 ruck structure is directly proportional to my confidence in Orren’s job security. 51 from 68% TOG was sufficient without stirring up any inner desire to scream for joy.
# Hargrave: B-
He’s old, and I’m still worried about the Yarran Dilemma, but at his price Hargrave deserves a quiet game every few weeks. Unfortunately I didn’t see the game, so I can’t look too much further into it at this point. Still in calculations for sure.
# Lake: C-
He scored more than his mate Hargrave, but he is significantly riskier given he spent half of 2011 with ‘body’ listed in the official AFL injury updates. Even with the Bulldogs desired new game style, I don’t think I can put myself through another ‘Grimes’ situation after last year.
Great question! I’ve thought a fair bit about this, and decided that Hale’s just too expensive at $342,800 to consider. Bailey won’t be out for the whole season, and when he comes back, what happens then? Could be a great risk-reward type pick (especially if he plays out of his mind like on the weekend), but not for me.
Kennedy is one that burst onto my radar this week also. He didn’t play in Nab 1 and had just 17 (subbed) in Nab 2, but had 55 from 66% in Nab 3 followed by 97 this week. Making it onto the HBF in Sheedy’s R1 team is encouraging even if highly speculative. Would be very helpful as a DPP link with teammate Devon Smith.
I’m not sure if we should, but I can’t help but be a little concerned. Although, as with any God, aren’t we encouraged to have unblinking faith in our saviour and we will be justly rewarded? I think we just need to trust that Swanny’s still the same amazing player and DTer that he was last year, and I see no reason why he shouldn’t be. And let’s be honest… Swan has better things to worry about than the Nab Cup. Like, what’s on TV later. Or the price of eggs in China.
I don’t think it’s the worst idea at all. With only the MBR’s to worry about in terms of byes, you can afford to take a gamble with your M8 as they’ll only need to be called on in Rounds 11-13. I’m certain Neale will play early on in the season, but if you’re planning on doing the same thing with Magner, it could get awkward.
The next 5 or 6 days is going to be shocking for getting anything done. Work, rest and play will be affected (infected even?) with my desire to roll into the first partial lockout with a finely-tuned and well-balanced squad.
That begs the question; how many Giants is too much? Or too little? Tough call, but at this stage I’m looking at 3 to 5 – roughly one per line. The most difficult thing about this is deciding if you want to gamble on whether another rookie is available for the following weekend, when you already know a few GWS players who’ll be pulling on the boots for sure. It’s going to be a tough mental process, so plan as much as you can before Thursday’s teams come out!
Anyway, that’s it from me this week. A big shout out to those that got on board with my DT Talk Tbetta League during the week and to those who showed interest – set for a big year! Stay tuned next Monday for a slightly different Bullets experience – as I’ll only have one game to cover, I’ll be revealing the Watchlist I’m taking into Thursday night team selection.
Until next week.
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