Welcome to AFL Dream Team for season 2012! Despite enjoying just the one game this week, I’m extremely excited to have kicked off the season. It’s about time we experienced the fruits of months of pre-season labour! Come to think of it, GWS probably felt the same way, after enduring months of scrutiny and one of the biggest build-ups (along with the Suns last year) a club could possibly withstand.
And they weren’t embarrassed in their first official AFL match – not by a long shot. While they did lose by 63 points, anyone who saw the match can attest that the general play was much more closely contested than the final scoreboard suggests. Statistically, they lost almost every category, but they were never embarrassed in any particular player-based stat. The Giants were without earshot in the tackle count (lost by 16) to arguably the best tackling team in the competition in the Swans. They marginally lost the contested possession count (also 16 less) while also competing at stoppages with a 37-43 split in the hit-outs and tying the Swans in terms of clearances. With those key stats in mind, it isn’t hard to be buoyed by the Giants’ performance and to feel cautiously optimistic about their chances for 2012.
Of course, for us, this is important. The more competitive the Giants, the more points our Giant rookies (and the odd premium) will collect. GWS weren’t embarrassed in fantasy terms on Saturday night either, going down 1533 to 1716. A loss there was to be expected from an expansion team on debut. Come to think of it, how did this performance rate against the other expansion team to recently enter the league?
Pretty bloody good, that’s how. If you remember, the Blues smashed the Suns by a massive 119 points in their Round 2 debut last season. Not only that, they got dominated statistically, losing the head-to-head DT scoring 1304 to 1909. The Suns had 1 ton-up (Rischitelli) to Carlton’s 7. The Giants, meanwhile, actually out-tonned (yes, I know that’s not a real word) the Swans 4 – 2. What can we take from this? Well, keeping in mind that it’s only one game in a long season, I think we can feel optimistic about the Giants fantasy scoring this year, especially if they remain as competitive around the contests as they were last night.
It wouldn’t be right not to mention the passing of AFL great Jim Stynes. While I obviously didn’t know him personally, like much of the general AFL public, it’s clear that he was not only a great footballer, but a great guy. I’ve never seen such passionate, lengthy, heart-felt and wholesome testimonials from so many revered AFL figures. The magnitude of the affect of his passing is still being felt almost a week on and I daresay will be felt by all those in AFL circles for a long time.
One of the most prominent themes in the Jim Stynes story is his Irish heritage. These days, it’s common to see an Irish lad or two on a club’s list, with Kennelly, Marty Clarke, O’hAilpin and Hanley all recent examples of successful Irish imports. But we can’t forget that their path into AFL football was pioneered by Stynes, who will now be remembered as a trailblazer and as someone who overcame the greatest adversity to be crowned the League’s Best and Fairest player in 1991, amongst many other personal accolades.
Jimmy was also a DT gun in his day, averaging 107.7 in that massive ‘91 season. This is even more impressive when you consider that back then, 80 points would have been considered a big score… So in continuing on with this theme, let’s look at a few players who have emerged from different backgrounds whom you might consider for your 2012 AFL Dream Team.
Robin Nahas FWD/MID $415,700
Richmond’s Lebanese pocket-pocket took a big step up last year and boosted his average by 20 points on 2010. He had a hot mid-season patch where he averaged 96 over 13 matches, but tapered off over the last few matches. With Richmond primed to improve across the board, Nahas is a big chance to find a lot more consistency and push his average into the 90’s.
Nic Naitanui RUC $371,500
With so many legitimate ruck options emerging last year, NicNat has largely (and uncharacteristically) gone unnoticed. A close look at the Fijian-born ruckman’s stats shows that his numbers for disposals, marks, goals and hit-outs have all increased each season over his three years in the league. Improvement at the same rate, coupled with increased ruck time (as evident over the Nab Cup) puts Naitanui in a great position to bump up his average to 85 and beyond.
Karmichael Hunt DEF $145,600
As weird as it sounds, the Tongan is a sneaky chance in the backline mix this year. Obviously, he was dreadful fantasy-wise in defence last year, but a heralded move to the midfield makes K-Hunt an interesting prospect. He will definitely increase his average and his JS is better than, say, Marty Clarke at a very similar price. And his points per minute have been higher! If two of Clarke, Spurr and Morris go unnamed, strongly consider the rugby convert.
Makers and Breakers
Real AFL is back – which means so is the Makers and Breakers! It’ll be a little different this week, with only the one game – but it was a hugely fantasy relevant one! So let’s just go with the Top 3 and their reasons for being there.
First-gamer Adam Kennedy was the 2nd highest scorer on the field with 116 DT on Saturday night, collecting 28 possessions and 11 marks in a lucrative half-back role. He was absolutely everywhere, linking up for +6’s whilst still collecting 8 contested touches. His DPP status helped him morph into a popular pick (19.1% ownership) and he rewarded those suitors with what will surely culminate in a hefty first price rise.
Bugg vs Darley was this year’s Toy vs Coad, until Darley didn’t make the Round 1 squad. That left Bugg as the main GWS rookie defender option, and coaches jumped on accordingly – he’s currently the 5th most selected player at 39% ownership. Bugg played a gritty small defender role, and looked reasonably poised when the onus was put upon him deep in the Giants’ defence. 103 DT points is a great result for those who locked him in.
After totalling 41 DT points at 3Q time, Giles finished with a flurry to post 77 valuable DT points. In an encouraging sign for those who went (or currently are) going with a 1-3 ruck structure, Giles didn’t look out of depth or easily overpowered by the man-mountain Mumford. The hit-out count was 26-35 to Mumford in the end, but Giles played significantly less game-time (77% to 91%) due to a head abrasion sustained in the 3rd period.
While it was common knowledge that Shiel was coming off only half a game’s match practice, many were sucked into starting him given he was named in the ruck-rover position. Unfortunately, the obvious (how nice is hindsight?) happened and he was subbed out for 36. Shiel finished with 11 disposals and while he looked a little rusty, I have no doubt that after two weeks of uninterrupted training that he’ll be up and firing just as he was in the NEAFL last season.
Luke Parker is this year’s Connors – the mid-price-Nab-Cup-hero who ended up red-vested in the very first match of the year. He sustained a huge hit from Old MacDonald midway through the first quarter, which probably convinced the coaching staff to put him in cotton wool early. His 55 came from only 50% TOG, but it will still hurt those coaches who selected him as their midfield mid-pricer after an impressive Nab Cup.
84 DT points is hardly a bad score, but considering Goodesy was the leading choice for the Vice-Captain Loophole, and considering how much more he could have done had he wanted, it was a little disappointing. Goodes seemed to have a touch of the Swanny-Nab-Cup mentality about him, which I’m sure was frustrating for his owners. A classic Round 1 return from a notorious slow starter.
With a few GWS rookies surprising us and scoring big in their debut matches for the Giants, you’re probably kicking yourself you didn’t start them on the field. Don’t stress too much though – there’s always a way you can make it count if you really want to, hopefully without compromising your team too much. Here’s my take on three scenarios you might be facing.
Bugg (103) on Backline Bench
Many coaches seemed to charge into the first partial lockout with Bugg as their emergency in the backline, with Ellis generally preferred over the Giant rookie. His 103 looks horrible sitting on the bench, so what to do? If Morris isn’t named (which I doubt will happen – he didn’t play VFL this week) then I suggest considering Bock and starting him. Most coaches discounted Bock after learning he is suspended for the season opener, but he’s suddenly an option. He had a solid Nab Cup, displaying the ability to play both ends of the ground – and he would be a great point of difference for your team.
MacDonald (98) on Midfield Bench
Old MacDonald showed he’s still got ‘it’ with a busy 98 thanks to 23 touches and 6 tackles. But did you bench him and click the E? If so, strongly consider Lachie Neale if he isn’t named – we know Lyon loves him and he was best 22 over the pre-season, so he’ll surely see an opportunity early on in the season once that ankle heals. Gibson is the more risky approach, but after collecting 30 touches in the VFL this weekend, he could earn himself an early season spot with another couple of solid games at reserve level.
Kennedy (116) on Forward Bench
If you had Kennedy as your forward line emergency, this will be the hardest one to manoeuvre into a counting score. The option of picking a forward rookie not named for Round 1 doesn’t excite me at all, so I’m recommending (with a sizable asterix) Dayne Beams. We know he’s all but ruled out for Round 1, but he’ll be back in Round 2 or 3, and we know he can score at will. Still a risky move, and his inflated price is a put-off, but you’d be tapping into a gold mine that no-one else is if it pays off.
As promised last week, here is my Round 1 Watchlist, not including Sydney or GWS players. It contains all the players that I’m seriously considering if named on Thursday. Take out of it what you will, although I’m more than happy to explain any inclusions or exclusions.
Loop the Loop
This week is the most season-defining week of your 2012 Dream Team campaign, so make sure you take the time to get it right. If you’ve put the miles in over the pre-season you should be fine – back your judgement in and don’t make any knee-jerk calls.
A friendly reminder that we have a secondary lockout this week, and that means another bite at the VC loophole (well, not for those that already had a punt on Saturday). Stay tuned for Calvin’s Captains on Wednesday, but strongly consider putting the ‘V’ on any of Deledio, Martin, Gibbs or Murphy; provided you’re okay with starting a player who isn’t named for Round 1. All of the above can be manoeuvred into your midfield, where they can be ‘covered’ by an unnamed Neale or Magner.
Well, that’s about it from me. Good luck for the coming week and don’t forget to check out DT Talk regularly – there will be awesome content daily to make sure you go into Round 1 with the best possible side. If you haven’t already, make sure you purchase the DT Cheat Sheet to see the experts’ sides, and get yourself in the running for that massive TV!
Until next week!
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