Round 1 is over, which means you’re either stoked or suicidal, and rarely anywhere between. The sum of a range of events, such as your Captain choice, unique selections, volatile premium picks and vest distribution culminated in one, solidary score. One single four-digit number to sum up your lengthy pre-season (mine dates back to the Draft!), however unfair it may be. Hopefully, you made more right choices than wrong and ended up with 2100 plus this week. If not, there’s always another week to redeem yourself.
The footy, in general, was amazing this week. The majority of the games were fast-paced, free-flowing and high-scoring affairs, which made it highly entertaining for us viewers regardless of the result. Although, many also went down to the wire. The high-tempo nature of the games has serious DT consequences for us. The graph below shows the how much the better scoring fantasy team outscored the other versus the actual game margin.
You’ll notice that in 8 of the 9 games over Round 1, the winning team also earned more DT points. You’ll also notice that the trend was pretty clear; the more you win by, the more DT points your team scores.
This notion isn’t ground-breaking – we’ve always known that the better teams score better fantasy-wise than the weaker teams. But with the AFL seemingly being played at a higher pace this year (only 1 round so far; I know, I know) we are seeing a domino effect take place. The players get tired, the game breaks open, the fitter team gets more possessions, the team with more possessions kicks more goals, and the team with more goals wins the match. Never have the winning teams been more likely to score well, which looks good for Hawthorn, Carlton, Fremantle and West Coast players, but not so good for Melbourne, GWS and the Gold Coast.
We all had those nagging 50-50 calls to make in the hours leading up to lockout (or more accurately, lockouts), but did you stay firm or did you crumble? These are the decisions which haunt you all weekend, and if they are bad enough, the entire season. Personally, I crumbled, which makes me want to turn back time and slap Friday’s Tbetta right across the face. Multiple times, and hard. Here are a few last-minute calls you might have been juggling mentally in the final hours of unlimited trading.
Hargrave (79) vs Golby (77)
This was the big one for me, and while it’s early days, I can’t help but think I’ve made the wrong decision with who has become affectionately known in my house as ‘Trollby’. In poor games from the both of them, Hargrave only scored two points more, but comes $33k cheaper and played significantly better opposition in West Coast than the Dees. Both were on my radar for the infamous title of the Yarran Dilemma, and I think it will end up with Golby, who played a much more lock-down role than in the pre-season. The silver lining is that at least I didn’t go with Lake.
Cox (107) vs McEvoy (86)
Those going with a 1-3 ruck structure looking for a Premo Ruck to hang their hat on were basically left with Mumford, Coxy and McEvoy. Sandi and Leuey were under vague injury clouds, while Goldstein was hard to back in with H-Mac lurking in the background. And with Mummy locked out from the GWS-Swans standalone game, it came down to McEvoy or Cox. So who won? I’m calling a draw. Cox scored 107 but was priced at exactly that, while the Big Mac contributed 86 in a loss but came significantly cheaper.
Pendlebury (132) vs Swan (104)
With Swan underperforming again in the pre-season, many questioned whether he should be included in starting squads this year. Meanwhile, Pendlebury was just plodding along, steadily improving every year since his inception and looking switched on over the pre-season. In the end, Pendles took Round 1 (literally) with what will probably end up being a 3-vote game, despite Collingwood losing the match. Swanny was his unassuming self but didn’t connect up for as many +6 combos as he usually does when he’s at his best.
Clay Smith (79 sub) vs Neale (DNP)
This was one I was considering myself with my M8 needing to be filled, and I gave myself every last minute to make the call. In the end, Clay being named in the guts convinced me over an unnamed, although seemingly best 22 Lachie Neale. It was a good choice in the end, with Smith dominating in his first game with 4 goals from 13 possessions before being subbed out in the 3rd quarter with cramps.
Yagmoor (8 sub) vs Smedts (50)
This was one pretty clear cut. I know a few coaches who were looking to fill a D9 spot after Ellis, Morris, and Bugg were already locked out. Options were few and far between, with Yagmoor and Smedts seemingly better options than Paine and Tynan, although the job security was non-existent between the lot of them. As it played out, Yagmoor managed only 8 before being subbed out, while Smedts started well but faded for his 50. Like I said, job security is a big issue here, so not really a win either way.
The pre-season has seen many different team structures and strategies, some more out there than others. It’s only early days, but let’s see which strategies are paying dividends and which are costing coaches early.
The 1-3 Ruck Structure
It’s not the most out-there structure going around, but it definitely goes against the common school of thought over the last few years. While most Premo rucks scored 85+, it’s the rookies who will prove whether this structure is boom or bust. And it’s looking good so far, With Giles scoring 77 last week and Redden backing up some impressive pre-season numbers before being subbed off on 68 at 3Q time. Orren in the only issue at this stage, subbed out for a disappointing 22.
Verdict: Heap of potential there. B+
The DPP Midfield
One of DT Talk’s more outspoken readers (and I hope they don’t mind me sharing their plight) went with a 6-gun midfield, most of which were Premo DPP links to the backline and forward line. This left them light on with Premos in other lines, forcing a few extra rooks and mid-pricers into the fray. While the midfield of Fyfe, Murphy, Selwood, Goddard, Deledio, and Goodes was serviceable, it left the back and forward lines pretty bare and condemned McDonald’s 98 to the bench. Final score was in the 1800’s.
Verdict: Nice idea in theory, but the rooks didn’t help execute it. C-
The ‘I Rate Them’ Structure
A big shout out to my Dad, who knows his sh*t, but doesn’t have enough time to throw together a well-researched Dream Team. Instead, he chucks in players who he thinks will have a break-out season, and keeps going until he has 30 players under the salary cap. This produces gun picks like Merrett (83), Cotchin (120), Douglas (109), Kreuzer (96), Tippett (114) and Darling (92). Unfortunately, you can’t get everyone right, with Danyle Pearce (35) and Butcher (37) sneaking in there as well. Impressively, this team still hit mid 1900’s.
Verdict: Probably not the best way to DT, but definitely fun to follow. D
The 5-Gun Midfield
As we all know, Calvin went with this structure after sustained success to fellow DTers in the past. The thinking is spot on, as it netted the Calvinators north of 2100 points. The key here is picking the Premo mids that will be in the top 7 or 8 at season’s end, and the midfield of Swan, Ablett, Boyd, Selwood and Mitchell is exactly that. It didn’t hurt that they all topped the ton in Round 1.
Verdict: Picking the guys you can trust week-in, week-in is just plain smart. A
Makers and Breakers
A lot of big ‘uniques’ in the Makers this week, which is fundamentally what makes them Makers. Stanton lead the way with 37 disposals( including a huge 26 kicks), 7 marks, 5 tackles and 2 goals for a round-high 153. It was a complete performance from the hard-running and much-maligned Bomber midfielder, who I guarantee was spared the boos from his own crowd on Saturday night. It was great sign to see that more than half his disposals were contested, which has been a knock on him in the past.
Adcock was one of the few defenders to raise the bat, and the best part about it is that he only rewarded the 5% of coaches who picked him. Jed was often released into the midfield and hence collected 29 disposals for his 125 in a pleasing performance. Keep in mind though, it was only Melbourne.
Sloane was much-hyped as a breakout contender this pre-season, but only 2.6% of coaches jumped on. They were well rewarded for their faith with 125, thanks to 24 disposals and big 9 tackles. Although it was only the Gold Coast, the signs are good for Sloane, especially with Adelaide’s cakewalk of a draw.
Nat Fyfe is a gun. That is what I learned on Saturday night, something that I almost forgot over the pre-season. He will earn the 3 Brownlow votes for sure, with all of his 30 disposals eye-catching, as were his 2 goals. It was only his 5 frees against that prevented The Knyfe from pushing 150 instead of just 124.
Pendlebury is the favourite for the Brownlow this year, and with great reason. He is a true big-game performer, as his 29 disposals and 2 goals in a loss suggests. He is untagable in the sense that he always finds space in seemingly unnegotiable traffic, and you can’t run with him all day because he’s just too fit. A great bet for your DT if you got on him – his 132 against the Hawks makes me think he’s only getting better.
Lake… I never forgave him after last year, and I’m glad I was harsh on him, because it prevented me from getting sucked in. His 29 won’t be a regular thing, but it does prove that he is prone to these sorts of scores regardless of his obvious talent.
Broughton is just as likely to feature in the Makers as he is the Breakers, which is one of his more despicable qualities. Although, Lyon is probably more to blame. Ross, if you’re going to play Broughton in the mids all pre-season, I damn well expect you to play him to play there in the home-and-away season. Nobody likes a tease… Regardless, if you got sucked in, 59 points hurts.
38 points from a decorated gun like Enright is not what we have come to expect from the Geelong playmaker. 9.1% of coaches probably feel the same way. I don’t know why he didn’t score like he has in the past, but he was basically a non-factor in the Fremantle match so I guess it’s no surprise.
I’m coining the phrase ‘See-Shaw’ now, which I think adequately sums up how Shaw can go from being so potent one half to the fantasy equivalent of a leashed Jack Russel the next. He can have as much desire and enthusiasm as he wants, but as soon as the opposition decides to put the forward tag on, it’s over for DT coaches.
Those who elected to start Morris will be dirty with his 27 on Thursday night. He looked great in general play, putting his body on the line on several noticeable occasions. But this is DT, not the Army Award, and his 27 hurt for those who could easily have had him on the bench.
One of my favourite parts of the Bullets is the Tweets section. Here are a few tweets that I received at the close of the weekend.
As you can see, the overwhelming topic of discussion for DTers this week was Gregory Broughton and what on earth to do with him. As a fellow Broughton owner (and spruiker, at times) I think we need to keep level heads and give him another couple of weeks. We know he’s a gun, especially when he plays in the midfield, and it was only that lockdown role that prevented him from continuing on how he started in the first quarter. He won’t play that role every week, especially against weaker opposition. Let’s give him some time.
Sometimes I think the best thing about an LTI is that it gives you a chance to downgrade to a performing rookie when you otherwise couldn’t justify doing it, someone like a Magner, Clay Smith or Kennedy. But I don’t think this is one of those times. Parker will be back in a couple of weeks, and like I mentioned last week, he scored readily in the time that he spent on the ground. You obviously picked him for a reason, so I say back him in, and back in your midfield rookies until he returns in 2 or 3 matches.
Firstly, 89 points in not that bad… It was definitely improved by junk time, and it was against a bottom-three team. But to answer the question… No. My gut says that he the ball-winning ability he has always had, has finally mated with some consistency and endurance to give birth to a more impactful player, and ultimately a better DTer. His first-up performance was nothing like his pre-season though, I’ll admit that much.
Every year we prepare ourselves for Round 3 and the fix-it trades that we can use to improve our team before the price fluctuations kick in. While I strongly suggest that you don’t trade after just one round, here’s a few things to keep your eye on for Round 2 in the interest of fix-it trading.
# Lake’s effort in Round 2. If he still appears rusty and self-orientated, and especially if the Bulldogs can’t get their possession-happy game style to click, consider cutting your losses on him. Hargrave, Golby and Conca are still in the ballpark price-wise, otherwise consider downgrading to Bugg if you missed him the first time around.
# Underperforming backmen. I mentioned Shaw, Broughton and Enright earlier, and if these guys have another poor outing their prices will plummet. This isn’t such an issue if they end up being keepers, but if their low scores continue, you’ll find it hard to afford a decent replacement later on. Adcock, Waters, Birchall and Heppell are a few guys to consider at that slightly cheaper price-range, especially if they back up in Round 2 with big scores.
# Adam Kennedy’s/Clay Smith’s/James Magner’s Round 2 score. If you missed these guys originally and they end up pumping out a big back-to-back score, then you have to consider getting them; a la Curnow last year. They will be virtually guaranteed price increases over the next three rounds, and it could help you fix up a rookie dud. This is true even more so with Kennedy, who could be traded into your forwards for someone like Dickson (37).
The Week Ahead
Round 2 is sure to be another big week, with yet another partial lockout to manoeuvre, thanks to the Brisbane-Carlton clash on Thursday night. Again, to exploit the lockout you’ll need to have someone on your field not playing, which is a consolation for Parker/McDonald/Neale (possibly) owners. I won’t be attempting it due to my lack of Premos from either club, but if you have Gibbs, Murphy, Rockliff or Redden, I say go for it if you can.
Also, remember that there’s no League match-up again this week. It all starts in Round 3, so you have another week to get your team ship-shape and ready for battle. In some respects the first two rounds is like a mini pre-season, where we can trial our rookies and figure out the best set-up going into the real stuff.
Anyway, good luck! May your league ranking be high and your trigger finger remain itchless. Tip of the week: Get your starting rookies right! The difference between Bugg, Magner and Kennedy & Morris, Shiel and Dickson was a massive 216 points.
Tweet me: @tbetta9
P.S. A big shout out to the DT Talk Tbetta League, who was ranked 131 overall this week! Great effort guys.