It was a very weird week in DT in Round 17. Intuitively, it looked like being a high scoring round; but for every big score we earned, there seemed to be a mild disappointment attached to it. Watson 121, but Stanton 84. Stevie J 107, but Chapman 66. Scotland 112, but Carrazzo 83. And so on. Therefore, it came down to whether your side had the right combination of players, hopefully dodging landmines of mediocrity along the way.
A big game-changer was the late withdrawal of Mitch Robinson. As a very popular forward (especially in DT Talk circles) and with Franklin still on the sidelines, our forward cover again came into reckoning. The graphic to the right shows that in complete contrast to last weekend, we have very few coverage options. Treloar was fantastic, Eliiott and Zorko solid as ever and at least Tom Couch gave us something, but that was it (Note: Smedts scored 86, but most coaches have him as a DEF). This was mainly due to the exodus at GWS this week, with Sheedy attempting to protect the young Giants from a gruelling cross-country trip.
Hopefully, you had a guy like Treloar or Elliott there ready to rise to the challenge. With many teams ‘complete’ at this stage of the year, these are the bonus points that set you apart from the pack.
Makers and Breakers
You rarely hear stories about players standing tall in a Sunday twilight fixture – normally it’s a last-minute failure. This week, it was rookie Adam Treloar that went above and beyond what we expect from him and busted out a team-high 106 points. It was an amazing consolation prize for those that had him covering either Franklin or Robinson or both in Round 17.
He may be made of chilled glass, but Grimes showed this week why fantasy coaches have been fawning over him in the hope that he’ll develop some semblance of durability. 11 marks from 32 possessions (not to mention some uncharacteristic high disposal efficiency) birthed 135 points. Grimes has been a very sneaky pick this year, missing just the one game and averaging 89 per game, which is Top-7 Defender worthy.
Rounding out the Makers this week is three legends of the fantasy world. I rated Pendlebury slightly ahead of Pavlich and Swan, given his extended lay-off with that cracked tibia. He’s posted scores of 117 and 142 on return, indicating that he hasn’t lost any touch or confidence in that time off. 11 tackles boosted his scored from great to excellent.
Pavlich and his fantasy resurgence weren’t far behind, kicking a bag of 7 against the Giants for 120 DT points. He’s now averaged 114.4 points in his last 5 games (2nd highest of the forward eligible), and kicked at least 3 goals in each of his last 7 outings.
Coaches can talk about effectiveness and efficiency as much as they want, but in DT, it’s all about the numbers. Swanny is the perfect statistical specimen – this week, he had 49 touches and 2 goals make up the bulk of his 165 points. As the most popular Captain choice, this meant 330 points to many very happy suitors.
While we should have seen it coming after the demise of Zac Smith last year, it doesn’t excuse the shocking drop-off by Giles this year. He averaged 85.6 up until Round 9, which is certainly Premium territory, but has gone at just 57 a game since; not to mention missing two crucial games in that time. His 36 points on the weekend came against Griffin and Zac Clarke, hardly a suffocating ruck opposition.
I’m sick of talking about Cloke. 37 points. Not good. No longer a premium. Feel sorry for those who picked him up over the MBRs when he seemingly bottomed-out.
Swans teammates Goodes and Mumford come in at 3rd and 4th this week. While effective, Goodes just couldn’t gather the stats that we need in DT and thus only manufactured 47 in game where he was structurally invaluable. Doesn’t speak well for his fast-finishing reputation… Mumford was actually subbed out at the main break with a knee issue, stranding him on 54 points. If you brought him in as a replacement for Giles or Kreuzer… Ouch. Could be out for a few.
It’s a bit of a throw-back at 5th spot in the Breakers for Round 17. Josh Drummond was once a Premium consideration (averaged 86.4 in 2007), but injury has always held him back. He made it to 37 points on the weekend then, you guessed it, another injury. This time, a knee hyperextension. Not to be outdone, Shaun Higgins made sure he injured himself the next day…
A couple of readers pointed out that not everyone is down to LTI trades – some sneaky coaches have been squirrelling away trades for the run home. For that reason, here are the best value options on the market, although admittedly, it has largely righted itself over a long season. For those who don’t have any trades left (like me), you can just sit back and rue the tasty trade-targets that you can never enjoy…
Heath Shaw – $374,600 – DEF – 84.3 avg L3
Yes, I know he’s a walking brain-fade. Yes, I know he’s about as close to the definition of inconsistent as you can get. But the fact is, you’re getting a Top 7 Defender at a great price. A BE of 76 means Shaw’s price is on the rise, and GWS coming up this week, now’s the time to jump on.
Nick Malceski – $319,800 – DEF – 85.0 avg L3
Eski is back in vogue. He’s been savaged by the Swans’ selectors this season, but he’s put together a solid run of football and looks like he’s here to stay. At his price, and for what he can do, he’s a bargain. Straight-swappable for Broughton.
Marc Murphy – $384,000 – MID – 98.0 season avg
If you’re looking for a midfield ‘upgrade’, then look no further than Murphy. Seriously; I didn’t. Pendles is also under-priced at $472k, but in a value-sense, he’s miles off Smurph. Discounting his injury affected 27, he’s averaged 106 points so far this season; including that run of 5 110+ scores to kick off the season. If you have a MID slot to fill and you don’t snaffle up Murphy, you’re a fool.
Todd Goldstein – $368,500 – RUCK – 80.1 season avg
There’s not a heap of value left in the rucks unfortunately, so it takes Goldstein’s 55 and 59 in Rounds 15-16 to hurt his price and make him affordable. He hasn’t had the best form leading in, but we all know what he can do. If you have $70k and Giles, it’s a no-brainer.
Brent Harvey – $372,300 – FWD – 93.0 avg L3
I like Harvey at this price. Sure, there are guys like Beams and Pavlich tearing it up, but they’re also priced like guys who are tearing it up. Thankfully, Harvey is $100k cheaper and could still bust out a 90-point average to close the season.
Hopefully I covered all bases there. Is there anyone you think I’ve missed? Let me know in the comments or on Twitter.
And the Rest
It’s been said to death so far this year, but season 2012 is one of the tightest we’ve ever had. Certainly, it’s affecting the fantasy landscape as we head into the DT Finals. It’s usually around about now where we start looking at which teams are going to rest their stars. Traditionally, it’s the teams who a Top 4 place sewn up, against the weaker sides (think Hawthorn against the Suns in Round 24 last year). But with the ladder so tight, will there be any teams that have the luxury in 2012? Let’s have a closer look.
Outlook: Swans are sitting pretty at 1st on the ladder with a superior percentage to equally-placed Adelaide, but inferior to Hawthorn who are just one win behind.
History: The Swans don’t have a history of resting, mainly because they haven’t been towards the top of the ladder in recent seasons. It’s unknown which way they’d go given the opportunity.
Run Home: Collingwood, Western Bulldogs, Hawthorn, Geelong.
Possibilities: It’s fair to say that Swans won’t rest their stars. The Bulldogs in Round 21 would be their only opportunity, but with a tough run home that includes the Pies, Hawks and Cats, each percentage point is going to count. A Top 2 berth is not something that they’ll risk, especially with a home final so crucial to a non-Victorian team’s chances.
Outlook: Second on percentage to the Swans, with the 3rd best percentage in the League.
History: Again, there’s no reported history of resting because the Crows haven’t been in that position since it came into fashion.
Run Home: Fremantle, Brisbane, Melbourne, Gold Coast.
Possibilities: Adelaide is definitely in a great position to take out the minor premiership. Those with Scott Thompson, Sloane, Dangerfield, Porplyzia or Sam Shaw should be worried as a blessed run home means that they’ll likely win their last 4. If percentage is not an issue, expect Round 22 against the Dees in Melbourne to be a danger game for resting. Round 23 against the Suns is the obvious candidate, but it’s at home (no travel benefit) and they won’t like disrupting their preparation leading into a likely home final.
Outlook: Currently placed at 3rd but with a superior percentage to any other team in the competition, the Hawks look poised to mount an assault on the minor premiership. Equal on points with the Pies, but Collingwood will need an extra win to place above them.
History: Notorious resters. Did so against the Suns last year, but haven’t rotation-rested so far in 2012.
Run Home: Port Adelaide, Gold Coast, Sydney, West Coast
Possibilities: They’ll hit Rounds 22 and 23 will full force in possible 8-point contests, so Round 21 against the Suns looms as the likeliest candidate. It all depends on percentage, but if they roll into Round 21 with such a buffer over those around them as they currently do now, then it’s looking good for players like Buddy, Mitchell, Birchall, Suckling, Rioli and even Hale or Roughead to have a cheeky week off. Good timing in terms of momentum into the finals, too.
Outlook: 4th, but equal with the Hawks on wins. They have the lowest percentage of the Top 6, although they do play the Giants this week. Expect them to go all out.
History: Have come out and said they’ll rest players this year, and have opted for a more rotation resting policy so far this year. Injuries to their stars have muddied the water slightly, but key players like Sidebottom and Beams haven’t had a rest yet.
Run Home: Sydney, North Melbourne, West Coast, Essendon.
Possibilities: The Pies have a tough last 4, and with a spot in the Top 4 by no means guaranteed, I’m tipping that they won’t have a mass resting. In fact, this week against the Giants is the most likely, and even then – they need the percentage. However, if the top 2 sides break away from the pack and there’s no chance to drop out of the Top 4, Round 22 against the Eagles in Perth would be a logical week to have off.
West Coast Eagles
Outlook: Currently 5th, but only on percentage over Essendon. Have been smashed in their last two matches against Sydney and Adelaide compounded by some telling personnel issues.
History: Rested Priddis, Glass and Rosa earlier in the year against the Suns, but that was when teams were attempting to mirror Geelong’s strategy from last season. Injuries have hit and they haven’t had the luxury since.
Run Home: Geelong, Port Adelaide, Collingwood, Hawthorn
Possibilities: Like much of last year’s Top 4, the Eagles have a testing run home. Given their injury concerns and the urgency to earn a home final with a Top 4 finish, you can be sure the Eagles won’t rest any of their stars.
Outlook: Sitting at 6th on percentage to the Eagles.
History: Again, this is new territory for the Bombers so they have no resting data to date.
Run Home: North Melbourne, Carlton, Richmond, Collingwood
Possibilities: The Bombers are in a very similar position to the Eagles. They are injury-ravaged, and to earn a Top-4 spot, they need to leap-frog someone with an extra win. They’ll throw everything at it for the remainder of 2012.
I penned my DreamTeam ‘dream’ last week, and thanks to you guys for all the comments and discussion. I’m confident that it would be an engaging competition, but realistically it’s not going to happen. One of the key clues to what VS will do with DT next year comes from what they’ve done historically – keep it simple. We won’t have wholesale changes across the board, and it’s just as unlikely that we’ll have any significant structural changes either (I’m talking any change from the 7-6-2-7 on-field structure, or large changes to the current trading scheme).
With this knowledge, it’s probably worth thinking about more likely solutions. What tweaks can we make to our great competition to solve some of the issues we talked about in last week’s Bullets? The main priority is keeping engagement across all participation levels over the whole season.
The most likely solution for next year is a reimagining of the same solution VS came up with in 2011– more trades and more bench slots. About 30 trades and squads of 33 seem about right. The extra trades will help navigate through the two MBR blocks next season (presumably a 24 round season, with MBRs in rounds 7-9 and 15-17), and the extra bench positions will mean that we won’t have to burn 3 trades each bye rounds to avoid donuts. The Magic Number won’t need altering too much (see here for Magic Number Theory) as fitting three extra players into the salary cap, along with fewer rookies with decent job security, balances out the natural inflation in the AFL’s official salary cap figure.
With the Bye issue addressed, how can we keep the casual DTers interested without ruining the integrity of the competition? Here are a couple of options, keeping simplicity in mind.
Use It or Lose It Trades (Again…)
In this scenario, we’d go back to something like 20 trades for the year. These trades can be used at any time, with a maximum of 2 per week, with one exception. Over the 6 MBR rounds you get the 2 free trades, and if you don’t lose them, they disappear.
The advantage of this is that it regulates how many trades each coach can use over the MBRs. Every coach would use close to the maximum 12 ‘free’ trades in Rounds 7-9 and 15-17, leaving 20 trades for the remaining 18 rounds of the year. Hopefully, this will prevent the casual DTers from burning through the max trades each week, and even if they do, they’ll still be involved until at least Round 18 with the Use it or Lose it trades that they’ll gain in the 2nd MBR block. It will also prevent the hardcore DTers from force-feeding themselves donuts in the name of saving trades in the MBRs, because they’re trades that they won’t get back anyway.
It’s an improvement; but still, the problem remains – how do we keep them interested until the end of the year?
This is my preferred solution. The idea here is to lock away trades that can only be unlocked after a certain point in the year. My suggestion is to keep 6 trades that will be unlocked after Round 18, in time for the last 6 rounds of the year. The other 24 can be used as normal up until that time, and aren’t reset after Round 18 or anything like that. This figure seems about right, as 5 or 6 trades extra this year would have been very handy.
There are a few positives that come out of this. Even if the casual DTers burn through all of their trades early, they’ll still be able to get back into the game for the DT finals, extending their interest until at least the last couple of rounds. It will also prevent pilot-less teams heading into the finals and being easy-beats; no more teams who have been strong all year, earned a great league position then become push-overs after being littered with donuts and not having the trades to manoeuvre out of them. It also shouldn’t affect the hardcore DTers too much, as they all say that holding trades is the way to go, right?
[Note: I’m against over-compartmentalising trades (ie 10 trades each 8 rounds, etc.). No-one wants to see too many extra restrictions put on our trading, and it’s actually a bit counter-productive making it too difficult for the casual DTer.]
Keeping in line with Virtual Sports’ K.I.S.S strategy, I think a relatively small change like this could make a relatively big difference to the continued interest and enjoyment of DT over an entire season. What do you think? Do you agree with the suggestions above, particularly with the Compartmentalised Trades idea? What small changes would you like to see brought in to DT next year? As usual, let me know in the comments or on Twitter.
I’m with you, I’m not convinced either. Firstly, let’s not forget that this is only with Ryder out of the side – he’ll likely be back in the side around DT Finals. So who gets dropped, Hille or Bellchambers? Either way, his role changes, and it’s not going to be for the better. Secondly, he’s kicked at least two goals in each of the last two weeks, which accounts for his inflated scores. Call me a sceptic, but I don’t think that will happen consistenly. Expect more of the 70-point type scores from here on out.
In saying that, you don’t have too many options with only a $360k reach, and Bellchambers is about the only decent option. I wouldn’t look past Warnock at $304k though, coming back from suspension and into a ruck-less Carlton side. He’d be my choice, as risky as it sounds.
So true… As I said in the Breakers, Cloke’s no longer a premium consideration. I mean, Dawes has averaged more than him in the last 3 matches, and he’s supposed to be a second-class hack in comparison.
Take a look at the concept of a contract year and tell me that he’s not doing the complete opposite….
As always, there are a few little tid-bits that I want to mention before we prepare for next week.
# Carlton’s main ruckman was Levi Casboult this week – an underdone CHF prospect who wouldn’t have earned a debut in almost any AFL team this season. The result? Will Minson totals 54 hit-outs, the 5th most since the competition became the AFL. Amazingly, it’s not his best effort – he notched 56 hitouts against Collingwood just last year.
# Luck has not been with the trade-holders so far this year. If you’re keeping trades in the bank, you’re hoping for carnage; at the very least, some injuries or suspensions to popular players to give those with flexibility the advantage. That looked to be the case two weeks ago – Waters, Goddard, Martin and Franklin all found themselves on the sidelines. However, Martin and Goddard were only suspended for two weeks, Waters did a Scotland and made it back in 1 and Franklin looks a chance to return this week. If that’s the case, trade-savers who were looking to trade out of that ‘carnage’ have been brought back on even footing very quickly.
# Josh Kennedy had 35 possessions for just 99 DT points. Why? A 7:28 kick-to-handball ratio, that’s why. Get your boot on it son!
# It doesn’t look like we’ll have any of our stars ruled out by suspensions this week. Just Scarlett for a week (nice backhand) and a few Roos and Tigers handed fines for wrestling.
Alright, that’s it from me this week. As usual, DT Talk has you covered from all angles in the lead-up to Round 18, so tune in daily for all the regulars. Also, keep an eye on sidelined guys like Sam Shaw, Robinson, Franklin and Broughton, all of whom are pushing for selection this week.
Question of the Week: Anyone daring to take the ‘C’ off Swanny against the Giants? Just look at that stat-producing rig…
Tweet me at @Tbetta9 for all things fantasy.