Ever since the Team Sheets dropped on Thursday, Round 18 was always going to be an important week. The continued absence of Buddy Franklin and Mitch Robinson was compounded with the news that Steele Sidebottom (suspected rest) would miss the Giants clash. Coaches proceeded to scramble for cover, searching the depths of their forward line bench and using DPP magic to bring a versatile midfielder into the fray. Not everyone had the luxury of a full team this week, which was the first sign that Round 18 would be critical.
The next omen was the Geelong vs Adelaide affair, the most polarising clash of the weekend. Stevie J barely got started before he was off with concussion, while in-vogue ruckman Sam Jacobs pulled out late with hamstring soreness.
But, if you survived all this, you were likely in for a big week. Most of the popular forward-line cover options produced some impressive numbers; Treloar (121), D. Smith (100), Elliott (95) and Adams (85) were all exceptional, while Dickson was solid with 62. True to naked intuition, the weekly winner had a massive score of 2668, boasting unique scoring options in Swallow (160), Gibson (133), Giles (118) and Cloke (125). Enjoy the 500 big ones mate.
Makers and Breakers
Forwardpocalypse had many coaches in a bind this weekend, with all and any cover called in to replace the plethora of Premos we had out. If that cover was Treloar, then you couldn’t be any happier. The youngster smashed out 121 points, his second ton on the trot – and that was whilst playing a defensive role on one of the best players in the AFL in Pendlebury. He’s stood up at absolutely the right time and has given the coaches who kept him as DPP cover a significant boost on those who cashed him in mid-season.
Finally, a big score from Cloke. Yes, it was against a hapless Giants outfit, but this, coupled with his stalled contract negotiations, could be the catalyst that gets him back into the All-Australia form he displayed towards the end of 2011. 125 points was a nice little win for those who jumped on a few weeks back.
133 points from Whitecross completes a month of solid form for the Hawk wingman. He’s averaged 110 in his last 4 games after enduring a quiet few weeks mid-season. At less than 10% ownership, WhiteX gave his owners a critical unique leg-up this week.
Watching a player you gave the flick pump out huge scores is never enjoyable, which is exactly what Waters did to all the coaches that traded him out after knee surgery. If, for whatever reason, you held him, then you have the right to be overjoyed. Beau had 124 this week playing his customary plus-one role down back, finishing with 30 touches and 8 marks.
This list is not complete without Swan’s noggin in the banner these days. The Pig had an incredible stat line of 37 touches, 8 marks and 5 sausage rolls as the most popular Captain option in Round 18. It could have been even huger than 159 points had he totalled a few more tackles (just the one)… With a 5-round average of over 140 points per game, can you say ‘Perma-Captain’?!
Honourable Mentions: Swallow 160, Ablett 152, Gibson 133, O’Keefe 131, Giles 118, D. Smith 100.
No surprise here that the biggest Breaker this week was Stevie J with a sausage. For those who missed it, he played about 6 seconds before KO-ing himself on Thompson’s bicep. The worst part about it is that he was under an injury cloud and considered a possible late withdrawal (until all Geelong emergencies played in the VFL, anyway), and in that scenario, at least his owners would have received an emergency score – if they had such cover, that is.
Brent Stanton has been far from the sky-reaching midfielder that once surpassed the magical $600k barrier. His form slump has caused his price to plummet to $407k at the moment, with more projected to come. He’s averaged just 76 in his last 4 efforts, but if you think he can turn it around, he’ll be ridiculously cheap sometime over the next fortnight.
Streaky is the best way to describe Lion defender Pearce Hanley. He went on an incredible run of 119+ three weeks in a row between Rounds 13 and 15, but has averaged just 66 in the three matches since. Whether opponents are giving him more attention (an unfortunate side-effect of excellent form as a backman), or whether he’s just in a funk, I’m not sure.
Lucky he lived up to his junk-time specialist reputation; otherwise Birchall’s score could have been much, much worse. He scored just 5 points in the first term and looked disinterested all game – not qualities I look for in a DTer. Hopefully this was just a one-off.
Sam Jacobs is unlucky to get a gig here, but the fact is, he was a walking donut this week. None of Stephenson/Redden/Campbell made it onto the park in Round 18, which means that if you had the Big Sauce, then his late withdrawal was a guaranteed zilch.
In continuing with a recent theme of the Bullets, I’m going to talk a little bit about the big picture of DT. At this stage of the year all of the casual DTers have faded away, so hopefully if you’re still reading this, you’re invested enough in DT to care about what happens next season.
One MBR Block
So the big news out of AFL headquarters this week in the revelation that the fixture will be almost identical to what we’ve experienced in 2012. That means one block of MBRs, same as this season; much to the dismay of the AFL Player’s Association, who were gunning hard for two Byes through-out the year.
Repercussions For Us
There aren’t many. In a lot of ways, this is actually great news. Firstly, we don’t have to suffer through six Rounds of frustration, temptation and depression. Secondly, it gives VS a chance to get the mix right, using the 2012 as a test case. That means that the amount of trades, the magic number, bench slots, etc. will still be tweakable but with the added advantage that we can have some idea of the consequences of such changes this time around.
With the AFL keeping things the same, we can expect the VS will largely follow suit. I believe that means that we will again play through the MBRs, but with a few added tools to fight off the stream of donuts. A few extra trades and bench slots is fast firming as the leading solution, but it’s all a bit sudden (after expecting two MBR blocks all year), so stay tuned to DT Talk for more meta talk over the next few weeks.
What are your preferred changes to DT next season? Or perhaps you think we shouldn’t change a thing? As usual, let us know in the comments!
Bridging The Gap
With most coaches down to less than 4 trades, there isn’t a lot of flexibility to make any downgrade-upgrade manoeuvres. So if you’re looking for a replacement at any stage, or even a D8 or F8/M7 (thanks to all our DPPs this year, it’s basically the same thing), then you’re going to have to work with what you’ve got. So here’s a list of a few guys you can get at a steal and hopefully bridge the gap with a little less cash.
Sam Fisher – $289,200 – 87 avg L2
Thanks to a horrible 18 point in Round 16, Fisher has dropped below $300k and looks ripe for the picking. He’s carved out a 79 and 95 back-to-back, and heads into Round 19 with a BE of 24 – if you need to cheap defender who can average 80+, then Fisherman’s the way to go.
Chris Yarran – $291,900 – 74.2 avg L5
I know, he was cheaper a few weeks ago, but if you’re stuck Yarran is still an option. He had just the 44 last week, but produced 94, 94, 67 and 70 in the weeks before that. As Carlton regain some of the defenders they’ve lost over the last fortnight, Yarran should be freed up again and it will help keep his scores above 70.
Nick Malceski – $317,500 – 79 avg L4
Since he returned to the side a month ago, he’s looked more like the Malceski we’ve come to know than the imposter lurking around the bye period. He’s a bit more expensive than the guys above, but he probably has less of an element of risk about him. Remember, he is a former Premium who has a proven track record so there’s no reason he can’t put together five high-quality games leading into the finals.
Mike Pyke – $307,800 – 79 avg L4
Pyke has been playing 2nd stringer on paper, but with Mumford still not fully fit, they’ve been splitting a lot of minutes in the middle. In the last month, he hasn’t scored less than 72 points which is excellent for someone at his price. I don’t like the idea of chasing an R3, but if you’re looking for a replacement for Mumford/Jacobs (if their niggles turn into injuries, that is), then keep Pyke in mind.
Allen Christensen – $330,200 – 80 avg unsubbed
Bundy’s been in the wars this year, having to return from injury on three separate occasions in 2012. As a result, he’s actually cheaper now than he was pre-season! Christensen looked in great touch with 95 this week and is probably the best forward option in a point-per-dollar sense.
Travis Cloke – $296,900 – 75.8 avg season
A lot has been said about Cloke these last few weeks, but there’s no doubting his DT potential when he gets his head straight. With his contract negotiations on hold, and the Pies seemingly looking for him at every opportunity to get him out of this slump, could he be worth a punt? Great F8 cover regardless, as displayed by his huge 125 this week.
Who are you looking at bringing in this week? Let me know in the comments or on Twitter!
Let’s check out the snippets that caught my eye this week but weren’t quite able to get their own Bullet:
# When two of the most generous DT opponents come up against, what do you get? 13 tons, that’s what. The GWS versus Collingwood clash was an absolute DT buffet. Both teams were in the Top 3 for disposals and Top 5 for marks for Round 18, so it’s no wonder that there was an extra 300 points on offer than the average game.
# With a massive 17 tackles, A. Swallow notched the second-most amount of tackles in a game since the stat was officially recorded (Jude Bolton is the record holder with 19 last season). He’s no stranger to a little man-hug, having notched 15 in a game back in 2010.
# Matt Campbell had an incredible 15 running bounces this week. How is that even possible?! Especially as he only had 11 possessions… He had more bounces in just this one game than he had in 4 of his last 5 seasons.
# Stevie J is officially the most inconsistent DTer in the competition according to VS, boasting a Consistency Rating of 45.25. On the other side of the coin, Matthew Scarlett has the lowest C.R. (of anyone who has played more than 10 games) of 4.9, displaying supreme consistency.
Let’s look ahead to Round 19 in a slightly different way this week – these are the five ‘sure things’ that we’ll see next weekend:
1. Steele Sidebottom will play. The club listed him as a ‘quad’, but the Eagles did something similar with Glass, Rosa and Priddis all the way back in Round 3 against the Giants, and they were all back the next week. Sidey has been down on form in the past month, so I have no doubt the Pies gave him a week off to freshen up for the run home.
2. Shane Mumford (or Pyke if Mummy is out for another week) will top 35 hit-outs this week against the Blues. Maric had 49 on them this week, Minson had 54 the week before and Goldstein had 38 the week before that. The Blues have been in a bit of a ruck rut lately, and even Kreuzer’s return couldn’t halt the avalanche of hit-outs going the other way in Round 18.
3. Dane Swan as Captain. He might not be the highest scoring option in any given week, but he’ll never let you down. The only time he’s score less than 100 (which was a 95) this season was when he did his hamstring and was subbed off at 3Q time. Lock him in.
4. Stanton will top the ton this week. At the time of writing he was the most traded-out player so far this week with 6.5% of trades – how many times have we seen a Premo punish his ex-owners after the fact? (EDIT: Stanton had hamstring issues and may miss Round 19. Keep an eye out, especially those concentrating on Leagues)
5. What do Jobe Watson and Ryan O’Keefe have this week? They both play in milestone games. Expect both of them to dominate – we’ve seen players like Brendon Goddard (120 in his 200th this week) and Matthew Boyd (133 in his 200th in Round 16) pump out big scores in high-profile matches for them personally.
Alright guys, good luck for this Round 19. It was a bit of a condensed version of the Bullets, because with so few trades remaining there isn’t much room to make big changes – it’s all about strapping in and riding the roller-coaster for the remainder of season 2012. Remember, it’s the last game before finals; so if you’ve bundled out of the race for the FJ Cruiser, then wise up and study your opposition. We say it every year, but have a close look at you League situation and make the call whether it’s smarter to hold or trade this week in your quest for head-to-head glory!
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