This week was a perfect example of why it is so beneficial to finish in the Top 4 of your League. You can have the best team in the world, but it only takes one week of terrible luck to dismantle your side, and there’s every chance that could have been Round 20 for you.
Players like Franklin, Swan and Stanton are on the sidelines, Guns such as Fyfe and Chapman were late withdrawals and Premos like N. Riewoldt, Suckling, Daisy Thomas and Rioli were diminished by substitution. Combine a few of those bad luck stories with a below-par week from your others scorers and it could easily have been a devastating week for any quality side.
At least with a double-chance, you can live to fight another day.
Makers and Breakers
With Swan and/or Stanton on the sidelines for many midfields, who do you think was called upon to cover these Premiums? That’s right, good old Sam Gibson, who notched 114 points in Round 20. The mature-age ball magnet would normally find himself languishing at M7 in the run home, but has embraced the opportunity to take to the field with aplomb. In his last three, Gibson has topped the ton on each occasion, averaging 118.3 points in that time.
Just as Gibson has been patrolling the Mids, Treloar has been watching over the forward line. Players like Franklin, Fyfe, Chapman and Robinson have all been missing in recent weeks, but Treloar has weakened the blow significantly. He’s been scoring like a Premium himself lately, averaging 108.8 points in his last four starts; including a much-appreciated 112 on the weekend.
If you already cashed in Treloar, hopefully you kept Devon Smith for that Mid/Fwd DPP cover. Like the two players above him, Smith has been on an absolute tear over the last few weeks. He’s manufactured scores of 100, 107 and 103 in his last three attempts, and comes up against Melbourne this week – it could be a season-defining month for Devon Smith owners with the assistance that he’s provided.
Nat Fyfe and Stevie J were at a very similar price during the week, and most coaches may have been swayed by the novelty and alluring playing style of the former. It turns out Stevie J was the right call, with Fyfe turning his ankle while the majestic Cat busted out a 134-point score against the Eagles. He even dropped in price thanks to his ‘sausage’ a couple of weeks ago, so seriously consider Stevie J at $394k this week – he’s averaged 123 DT points in his last four un-subbed games.
He’s been one of the bigger DT disappointments of season 2012, but Bryce Gibbs seems to be coming good at exactly the right time. If you had unwavering faith that he would bounce back (or didn’t have the cash or brashness to trade him out after he plummeted so harshly in price), then you’d be harping on about his last fortnight, which have borne scores of 130 and 141. A move to the midfield has been a long time coming, but it’s certainly paid off now.
Honourable Mentions: T. Cotchin (152), J. Kennedy (153), D. Cox (147), Dangerfield (137), O’Keefe (132), A. Hall (101).
Matt Suckling’s 54 may not have been the worst score of the week, but the fact that he was green-vested meant that he never had the opportunity to carve out a Premium-esque total. That’s dual 54’s in a row now, and it hasn’t been pretty reading since Beau Waters went down and many coaches looked to Suckling for solace.
Scott Thompson was always going to struggle as the Crows primary midfielder given the dreaded Crowley tag, but 65 points is too painful to ignore. It’s obvious that Thommo doesn’t like the tight tag, usually given latitude by the opposition as he’s not considered as ‘damaging’ as Dangerfield and co. (much the same way that Boyd and Priddis are ignored by taggers). It hasn’t been a fruitful run for Thompson, topping the ton just once in his last six efforts. Is the General knocking?
After holding Mitch Robinson for weeks, we expected a little more than a lukewarm return and a dodgy Slim Shady ‘do. In his defence, he was given more attention by the Lions than many of his fitter and more experienced counterparts, ensuring he had zero influence on the game. Expect more than 48 from the Kamikaze Kid next week.
Waters (57) has been solid since his return from minor knee surgery, but this was a shocker by his standards. The difference was that Geelong refused to let him play loose, which may be a strategy that opponents choose to employ over the next few weeks. Watch this space.
He’s had a fantastic career to date, but Jamie Elliott went cold this week. Sydney’s defence is arguably the best in the competition, contributing to Elliott’s eerily quiet outing. His 38 point total hurt while other coverage options such as Treloar (114), D. Smith (103), Hall (101) and Dickson (79) went off in comparison.
Honourable mentions: N. Riewoldt (30), T. Cloke (53), M. Johnson (48), M. Pavlich (58), T. Rockliff (66), Nat Fyfe (LW), Paul Chapman (LW).
Did You Know They Were Guns?
Each year there are those sneaky DTers that you never notice. You know, the sort of players that you’ll scoff at when you see them lining up in your opponent’s ‘unique players’ list. Well, sometimes, they’re actually legit. I pulled back some thick layers of prejudice and took a closer look at the guys you never knew could actually score.
Bachar Houli – $351,400 – 78.5 avg
I loosely define a defensive Premium as anyone who averages over 80 points (in the backline of course) and Houli is very much on the brink of that category. To be honest, the emergence of Tuck and Grigg meant that I completely forgot that the ex-Bomber existed. Looking at his scores, he’s only had one score under 60, meaning that he’s pretty reliable for that 70 points each week. And like Griff pointed out this morning in his Mad Monday column, playing every game is nothing to sneeze at.
Trent Cotchin – $504,800 – 108.8 avg
While it’s been common knowledge that Trent Cotchin is a SC gun for a fair while now, I never knew he had progressed so far as an accumulator. He’s ranked 12th in the league for disposals per game, as well as being the 9th-highest averaging DTer going around. When Gary Ablett and Dane Swan drift away, it’ll be Cotchin taking their place at the top.
Nic Naitanui – $401,100 – 85.9 avg
NicNat can do a lot of things on the footy field, but he’s never been known as a DTer. The competition is very possession-heavy, for which Naitanui is notorious for gaining very few of. What he has done, is increase his output in almost every other critical statistical category since last season – increasing his Marks by 0.9 per game, Goals by 0.3 and Hit-outs by 5.5. Add it together, and that’s an extra 10 DT points per game. Imagine how good he could be if he increased his possession rate from roughly 13 disposals a game, as well as a boost in marks to a more ruckman-like 4.0 or so per game…
Matthew Wright – $412,900 – 85.31 avg
Danny Stanley (93.0 avg) and Harley Bennell (86.1 avg) could have rated a mention here; but given their fantasy relevance last year, it’s possibly not so surprising to the experienced DTer. Matthew Wright, however, is a huge shock to me. I (possibly naively) thought he was a role player at best in the Adelaide line-up, but he obviously does a lot of grunt work. His last five weeks have been exceptional, averaging 103.6 as a Mid/Fwd DPP in that time. It’s only his 2nd season, so watch out for Wright in years to come…
Anyone that you think I’ve missed? As usual, let me know in the comments or on Twitter!
Cyril Rioli (shoulder) – $427,500
Paul Chapman (calf) – $415,200 → Stevie J – $393,500
Nat Fyfe (ankle) – $392,900
This is all situation-specific, as many coaches will be able to hold any of these three on their benches if they have the week off, courtesy of a Qualifying Final victory. However, all matches from now on are do-or-die; so if you’re playing this week you might need that extra boost to push you through to the next round.
We’re still yet to find out how this trio is shaping up for Round 21; Cyril is getting shoulder scans today, as is Fyfe’s ankle, while Geelong are keeping mum about the extent of Chapman’s injury. It’s very possible that none of these guys will pull through, so who do we look to for a replacement?
Stevie J. I already mentioned him in the Makers, but his form and price are both undeniable as this stage. He also has a history of finishing the year strong, averaging 123 points in his last five regular-season matches in 2011 (as well as 99.8 over the same period the year before).
Nick Riewoldt (knee) – $375,700
Jason Porplyzia (shoulder) – $373,700 → David Hale – $379,400
If you don’t have the extra $20k sitting around for Stevie J, you’ll have to entertain someone a little cheaper. David Hale is a bit out of left field, but I like him for a couple of reasons. Firstly, he has form under his belt. He hasn’t scored under 75 in his last six outings (yes, I know most of that was without Franklin), including 4 scores in the 90’s. Consistency is his jam. Secondly, he offers great ruck insurance if your side makes it through this weekend and anything happens to Cox, Maric, Jacobs or whoever your Premo ruckmen happen to be. You’d simply trade out the injured ruckman, swing Hale into the ruck line and snap up whichever forward you can afford!
If you’re not into that, then (don’t laugh…) Chad Cornes ($376,700) has some interesting numbers lately, averaging 96.3 points in his last three games. But can you rely on him to play out the year? Probably not. That leaves Adam Goodes ($338,700) and Allen Christensen ($317,800) as possibly stop-gaps, although beware that Goodes is playing a lot more up forward and Bundy constantly gives his coaches heart attacks after he cops hit after hit.
Brent Stanton (softness) – $407,000 → Kade Simpson – $353,300
I thought getting Priddis at $380k was a steal, how about Kade Simpson at a shade over $350k?! His price plummeted after being polaxed by Wellingham over a month ago, but he’s manufactured totals of 84 and 111 since his return. With Robinson and Judd both in the mix next week, all the opposition’s attention goes elsewhere and Kade is the beneficiary. If you don’t have a Sam Gibson type or you don’t think you can rely on him in an Elimination Final, then Simpson could be your guy; especially as Carlton comes up against an Essendon side that gave up five 100+ scores against a DT lightweight in the Roos this weekend.
# I called for Brendan Lee’s debut on Twitter two weeks ago, then recanted my wish in the Bullets in the hope that he would be saved for 2013; of course he gets the call-up just days after. The mature-age recruit was the third-highest scorer from the Bombers camp with 18 possessions and 6 tackles. Look like we have another Josh Caddy situation on our hands…
# The largest bag kicked this week was 5, achieved by five players. One was Jack Riewoldt, but you’d never have guessed the others… Beau Wilkes, Sam Blease, Will Hoskin-Elliott and Paul Puopolo, who have played an average of 22 games between them, each had a bag of their own this week.
# I hope the assertion that Gibbs has played the last two weeks in the midfield doesn’t overshadow the fact that he’s played the majority of the year in defence… DEF eligibility in 2013, please!
# It seems like Hawthorn are doing the cheeky ‘in-game’ rest manoeuvre. Matt Suckling started as the sub this week, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see other senior players like Lewis, Burgoyne, Birchall, Sewell and Whitecross sharing the substitute vests over the next few weeks.
Round 21 and Beyond
As I alluded to earlier, if you have any match-ups from here on, they’re all must-wins. No second chances anymore! Trade usage becomes super important from now on, and requires a little effort and consideration. Study your opponent over the week (especially after teams come out for some inevitable selection drama), and make a call as to whether you’ll beat them with or without trading. With that in mind, there are four types of DT coach…
1. Projected to win by 100+
Set a safe Captain, and enjoy your likely victory. If you have more than 2 trades left, using one to solidify you team wouldn’t be the worst idea, otherwise sit back and hope the universe is all about justice this week.
2. Projected to win by < 100
This is the type of coach with the most difficult decision to make. If you have more than one trade remaining, it’s a definite trade scenario with a view to strengthen your weakest link. But if you have just the one trade… do you back in the projections and save that last lifeline for a probable Preliminary Final and possible Grand Final; or do you play it safe and do everything you can to make it to Round 22? It’s very situation-specific, so study your opponent and make the call you can live with!
3. Projected to lose by < 100
Easy call – trade! It’s a bit of a cliché, but this is no glory in being bundled out with 1 or 2 trades in the bank. As for your Captain choice – nothing stupid, or you’ll regret it. Give it to the guy who you think will score the most points, and back your side to exceed the arbitrary projections.
4. Projected to lose by 100+
Go all out. Use every trade you can, and consider a smokey Captain – if you had chucked it on Beams (131) last week when every man and his dog went Ablett (99), then you’d be laughing. Every bit helps, so don’t leave any stone unturned!
Anyway, that’s my two cents worth (so consider this a disclaimer). Good luck with your Semis for those who have them, and enjoy your week off for those who don’t!
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