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The Talking Point: Who to start on the ground

If you are fortunate enough to have the luxury of bench coverage, for a lot of tradeless coaches this is one of the few things we get a say in at this time of year. Be sure to take the time to properly analyse these decisions, as it can be the difference between progressing through to the semis or throwing your computer through a wall.

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If you are fortunate enough to have the luxury of bench coverage, for a lot of tradeless coaches this is one of the few things we get a say in at this time of year. Be sure to take the time to properly analyse these decisions, as it can be the difference between progressing through to the semis or throwing your computer through a wall.


Mark Baguley

Baguley has averaged 66.6 points since breaking into the Bombers’ side in round 16, playing negating roles on the opposition’s small forwards. With Essendon a possibility to welcome back some of its key players this weekend, Baguley could find himself dropped from the Bombers’ side ahead of a must-win game against Carlton on Saturday afternoon at the ‘G. Even if he does play, Baguley will have his hands full with one of Carlton’s dangerous small forwards and won’t have much time to collect a lot of ball.

Prediction: 50-60 points.

Tom Bell

Bell has been quite impressive in his four games for the Blues, averaging 69 ppg rotating on and off the ball. However, with Chris Judd back this week and Russell, Ellard, Duigan and Bower applying pressure from the reserves, there is the possibility that Bell could be rested/omitted. Personally, I don’t think this will happen, as Bell was one of the better players against Brisbane and even led the Blues in clearances. With Judd back though, this is likely to take away from some of his midfield minutes and could see a decline in his scoring.

Prediction: 50-60 points.

Lee Spurr

After disappearing from the Fremantle side from rounds 9-15, Spurr has averaged 78.8 points in five games since returning to the competition. Spurr has been minding the opposition’s small forwards, with a high kick to handball ratio and finding space to mark the ball being the main factor in his impressive scoring. The Dockers play Richmond at Paterson’s Stadium this Saturday, which could see him play an important and more accountable role on Shaun Edwards or Robbie Nahas. However, Spurr made a few critical errors coming out of defence against the Crows, so make sure he isn’t omitted before you select him on your field.

Prediction: 65-75 points.

Sam Shaw

Shaw played his second game since returning from an eye injury to score 49 points against Fremantle on Saturday. Shaw played on Chris Mayne in the first half, keeping him relatively quiet before the Docker was subbed off during the third quarter. Averaging 57.89 points in his nine games this year, Shaw will lineup on one of Brisbane’s medium/tall forwards at the Gabba on Saturday night, likely Jordan Lisle. As an improving key defender for the Crows, don’t expect Shaw to rack up any huge stats, though his ability to mark the opposition’s forward-50 entries will see him produce respectable Supercoach numbers.

Prediction: 40-50 points.

Brandon Ellis

Ellis has proved reliable bench cover in 2012, playing every game of the season so far for an average of 57.37 ppg. Ellis found himself with a bit more responsibility last week, lining up on arguably the Bulldogs’ main forward target, Tory Dickson. I know. This week the youngster should find himself with a tad less responsibility and a bit more space at Paterson’s Stadium, so expect a slight improvement on his 52 points produced against the Bulldogs.

Prediction: 60-70 points.

Tomas Bugg

Bugg did a terrific job of tagging Harley Bennell on the weekend, which will likely be to the detriment of his scoring for the rest of the year as he continues to land these negating roles. The Giants play Melbourne this Saturday at Manuka Oval, which could see Bugg line up against Jack Trengove. This isn’t all that bad of a thing, as at least Bugg is likely to spend a lot of time through the middle and should score similarly to his season average of 69.65 ppg.

Prediction: 65-75 points.

Brian Lake

Lake was used at full forward for parts of Sunday’s game against Richmond, scoring a pleasing 95 points including a 55-point first quarter. It would be brave to bench him ahead of Sunday’s game against the Swans at Etihad, especially with the possibility he could again find himself with more freedom, but keep in mind he managed just the 49 points playing full back on Lewis Roberts-Thompson in round 10 at the SCG.

Prediction: 60-70 points.

Steven Morris

Morris’ scoring has been inconsistent of late, scoring 33 then 32 points against the Blues then Brisbane, but managing 75 points in the Tigers’ win over the Bulldogs on Sunday. Morris is likely to have his hands full this Saturday when the Tigers take on Freo, lining up on either Hayden Ballantyne or Michael Walters. Morris had 58 points against Freo in round 11 of this year, playing on Ballantyne who kicked two goals.

Prediction: 50-60 points.

Sam Darley

It has become a guessing game as to whether Darley will play or not, and with GWS likely to welcome back a few players who missed with minor injuries last week there is no guarantee he will play this week. The kid has averaged 61.43 ppg this year, which is slightly less than what I’d expect him to score against the Dees this week if he makes the cut.

Prection: 65-75 points.



Sam Gibson

The former Box Hill captain has been on fire as of late, averaging 118.3 ppg in his last three matches. Known for his ball-winning ability, Gibson played his best game of the season on Sunday, kicking two goals to go with his 26 touches. Though his recent numbers have been brilliant, be wary that he plays Collingwood at Etihad Stadium on Saturday night and at least consider the possibility of playing others ahead of him. His run of strong performances should see opponents pay more attention to him.

Prediction: 90-100 points.

Toby Greene

Greene boasts the highest average of all the 2011 draftees, averaging 91.25 points in his 16 AFL games. He was rested last week listed with a groin injury, though if he is to return against the Demons on Saturday then believe he will be hungry for both the win and the ball. If you still have him, strongly consider playing him ahead of Gibson or any underperforming midfielders.

Prediciton: 90-100 points.

Stephen Coniglio

Coniglio should return against Melbourne on Saturday, after being a late withdrawal with an apparent hamstring injury against the Suns. The #2 draft pick has scored well in his most recent outings, averaging 90.7 ppg in his last three games and showing signs of the immense talent he has to offer. If he plays against the Dees, there’s no reason he can’t continue to produce impressive numbers and rival the scores of the other midfield bench options.

Prediction: 85-95 points.



Dayne Zorko

Aside from his sub-affected debut, Zorko’s score of 63 against Carlton on Saturday night was his lowest score of the year. With other bench options such as Treloar and Smith in such good form, this no longer makes him a walk-up start as your seventh (or sixth) forward should the need arise. Brisbane play Adelaide at the Gabba on Saturday night where Zorko averages 96.8 ppg, but make sure you give this decision plenty of thought with the Giants playing the struggling Demons on Saturday.

Prediction: 80-90 points.

Jason Porplyzia

The Porpoise missed last week with a shoulder injury, however is a chance to return Saturday night against Brisbane at the Gabba. If he is named, the decision to start him is quite complicated due to his scores of 100, 99 and 108 before he went down with his shoulder injury. Even if named, I would be inclined to play one of the other forward options ahead of him due to the possibility of him being subbed, reinjuring himself or perhaps being a late withdrawal (though we should know this prior to lockout judging by whether he flies to Brisbane or not). Tread carefully.

Prediction: 70-80.

Adam Treloar

Treloar has firmed as a real possibility to take out the Rising Star award, with an unbelievable month of football seeing him average 30 disposals and 108.75  DT points in his last four games. Playing Melbourne this weekend, he looks to be the #1 option should you need to cover for an injured, suspended or omitted player. Scores of 21 and 39 this year may have left some coaches reluctant to start him on the field, but don’t be afraid to play him ahead of an underperforming premium if you need to take a gamble.

Prediction: 95-105 Points.

Devon Smith

Like Treloar, Smith’s recent form has been sublime, averaging 103 points in his last three outings. There is a lot of Gary Ablett about the way Smith plays his footy, being that he is very hard to contain and if he’s struggling to rack up possies then he’ll still find a way to make an impact. Though perhaps not as likely to deliver a commanding DT score as Treloar (he did have just 42 points against Adelaide in round 16), when Smith is on song he is very damaging and is likely to put in a decent showing against Melbourne on Saturday.

Prediction: 85-95 points.

Aaron Hall

Hall delivered a very impressive 101 points on Saturday against the Giants in what was arguably a best-on-ground performance. He received a knock to his knee late in the fourth quarter but should be right to play this weekend. However, it would take a brave coach to play him in front of the other forward bench options, especially as the Suns play Hawthorn this weekend.

Prediction: 65-75 points.

Travis Cloke

If you’re unfortunate enough to be a Travis Cloke owner, then don’t worry, I hate him as much as you do. In his last five games, he has treated us to scores of 41, 37, 125(against GWS), 49 and 53. He plays North this week and there’s nothing that says to me that he’s going to turn his scoring around anytime soon. Bench the ****.

Prediction: 10-15 points.

Any questions or discussion via twitter @tomcraigie



  1. Avatar


    August 14, 2012 at 9:20 pm

    You mean there is a bench. Here is was thinking it was just adversiting for band aids……

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    August 14, 2012 at 9:28 pm

    What about in the ruck department? Any thoughts on who’s going to pretty much play every game for the next few weeks of DT finals?

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    August 14, 2012 at 9:59 pm

    hey tom and others, could you please give me your opinion on michael johnson? the bane of my backline…

    i can dpp switch johnson with smedts, putting johnson as my only forward backup, and have bugg/clarke playing as my B7.

    Do you think this is a good decision? And if so who should i play out of bugg or clarke? Thanks mate

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      Tom Craigie

      August 15, 2012 at 12:41 am

      G’day mate,

      Although tempting, I would stick with playing Johnson ahead of Bugg or Clarke, unless you’re worried you’ll need to use Johnson as backup in your forward line if Smedts doesn’t play this week.

      With Luke McPharlin back into the Freo side this weekend, hopefully it will free up Johnson to rack up some uncontested ball.

      Bugg could well outscore Johnson, but i reckon you’ve gotta take the bloke averaging 14 more points per game.

      Hope that helps

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      August 15, 2012 at 1:59 pm

      Thanks Tom, very helpful.
      Who would you prefer (on the field unfortunately) for the next 3 weeks:

      M. Johnson & Grimes
      Ellis & Scotland

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        Tom Craigie

        August 16, 2012 at 1:02 pm

        tough call ’cause richmond and carlton have quite enticing draws.. i’d be inclined to stick with the two premiums in Johnson and Grimes though, nice and unique too.

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    August 14, 2012 at 10:31 pm

    I have to choose between Yarren, Drummond, Ellis, or Shaw for my D7 this week, who should it be??

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    August 14, 2012 at 11:17 pm

    Prediction on Cloke just shithouse, You are clearly pissed off at him. but, still make the prediction reasonable and don’t carry on like a twat. His got one score in that range, and believe me he is most likely going to crack the Ton against my beloved Kangas. You can’t say that range, it’s baffling.

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      Tom Craigie

      August 15, 2012 at 12:46 am

      Cheer up cobber, was just a joke. Not outside the realms of possibility though..

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        August 15, 2012 at 6:08 am

        I’m with you Tom… Cloke is indeed just a joke ;)

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        deez go

        August 15, 2012 at 5:26 pm

        Yes, as North Mfelbourne totally have a key defender that can go with Cloke. Thompson? Grima? Pffft, , These guys concede goal after goal against key forwards. Except for maybe Jared Rivers and Colin Garland.

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      Mark Mellow

      August 15, 2012 at 7:44 am

      Get a sense of humour you clown. Obviously a joke, over that made me laugh.

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      Mark Mellow

      August 15, 2012 at 7:45 am


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      August 15, 2012 at 11:01 am

      Well somebody has poos in their pants today…

      i predict that cloke will score 50-60 points.

      now are you satisfied that somebody plucked an arbitrary figure out of the air that is painfully obvious considering his recent form???

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    August 15, 2012 at 6:09 am

    I have to choose between Gibson and Stanton for M7… I seriously have no idea! Last time I went Stanton over Gibson he treated me to 62 vs about 120. Gut wrenching stuff.

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      Tom Craigie

      August 15, 2012 at 10:26 am

      Tough call mate..

      Gibson has the form, but if Stanton plays I’d go with him as he’s the ‘proven’ performer.

      Also had 175 when he played Carlton in round four!

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        August 15, 2012 at 1:24 pm

        Elimination finals now… can’t afford to put a foot wrong. But yeah, probably will go Stants. Will be nervous tho.

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    August 15, 2012 at 7:04 am

    Kreuzer is my big problem, every time on the bench he scores 100+, every time I have him on the ground about 50 odd. Painfully inconsistent.
    By the way, I mentioned this yesterday in another thread but anybody looking for an EPL classic league to join – code 254605-72962.

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    August 15, 2012 at 8:02 am

    Great article Tom! interesting read.

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    August 15, 2012 at 8:55 am

    I always struggle with picking my bench and emergencies, suggestions greatly appreciated.

    DEF: Deledio, Carazzo, Goddard, Birchall, Lake, H Shaw, Waters, Enright, S Shaw

    MID: Ablett, Watson, Selwood, Thompson, Hayes, Mitchell, Gibson, Swan

    RUC: Cox, Goldstein, Redden, Campbell

    FWD: Sidebottom, Chapman, Dangerfield, Pavlich, Martin, Goodes, Zorko, Porplyzia, Tippet

    I have 1 trade left and I am thinking of trading one of my mids to a mid/fwd to restore my DPP link and cover a possible forward line donut if chapman, tippet and porpz are all out.

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      August 15, 2012 at 11:05 am

      I’d leave the mids alone. One trade left consider Porps to Stevie J depending on available monies (and team selections). My 2 cents on the bench- Lake (e), S Shaw. Gibson (e) Swan. Campbell Redden (der). If all available & no trades Tippett Goodes (e), all of which will come good and outscore at least one person on the field.

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        August 15, 2012 at 7:24 pm

        You’re right, I only have 7k in the bank though. I guess I should just wait til teams are announced and if all is well then save my last trade until later.

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    August 15, 2012 at 10:15 am

    Who to play out of Rockliff or Gibson? I’ve had Rocky languishing on the field the last few weeks, whereas if I’d had Gibbo my ladder position would certainly have been higher! Thinking about swapping it over though slightly nervous that the minute I do it, Rocky will pump out a 140…


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    August 15, 2012 at 2:50 pm

    I fortunately do not have to pick a rookie, but depending if Buddy and Chappy come up I have to leave one of the following on the pine.


    And when Swan comes back 2.


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      deez go

      August 15, 2012 at 5:28 pm

      Martin. He plays forward too much, and does not have good endurance.

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    August 15, 2012 at 8:48 pm

    should i play martin or sam gibson in field?

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