Category - Dan’s Draftees (2011)
Jack Darling – West Coast
Fantasy position: FWD
Price: $92,500 DT, $103,600 SC
Role: Actually a bit hard to say, his best position IMO is high half forward/wing, but he could spend his early days deep.
Jack Darling was considered the stand out pick of the bunch in 2008. From all reports there hasn’t been a more dominant display at any level than Darling’s U/16 National Carnival for Western Australia. Somewhat ironically a couple of years earlier Tom Swift’s U/16 Carnival got a similar wrap before injuries saw him slip back in the draft pack to West Coast.
Darling also slipped back in the draft order gradually. Around the 2009 U/18 National Chapmionships he was considered a definite Top 5 selection and still in the mix for #1, but by the time the 2010 National Draft came around he was considered a possible first rounder. In the end he went at Pick 26. There was a combination of factors for this, both on and off the field.
His form waned each year from that dynamite 2008. In 2009 he was still very impressive, but a few were catching up to him, or even surpassing him, such as David Swallow. He managed to make his debut for West Perth seniors late in the season, playing six games, including their one finals appearance. In his second game he kicked six goals, reaffirming a lot of the hype surrounding him.
But his 2010 was not a very good one, by the high standards he had already set. He played 12 games for West Perth seniors and once again played for WA in the U/18 Carnival, but this time around he wasn’t as impressive. He was still good, but it looked like he’d moved back to the pack a bit more and was down in a few stats – namely contested marks, which was his forte the previous two years.
It’s been said by Darling himself that his motivation levels fluctuated during 2010, the main issue seen to be that he physically wouldn’t have had any problems entering the AFL system at the start of 2010, so in a way boredom came into it.
His off field indiscretions can’t go without mention, though I don’t want to dwell on them too much. At the end of 2009 he was expelled from Sacred Heart College for what was described as a “sex romp” at a school camp. Also, after West Perth’s season concluded he was out at a Perth night spot and ended up in hospital for a few days with a fracture on his skull after getting hit from behind. The injury itself was bad enough to keep him out of testing at the Draft Combine.
West Coast have been quick to get him in control and suspended him for their NAB Cup Preliminary Final against Collingwood because he was 30 seconds late to training. His actual pre-season form has been really good and he bounced back well from that club suspension. His final pre-season match has been getting rave reviews, with fan forums full of talk he would’ve been best on ground, if only he kicked straight (1.4).
Physically he is so ready for AFL. He plays a bullocking and aggressive style of game. He crashes packs and goes at it hard. Like I said in the summary up the top, I reckon he’d be best suited pushing up the ground, even he has said in an interview with Emma Quayle that he could be a midfielder, which probably makes for a more tantalising fantasy game.
So far in three pre-season appearances he has scored (all DT scores) 22 in a half game vs. Freo, 61 against Gold Coast and on last weekend 76, once again vs. Freo. I must confess that I haven’t watched West Coast play yet this pre-season (I’ve IQ’d their games and will get around to it…) but from what I’m reading and what I’ve seen of him as a junior, if he’s got some of his swagger back he could fit right in at AFL level.
Nick Lower – Fremantle
Fantasy position: DEF
Price: $92,500 DT, $103,600 SC
Role: Tough as nails half back
Ah, the good ol’ mature aged rookie. So much joy has it brought to fantasy coaches over the last few years – Greg Broughton and Robin Nahas a couple of years ago and just last year Michael Barlow, Cam Hitchcock, Brodie Moles, Alex Silvagni, James Podsiadly, Andrew Strijk, Ben Howlett and Relton Roberts…well… scrap that last one.
Obviously it’s a bit more in vogue these days with the rules about rookie listing players being a lot more relaxed. A quick scan through this year’s rookie draft and there’s a few handy looking names. One that I really like, and who hasn’t received as much press as he deserves in the fantasy world is former Port Adelaide player Nick Lower.
The twin brother of North Melbourne’s Ed, Nick was delisted by Port after four years where he never really got going. His delisting at the end of the 2009 AFL season didn’t deter him and he stuck with Norwood Footy Club, where he played his junior footy and was also spending a bit of time playing at while on Port’s list, then in 2010 he won the Redlegs Best & Fairest in a Grand Final year.
While Lower never set the world on fire in his 20 AFL games with the Power – high score of 67 in DT and 80 in SC and a season high average of 48 in DT and 60 in SC – he has shown career best form at state league level and was recruited specifically to add hardness to Fremantle’s half back line and possibly midfield. He played a fair bit of footy around the stoppages at SANFL level, and while he’s perhaps capable of doing this as a rugged inside midfielder at AFL level, I feel he’ll be used across the half back line.
His pre-season so far has been fantastic, with two DT scores of 34 in those shortened NAB Cup games and a 94 and 95 in his two NAB Challenge matches against Adelaide and Western Bulldogs. The only SC score of his I could find was a 96 against the Bulldogs from the weekend.
His SANFL form last year screamed fantasy star. Even though he’s not the cleanest user of the ball for our SC fans, he wins a lot of his possessions in contested situations to make up for this and still be a good SC option. Unfortunately I can’t calculate his SC scores just by looking at his stats, but he averaged 101.75 in DT for Norwood last year, including a seven week run where he cracked the ton. He scored over 100 on 14 occasions, including three of their four finals.
The main feature of his game is his fierce tackling. I know I used the term in describing his role at the top of the page, but he really is tough as nails! He had 30 tackles in his four finals games and in one home & away game managed 10. That’s 40 points before you even start counting his possessions! He finds the ball very well too, and because of his strength he is a good stoppage player. Norwood used him as third man up in the ruck a fair bit too, so he picked up a few points that way now and then…mind you, I reckon Sandilands might not need too much help.
With Lower being on the rookie list, it’s important to note that Freo do have the space to upgrade him. They have Antoni Grover as a veteran and also Anthony Morabito on the long term injury list. With his pre-season form, it’ll be hard for the Dockers to ignore him. Lower and Mzungu will be good additions to their team and hopefully they continue the Dockers great tradition of providing us with mature aged fantasy gems.
Tom Derickx – Richmond
Fantasy position: Ruck
Price: $92,500 DT, $103,600 SC
After covering each of the positions I thought it’d be good to get a ruck in there. Tom Derickx is one I’m happy to say Footy Tragic made a really early call on back in our pilot episode. Richmond aren’t very deep in their ruck stocks and Derickx arrives as a mature aged late developer who will be pushing for early selection.
The first thing I want to look at in this article is his spot in Richmond’s pecking order. I hate that sentence and I wanted to write something else, but I just couldn’t come up with better wording. I’m not knocking Angus Graham, who I don’t mind too much, but Richmond don’t exactly possess a super gun in the ruck. Graham still has plenty of promise, but he’s not quite a lock for their #1 ruck. The way I see it, the door is slightly ajar for someone to come in and at least challenge for games at Richmond.
I’ve been impressed with Derickx’s pre-season (I didn’t think his name could look any weirder, but there it is – possessive plural) and as I’ve touched on in earlier articles on Mzungu and Richardson, generally the mature aged recruit comes with more of an expectation to challenge a bit earlier.
It should be noted that Derickx has limited exposure to elite programs – he played last season for Claremont Seniors in a losing Grand Final side and for Claremont Reserves in 2009. Before that he was playing country footy down the Margaret River a couple of hours out of Perth. In the last couple of years he’s had a growth spurt that has allowed him to ruck at this level and he’s certainly one big unit.
Derickx is impressive athletically for a big fella. He’s pretty nimble and clean below his knees. Contested marking is another strength of his, and while Tyrone Vickery probably has first dibs on being a forward who can play ruck, if he starts slowly Derickx playing as a ruck who can potentially go forward could be handy for Richmond. It should be noted that Vickery was very impressive in the NAB Challenge match against Port on the weekend, kicking five goals.
We got to see his contested marking on display in the NAB Cup round robin against Collingwood, so it was good to see him doing it against quality opposition, even if it was pre-season footy. His ruckwork, however, hasn’t been a massive plus so far, it’s been more his ability to create a contest and pressure that has impressed. It was reported (by Kristian) that he was beaten in the ruck by Jarrad Redden from Port on the weekend and Andrew Browne out tapped him in the intra club match.
His numbers varied a bit last year pretty greatly with a high of 92 and a low of 18 in DT. He had six scores over 70, eight scores between 41-69 and eight scores under 40. Overall he ended with an average of 53.5. His bigger games mostly involved marks and tackles. His tackles were actually non-existent early in the season, with only three in the first 12 games and 28 in his last ten (it makes me question the numbers a bit…)
He wasn’t a huge possession winner, only averaging 10 per game, so I wouldn’t expect him to pull down huge numbers at a higher level, but we can’t be too picky for fourth ruck. For the most part, we just want a live body, especially this year with the byes and the fact we have an extra bench player in every position but ruck. I’m not saying Derickx is a lock for games, but he’s a good chance to get a look in. It’ll be important to put a bit of thought into fourth ruck this year, so if you get a chance to swing by Shepparton this Friday night pop in and see how he’s tracking against Hawthorn’s equally dysfunctional ruck division.
For a full list of Dan’s Draftees, head here
Mitch Wallis – Western Bulldogs
Fantasy position: MID
Price: $92,500 DT, $103,600 SC
Role: Inside mid
Alright, enough of these DEF and FWD’s or dual position players. Let’s look at an out and out midfielder! Of all the kids that came through the draft system last year there are none that have the immediate scoring potential of Mitch Wallis, the son of Footscray legend Stephen Wallis (261 games from 1983-96). Wallis was a junior ball magnet and comes into the AFL system equipped with a mature body, which gives him a great chance to convert that high possession game to senior level a bit quicker than most.
Wallis was regarded as an early draft pick had he been available in the draft pool. Port Adelaide bid their Pick 16, which forced the Bulldogs to use their first round pick (#22) to secure the 2010 Vic Metro U/18 captain. I honestly don’t think he would’ve looked out of place in the Top 10, so the fact he ended up being taken with Pick 22 means he comes at a much cheaper price in fantasy land than the premium we would’ve had to pay if he was in the open market.
He will be a relatively risky fantasy proposition though. The reports of his pre-season have been glowing. The talkback lines and forums were abuzz after the Bulldogs intra club match two weeks ago with praise for Wallis and he looked fantastic with his inside work against North Melbourne in Round 1 of the NAB Cup. However, he’s got a big task ahead of him breaking into the Bulldogs midfield, especially with their strong battalion of inside midfielders, namely Boyd, Cross, Ward and Picken.
It’s going to be a tough decision for fantasy coaches to make. Like I said earlier, and I exclude the mature aged players from this statement, Wallis has the highest immediate scoring potential from the most recent draft crop. We all have to balance that with the fact he might not necessarily be a regular in the Bulldogs side. Even if he starts the season, will he be one of the first on the chopping block? Is he a sub candidate? These are all difficult questions we have to ask ourselves when picking a player from a side where competition for spots is hot.
I’ll leave you with some salivating thoughts regarding his scoring potential. Young Mitch was the TAC Medallist (best on ground in the TAC Cup Grand Final) in 2010, racking up an amazing 47 touches playing for Calder Cannons. He is also a tackling machine, averaging 6.9 last year, along with 31.3 disposals per game. It’s no wonder he was named in Calder’s best players six times out of his seven games in 2010.
He’s very strong around the clearances, but due to the tough nature of his inside work his kicking isn’t always the cleanest – this is mostly just due to the fact his kicks are often rushed coming out of a pack. His contested work more than makes up for some of his rushed kicks not hitting targets from a Super Coach perspective. He actually had the highest kicking efficiency of any player who averaged 20 or more touches in the U/18 Nationals last year, but he was handballing a lot in heavy traffic and kicking mostly when he was in space I noticed. He’s certainly not a bad kick, but the stat is a little misleading.
My internal monologue is going crazy deciding whether or not to put this guy in. He’s the classic scoring potential vs. job security debate.
For a full list of Dan’s Draftees, head here
Dyson Heppell – Essendon
Fantasy position: DEF/MID
Price: $132,500 DT, $153,600 SC
Role: Rebounding defender/inside and outside mid
I thought it was high time I wrote about an early pick from the 2010 National Draft. These late round picks and pre-listed GC players that were on traded are all well and good, but let’s not forget about the kids that were highly rated – or in fact, any player that is still in their teens (yeah, I’ve had a real mature aged theme in my articles so far).
Dyson Heppell was drafted with Pick 8 to the Bombers after an impressive 2010, where he was joint Morrish Medallist (TAC Cup B&F) and led the league in kicks, despite missing some games in the middle of the year to play for Vic Country in the U/18 National Championships. He started the year across half back before moving up to the midfield, proving to be an elite ball winner, ranking third in the TAC Cup for contested possessions and fourth in uncontested.
He’s an excellent in both DT and SC, averaging 113 in DT in the TAC Cup last year, and while I don’t have his SC score the Prospectus does say he had the third highest “Champion Data ranking” (which is SC’s scoring system) in the competition.
One of Heppell’s big advantages is that he’s back and mid eligible in the fantasy world. Personally I’ve been building my team around having Heppell in my midfield (especially since Ben Jacobs got diagnosed with glandular fever) for dual positioning, which is handier than ever with byes in the AFL this year. If you’re missing two elite mids in one week it can be handy to balance your points by moving a Goddard, Gibbs or Deledio into your midfield and Heppell onto your back line bench.
Another reason Heppell is an attractive option is that by all reports James Hird absolutely loves him. It’s not only good enough that Essendon have spots in their 22 up for grabs and a new coach looking to blood kids, but he’s already a coaches pet. With the Bombers in full rebuild mode they’ll be looking to get plenty of experience into their 18-21 year old stars they’ve taken with early picks over the last few years and Heppell could be one of their more promising ones. He should have great job security and with his junior ball winning ability is fairly likely to catch up to the speed and intensity of AFL footy.
His kicking efficiency was really good at the U/18 National Carnival this year, but I wouldn’t call his kicking a massive asset. I’d say his ability to accumulate and run is more his strength than his kicking skills. I caught most of Essendon’s intra club game last Wednesday and was really impressed with Heppell – in fact, he was the big positive I took from that game, however a few of his kicks had a bit too much loop on them. This certainly isn’t to say he’s a bad kick and he brings enough other weapons to only be a decent kick.
He’s very clean below his knees, which is one of those little fantasy one percenters that can really help. With clean ground skills he can obviously gather the ball often enough to keep scoring for you. His endurance is another big plus. He can run all day and this allows him to link up and be involved in more plays.
He could be a viable option to stay in your team all year, maybe as a starter early on (at his price point perhaps a bit too expensive for the bench) but as you make your upgrades he could be a good one to keep on your bench, especially if you have him as part of a DP link between your midfield and back line.
Drafted By: Carlton
Fantasy position: BACK
Price: $92,500 DT, $103,600 SC
Role: Medium/rebounding defender
Nick Duigan was recruited from Norwood in the SANFL (not to be confused with Norwood in the EFL) at Pick 70 in the 2010 National Draft as a 26 year old. He’d been toiling away in the SANFL for all of his career and was set to embark on a one year trip to Sudan to do volunteer work before getting drafted (top bloke!). Over the years he’d suffered a few niggles and missed a bit of footy, but his last two years were very consistent and it caught Wayne Hughes’ eye.
Duigan, pronounced DYE-GAN (I swear they said DOO-GAN on SEN, which is why I butchered his name in our pre-season video) is a medium sized defender with good accountability. Unfortunately a spoil isn’t worth any DT or SC points, but his fist is a great strength. He is, however, a player who likes to link up and run and carry the ball. While he isn’t a high possession winner he does have a fairly prominent attacking side to his game and is one of those classic 70m players (run it 20m, kick it 50m) who are very much in vogue these days.
He’s a fantastic endurance runner and he’s got pretty good (not great) pace. You’ll come to enjoy seeing him get a handball receive, give it off and then follow up his good work by providing another option. His work rate around the contest is a big plus in his game and with his attacking style, he’ll use it to run into dangerous positions forward of centre. He’s not one to push forward though and isn’t a known goal kicker, however you might get an argument out of Woodville-West Torrens fans, as he ripped their hearts out by kicking the winning goal on basically the final play of the Prelim in 2010 (0:40 of the video below).
His stats in 2010 do not scream fantasy stud, but there’s a couple of reasons why I find him an appealing option. For a start, at 26 years of age you know he’s been recruited to address a specific need in Carlton’s squad. If he’s not best 22, he would be very damn close, but I’m pretty confident he’ll be there come Round 1, especially as he is impressing many this pre-season (already a cult figure in the Carlton online community).
Another reason I like him as a fantasy player is that he has the sort of game that could flourish at AFL level and see a spike in his scoring. In 20 SANFL games last year (I don’t have finals stats, but every other game – go figure) he scored in the 50′s for DT on eight occasions and on top of that he had a 48, 49, 61 and 62, so his scoring spread was quite similar and with not many big scores. His three top scores were 90, 89 and 74, however with all of these stats, it should be noted that I’m skeptical about the way they award tackles in SANFL stats and think that they miss a few.
I could definitely see him being the sort of player Carlton want to get loose in defence. He’s a great runner, as I mentioned, but I wouldn’t call him an overly damaging kick – I’d go with neat to describe his kicking. No frills, gets the job done (think Ryan Hargrave). For that reason, opposition won’t put much time into trying to stop him. I’m not saying it’ll turn his steady 50′s into 80′s, but he could feasibly lift his numbers from what he put up in the SANFL due to the over possessive nature of AFL football.
Tendai Mzungu – Fremantle Dockers
Fantasy position: MID/FWD
Role: Rebounding defender/outside mid
Tendai Mzungu is the next in a series of players I’m anticipating to take the AFL by storm, or at least present a bit of value to your fantasy team. Mzungu (of Zimbabwean heritage, if you’re wondering) is a rebounding defender, who like Cam Richardson is strangely not listed as a defender for fantasy purposes.
Mzungu joined the Dockers during trade period when Gold Coast pre-listed him and on-traded him for a slight upgrade of picks – they basically gave him to Freo. This isn’t so much a reflection on Mzungu’s market value, as the Suns made a bit of a habit of this in trade week, for what reason, I don’t exactly know (good faith?).
Anyway, Mzungu is a mature aged recruit and has spent the past five seasons cutting his teeth with the Perth Demons in the WAFL. He made a big jump in 2008, but it was in 2010 where he really took to the competition. His DT average was 116.2 last year, but check out this amazing run of numbers:
- he cracked the ton 15 times in 20 games
- he got 120+ in 12 of those games
- a six week patch where he scored 120+
- a top score of 151
Super Coach scores aren’t kept at state level, but he has good foot skills for a start, so you imagine his SC numbers would be quite impressive too. In fact, his kicking is excellent. He’s a natural right footer, but he’s very confident on his left foot and if you knew no better and you saw him kick a few in a row on his left you could be forgiven for thinking that’s his shoe.
His kick:handball ratio is fantastic. Last year for Perth he had more than twice as many kicks as he did handballs and the least amount of kicks he had in a game all season was 14. The bigger grounds in Perth may have aided his game, as he loves space to run and carry the ball or link up with teammates. By being recruited by Freo means he’ll play 12 games at Subi (I know there’s a name change, I just prefer to call it that) so he’ll still get that luxury.
He loves to get lateral to the contest and this is reflected by a high mark count. Uncontested possessions will very much be his go, but he isn’t afraid to take the game on when he has the ball in his hands. His best athletic attribute is his vertical leap, but his endurance isn’t too far behind. He’s got a great tank and he uses it effectively in a game. His pace is probably what I’d consider above average.
Now I certainly don’t want to give the impression that you’re reading about a 100 average that you can lock up and throw away the key. It would be a very long stretch to suggest he can replicate his WAFL numbers into the AFL. I mean, he will still have to impress in the NAB Cup to even lock down a spot in Freo’s side to begin with.
The Dockers should be pretty strong again in 2011, which is an advantage for fantasy players – I’ll keep harping on about the correlation between winning teams and good fantasy scores – but obviously it’s a bit harder to break into those teams. For what it’s worth, Freo have had good success with mature aged recruits in recent years with Broughton and Barlow being fantastic pick-ups, who made a splash in the fantasy world too. Mzungu is certainly someone who has the right sort of game to be an excellent fantasy proposition (but he ain’t no Barlow!).
Cam Richardson – North Melbourne Kangaroos
Fantasy position: FWD
Price: Sorry, we don’t know yet!
Role: Rebounding defender/winger (no idea why he’s listed as a FWD)
Welcome to my first article of 2011. Over the next eight weeks I’ll be writing articles on eight different draftees that will appear on the site every Wednesday morning. I did the same thing last year, but it’s important to note that I’ll be writing about players with little to no AFL experience. For example, I wrote about Tom Rockliff last pre-season, despite the fact he played one match in 2009 (I also just wanted to point out that I called Rocky last year).
The first player I’m going to look at this year is North Melbourne’s 22 year old recruit, Cam Richardson. He played in North Ballarat’s VFL premiership in 2010, getting named in their best players 14 times in 21 games after having had a modest 2009 (his first year in the VFL) where he was dropped to the reserves for finals. Before that he won the league B&F in the Ballarat league in 2006 and 2008. From country footy to your fantasy team!
Richardson joined the Roos via the trade period as one of the players Gold Coast pre-listed and then on traded. One thing you will have noticed about the GC pre-listed players is that they basically traded them for nothing (usually a slight upgrade of picks in later rounds), but they actually played a bit of hard ball with Richardson and squeezed Pick 35 for him.
From all reports he has impressed at pre-season training down at Arden St. He won the 3.2km time trial in December and came in fourth behind noted endurance guns Ryan Bastinac, Brayden Norris and Lachie Hansen in the January time trial. By his own admission he knocked about a minute off his own personal best in the 3.2km!
It should be noted that the Prospectus said he was Top 5% in the 20m sprint at the Draft Combine, but he had hamstring tightness that week and only did the 3km time trial. Not sure why they had him as speedy, but for reference he ran a fairly slow 3.15 at Vic State Screening in 2009.
Richardson’s greatest strength is his reading of the play. He’s just one of these blokes who knows where to go to get the ball and is a beautiful accumulator. Now, I know we all want someone to be “the next Barlow” but bear in mind how extremely unlikely it will be to see someone EVER putting those sort of numbers up in their first season. However I think he’s a good chance to be the big money earner, or a safe bench player. FWIW, I don’t like using the term ‘potential keeper’ when talking about rookies, because you can’t really plan on keeping them, it’s just a sweet bonus if it plays out that way.
The man who always wears a long sleeved jumper loves to run and carry the ball, so he could slot in well across half back for the Roos and provide plenty of rebound. He’s the prototypical modern half back, I’ve already mentioned the traits, but when you list them all together it makes a lot of sense – excellent play reader, fantastic endurance and loves to run and carry. He’s certainly no mug when using his boot either. Some of his kicking is very impressive and I have very little doubt that he can convert his game to the higher standard of AFL.
I’d love to be able to provide you with some stats, but unfortunately the data isn’t there in the VFL. I can’t tell you what he averaged in DT or SC last year, but I saw him get 30+ touches on a number of occasions last year. His tackling could use a bit of work, but he has plenty of endeavour and in a professional environment hopefully he can pick up a few +4′s along with those possessions he’ll be racking up.