Category - 2012 – Jimmy’s Gems
I assume by now that most of us are starting to feel comfortable with the teams we’ve assembled. With that being said, we’re all still susceptible to making those dreaded last minute decisions. It’s funny, every year I feel I’ve got my team set in stone and then the day before the season starts I’ll have that sudden urge to mix things up….I’d call it a gut instinct. Anyway, it can really throw you out having to adjust players in order to get a certain player you might be after and if you’ve been sitting on your line up for a while it’s easy to become complacent with what you already know and perhaps stop exploring other avenues.
We know that trading in this game isn’t as always going to be as simple as swapping one player for another as each player is priced accordingly. And if you find yourself making one adjustment then chances are you’re going to have to make another in order to make the possible. Basically the team structures are altered. This can be a good thing or bad thing, you might end up having more money than before, you might end up having to downgrade to a price range you’ve never really thought about. Either way we’re being faced with new opportunities.
With that being said I think its important that we discuss as many potential bargains as possible before the seasons starts. I’d hate to see some of the true value out there being overlooked simply because we didn’t get enough time to discuss that player before the season started. So instead of the usual weekly player review I’ve decided to write about the remaining players I believe are most deserving of a mention, and basically need to be discussed before lockout occurs.
Robbie Gray (FWD)
DT: $402,000, SC: $490,100
I should know all about this bloke, after all he was in my team last year. Started off the season having a stinker, where he averaged 50.5 over the first 8 weeks. I traded him out and then looked on as he quietly went about averaging 96.8 over his final 11 games playing as midfielder. He dropped below 20 disposals only once during this stretch. That’s the role I envisioned him playing…
Matthew Bate (FWD)
DT: $248,000, SC: $294,300
Proven scorer in previous years, but fell out of favour under old coach Dean Bailey resulting in Bate demanding a trade from Melbourne during trade week. Mark Neeld obviously saw a spot for him and played hardball during trade week demanding a first rounder in return. All signs are pointing to him being used as a midfielder, using his long boot to kick through the zone. Bate averaged 80 AFL Dream Team points per game in 2008. Risky, high upside.
Mitchell Golby (DEF)
DT: $265,200, SC: $278,500
Highly rated junior that was injured during his draft year and consequently slipped to the rookie draft. Earned his spot on the main list and has looked a million bucks during the NAB Cup. Word is they want Hanley up the ground, which means Golby’s chances of attaining the role of loose defender are looking better by the day. Scored 100, and 94 Dream Team points in two out of his 3 NAB cup matches. I really rate him.
Ian Callinan (FWD)
DT: $217,000, SC: $303,600
An absolute magnet at SANFL level that showed his potential in limited game time last season. Suffered a bicep injury that put him back in the pack last season but otherwise was easily best 22 and has recently been upgraded off the rookie list which indicates he’ll be used. Certainly one to consider after a healthy NAB cup showing.
Jamie Cripps (FWD)
St Kilda Saints
DT: $177,400, SC: $162,600
Cripps is entering his 2nd season and I believe is ready to go bang. He’s set to play off half back and knows how to find space and take a mark. Played as a substitute last year in all of his 4 games and averaged 35 from only 50 minutes per game. That’s certain to rise and so is his scoring. Good early draw, big cash cow potential!
Josh Caddy (MID)
Gold Coast Suns
DT: $249,300, SC: $218,800
As an Essendon supporter I can proudly say I survived Caddyfest. That is trade week 2011. Unfortunately we didn’t get our man and now I’ll have to watch him dominate in a Suns jumper. Quite frankly he’s a gun, there’s not much else to it. He does everything you want from a fantasy stand point too, high disposals, marks, tackles, goals. Love him.
Ivan Maric (RUC)
DT: $262,700, SC: $$338,300
Welcomed to a new club, and looks to be guaranteed the number 1 ruck duties. Proven he’s got the ability to play at AFL level and should receive a big increase in minutes per game, no longer sharing the ruck mantle. The game evolves every season and last year we saw an increase in stoppages and as a result more hitout opportunities. Maric should benefit from this and I’m expecting a 75-85 ball park average from him this year. Highly unique.
Luke Parker (MID)
DT: $244,200, SC: $282,400
Like Caddy he’s an awkwardly priced mid but once again you can’t ignore the production. Played 13 games in his debut season, 5 of which he was involved as a substitute. Always been a goal kicker dating back to his junior days and that’s continues at AFL level. Set for more time in the middle where he’s a tackle machine and hard ball winner. Very impressive pre-season form.
David Swallow (MID)
Gold Coast Suns
DT: $377,300, SC: $431,100
An absolute gun in the making and I think it’ll be sooner rather than later. Averaged 19 touches in his first year, 48% of those contested. I think with another year under his belt he’ll start to see more loose ball and push forward to impact the score board. Excellent mark too, just hasn’t had the chance to show it. Wouldn’t be surprised to see him push 100 as early as this year. Freak!
Simon Hogan (MID)
DT: $133,600, SC: $162,600
Tagging role has opened up with Ling retired and I dare say Hogan will be fighting out Guthrie for first crack at it. Ball magnet in the maggoos. Hopefully he gets his chance this year, he deserves it.
Brodie Smith (DEF)
DT: $261,800, SC: $271,400
Involved as the sub 5 times last year playing only 81 minutes per game. In his second season that’s set to increase and I think he’ll see more time on a wing rotating through half back setting up attack. Highly rated and very impressive this pre season. Good fixture to start the year too
Well that’s it for now! I’m happy to answer questions on any of these guys or any players you’ve got in mind for that matter, and hope that this opens some eyes to a few names perhaps otherwise forgotten.
When Chris Judd captained the Eagles to a Premiership in 2006 nobody anticipated that the young superstar would shock the football world only a year later by demanding a trade back home to Melbourne. The golden child was seen as irreplaceable and no matter what the compensation, it wasn’t quite Chris Judd to the Eagles. So when Chris Masten arrived as a part of that famous deal, understandably the pressure was enormous, and on paper Masten seemed like the ideal replacement for the task.
Renowned for his stoppage work, Masten led the National carnival in clearances and regularly set up team mates, also leading the carnival in goal assists. In the 9 games he played at National level, he never dropped below 20 disposals, and his elite running ability drew comparisons to club superstar Ben Cousins. On top of this he was a local boy. On paper, Masten sounded like a perfect prospect to help fill the void left by the departure of both Cousins and Judd.
But as we know, junior form doesn’t always translate straight away to the AFL, and sometimes we have to be more patient than we would ideally like.
Drafted as a skinny midfielder, Masten wasn’t the type of prospect that was able to come in and have an immediate impact like others we’ve seen. He simply didn’t have the body size or strength to compete with the bigger blokes at the stoppages. Instead he found a role in the side using his running ability to work into space and find the ball as an outside midfielder, winning over 70% of his possessions uncontested across his first 3 seasons. Unfortunately, Masten was never blessed with fantastic foot skills and for a player winning so much uncontested ball didn’t have the hurt factor required to play that role in a good team.
He managed 19 games in his 2nd season, and when fit was a member of the Eagles best side in 2010. But with the Eagles suddenly a much improved side, and competition for spots suddenly up for grabs Masten was no longer a lock for the Eagles best 22 in 2011. He was given first show in round 1, but after a disappointing performance was sent back to the WAFL and had to wait until round 8 before seeing senior action again in 2011. Here Masten strung four consecutive games together, but after being used as the sub in three of the four games, he never really got going and once again was dropped before earning a recall in round 20.
While once again he was used as the sub in his first two games back, he was finally given a full game in round 23 and showed what he capable of, earning 3 Brownlow votes in a performance that tallied 31 possessions, 3 goals, 7 tackles and a massive 140 dream team points. Masten didn’t look back the following week, once again leaving his mark on the game with 27 possessions, 2 goals and 6 tackles (115 AFL Dream Team points). His kicking efficiency was much improved, his contested possessions rate was up and we were finally seeing the player that the Eagles hoped to get when they picked him up with their first pick several years ago.
Masten seems back in favour at the Eagles, and his new found confidence has carried through so far this preseason where he’s been an absolute stand out, averaging 108 AFL Dream Team points per 100 minutes, and not scoring below 80 in both of the Eagles’ proper encounters.
6 Substitute games –3.6 Kicks, 4.5 handballs, 1.5 marks, 1 tackle @ 27.3 AFL Dream Team points per game, 22.5 SuperCoach
4 Full games-11.5kicks, 10.75 handballs, 4.75 marks, 5.5 tackles, 1.5 goals @ 99.75 AFL Dream Team points, 109.5 SuperCoach Points
WAFL stats: 13.5 kicks, 14 Handballs, 3.8 marks, 6 tackles, 1 goal @109 AFL Dream Team points
Masten averaged the lowest game time of any player at the Eagles to play more than half the season last year at only 72 minutes per game, and was the substitute in 6 games, which had a huge impact on his season averages. One issue is that he is awkwardly priced at an average of 56 points, with a cost of $278,500 In AFL Dream Team and $310,600 in SuperCoach.
I truly believe he’s capable of putting up an average of 90-100 if he continues to play full games, and with the Eagles looking to contend again this year I can see Masten being used a lot more in the middle to share the work load. I’m tipping a breakout season, and with West Coast’s relatively good draw to start the season I think he’ll start the year with a bang. Definitely one worth considering, but certainly not for the faint of heart.
The player I’m writing about today has had to come from a long way back to earn consideration in my team. After picking him in 2010 I found myself struggling to overcome the mental scarring that Ryan Hargrave left me that year. I selected him as a premium defender, and coming off a career best season I was expecting big things. When he went on to average 48 AFL Dream Team points in his first four matches I was forced to prematurely trade him out and I said I’d never pick him again.
In hindsight he went on to have a very serviceable season that year averaging 77 AFL Dream Team points, but that just wasn’t what I wanted from a guy who averaged 93 points the season prior.
This time around Hargrave is coming off what was possibly the most frustrating year of his career. Hargrave had to wait until round 8 to play his first game in 2011, and only managed to string consecutive games together once for the year. He tallied a grand total of 5 games for the season, recording 59 AFL Dream Team points per game and 64 SupeCoach points, his lowest fantasy averages since 2006.
Considering him for my team again certainly seemed like a thing of a past, and even at a heavily reduced price of $232,700 I was looking elsewhere.
However, we’re fortunate enough to get a look at the players before the year starts, and I’ve really liked what I’ve seen from Hargrave, and the Bulldogs team as a whole under new coach Brendan McCarthy, especially in terms of fantasy numbers.
Under the new coach, Hargrave is no longer being tied to opposition key forwards, and is back being used as a key link up player out of the backline. This role reminds me a lot of the 2010 version of Hargrave that averaged 93 AFL Dream Team points a game. In the first week of the NAB Cup he posted 94 AFL Dream Team points from the 2 halves combined. While this was certainly encouraging to see, I wasn’t entirely convinced of the opposition he came up against, with the Doggies playing GWS and effectively the Collingwood VFL side in their first encounter.
Fast forward a week, and the Bulldogs matched up against Carlton. In this game Hargrave looked even better, linking up all over the ground, remaining in this role despite an early injury to Tom Williams, which had me concerned. However, it was the Bulldogs high possession game plan that I think was the most significant thing to take from the match.
Across the weekend of games they recorded the 3rd most possessions behind only Hawthorn and Fremantle, and the 2nd most marks behind Hawthorn. While this might not sound that significant, it’s worth noting that the Bulldogs averaged the 3rd least marks per game in 2011, and in shortened quarters managed to record 104, in comparison to their 78 per game last year.
That’s a significant jump, and watching the game it was obvious that they’ve adjusted their game plan and are using the short hit up option to maintain possession and break through the zone. This is very reminiscent of the game style we’ve seen from Hawthorn, and we all know how much of an impact that had on their players ability to post high fantasy numbers.
Hargrave has always been very reliable by foot and when freed up he’s never had trouble finding the ball. He’s effectively the perfect player for this style of football, and one that’s certainly worth a gamble for your backline. If he comes off he’s got the potential to average between 80-95 for your team, much more than anyone similarly priced. I’d expect no less than 75 from him, and even if that’s the case he’ll make you some money and score well enough for a starting spot in your side.
In terms of durability Hargrave was ultra reliable before last year, playing no less than 22 games in every season dating back to 2005 where he played 20 games.
On top of this there’s been the unfortunate interruptions that other fantasy options Jack Grimes and Reece Conca have had to their pre-seasons making the backline an even trickier task.
There are just too many positives to ignore Hargrave this time around. He presents as a limited risk, high reward pickup, and a player that will be lining up in my side come round 1 of the season.
Price: $492,500 DT; $574,600 SC
I think a lot of fantasy coaches often get caught up with the new talent coming through, and find themselves over-analysing the lesser known, younger players around the league hoping to find a bargain. But as I said a few weeks back in my Bryce Gibbs article, there’s value every year amongst the more established names, it’s just a little harder to find. I know in the past I’ve been guilty of simply flicking through the well known players, looking at their averages and basing their fantasy value based on that alone. I also know I’ve missed out on some ripper bargains because of this.
While it’s true that a player’s scoring average can be a definitive guide in most cases, it’s not always going to be the best measuring stick. We know how many players get injured on a week-to-week basis, and it’s easy to forget the minor niggles players may have fought through 6 months after the season, when everyone is planning their AFL Dream Team and SuperCoach the following year. As a result of this, we often neglect certain players simply because their average doesn’t look good on paper, but sometimes don’t tell the true story.
Jobe Watson is a player that definitely fits this description. Being the captain of my Club, I knew all about his injury worries of 2011, and while they may have been only short stints on the side line, they definitely affected his on field performance and more importantly for us, his fantasy scoring numbers.
Watson in 2011:
The Bombers skipper kicked off the 2011 season with a bang, averaging 31 touches over his first seven games of the season. But not only was Jobe racking up the disposals, he was also showcasing a much improved, and new found confidence in his kicking ability, averaging 16.8 kicks during this period – seven more than the 10 kicks per game he averaged in 2010.
No longer the handball happy player of previous years, Jobe was also able to use his kicking skills to impact the scoreboard, tallying a career season high 11 goals for by round 7. His overall game had clearly made big improvements and this was reflected in his fantasy scoring, averaging a whopping 117 AFL Dream Team points, and 120 SuperCoach points up until this round. Numbers that only the elite company of Swan, Pendlebury, Boyd and Ablett can compare with.
Watson’s hot form looked set to continue in round 8 against the Brisbane Lions, until he suffered a nasty hamstring injury during the 3rd quarter and was subbed off. This obviously affected Watson’s score, putting up 71 DT/88 SC for the match and 70 DT/67 SC points in his return game after a month on the sidelines. Both respectable scores, but well below the numbers we’d seen during his healthy stretch. Two games later Watson went down again during the 2nd quarter against Hawthorn and didn’t return tallying 33 DT/57 SC points for the entire match, severely dropping his season averages. He spent another 5 games recovering before returning in round 19, and yet again was forced out of the game early with slight concerns during Round 22 against the Eagles in the 3rd quarter.
To break it down for you in terms of averages;
Rounds 1-7 Avg: 117 AFL Dream Team; 120 SuperCoach
Games When Subbed (3) Avg: 59 AFL Dream Team; 76 SuperCoach
Full games Avg: 112.4 AFL Dream Team; 109.6 SuperCoach
Season Average Avg: 99.6 AFL Dream Team; 106 SuperCoach
After Watson returned from injury, he was unable to get out an space as often as he did earlier in the year taking less marks per game and only kicking 4 more goals after round 7. It was clear he had to adjust his game with the hamstring worries, and his fantasy scoring suffered as a result of this.
Despite his injury setbacks in 2011, Watson has been as reliable and durable as nearly any other player throughout his career, and having completed a full pre-season without injury, I’m not particularly worried about the hamstring flaring up again this year. Unlike Matthew Lloyd or Nick Reiwoldt, Watson fortunately didn’t suffer a major tear, so any ongoing concern is unlikely. There’s huge upside in Watson, and he’s a player I’d love to take the gamble on. If you have the guts, pull the trigger and jump on board. You’ll be duly rewarded.
Roughly 2 weeks ago Kristian and I made the trek out to Optus Oval to get a look at how Carlton were shaping up in their last intra-club hitout before the NAB Cup began. We had a few names short-listed, but both had our eyes set on one player particularly for the day and he certainly didn’t disappoint. So much so, I walked away pretty desperate to fit him into my side, and fiddled with my structure in order to do so. Later that afternoon we heard about Michael Barlow suffering a setback, minutes later Kane Lucas was locked and loaded. My mind was at ease.
Lucas is a player I’ve been a fan of for quite some time, dating back to his junior days when my Bombers were rumoured to be interested in selecting him in the lead up to the 2009 draft. His introduction to the league hasn’t been as smooth sailing as others. After impressing early in his debut season, he suffered a severe hamstring injury late in the year that hampered his performance during his 2nd year at the club.
Despite limited senior action (10 games in total), there have been plenty of positives to come from Lucas, particularly in his first season, and enough to suggest that he was finding his feet again late last year. Amongst his 10 senior games, Lucas has topped the 20 disposal mark 4 times, including a 21 disposal, 7 mark performance that put his name back on the map in round 24 last year.
His game style translates particularly well to fantasy football, racking up touches by finding the ball out in space, taking strong marks, and linking up for one-twos across all areas of the ground. The only knock I’d have on him is his questionable decision making at times. Fortunately for Dream Team coaches, that’s not something we have to worry about.
During the intra club Lucas lined up on a wing for Carlton’s best 22 side and immediately made an impact kicking a goal in the first quarter and working hard across the ground to link up. He continued to run hard throughout the hit out and was easily one of the best players on the ground.
He backed up this impressive showing in Carlton’s first proper match of the year recording 42 DT points in a half against Port Adelaide, and then 33 points against the Crows. It wasn’t so much the scoring that impressed me about Lucas, but his ability to read the play and break away from his direct opposing player to provide an option for his team. It’s hard to see the opposition sides paying him too much attention playing alongside the likes of Murphy, Judd, Gibbs, Simpson and Scotland. His hard running outside game will fit into the already established Carlton midfield, providing another option for the contested ball winners to feed it out to.
Unlike other young players coming through that see position changes regularly at senior level, Lucas will line up on a wing for Carlton from the get go, and being an outstanding athlete with standout endurance levels, he’s unlikely to see any time as a sub.
Having being injury riddled throughout the 2011 season, it’s tough to get a measure on his VFL form. There was a period where Lucas broke down and was unable to run at all. Despite this, Lucas battled through the season playing 17 games and leading the club for uncontested possessions and handball receives, averaging 88 AFL Dream Team points per game – rather impressive numbers! Outside ball winning ability has been his go since his junior days recording a very high 67.8% of his possessions uncontested. As I previously said, Carlton already have a power midfield and they’ll be hoping a player in the mould of Lucas will provide them with a proverbial cherry on their premiership cupcake.
Kane Lucas’ Junior Stats + First Two AFL Seasons:
2009 under 18 Championships : 9.8 kicks, 10.8 handballs, 5.8 marks, 2.4 tackles, 1.2 goals per game @ 78 Dream team points
2010 AFL: 6.6 kicks, 7.8 handballs, 4.6 marks @ 55 DT points
2011 AFL (sub once): 8.5 kicks, 5.5 handballs, 5 marks per game @ 60 DT points
Lucas is priced at $206,000, roughly a 40 average based on 2011 scoring. He’ll cost 100k more than most rookies, but when you weigh up his likelihood of his healthy job security, his dedicated role and the side he plays for, I think he’s worth every extra penny. I’m expecting 75+ at minimum from Lucas, and I truly believe he’s capable of averaging 90+ this year. His price goes against the structures of some coaches this year, but he’ll still make you money, and in my opinion will outscore any player priced below him. Definitely a worthy investment, and one that’ll be lining up for my side come round 1. Jump on.
Note: Click here to to access the first batch of squads that have been announced for Round 1 of the 2012 NAB Cup.
Retuning from a foot injury that prematurely ended his 2011 season, Grimes certainly has his doubters heading into 2012, but from all reports he’s fit and raring to go, and when you look at what he’s capable of producing, he’s certainly a ”risk” worth taking.
Grimes is a certainty set to rise in price, but he’s a player that you can select with the intention of keeping all season long, with his scoring power matching that of the elite backline players in the game. Looking back at his season in 2011, Grimes was averaging 87.9 points per game prior to the match where he went down early and tallied 6, bumping down his average to 74 across his 6 games. A similar output to names like Heath Shaw, Grant Birchall and Brett Deledio, all priced over $100,000 more than Grimes this season.
These numbers came with Grimes used across the backline, but being drafted as a tough hardnosed midfielder, I can see Grimes being used a lot more around the ball with new coach Mark Neeld publically declaring he wants a much tougher approach from his players this year. As a junior Grimes was elite in this area, averaging 29 possessions a game, with 43.2% of these contested. He was also an elite clearance winner averaging 5.2 per game. An inside/outside type midfielder, Grimes was also able to record very high marking averages as well at 7.1 per match. The kind of grunt Grimes can provide is certain to appeal to Neeld, and I’m expecting to see a lot more of him around the ground this year.
Grimes junior averages:
2007- TAC Cup: 23.2 kicks, 5.3 Handballs, 7.1 Marks, 2.7 Tackles, 1 Goal @ 118.6 DT points per game
Grimes 2011 averages in 5 Full games:
13.6 kicks, 9 Handballs, 6.4 Marks, 2 tackles @ 87.6 Dream team points per game
Not much more can be said about Grimes. We’ve seen what he is capable of, and it’s really just a matter of staying on the park. If he manages to do so then you’ve got yourself an elite backline scorer well below market price.
A “Hidden Gem” is more than likely a player that fits the mould of a younger, less exposed type , and ultimately one we’re tipping for a break out year along with a big boost to his fantasy average. However that doesn’t mean we can’t find some true value amongst more household, seasoned names of the competition, and its often the ”uniqueness” of these picks that can separate a fantasy side from the rest of the pack.
Choosing that type of player is no easy task though, and in order to pull the trigger there really has to be a standout motive as to why.
In reflection of the past 5-10 years, the most common obvious correlation for big fantasy score improvement is the link between Team Success and the what that means for individual improvement in terms of fantasy scoring. Geelong’s reign had the likes of Ablett, Johnson, Chapman and Corey, St.Kilda; Dal Santo, Montagna, Goddard and Collingwood; Swan, Pendlebury and Thomas. Sure all the above players are well known names, and prior to their teams success all proven players, but the fact remains that every one of those players boasted huge fantasy improvements with their respective sides experiencing great success as a team.
So with that in mind, if you’re looking to find perhaps the next Dane Swan or Gary Ablett then it’s not a bad idea to start looking at players from a side your predicting big things from that year. Being an Essendon supporter it’s pains me very much saying this, but in my opinion the side I’m expecting to really come on strongly this year is Carlton.
We already know about the dominance Chris Judd, and we all witnessed Marc Murphy establish himself as one of the competitions true elite players in 2011, but despite this the player I’m most intrigued by at blues is the former number 1 draft pick Bryce Gibbs.
His game is tailor made for fantasy scoring, and a player who’s game will benefit massively by playing in a successful side. He has the potential to match it with the likes of of Swan/Ablett/Boyd as a dream teamer.
Just about every one of us had Gibbs as a backline lock last year, but after losing the dual position eligibility he quickly became an afterthought as a midfield option for most of us in 2012. You’d definitely expect more than 107 points per game from a Premium dream team midfielder to start the year with, and from the outset Gibbs may look like a like sideways selection this year. However with closer inspection there’s enough evidence to suggest we’re a long way from seeing his fantasy ceiling yet, and if all things add up, we’ve got a potential bargain on our hands this year.
In 2011 Gibbs won the ball in space as well as any other player in the league, highlighted by the fact he led the league in uncontested marks. He is a player that Carlton love to give the ball to, and uses the ball by foot as much as any other ball winner around the league, which as we know is ideal for fantasy scoring.
Having the luxury of playing alongside both Judd and Murphy is perfect for a player like Gibbs, most weeks finding himself let off the leash and free from a tag. The last 8 weeks of 2011 gave us a sneak preview of what we can expect from Gibbs when he’s played through the midfield alongside 2 other superstars, averaging a whopping 121.25 DT points over the last 8 games. The lowest score Gibbs recorded during this stretch was 103, with a high of 144. He showed the ability to push forward and kick goals with 12 sailing through the big sticks in the 8 games, and another 3 in the elimination final against Essendon, making that 15 from 9 games, and 21 for the whole season. That means he kicked over 70% of his goals in under 40% of the season!
Even if Carlton continue to play at a similar standard to last season I can only see that form line continuing this year due to natural progression. However If they do improve yet again, then I’d expect Gibbs to take step up yet again similar to what a Montagna or Swan have done for their clubs. Either way there is plenty of upside.
In addition, not only is Gibbs a scoring machine, he’s also one of the most durable players in the league, missing only 1 game in his 5 seasons.
He’s a safe bet that could potentially provide the same value as a Swan or Boyd while costing you 50-60,000 less. One to strongly consider.
It’s always a difficult task setting up your backline in fantasy football, and like previous years 2012 is no exception. However, with this in mind, the opportunity is there again to get a real advantage if you can successfully nail a few smokies. Last week I spoke about junior form and the natural progression expected from 2nd year Bulldog Mitch Wallis. This week I take a different route and discuss the impact of a player’s role, and how changes in coaching strategy can affect a players scoring potential. This was particularly evident last season with Hawthorn opting for a high possession, keepings off game plan, ultimately inflating fantasy numbers and providing some real value selections if you were able to capitalise on this early. With Fremantle throwing the kitchen sink at Ross Lyon, it’s safe to assume they want big changes made, and if his tenure at St Kilda is anything to go by we’ll see a few players make big improvements in fantasyland. One player that really stands out to me at this stage is young defender Nick Suban.
Ross Lyon at St Kilda
With Ross Lyon at the helm, St Kilda was a side renowned for their defensive emphasis. The ability to force turnovers and control the majority of possession resulted in many Saint players posting healthy scoring increases. This was especially prominent amongst the back half, with many defenders providing valuable drive and high possession tallies. Regular backline names such as Gram, Gilbert, Fisher and Goddard all averaged over 20 possessions a game, with Gwilt not far behind averaging 19.6 disposals in 2010, and 18.9 in 2011. All increasing their disposal count and Dream Team averages from prior years.
With the success Lyon had; we can assume that a similar strategy will be introduced at Fremantle this year, with efficient ball users setting up a lot of attack from the back half. In his short career Suban has proven to be a damaging player with the ball hitting targets by foot at 75.3% efficiency in 2011, and 70.5% in 2010. He’s not only an effective kick, but one that averaged 33m gained per kick last season, the 3rd most of any player at the club. With most clubs adopting zone defences in recent years the importance of hitting targets is at an all time high. Suban is definitely a player I can vision Lyon using in a ‘sweeper’ role setting up play and kicking through the zone.
He’s a proven scorer at junior level averaging:
Under 18 championships (2007): 17 kicks, 6 Handballs, 4 Marks, 4.7 Tackles @ 93 DT average
TAC cup (2007): 13.2 kicks, 5.9 Handballs, 3.3 Marks, 4. 9 Tackles @ 80 DT average
With Lyon now in command, and Suban entering his 4th year in the league we might see a similar output in 2012. Priced at a 55 Dream Team average he’s one that’s worth monitoring this pre season. Watch closely.
DT averages of Saints defenders playing under Lyon:
Gram – 92(2009), 84(2010), 80(2011)
Gilbert- 93(2009) 89(2010)
Goddard -104(2009) 113(2010) 96(2011)
Fisher- 85(2009), 85(2010), 84(2011)
Every club dreams of drafting a player that bursts onto the scene in a similar fashion to that of Dustin Martin or Joel Selwood in their debut seasons. Realistically we know this isn’t the typical transition for a player, and like we saw with guys like Jack Redden, and Liam Shiels last year, its often not until their 2nd or 3rd year before a player really stamps their mark on the league.
One player I’ve got my eyes on for a similar breakout in 2012 is 2nd year Bulldog Mitch Wallis.
Recruited via the Father/Son rule , Wallis was a star junior and the captain of both Vic Metro and the Calder Cannons in 2010. Renowned for racking up the touches, Wallis has a unique ability to win the ball in close, and then run hard across the ground to find the ball in space, shown by an average of 31.3 disposals for Calder in 2010. His game is tailor made for fantasy footy, which was highlighted in TAC Cup Grand Final where he was awarded the best on ground after a huge 47 possession performance that tallied 171 Dream team points.
In 2011, Wallis was in early contention to debut in round 1, but lost the battle to fellow Father/Son recruit Tom Liberatore who was more AFL ready and able to make an immediate impact. He didn’t have to wait long however, and after impressing at VFL level, Wallis earned a senior debut in round 5.
Last week I spoke about the negative effects of the sub rule, and like so many other young players, Wallis fell victim, starting his career in the green vest as the substitute player. He entered the game during the last quarter tallying only 3 possessions and 10 Dream team points. Obviously a big hit to his scoring average.
A dominant ball winner at junior level, Wallis understandably lacked the body size to match it with the bigger, more seasoned AFL bodies in his debut year, but was able to crack 6 games averaging 55 Dream team points. He was used mainly in a tagging or forward line role, but spent his VFL season groomed for a midfield role, and his form suggested he’s not far off, averaging 22 possessions, 5 clearances and 5 tackles per game over fifteen games.
Callan Ward leaving for GWS has left a bit hole in the middle and Wallis looms the most likely player on the Bulldog list to get first crack. From all reports he’s flying on the training track and new coach Brendan McCartney is a huge fan of his approach. Something worth noting is the significant amount of contested possessions Wallis won as a junior with over 35.6% touches being contested.
For a comparison, a player like Sam Mitchell known for his clearance work wins roughly 30% of his possessions in the contest. With another full pre season under his belt, Wallis will benefit hugely from added body size and strength , and we should see a lot more of his ball winning potential in 2012.
Taking a quick look at his career statistics, it’s impossible to ignore his scoring potential:
Calder Cannons (2010): 31.3 disposals, 5.1 Marks, 6.8 Tackles @125 DT average
Vic Metro (2010): 27.7 Disposals, 5.7 marks, 6 Tackles @111 DT average
Williamstown (2011): 22.3 Disposals, 3 marks, 4.5 Tackles @ 81 DT average
You really don’t want to miss the next Jack Redden, and priced at $244,000 Wallis has the potential to be just that. Wallis has gone under the radar somewhat but as the numbers show he’s a potential scoring stud. I’d keep a very close eye on how Wallis is used during the NAB cup. A player with his scoring potential is a bargain waiting to happen, so do your homework and don’t miss out!
For those of you who aren’t aware my name is James, and recently I was given the opportunity to join the team at Footy Tragic. Like the other guys here I’ve always followed my footy religiously, and can’t get enough of the fantasy side either.
Over the next month or so I’ll be writing about the players I’ve ear-marked for a breakout year and I hope I can help you guys pick out a few hidden gems!
The 2011 season saw the introduction of the ‘substitute rule’. As fantasy coaches we had to be mindful of the strategies employed by coaches to gain best use of their substitute, and how this would affect a player’s output and their fantasy value.
A common theme around the league was to introduce younger players at senior level in the role of the substitute. While there were definitely those that particularly excelled in the role, it wasn’t ideal in fantasy land, with the restricted time on ground severely limiting a player’s scoring potential.
The player I’m going to write about fits this description to a tee. He was able to have such an impact last year that by mid season he was a regular starter in the best 22. However with a lesser role to start the season, combined with six of his 16 games used as the sub, it’s fair to suggest his 2011 averages are not a true reflection of his value. The player I’ll be writing about is none other than 2011 premiership medallist, Allen Christensen.
Entering his second season in 2009, Christensen always loomed a likely candidate for the substitute role. A star player at junior level, Christensen was once considered a top ten draft selection before sliding down the order with concerns over his endurance levels and work rate.
Since being drafted Christensen has put any doubt to rest, thriving in a professional environment improving his fitness levels dramatically. After an impressive pre season he was able to earn senior selection early in the year, making his debut in round two. A natural impact player, Christensen was an excellent candidate to provide a spark late in games making him an obvious choice for the sub role.
Up until round nine, Christensen was in and out of the side, and wore the substitute vest in four of the six games played during this period, averaging a very modest 40.6 Dream Team points per game.
Christensen made an impressive return to the side in round 14 and never looked back playing out the rest of the season in the seniors averaging 85.2 Dream Team points per game. During this stretch Christensen was the sub twice, recording scores of 76 and 30 in those games.
To break it down for you I have separated his year into the following categories with averages including:
Rounds 2-9: 10.8 Disposals, 1.83 Tackles, 0.3 goals per game @ 40.6 DT average.
Rounds 14-24: 18.2 Disposals, 5.1 Tackles, 0.8 Goals per game @ 85.2 DT average.
Full Games Rounds (not substitute) 14-24: 20 Disposals, 5.2 tackles, 0.87 Goals per game @ 93.25 DT average.
Full Games Whole Season (not substitute): 19 Disposals, 4.6 tackles, 1.3 Goals per game @ 84.6 DT average.
Christensen topped the one hundred mark four times with a high score of 120 coming in round 17 against the Lions, highlighting his potential to be an elite scorer.
While he has that uncanny knack for kicking a miraculous goal, don’t be fooled into pigeon holing him as just another goal sneak. His best work is done in the middle of the ground with his ability to win the ball in the contested situation, and tackle the opposition like a man possessed.
Priced at a 68 average, Christensen is terrific value as a forward option at $338,000. With another pre- season under his belt Christensen will be entering his 3rd season, so it’s not unreasonable to expect further improvement again in 2012. He is one that I’ll definitely be watching and one that I’m tipping to be a real bargain. Get on board early!