Category - The Barlow Dilemma
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Dear Footy Tragics,
As you are well aware, it’s Michael Barlow week here at Footy Tragic. Barlow has been nothing short of sensational in his debut season of AFL football. He went from an unloved and unwanted VFL toiler to legitimate Brownlow Medal contender in just 12 months!
The Barlow story draws some parallels to the tone of this article, with the five players I have written about below all being unloved and largely unwanted. The difference between Barlow and the players below is a lack of love from DT coaches, rather than AFL recruiters.
In Barlow’s case, AFL recruiters put a line through his name simply because he was (apparently) too slow and not damaging by foot. The recruiting officers of 15 AFL clubs were derelict in their duties by ignoring the facts that Barlow was a ball magnet, with very strong hands, an excellent long distance runner and extremely courageous. To top matters off, Barlow is also a more than adequate kick, who gets forward and kicks goals! It didn’t matter what Barlow did, recruiters wrote him off due to their own preconceived ideas and bias against him.
Sometimes it takes courage to ignore the herd mentality that is a strong part of human nature. However, for those with sufficient intestinal fortitude to back your own judgment and ignore the temptation to be a sheep, your reward may pay handsome dividends. If you are looking for proof, just ask the Fremantle Football Club who backed their own judgment with Barlow.
When assessing replacements for Barlow, please consider these players who are not only unique, they represent excellent value:
- Kade Simpson ($403,900) – 14 games played with an average of 106, in 10,356 teams.
- Simpson has taken his game to another level in 2010, boosting his 2009 average of 89 points per game to 106. Simpson is also incredibly durable, not missing a game since 2005.
- Brad Green ($395,300) – 14 games played with an average of 101, in 3,134 teams.
- Green has been a very reliable and consistent DT choice for years, but he plays for an unfashionable team in Melbourne. Unfortunately for Green, the Demons have been cellar dwellers while Green has been in the peak of his career. You could do a lot worse than insert Brad Green into your DT.
- Shane Tuck ($397,400) – 12 games played with an average of 99, in 1,376 teams.
This guys papers were stamped the moment new coach “Dimma” Hardwick arrived at Punt Round. Tuck was only at Richmond in 2010 to serve the final year of his contract; otherwise he would be on the scrapheap. Hardwick said that “we’re playing the kids” and Tuck certainly was not in the long term plans. Well, Tuck forced his way into the Richmond side in Round 3 and has played every game since. He has also averaged 101 points per game over the last 5 matches. I take my hat off to Shane Tuck, a true survivor just like his Dad.
- Andrew Swallow ($364,900) – 14 games played with an average of 94, in 3,406 teams.
- Swallow is fast becoming an A grade midfielder in the AFL, yet we never hear about him. Why? He plays for North Melbourne. Swallow is a ball magnet and he also loves to tackle. He’s gold for any DT coach and his price is extremely tempting.
- Jude Bolton ($395,600) – 14 games played with an average of 92, in 2,675 teams.
- Bolton is durable, courageous, a ball winner and a magnificent tackler. He also has averaged 114 points per game over the last 4 games. Why then is he in so few teams? Due to the herd mentality described above.
First of all, I would like to salute Michael Barlow for his stellar 2010 season that ended abruptly in most unfortunate circumstances. There wouldn’t be many footy fans out there that haven’t fallen in love with his sudden rise from gun VFL on baller to one of the top midfielders in the AFL in only 14 matches. I wish him the best in his recovery and as a sign of a true DT star he reached his break even score before getting injured.
I won’t go too far into my personal philosophy, but one thing I will say is that uniqueness is a very, very minor part of the equation when you’re talking about bringing in the big boys. I’d rather back my own judgment on who is going to score the most points – total points is the key. Basically I think it’s pointless to worry too much about unique when it could work against you. Montagna is great, but the least popular of these five players…if you choose Montagna over Ablett because of uniqueness, it won’t have done you any good if Ablett outscores him (that’s just an example, I’m certainly not saying that Montagna can’t/won’t outscore Ablett).
Here is a look at the premium options to bring in for this rookie listed sensation.
Dane “The Champ” Swan – $512,100 MID, Avg: 121.64 (hasn’t missed)
I think Swan can now officially claim the title of the best DT’er in the game. Ablett has him pipped for average this year, but Swan’s durability is a huge plus in his favour. The thing I love about Swan is that he has no trouble really smashing a ton. Eight times this year he has scored 120+, in three games he has scored 100-119 and in another three games he didn’t crack a ton.
When he tons up, he is probably the best at going on with the job. He’s DT’s version of Ricky Ponting. There’s a reason why he’s the most expensive player in the game – his consistently high output this season sees him continue to go up and up in price. He’s actually below his starting price at the moment and is likely to go up this week with a break even of 117. Swan is one of those rare players where you can expect a 117 from, not just hope for.
Main DT asset: He’s hard to tag, loves the cheap stuff and in some cases opposition don’t consider his disposal damaging enough to warrant a tag.
Brendan “Everywhere” Goddard – $478,900 BAC/MID, Avg: 113.21 (hasn’t missed)
Followers of this site will know that I’m a fan of the DP system. The flexibility it allows you is fantastic, especially if you happen to receive an injury to a DP player. If you haven’t got Goddard in your backline already, don’t turn your nose at the prospect of getting him into your midfield.
He’s scored the third most amount of points this season (behind Swan and Montagna) and if you’re desperate to squeeze him into your backs, it’ll cost you a hell of a lot more money than the $24K it costs to upgrade Barlow to Goddard.
Goddard is the only player to have scored six straight 120+ games this season (not counting Ablett’s streak because he missed a game in the middle of that run) and quite possibly ever – maybe a someone with nerdier stats than I have can confirm. This is a streak he is currently enjoying. He’s had three sub 100′s this year, but all were in the first five weeks. He’s scored tons in nine straight games and St.Kilda have an incredibly soft draw in the run home (only two Top 8 teams to come).
Main DT asset: Fantastic versatility allows him to move to any part of the ground to find the ball.
Paul “Hamstring” Chapman – $459,600, FWD/MID, Avg: 118.6 (missed one game)
I’ll write a bit more on Chappy, because he’s the most intriguing case. He has been amazing for those that took the risk on him this year. His hamstring issues from past years are well documented and it’s always been enough to put me off (I have never owned Chappy). This year it’s been more painful than usual. Normally I’ve been able to sit there, watch him rack up points and smugly say “he’ll miss games.” His last full season was in 2006 and since then he has missed 6, 5 and 5 games each year.
This year he has been so dominant that even if he were to end up missing four more games (having already missed one) you could argue that you’re well up anyway, due to how badly the rest of the forwards are underperforming and how ridiculous his scoring has been (lowest score of 99).
The big call for those of us without the bald one is whether or not we’ve missed out on the best of Chappy and will simply trade him in only for him to miss his obligatory few games in the run home. One thing that does work in his favour, is that even if he gets injured you have his DP link.
Not that this should sway you, but I just want to put my scenario out there as it’s probably a common one – Rockliff is currently my 8th forward. If I got Chappy and, heaven forbid, nothing has changed, then I can sub Chappy to my forward bench, play a capable DP forward (I have ROK, Pav, Higgo, Goodes) and then put Rocky’s inevitable ton in as my 7th forward.
Best case scenario, Chappy averages more than these other four guys in the run home and you’re a massive winner. Worst case scenario (if you’re DP equipped with good forward coverage) is that Chappy spends a couple of weeks on your forward bench. I wouldn’t have the stones to take him if I didn’t have Rocky as my 8th…but now I’m seriously considering it. It would be an unfortunate estimated 20-30 point loss for each game he misses, but if any one of these other premiums misses a game you’re probably losing 50+ points with whoever you’re covering – the Catch 22 is Chappy’s higher likelihood of missing games.
Main DT asset: DP capabilities allows you to take on his injury risk.
Leigh “The Unique” Montagna – $459,900, MID, Avg: 114.57 (hasn’t missed)
Of these five, Montagna has the least love in Dream Team, in roughly 43K teams. For the most part I’d say this is because he’s simply not as big a name. For a bloke that averages 114 he does kind of fly under the radar, at least of mainstream thought. Any keen DT’er knows that Montagna is an absolute stud of the game.
Some people say he doesn’t get tagged, but I’ve watched St.Kilda live a few times and his work rate to break a tag is fantastic. A lot of sides will attack St.Kilda by stopping their outside run and Montagna is their best man for that. It’s important to stop Dal Santo’s kicking, so he attracts the most attention, but there is this belief in the wider footy community that I don’t quite subscribe to, and that is that Hayes is the second mid to stop for the Saints. He’s a gun, no doubt, but it’s harder to put a tight tag on such an inside player – that’s why I reckon more teams look to get the ball to the man he’s feeding: Montagna.
That sounds like I’m talking Monty down a bit, but remember it’s his ability to break a tag that impresses me so much. He works so hard, so when it looks like he’s picking up cheapies on the TV, he’s probably just busted his balls to get into that position. The Saints have a delicious (thanks Bruce) draw, as mentioned above with Goddard and Montagna is every shake to score the most in the run home.
Main DT asset: Easy run home and ability to break tags.
Gary “I Traded Him In Last Week WTF?!” Ablett – $456,900, MID, Avg: 121.85 (missed one game)
I feel a bit dirty turning my back on the great man after anointing Dane Swan as the new champ. Given that I traded him in last week, I’m hoping my words motivate him to push to new heights he’s never reached before. I know that he’s a regular reader of Footy Tragic.*
It’s hard to argue with form though and Ablett has been a little down by his very lofty standards. Now, don’t get me wrong, down by his lofty standards has still resulted in six straight tons and only one score below 100 this year (a 96). You’re also not likely to get him much cheaper than this either.
The risk with Ablett, like Chapman, is that he has a bit of a habit of missing games here and there to freshen up for finals. It’s not as strong a trend as Chappy, but it’s still gotta be in the back of your head.
Finally, who would’ve thought that you’d be able to SIDEWAYS trade Barlow for Ablett by Round 15 – it’s an absolutely absurd notion, but once again, thank you very much for your contribution this year, Michael Barlow.
* Blatant lie.
Main DT asset: Commands the ball. Begs for it! PLEADS FOR IT! The master of the ol’ 1-2.
Wash up: At the end of the day, I just can’t bag any of these guys and it really comes down to personal preference and who you already have anyway (you’d have to have AT LEAST two of these guys already). Everyone will have their own reasons for going to whichever way they end up going. Good luck with your choice.
And not to forget…bargain basement:
Andrew Strijk – West Coast ($77,800, BAC, Break even: -65)
I know it’s all about Barlow and the midfield this week, but it is worth noting that there is a good downgrade target in the back line this week. Strijk looks a likely type and a few weeks ago I pumped him up as someone on the horizon and sure enough he debuted that week. He’s likely to provide good depth on your bench for the rest of the season for those nervously holding the likes of Hams, Webberley or even Maguire.
Until about 6pm AEST, things were normal. Life was good. The weekend was thriving and Fremantle were enjoying their huge win over an underperforming Port Adelaide. But then disaster struck - two Freo players, Palmer and Barlow, ran towards the forward-50 arc with arms outstretched, eyes on a ball they each thought they could mark… But suddenly the flowers all wilted, fairies died, the sun went down and over 160,000 DT coaches shed a tear as Barlow had his left leg pushed from underneath him, snapping both his tibia and fibula in the process. Barlow’s season ends, and now we look to trade the good man out.
Theatrics aside, Barlow’s debut season has been a masterpiece - it has been the greatest DT rise in the history of dream team - Better than Rich, Trengove, Priddis, Sidebottom, Riewoldt, Hodge, Judd, Anthony and all others before him… The kid has been a superstar, and not only should we thank him for his ultra impressive high scoring, his consistency, his legacy… but also the fact he left behind him an impressive pot of money – $454,600 to be exact. So this week at Footy Tragic is going to be Barlow week – for the next three days, each Footy Tragic contributor will write up an article with suggestions for the forthcoming trade, arguably the biggest of the season. It is likely that many coaches will ponder the different theories behind the trade, so today my article will contain trade advice, proposing to you how best to deal with the situation. Tomorrow, Dan will look at the premium mids who have been the cream of the crop all year, analysing who will be the best pick for your team. Wednesday, Ben will look at the less selected players who may have slipped below everyone else’s radars, for those coaches looking for a slightly alternative selection. So good luck, and happy trading!
As stated above, I will focus my following article on the tactics involved with a trade at this point of the game. Firstly, I should make a point – regardless of whether you have one trade or ten trades left, I am of the opinion that you should be making a trade.
Rule #1: Trade – No matter what.
Barlow is the 6th most expensive player in the competition at the moment, and these are the kinds of players you need to burn a trade on. Essentially, even with just $5,000 in the bank you could trade to anyone except Goddard or Swan, meaning the points gain between a rookie (who may come in off your bench) and one of the many elite midfielders you could choose from is massive. There is NO POINT putting Barlow on your bench and playing a rookie, even if it is a relatively consistent player such as Trengove or Martin. The average gain between these players and someone such as Ablett, Chapman or Montagna is around 50-60 points – easily enough to be the difference between winning and losing your finals.
I feel like a lot of this article is going to be based around what NOT to do, rather than what to do with this trade, but I think that this is due to there being plenty of traps when it comes to trading such a player. For much of the year, our aim has been to target cheaper players, players on the rise whom we can bring into our team, nurture and sell for a profit. However, at this stage of the game, with finals only four weeks away, the aim is now to load up on as many elite players as possible – not to make money. I worry that plenty of coaches will start their searches around the expensive end, then as they pan down the list may begin to find some players considered more a ‘bargain’ than those priced similar to Barlow. Don’t get sucked in, whatever you do! They may be a bargain at $350,000, but in reality, you are probably only buying a player worth no more than $400,000. This to me is stupid when you could quite easily bring an elite player (top 5-10 in the competition) straight into your team. A move like this could quite easily cost you in excess of 20 points a week.
Rule #2: Don’t trade for the sake of a ‘Bargain.’
This brings me straight to my third rule:
Rule #3: At this time of year, breakeven’s are irrelevant!
Who cares about trading in an elite player with a high breakeven if you KNOW they are on the up? Players like Chapman, Ablett, Hodge and Murphy all have somewhat unreachable breakevens, but this in no way means you should wait for them to drop! What’s the point of costing yourself in excess of 100 points just so you can save $10-$30k? No point – exactly. If you can find a reason for that odd game that has sunken their price, then I wouldn’t hesitate to bring them into my team.
This next rule is an obvious one, but it applies now more than ever;
Rule #4: Inspect thoroughly before purchase.
The last thing you want to do is have to trade this player out of your team again in two or three weeks because he has been carrying an injury. Do your research on the players all the way up to an hour before lockout – find the forums for your chosen player’s club and investigate for any evidence or rumour that may suggest he is carrying an injury. Looking at Montagna or Goddard? Visit www.saintsational.com. Looking at Chapman or Ablett? Go to the Cats board on www.bigfooty.com, etc. These forums are free to view and filled with so many club supporters happy to discuss their players (Don’t start threads titled “Is player X injured?” though or you may find your question unanswered). You would be thorough if buying a car or house – the same diligence should be used for your dream team!
This time of year, some teams may begin to rest players, and more often then not, these players are in teams out of finals calculation.
Rule #5: Don’t buy from the bottom 8.
Whilst Scott Thompson, Brad Green or Boomer Harvey may be in great form, the slightest injury concern will likely see them rested. They have nothing left to play for, so their clubs aren’t about to risk a significant injury to any key personnel. Make this rule a constant one for all remaining trades, except for perhaps rookies, as the last thing you want is to discover an article on Friday titled “Cox to sit out season with ankle injury.” Don’t scoff – it may happen.
The number one player in the league at the moment is Dane Swan, and quite possibly he will be out of the reach of many teams, sitting at $57,500 more expensive than Barlow. Whilst theoretically Swan may be the best pickup if you don’t already have him, I believe a double trade is not worth it.
Rule #6: Do not use a double trade to pick up a more expensive midfielder.
When you could quite easily afford players like Montagna, Ablett, Chapman or Boyd, I don’t believe players like Swan or Goddard are worth two trades, especially this time of year.
Perhaps the only time I could condone a double trade would be if you are also looking at upgrading in another position on the ground. Say, for example, you are also short a forward (e.g. Brown is your seventh forward), you could use Barlow’s huge price as leverage to also afford a better quality forward than what Brown’s price may otherwise allow you. One theory I have toyed with, which may be of interest to others, is upgrading Brown to Chapman by trading Barlow to a more mid-priced midfielder. Whilst this goes against plenty of my rules, in theory you are still trading in a top-line midfielder in Chapman, but just in a different spot. Also, arguably, mid-priced midfielders should score better than mid-priced forward, although most midfielders around the $300k mark are probably not going to help your team substantially. This theory would only work if you had enough money in the bank (Approx. $50k) to bring in a midfielder such as Stanton, McVeigh (Sydney), Cassissi or Carrazzo.
Rule #7: Don’t rob Peter to pay Paul
There is no point bringing in an elite forward (or any other position for that matter) if you are just going to fill the midfield spot with rubbish so that you can afford it. The theory can only work if both sides are allotted strong players. So, only attempt this discussed double trade if your finances allow you to bring in TWO premium players, not one and a half!
Rule #8: Press your own trade button.
Think it through, make up your own mind, and when you have decided, press ‘trade.’ At the end of the day, this game should be played on your own terms and you need to be happy with your own selections – don’t let someone else convince you into a trade you may regret, as once that button is clicked, Barlow is gone and there is no turning back.
So I think I have probably made it pretty clear of my suggestions. Personally, I am trading Barlow to Montagna, but am looking forward to hear the cases for plenty of other players over the next couple of days. Best of luck to you for what may prove to be the biggest trade of the season – and as usual, feel free to discuss your own dilemmas or theories below, hopefully we at Footy Tragic or one of your fellow posters can help you come to the correct conclusion.