Category - Tuney’s Tuition
Dear Footy Tragics,
This article is the last in the 2010 series of “Tuney’s Tuition”. From next Thursday, I’ll be heading down a different path with my weekly article.
In this final article, rather than give you a dreamteam tutorial, I’m going to discuss my own personal dreamteam achilles heal. It’s something I’ve battled for over 12 months and I know that I’m not the only one who struggles with the dreaded weekly captain choice.
Each week, no matter how many points I score, I end up kicking myself whenever my captian is not my highest scoring player for the round. As you could imagine, this happens most weeks.
Last Sunday I watched the Collingwood vs Essendon game at the MCG. To my delight, Bren Stanton not only returned to the Essendon line up, he ran free and racked up 34 possessions, 9 marks and 6 tackles on his way to 139 dreamteam points. To my disgust, in the very same match my captain Dane Swan could only managed 25 possessions, 6 marks and 1 tackle on his way to just 83 dreamteam points. For the second time in four weeks, my $523,500 investment Dane Swan had failed to reach 85 dreamteam points as my captain. The final wash up was that I cost myself 56 points by choosing Swan over Stanton as my captain in Round 5.
I’ve long been a fan of choosing one captain pre season and locking him in, because choosing a winner week to week is virtually impossible. Most dreamteamers would have thought Dane Swan would have carved up both Melbourne and Essendon at the MCG. I even joked to a mate that Swan could score 200 points against the Demons in Round 2! Unfortunately, Swan pulled in just 21 possessions and a paltry 84 points.
My reason for selecting Dane Swan can be traced back to the early rounds of 2009, where my long standing captain Kane Cornes was suffering his first form slump in recent dreamteam memory. The consummate professional in Cornes had let me down after years of impeccable service. I vowed not to repeat my mistake in 2010, so I chose the best dreamteam player money could buy in Dane Swan. Needless to say, this plan has failed miserably thus far.
My ongoing saga continues this week, with Dane Swan playing against Carlton, Jimmy Bartel playing Richmond, Brent Stanton playing Hawthorn and Bryce Gibbs playing Collingwood. All four have the potential to post massive scores, yet only one of these four will prove to be the correct captain choice in Round 6.
All the best research in the world leads to nothing, when your chosen skipper who has averaged 140 points per game against his upcoming opponent, has an off day and can’t get his hands on the footy. All players are entitled to a poor performance, but not when you are our skipper please!
Dear Footy Tragics,
With four weeks of exposed form behind us, dreamteam coaches around the country now have a clear picture of which players have been quality selections and which players have been dud selections. Everyone is now talking about which players they are going to trade in or out of their squad, which is why I’m going to take a closer look at trading this week.
Ideally, prior to Round 1, you should have placed each of your 30 players into one of the following three categories:
Premiums – Price range $350,000 plus;
Mid Priced Value Picks – Price range $180,000 – $350,000;
Cash Cows – Price range under $180,000.
The reason why we need to categorise our players into one of the above sections, is so we can set our expectations accordingly. When we set our expectations too high, it will inevitably lead to disappointment. A disappointed dreamteam coach is usually very quick to wield the axe on an underperforming player, simply because: “player X is killing me, he has to go”. These rash decisions are usually based on emotion rather than logic and many trades are wasted as a result.
We should expect our premiums (or keepers) to average at least 85 points per game. This figure is on the conservative side and more suitable when talking premium forwards or premium defenders. If you have loaded up in your midfield with elite premium midfielders such as Dane Swan or Gary Ablett, an average of 110 points per game should be expected.
If you forked out $470,000 on Bryce Gibbs or $453,400 on Joel Selwood, you have every right to be feeling slightly bemused by their relatively slow starts to the season. However, any thought of trading them out now would be madness. Gibbs and Selwood are both high quality midfielders in their fourth season of AFL footy. I expect both of them to fire up sooner rather than later. As the old saying goes “form is temporary, class is permanent”.
We should expect our mid priced value picks to average between 70 – 80 points per game, with anything more considered a bonus. Players such as Nick Malceski and Hayden Ballantyne have been excellent selections in 2010. However, after just 38 points and 29 points respectively in Round 4, many dreamteam coaches are preparing to wield the axe. I’m sure most coaches would have taken an average of 85 points per game from Malceski and 68 points per game from Ballantyne pre season.
When analysing mid priced value picks, we must take the good with the bad. I don’t believe any coach has the right to praise Malceski one week after scoring 119 points in Round 3 and then crucify him for scoring 38 points the next week. Overall, Malceski and Ballantyne have been great thus far, so put that axe away and show some faith.
Last, but certainly not least are our all important cash cows. Our cash cows are every bit as important as our premiums such as Jonathan Brown and Matthew Pavlich and they are often where the game (or car) is won or lost. First year AFL players such as Alex Silvagni, Ben Nason, Tom Scully, Jack Trengove, Dustin Martin, Ryan Bastinac, Mitch Duncan, Cameron Hitchcock and Carl Peterson have gone from being unknown 18 – 22 year old kids to core components of nearly 100,000 dreamteams in the space of just six months!
As expected, these first year players have some very good weeks, along with some average weeks. This should come as no surprise as the only thing consistent with first year players is their inconsistency. Unfortunately many dreamteam coaches act more like slayers than coaches as they wield that mighty axe after just one average game.
We should expect our cash cows to average between 55 – 65 points per game, with anything more considered a very nice bonus.
The worst thing a dreamteam coach can do is fritter away those all important trades due to a lack of patience. Before clicking that button to confirm one of your golden trades, ask yourself this all important question: “Am I making the right decision, or can I give my player one more week to redeem himself?”
Dear Footy Tragics,
Nick Riewoldt’s serious hamstring injury has hit dreamteam coaches around the country right between the eyes. The inspirational St. Kilda skipper is not only the focal point in the Saints forward line, he is also the focal point of 148,449 dreamteam forward lines. With an expected recovery time ranging from 8 – 16 weeks, the one thing we can be certain of is the need to use one of our 20 valuable trades to take Riewoldt out.
Many dreamteam coaches have taken advantage of price freezes prior to Round 3 to “fix up” their initial squad of 30 players. While these trades are a necessity for many teams, the reality is that these coaches are now left with 17 or 18 trades and they are competing with teams who still have 20 trades up their sleeve.
The most valuable dreamteam player is one that you originally pick up as a cash cow or value pick, who subsequently turns into a keeper. Mitch Clark, Jack Grimes and Greg Broughton were the perfect examples in 2009.
I’ve spoken previously about Clark, the Brisbane ruckman who started the 2009 season priced at $217,800 after averaging 49 points per game in 2008. History tells us that Clark went on to average 94 points per game in 2009, thus becoming a valuable keeper rather than the value selection he was at the beginning of the year.
I’m using Clark as the perfect example of the player we need to find in 2010. We cannot afford 22 premiums in the early part of the season, so we need to uncover those mid priced bargains that have the potential to become valuable keepers (thus saving us valuable trades in the process)!
I’ve set myself the task of selecting two unique (thus ruling out Nick Malceski) mid priced bargains who have the potential to become valuable keepers. I’ve also kept away from midfielders, because everyone already knows about Jack Trengove and Dustin Martin. The two players I have chosen are:
- Heath Grundy – Sydney – Defender / Forward, currently in 10,317 teams
- Current average 96 points per game – Starting price $287,400, Current price $316,500;
- James Gwilt – St. Kilda – Defender / Forward, currently in 8,550 teams
- Current average 87 points per game – Starting price $249,600, Current price $278,800.
I talked up Grundy in one of my pre season articles and he has been super impressive in the first three rounds. Grundy is now a key member of the Swans defence and he is fast establishing himself as one of the most improved players in the competition. Grundy seems to be playing in a similar mould to Nathan Bock, who has been a premium dreamteam defender for many years now. Like Bock, Grundy not only shuts down opposition key forwards, he also racks up plenty of disposals and marks in the process, which is perfect for dreamteam!
Gwilt has been a big surprise in 2010 and I still have my doubts as to whether he can continue his impressive early season form. Having said that, Gwilt has always been a talented player, with a lack of consistency being his biggest problem. The absence of Nick Riewoldt may help Gwilt, as the Saints midfielders will need to become less predictable and look to other targets in their forward line. While Sam Fisher appears likely to fill the now vacant Centre Half Forward position, Gwilt has strong hands and is a more than useful second or third forward marking option.
Gwilt would have been stung after playing 15 games in 2009 and being left out of all three of the Saints finals. Now in his 6th season of AFL footy, maybe the penny has finally dropped. It seems like Gwilt has been around forever, but he is still only 23. With 44 AFL games under his belt, he could be set for a break out season in 2010!
I must warn you here that selecting mid priced players can be fraught with danger, as often there are more misses than hits. However, if you do your homework and have a good basis for choosing a particular player, don’t be afraid to take a risk and pull the trigger. If you do, you may find yourself an expected keeper, which allows you to use that saved trade to pick up another premium.
With Round 3 fast approaching, the vast majority of dream team relevant players are now about to either increase or decrease in price. For many dreamteam coaches, this is the perfect week to “fix up” your team and insert those players you must have into your team. Not surprisingly, the team here at Footy Tragic has been inundated with trading questions this week. Questions such as: Should I dump one of my premium forwards for Jonathan Brown? Should I swap David Hille for Mark Seaby? Should I trade out Mitch Clark before his price plummets? Should I dump Kurt Tippett after two average games?
My advice to you is to put a trading strategy in place for this season, before you offload or insert any players into your team. When it comes to dreamteam, failing to plan is definitely planning to fail.
In this article I will discuss three trading strategies and highlight the benefits and drawbacks with each strategy.
STRATEGY 1 – Save at least one trade for every one week remaining in the season
- You will always have trades available to cover for injured premiums.
- Sets you up nicely for a private league win as you will come home like a steam train.
- You may start the season slowly as you need to conserve your trades for later in the season.
- You may fall into the trap of being overly conservative, thus finding you have surplus trades at the end of the season, which are wasted swapping one premium for another later in the season.
STRATEGY 2 – Trade heavily early in the season to set up your team
- You can “fix up” an ordinary initial squad of 30 players quickly.
- You will set up a solid team of 22 quality players early in the season.
- You may run out of trades later in the year if your premiums are hit by injury.
- You run the risk of dumping your cash cows too soon, thus not allowing them to hit their peak value before trading them out.
STRATEGY 3 – Save your trades early and then trade heavily between rounds 6 – 15
- You give your cash cows time to increase in value before trading them out.
- Underperforming premiums such as Dean Cox and Alan Didak should be ripe for the picking by Round 8 or 9.
- This strategy is very difficult if you have made critical errors with your initial squad of 30 players and your team needs “fixing” in the early rounds.
- If you trade too heavily in the middle rounds, you may run out of trades later in the season.
You may choose to implement one of these strategies, a combination of the above strategies or your own personal strategy. The important element here is not which strategy you choose, but the fact that you have a trading strategy in place that you will stick to.
From a personal perspective, I don’t have Jonathan Brown in my team. While I would love to squeeze him into my side, I’m not prepared to offload one of my premium forwards and one of my cash cows (two trades), to get him in. I’m well aware that Brown is leading all comers after 138 points in Round 1 and 141 points in Round 2, but, if I bring in Brown for Round 3, I don’t get those 279 points credited to my team retrospectively. Brown has blitzed against Eric Mackenzie (West Coast) and Bret Thornton (Carlton), but I don’t think he will find it as easy against Troy Chaplin (Port Adelaide) and Brian Lake (Western Bulldogs) over the next two weeks. As any good investment manager will tell you, past performance is no guarantee of future performance. While bringing Jonathan Brown into my team might make me feel better this weekend, it’s not in my teams best long term interests. I’ve got a team of 30 players to manage and only 20 trades to use over 22 weeks. I refuse to deviate from my trading strategy under any circumstances.
You will be tempted to waver from your strategy at times throughout the season, but patience is the key. My advice is to select your trading strategy, stick to it and be as flexible as an iron bar.
Dear Footy Tragics,
The rookie list is widely acknowledged as a brilliant thing for AFL football. Many players who were overlooked for various reasons as 18 year olds have been given a second chance and grabbed that chance with both hands. Some of the best players in the competition and premium dreamteamers such as Brad Sewell, Matthew Boyd, Dean Cox and Aaron Sandilands have made their way into AFL footy courtesy of the rookie list. The AFL have now taken the rookie list a step further by allowing clubs to nominate a mature age rookie, giving players such as the 28 year old James Podsiadly from Geelong an opportunity to play AFL football in 2010.
As the rookie list expands, so too do the number of rookies being elevated to play senior AFL football. In Round 1, we saw the debuts of the following rookies: Michael Barlow, Fremantle (22 year old, $105,800 midfielder), Jarrod Kayler – Thomson, Hawthorn (24 year old, $77,800 midfielder), Alex Silvagni, Fremantle (22 year old, $77,800 defender), Ben Howlett, Essendon (21 year old, $77,800 defender), Cameron Hitchcock, Port Adelaide (19 year old, $97,800 forward) and Relton Roberts, Richmond (24 year old $77,800 forward).
From a dreamteam perspective, I see two distinct advantages with picking a rookie over a first year player who has come through the National Draft:
1 – Rookies are usually cheaper (Barlow and Hitchcock are slightly more expensive because they were selected at picks 8 and 12 in the rookie draft);
2 – These rookies are often in their early 20′s and therefore more advanced in their physical development when compared to 18 year olds in their first year of AFL footy.
Taking a closer look at my second point, the players I have mentioned above have had on average, 3 – 4 years experience playing senior VFL, SANFL, WAFL or QAFL football. Compare this to players such as Tom Scully, Melbourne ($157,500 midfielder), Gary Rohan, Sydney ($137,500 forward / midfielder) and John Butcher, Port Adelaide ($129,500 forward), who have all played almost exclusively against 17 and 18 year olds for the past two years. While I fully expect Scully, Rohan and Butcher to become quality AFL footballers in time, I don’t see any of them helping my dreamteam greatly in 2010.
We focus so much on the latest batch of draftees coming through the system, that we often ignore the fact that these 18 year olds are still boys, playing a brutal mans game. The exception to this rule is Dustin Martin, who already has the body of a 24 year old, but he is a freak of nature.
The perfect example last year is the number one draft pick Jack Watts. Watts was drafted as a 17 year old and he was still completing his VCE in 2009. The fact that he managed to play 3 games last year is a credit to him, but if you picked him in your dreamteam he was a wasted pick. Once again, I expect Watts to become a quality AFL player in time, but not in 2009 or 2010. We all love a first round draft pick in our dreamteams, but freaks like Joel Selwood, Daniel Rich and Dustin Martin are rare.
In conclusion, my advice is to embrace the mature aged rookie. The hard work and development has already been done at VFL, SANFL, WAFL or QAFL level in previous years. These rookies have worked and lived outside the AFL bubble and they appreciate how lucky they are to be full time professional footballers. They are so incredibly determined to succeed and work so hard, that they often produce immediate results. As an astute dreamteam coach, that should be music to your ears.
Dear Footy Tragics,
One of the most important aspects of dreamteam research is sorting through the latest batch of draftees, to determine which ones are worthy of a place in our squad of 30 players. The top three draft picks from the 2009 national draft: Tom Scully, Jack Trengove and Dustin Martin are already household names, despite a combined total of 0 AFL games. As you scroll down the list, names such as Gary Rohan, Brad Sheppard and Ryan Bastinac are already locked into many dreamteams. The first year players are a key element to any successful dreamteam and this is widely known.
Another aspect of dreamteam we are all very familiar with is choosing our “premiums”. The premiums are the big point scorers who you can’t live without. Names such as Dane Swan, Gary Ablett, Paul Chapman and Nick Riewoldt fit this category. Once again, this part of dreamteam is obvious to all of us, so there is no point in me talking further about this.
The real challenge in dreamteam is finding those under priced gems who are priced in that awkward price point of between $160,000 – $250,000. Any player priced in this range is high risk because if you are spending this much money on a player, he’s going to be in your starting 22. The risk is if the player does not perform, not only will you have a passenger in your team, you will need to use up a valuable trade to dump your unwanted passenger.
Finding quality players in this price bracket is like trying to find a needle in a hay stack. This may come as a surprise, but five of the best selections in this price bracket last year were: Andrew Swallow ($227,800 midfielder), Sam Gilbert ($221,900 defender), Mitch Clark ($217,800 forward / ruck), Patrick Ryder ($214,000 defender) and Jarryn Geary ($192,100 defender). Of these five players, four would have been valuable keepers all the way until Round 22 (Geary being the odd one out). If you had all five of these players in your starting squad prior to Round 1 in 2009, please send your details into Footy Tragic and I’ll get you to choose my Tattslotto numbers for this Saturday night!
The key to becoming an elite dreamteam performer is finding these mid priced gems. While sometimes these gems stand out for all to see (e.g. Shaun Higgins last year as a $211,900 forward / midfielder), the majority are very hard to find.
Nailing your first year player and premium selections is extremely important, but it’s your mid priced gems that will take your team from good to elite.
Dear Footy Tragics,
Round 1 is now just 15 days away and we only get one more look at our players before locking them into our starting squad of 30. With a limit of only 20 trades over 22 rounds, the importance of nailing our squad of 30 players prior to Round 1 cannot be underestimated. In an ideal world, our trades should be used to cover for injuries, rather than to cover for poor player choices at the selection table.
The best advice I can give you to help nail your squad of 30 players is to conduct your own thorough research. Personally, I prefer to stick to the mainstream media and Footy Tragic to obtain information on my players. The AFL website is useful for this purpose, as is The Herald Sun and The Age if you reside in Victoria. If you live outside Victoria, I understand it can be difficult to obtain information on interstate teams. For example, the WA media focus almost exclusively on West Coast and Fremantle, and the SA media focus on Adelaide and Port Adelaide. Fortunately, this problem is now largely overcome given the fact most articles are now available online.
While the information you obtain from these sources is invaluable, as an old school footy lover, I refuse to pick any players in my dreamteam unless I have seen them myself (either live at the ground or on TV). Personally, watching a player once is not enough for me, I prefer to see my player in action at least two to three times before locking him in.
The problem here is many of the bargain buys we are all searching for play for struggling teams such as Richmond or Melbourne, with both of these teams knocked out of the NAB cup in Round 1. With no TV coverage of NAB challenge matches, we are left with only one option, watch these games live.
With NAB challenge games this weekend at: Southport, Visy Park, Narrandera, Fremantle, Casey Fields, Morwell and Mount Gambier, most of us have the option of watching at least one NAB challenge match this weekend (unless you live in Adelaide or Tasmania)!
I’ll be heading out to Visy Park, Melbourne this Friday afternoon to check out the Carlton vs Adelaide match. My main focus will be on players such as Marcus Davies from Carlton ($89,500 defender) and Phil Davis from Adelaide ($94,500 defender / forward). Both of these players are currently in the mix for me, but given the fact I have hardly seen them play, I want to check them out first hand.
Watching NAB challenge games live may seem too extreme for your liking, but its all part of the due diligence required when selecting your initial squad of 30 players. I consider it a one percenter, which could be the one percent advantage you gain over your opponents this season.
Analysing player stats is a very important component of dreamteam, but it is no substitute for watching players with your own eyes. Avoid the temptation to take short cuts with your dreamteam, because as the saying goes “there are no shortcuts to any place worth going”.
Dear Footy Tragics,
As regular readers of my column may have noted, one of my objectives with my weekly article is to draw attention to certain areas you may have overlooked. As my fellow Footy Tragic writers Toby and Dan often say, I do look at dreamteam and the underlying strategies used very differently to most.
I make no secret of the fact that my goal in 2010 is to win something more tangible than my private league (a new car would be nice)! While the joy obtained from gaining bragging rights over mates cannot be underestimated, I’m searching for more. If you are reading this article now, there’s a fair chance you are serious about your dreamteam. If so, you probably find it easy to beat 15 of your mates, year after year. What is not so easy is beating 250,000 people!
At times it feels like the impossible dream, to win the ultimate prize against so many competitors. The reality is, the difference between finishing 19th overall (as I did in 2008) and winning the competition is 2 – 3 incorrect decisions over the course of the season. If you finish 431st overall (as Toby did last year), the difference might be 7 – 8 incorrect decisions over the course of the season. It’s important to realise that we don’t make 50 decisions over the course of the season (30 players now, plus 20 trades), we make closer to 1,000. The more decisions we get right, the higher up the rankings we move. The question is, “How do I make the right decisions?”
Do I pick Brent Harvey or Shaun Higgins as my 3rd forward? Both players averaged approximately 89 points per game last year and are priced around the $390,000 mark. Harvey and Higgins are both quality players with one major point of difference, their age. Harvey is 31, whereas Higgins is 22 (on 4 March). This decision for me is obvious; I’ll take Higgins because he is younger and therefore less likely to be troubled by soft tissue injuries. Some dreamteams will choose Harvey (incorrect decision number 1) and then start bleating when he tears a calf muscle in Round 7. Or the dreamteam coach who picks up Paul Chapman at a price of $494,500 (incorrect decision number 2), the man with an average of 113 points per game in 2009. The problem is, Chapman has hamstrings made of crepe paper and will miss games at some point in 2010.
I can hear the excuses already, excuses such as “injuries have killed me”, “bloody injuries”, or my favorite “I’ve just been unlucky this year”. Injuries happen so prepare your team for them and don’t complain when they happen. Good coaches see injuries as an opportunity to improve their team, rather than an excuse for failure. Even better coaches choose durable players likely to play 22 games, thus saving valuable trades!
Another very important consideration is what to do with your midfield structure. Do I choose, four premiums and four cash cows, or do I choose two premiums, three mid tier players and three cash cows? Or maybe I should choose two premiums and six cash cows because all the cash cows are in the midfield this year? Do I choose Dane Swan or Gary Ablett? Do I choose Leigh Montagna or Bryce Gibbs? Do I choose Tom Scully or Jack Trengove? Do I choose Michael Barlow or Mitch Banner? When making these decisions, keep in mind the fact that every decision you make will impact on your final ranking at seasons end.
The end result is that for every decision you get wrong, it will cost you points. Not only will poor decisions cost you valuable points, they will also cost you trades. We only get 20 trades for the season, so don’t waste them by making poor decisions with your initial squad of 30 players.
Getting back to my original question, “How do I make the right decisions?” My advice to you is to make your decisions based on facts rather than innuendo and to back your own judgment over your mate’s advice. You need to consider all factors such as a player’s: age, height, weight, draft history, injury history, form, fitness, previous club, role change, job security, opportunities available due to injuries to teammates, capacity for improvement etc.
Don’t be afraid to stick your neck on the chopping block and pick that unique player you want, even though it seems you are the only coach interested in that player. Personally, I always favour a unique selection over a player who is in over 100,000 teams (I’m trying to beat those teams, not follow them to the finish line)! I see so many dreamteamers make poor decisions because they can’t make a decision for themselves, so they copy what their mate is doing. I’m reminded here of a famous saying “the ditch is fairly obvious into which the blind led by the blind must fall”.
With so many decisions to make over the course of the season, it can all seem so complicated. Let me make it simple and easy for you, make more good decisions and less bad decisions and you’ll climb up the rankings. To take it a step further, if you make more good decisions and less bad decisions compared to the other 250,000 competitors, you may end up with a new car by September!
Dear Footy Tragics,
When considering which players are worthy of a prized position amongst our squad of 30 players, pre season form undoubtedly plays a big part. With extended squads providing greater opportunities to previously unsighted players, the NAB cup is where hardcore dreamteamers do the bulk of their work.
As each AFL season passes by, the professionalism and dedication required by players increases. Clubs now are employing more fitness staff, more strength and conditioning coaches and spending more money searching for “the edge”. In today’s modern game, the importance of completing a full pre season is paramount. This is especially important when it comes to dreamteam, as buyers of Luke Hodge and Buddy Franklin prior to Round 1 last year will testify.
The problem I see is where dreamteamers read too much into NAB cup scores. It’s very important to realise that a NAB cup or NAB challenge match is played at approximately 70% intensity when compared to a regular season match. Some players will dominate pre season games, yet go missing in Round 1 when the kitchen heats up.
If you take a trip down memory lane, you may recall that Bradd Dalziell from Brisbane (now at West Coast) was the most effective dreamteam player throughout the entire 2009 pre season series. The super fit Dalziell was suffering from a severe dose of leather poisoning 12 months ago and racking up huge dreamteam numbers. Despite a hefty $420,300 price in 2009, many coaches jumped onboard the Dalziell bandwagon based on his very impressive pre season form.
Unfortunately for Dalziell and the many dreamteamers who jumped onboard, he went missing in action during the home and away season. By the end of the 2009 season, Dalziell had played just 8 matches due to a combination of injury and poor form, for an average of 84 points per game. After paying premium dollars pre season, many coaches were badly burnt by Dalziell in 2009.
The lesson here is don’t get too carried away by pre season numbers. The NAB cup and NAB challenge matches are only practice matches. Just because a first or second year rookie scores 100 points against an injury depleted Adelaide or Geelong side in February, it doesn’t mean they will repeat the dose in Round 1. Do I need to remind you about the noise created about Port Adelaide’s Wade Thompson last year? If you listened to Mark Williams 12 months ago, you would think he had unearthed the next Jeff Farmer. History shows us that Thompson played just 2 games in 2009 for an average of 38 points per game (not to mention a return to the North Adelaide reserves side later in the season).
While it’s absolutely crucial to have a fully fit squad of 30 players, you don’t need all of your squad averaging at least 80 points per game in February.
Dear Footy Tragics,
Gary Ablett or Dane Swan?
Can I really afford to spend over $520,000 on one player?
Would I be better off saving some cash and making Bryce Gibbs or Joel Selwood my captain?
So many questions yet so few answers. If you have not already done so, it’s time to start thinking about your dreamteam captain for 2010.
Are you the type who sticks with one captain all season, or do you change captain on a weekly basis to ensure your captain is playing against Richmond every week? Or are you the type who says: “This year I’m picking one captain and sticking with him for 22 weeks”, but then you end up swapping captains week to week and getting it wrong time after time?
While Dane Swan and Gary Ablett were the two dreamteam standouts in 2009, that doesn’t mean they will be the stars in 2010. As a wise man once said “past performance is no guarantee of future performance”.
Had you chosen the number one dreamteam player of 2008 (Jimmy Bartel) for season 2009 as your captain, you would have cost yourself 10 points per game as Dane Swan averaged 119 points per game to Bartel’s 109 points per game in 2009. Now with double points going to our captain, we’re now down 20 points per game or 440 points for the year.
Our challenge is to find the 2010 version of Dane Swan. While it may be Swan himself, it will most likely be someone else. For example, Bernie Vince could lift his game to another level in 2010 and will enter this season full of confidence after winning Adelaide’s best and fairest last year. With 55 AFL games under his belt and entering his fifth season at the age of 24, Vince looks set to explode. With another big pre season under his belt, expect Vince to rack up 30 plus possessions most weeks as opposition clubs struggle to contain him.
The appeal with trying to pick this year’s winner rather than last years is that you won’t have to part with over $500,000. You can pick up Vince now for $441,400 and save $82,100 if you choose him over Swan. Other viable options include Scott Pendlebury ($454,700), Joel Selwood ($453,400) or Brent Stanton ($443,600).
Getting your captain choice correct is crucial to your team’s success. Personally, I prefer to nominate my captain prior to Round 1 and back him in to get the job done for the next 22 weeks.
My advice is to look forward rather than back and be prepared to take a risk. While popular captain choice Gary Ablett has been the dominant player in the AFL for the past three years, nothing lasts forever.