So, the lads have asked me to kick off a new series of articles here, to replace the Training Reports that have become an every-second-day staple. Before I do, however, a moment of sincerity:
Seriously – thank God it’s started.
The thankfulness I feel does not make light of the current situation that may or may not face Australian sport, however there was nothing more refreshing than wandering into the pub on Friday night to see blokes running around chasing the good ol’ pigskin. I’m sure you feel the same, otherwise you probably wouldn’t be reading.
That being said, I will be looking to cover the highlights and lowlights from each team’s NAB weekend, providing you with a starting point for debate and/or argument.
Please feel free to add what you saw, and why you think I’m right/wrong. The best thing about the Footy Tragic community is the informed debate that goes beyond “You’re right/You’re a douche.”
Brendon Goddard – It would be remiss of me not to mention the summer’s big recruit. Goddard looked…well, like Brendon Goddard, showing class whilst running through the midfield. You should pick him up with confidence.
Courtenay Dempsey – The much-maligned Defender statistically led the way for the Bombers in both matches, with 58 AFL Fantasy Points (FP) vs the Bulldogs and 55FP vs the Magpies. He’s probably a touch too pricey to be including him in your backline as an underpriced value player, but if he keeps that form up, he could be a tremendous point of difference.
Nick Kommer – A quiet second game, but his first game saw him showcase the defensive pressure which has seen his profile increase dramatically during the early part of the offseason. The mature aged rookie will be an early addition into many squads.
Michael Hurley – Yes, it’s the first games of the year, and yes, it’s a little early to put anyone in the category of ‘Buzzkill,’ but we had heard so much about how much Hurley had improved and slimmed down to improve his mobility- the big man was nowhere to be seen, except for an incident late in the second half that may earn him the attention of the MRP.
Dane Swan – Call me Captain Obvious (please don’t) but the original Great Dane continues to delight and be the centrepiece of that Mapgie midfield. Should be amongst the first locked into your squad.
Brent MacAffer – It was pleasing to see MacAffer return after his ACL injury last year. The guy is an absolute steal at $132,600, and whilst he may not always score big, he should be able to be relied on through the year on your bench.
The injured– Luke Ball, Alan Didak and Alex Fasolo are amongst those still to come back into this side, which means that some of the well-performed youngsters (think the likes of Kyle Martin) in the NAB cup are sure to lose their spots when it comes to the crunch.
Shaun Higgins – Whilst I know that he is on many of your “Never Again” lists, Higgins is worth a look. Whilst he may not have been ‘outstanding,’ his pre-season has been outstanding, and if he stays fit, you know what you’re going to get.
Nick Lower- The ex-Freo and Port player’s 57FP against the Bombers were a reminder of what he is capable of. Whilst he may be too expensive for a midfielder, he is not the worst bet, particularly if you’re going with a mid-priced strategy.
Tory Dickson – Again, it seems unfair to pick on anyone here in Round 1 of a very long pre-season, and Dickson wasn’t the only one who looked rusty – but scores of 11FP and 12FP won’t have anyone rushing out to pick him.
Corey Enright – I’m a big Boris fan, and $416,400 in AFL Fantasy seems to be extremely cheap for what he can offer. He looked good against both Freo and the West Coast, and will be an important veteran voice in the Cats’ backline this year.
Travis Varcoe – Whilst Varcoe’s scores aren’t huge, he does have some serious potential. He looked hungry in both games, and will always provide class and speed around the goalface. A nice little addition to your mid-priced strategy.
Josh Caddy – The much hyped kid from the Gold Coast still has some ways to go to fit into that Cats midfield. Whilst I have no doubt about his talent or drive, or about the fact that he will eventually make it, he did look a little lost out there.
Steve Johnson – Looked impressive as always, but succumbed to the “I hate Hayden Ballentyne” temptation. Whilst there was very little in the incident, Stevie J will be facing the MRP this week, with 80 carryover points. If you care about your week 1 score, best not to include the great man in the mix.
Scott Lycett – Only available as a Forward this year, Lycett is just another of the impressive Ruck depth that the Eagles have at their disposal. With Nic Natinui out, Lycett will be looking to make hay while the sun shines.
Sharrod Wellingham – There has been some talk in the pre-season that the WCE coaching staff were thinking about using the their new recruit in a tagging role, however his scoring did not appear to suffer much, He could also be one to keep an eye on in the new year, as Worsfold clearly likes him
Mark LeCras – Will be a welcome addition back to the West Coast midfield/forward line this year. He looked super fit, and even looked to have some license to run free in general play. Has tremendous potential ceiling.
Mitch Brown – Probably a little unfair on the big man given the style of game early on, but he looked a little listless out there…and we have to pick on somebody, right?
Danyle Pearce – Port Adelaide’s popular punching bag, and KP’s favourite summer trade looked to have poise and his trademark pace in both matches. Played across half back and pushed into the midfield, a role which we all salivate over – keep an eye on him.
Hayden Crozier – Crozier is one I really like the look of, and had a solid hitout in both games. Whilst it may be hard for him to get a look into this Freo midfield, if he gets any game time, he’s worth a look after a couple of years in the system.
Chris Mayne- After 23FP and a goal in the first match against Geelong, Mayne caught his right leg underneath Geelong Captain Joel Selwood, causing some ankle damage – the extent of which will be known after scans have taken place. Whilst Lyon was confident that there was no long term damage, keep an eye on this situation, and the potential ramifications in the Freo Forward line
Aaron Sandilands – ‘Glute Tightness’ (surely that’s a p1sstake of an injury description? Wouldn’t it be nicer to say that he has moths in his wallet?) to big Sandilands must be a blow to his pre-season, no matter how incidental or precautionary. Again, monitor his situation before locking him into that first ruck spot.
Matthew Wright – Appears to have improved his engine this year, and may spend some more time on the ball than he has in previous years. Awkwardly priced, but worth a look in the forward line, particularly if any of Adelaide’s key midfielders (Dangerfield, Thompson etc) are out for any significant period.
Richard Tambling – I’m going to mention him again. Tambling played up and down the wing all day, and after his standout preseason, looks to be a chance to work his way back into the squad. Obviously, later in the NAB Cup will let us know exactly how Sanderson and Co are thinking, but signs are good for the ex-Tiger.
Josh Jenkins – Controversial choice perhaps, but I don’t know about the choice of Jenkins up forward. He has a lot more developing to do, and whilst he had a great game against Port, he really did look outclassed and lost against the Saints. He is too pricey to be an effective, consistent DPP link with your Rucks, which is his best chance of a guernsey.
Brodie Smith – A guy who I was really looking forward to having a solid year, Smith has found himself on the wrong end of a hip and shoulder encounter versus the ground, and has a suspected broken collar bone that could leave him out of action for up to eight weeks.
Arryn Sippos – As forecast by Toby in his weekly training reports, Watters has given Sippos the ‘Goddard’ role, sweeping across the half-back line. Whilst he really did drop out of it in the second match (don’t forget it was 38 degrees here in Adelaide), he looked good against the Crows, and provided sufficient cause to have a really good second look at him.
Jack Steven – I really liked the look of Steven, who looked to me to be playing a similar midfield role to last year. However, his workrate has always impressed me, and he could be a chance to lift to the next level this year.
Jack Newnes – I didn’t see him on the ball a lot, which is where we feel a lot of his value is. Seemed to me to be spending a fair bit of time deep in defense, and it will be interesting to see if and how he is used once a few more of the seasoned veterans make their way back into the side.
Tom Lee – I know there is a fair bit of interest in this product of the WAFL, but given Toby’s observations of him in the intraclub, and what we saw against both Adelaide-based sides, he looks as if he will take a bit of time to develop.
Kane Mitchell – A lot of the buzz around Port Adelaide is around their brigade of youngsters, and we can start with mature-aged rookie Kane Mitchell, who looks set to be elevated to the main list given Nick Salter’s injury. He looked right at home, picking up 16FP and 34FP by working his way into good position. A “lock” in many teams.
Ollie Wines – The kid that Melbourne overlooked because he wasn’t big enough (??), Ollie Wines is another Port youngster who continues to impress. Won his own ball often enough, and looks right at home at AFL level.
Lewis Stevenson – I need to mention this kid, because I really liked his work at West Coast also. He is unassuming, and looks at home in the Power defence. If he maintains his work, he should see some consistent gametime in the Hinkley regime.
Angus Monfries – Monfries looked sharp, and worked his way up into the midfield as the game wore on. However, he has sustained a hamstring injury, and looks set to miss a couple of weeks.
So there you have it- the first half of NAB Cup Round 1 done. What did you like? What did you hate? Is there anyone on your radar? Please discuss!