A complicated look at uncomplicated topics to ameliorate your day.
Pre-Season Media Circus
Inevitably as the season approaches, you will hear more and more about these players: the buzz players that will form much of the fantasy conversation. Soon they will go from diamond/lemon in the rough to considered by all fantasy coaches.
Matt Lobbe – $464,800 – A stellar intra-club game recently included 3 goals resting forward and dominant ruckwork around the stoppages. After 6 years with the club and with an inclusion into the club’s leadership group, the 24 year old is ready to mature into a consistent ruckman. Rarely do ruckmen storm onto the scene at a young age and Lobbe seems ripe to have a standout season. He did average 86 in 19 games last year so an improvement again could see him top the ton over the season. Worth serious consideration even among many great ruck options.
Paul Chapman – $464,400 – We know how brilliant Chappy has been but it is hard to forget how injured he was in 2013. Only 6 games but an average of 95 keeps us intrigued. We have recently heard he is aiming for 16 games on the season. We can only assume all things going well he will reach that mark with perhaps a rest every month or interstate trip. If any issues arise his season tally will fall to maybe 12 or less games. Essendon will play 10 games at Etihad which is a notoriously hard surface and I am not sure is going to be fun for Chappy’s hamstrings and groins. Too much of a risk for my team but he could average 100 in a winning side.
Shaun Atley – $394,200 – The latest boom fantasy option for 2014. Atley has uttered those fantasy mesmerising words, “I have been training in the midfield group”. Atley played every game last season, mainly across half back and averaged 73. He could certainly improve again, as he is just 21, and if he does with an average over 80 he would be a good selection. I dont believe he can get to a level where opposition teams will put time into him to reduce his scoring ability and he is reasonably priced but he has no history of being a large scorer. He has no signs of being a big ball winner across half back or push into the midfield and average 25+ possessions a game. I will avoid but I can tell you many will be seduced by him and I do expect North Melbourne to win 14+ games so I wouldnt be surprised to see his average at season’s end in the 76 – 82 range.
The Elite Question
Do we take on these elite premium players from the outset or wait for a price drop and pick up later in the season?
Gary & Scott – $695,000 – Without doubt the two best fantasy midfielders. Ablett will probably go down as the best ever with his ability to get a 180 yet rarely fall below 100. Pendlebury has shown his wares the last couple of seasons as an elite option. So, do we pick them? Looking for reasons not to…. Will Gary play more forward? I doubt it, they will want to play finals and win games, you do that with GAJ in the middle. Even if he rests forward he might kick 40 goals on the season and still average 125+. Will CFC have a tough start? I think so (maybe 2-5) but will that stop Scott? Unlikely. He is so consistent and prolific. He doesnt have an injury risk and is an easy way to bank 120+ each week.
It is tough to find a reason NOT to pick these two, duh! Here is why I wont have them both. If either puts in one or two early games with scores under 110 they will likely drop in price. The money saved when getting someone like Cotchin, Watson or Selwood instead can be used to bolster your team elsewhere. If you can scoop them up at around $640,00 after a few price changes your overall team will be in a better position come later in the season/finals time.
Todd & Will – $616,600 – Paying top dollar for Goldstein or Minson may prove worthwhile, it sure did last season. They averaged 114 and both played all 22 games. They are not showing much value priced over $600K given they are unlikely to push a 120 average. With so many other lucrative options, I cannot see either of them being a lock in one of your ruck spots. Nic Nat is a fantasy time bomb. If he has a full season injury free he could enter Ablett territory. Leuenberger could be anything and after a full season at an average of just under 100, he could top 105 and is reasonably priced. McEvoy and Mumford at new homes will take first ruck responsibilities and are around $120K less than the Minson.
Even if Goldstein or Minson average 120, if you save $100K on Nic Nat, McEvoy or Mumford and they average 105, you can use the other cash elsewhere and perhaps have Dangerfield instead of Cloke.
Heath Shaw – $522,600 – Averaged 97 in a 14 win team last year. Heads to a team who will probably etch out 4 wins and not much excitement for Shaw. He doesnt strike me as one to dig his heels in and relentlessly chase big scores for us when they are getting belted by half the league. Avoid.
Dylan Addison – $284,100 – Delisted by the Bulldogs and picked up by GWS. A hard working effort player who hasnt had a penchant for putting up big scores in the past. He is very cheap and could play each week but I just dont know if he will average in the low 70s to get a big enough price increase and present as a decent bench option.
Shane Mumford – $496,000 – Mumford was overtaken by Pyke in Sydney last year and has had injury concerns in the past. He is going to burden a lot of the ruck responsibilities and could be a good scorer. I wont talk you out of him under $500K but he might just be a good pick rather than a great pick.
Josh Hunt – $379,700 – I’ve got 99 problems but selecting Josh Hunt aint one.
Life After the Boom
After a breakout year, how do we handle these once bargain picks?
Tom Liberatore – $576,200 – Libba was amazing last year averaging almost 107 and his second half of the year was brilliant. His game is conducive to big fantasy scores as he finds plenty of the ball, he tackles anything that moves and is consistent week to week. I am not fully buying into the hype surrounding the Dogs and their progression yet but the midfield is dangerous with Cooney back and Griffen leading the charge. Libba could easily progress again and be a 110-115 type of player. He is not over-priced and could be a good mid range selection.
Jack Steven – $593,100 – Many ‘experts’ have the Saints finishing last. It is hard to charge into any player on a team like that. In saying that, Riewoldt and Hayes in the past have been prolific scorers in average teams. Steven should get more attention now that Dal Santo is gone and Montagna is entering the twilight of his great career. I wont recommend him to start with and if he drops to the low $500K through poor form he will be hard to pick up then also.
Pearce Hanley – $516,200 – The Brisbane Lions dynamo averaged 95 last season and was at one point the hottest fantasy defender on the market. Like any star fantasy defender, he can be shut down and will put up a dreadful 50 or 60 but that is par for the course with designated forward tags and the like. He is certainly a consideration for one of your top tier defenders.
Chad Wingard – $531,800 – From relatively unknown and talented young player to All Australian in 2013 sums up Wingard and probably Port Adelaide. He averaged 98 and played all 22 games. This season will be an interesting one for the young star. Will he be shutdown by the opposition coaches who have had time to dissect his game or will he improve again and take the baton from Brent Harvey as the premier small forward/mid in the game? He wasn’t a 30+ possession player who just outworked his opponent, he was a 20 possession 2 goal player who was classy and brilliant yet still scored almost 100 every week. If he can increase his numbers slightly and remain potent inside 50 he is a no brainer. He certainly has scope for improvement and I wont talk you out of him.
Second Year Slump
It is like buying milk for $3 all year and it tastes amazing but now when you go to the store the milk is now $14. Do you still buy the milk?
Tom Mitchell – $464,800 – Third year player who had a great fantasy season for us last year. He will slot into the expansive Sydney midfield again and probably be a very good scorer but at the price and after the value he provided last year it is unlikely many will go after Mitchell. He could hover around $500k which probably isn’t enough of a rise to pick him up.
Brett Goodes – $492,100 – After a standout rookie season, Goodes will again look to play that QB/sweeper role across half back. He is entrusted with the kicking duties and is a very good play maker for the Dogs. He should remain a useful contributor for his side but isnt likely to rise well above $500k and will probably be a pass for most.
Jaeger O’Meara – $486,200 – The Jaeger Bomb exploded onto the scene last year and was impressive. He played in a midfield alongside Ablett, Prestia, Swallow and Bennell. Most of the attention will again go to those other mids and he should have another very good season. He doesnt provide much value but I expect him to average above his 90 per game from last year.
Brad Crouch – $470,000 – In his 14 games he managed an 87 average and showed class and poise beyond his years. He was very impressive with the ball and should only feel more comfortable alongside Dangerfield, Sloane and co in his second season. Certainly a sneaky option to make $50k or $60k for your team if that is what your budget requires.
Probably the most obvious selections in Fantasy and certainly the most popular. Players like Goddard and Gibbs as defenders in the past and Stevie J in the forward line who can pile on scores over 100 each week and not take up a prized midfield position.
Luke Hodge -$521,600 – Hodge has been susceptible to missing games in past seasons but last year put together 20 and averaged nearly 97. The Hawks won 19 games and ultimately the premiership. Not too many expect a repeat of such a dominant season but they are top 4 calibre again and Hodge will play his usual part back/part midfield role you would think. The only reason not to think that is with Suckling back and Birchall down there, as well as Burgoyne and Mitchell floating across half back, he may not be needed in the back half. Guerra has retired and Hodge’s leadership is key in setting up the team from behind the ball. He will get some easy ball back there and spend time in the middle. He should rack up almost 100 per week and be a premium defender in Fantasy.
Sam Mitchell – $562,000 – The 31 year old was again high up in the Brownlow and besides Ryan Crowley in the Grand Final was hardly stopped all season. He averaged 104 and only missed 1 game. He should play mainly midfield and even when he pushes across half back he has shown he can get the ball 30+ times and score well. No reason not to pick him first in your back 6.
*On a side note, many people will be seriously considering Mitchell, Hodge, Suckling and Birchall all for their back-line. I am certainly not against taking multiple players from one team in one category, especially here as Mitchell and Hodge will be quasi-midfielders anyway.
Patrick Dangerfield – $609,000 – The modern day Chris Judd. He is the most explosive player in the game and strikes fear into every coach in the league. The first fantasy gift of the season was seeing him as a Forward/Mid. If he is not in 100% of teams I would be worried. He is not exorbitantly priced for his scoring ability and he could even push into the 120 averages with a great season and rival Ablett and Pendlebury. GET HIM IN!
Brent Harvey – $561,300 – Turning 36 in a few months but showing no signs of slowing with a 104 average last season. His team should be winning more games this year and push for a top 4 spot in a perfect world. He will be motivated by a finals series and a blossoming young midfield. Dal Santo coming in may take some of his scoring potential with Cunnington, Ziebell, Bastinac and Wells in the engine room as well. I think worst case scenario is low 90s average and a price drop but a good solid season. Best case is another 100+ average and a season long keeper. Did the extended pre-season with the long suspension received in the finals help Boomer? He wont have that luxury this season but is a serious contender for premium forward spot.
Colin Sylvia – $464,400 – Sylvia averaged 86 in a diabolical Melbourne side last year. He has promised plenty in the last half a dozen seasons but rarely lived up to the excessive expectations. Heading to Freo may see him play his best footy under Ross Lyon. If he embraces the team ethos and buys in to the Freo culture he could thrive like Daniel Pearce. If he rebels he will be a flop, again. At the price I would not be charging into him but I do think he could be a solid mid 80s to low 90s type of player.
Daniel Cross – $477,100 – Cross played well when given game time by the Bulldogs. He averaged 88 and managed to contribute each week. I suspect he was brought into Melbourne more for his training and attitude as well as on game day. He should play another dozen or more games for the Dees and be a solid player but they have so much work to do it is hard to get excited about any Melbourne midfielder. Not a great fantasy option.
Taylor Adams – $410,900 – An intriguing player as he is not priced out of our reach. He will play for the Pies and will be a good player. Can he slot into the Pies midfield and be that 4th and 5th midfielder after Swan, Pendles, Beams and Sidebottom? He will probably play high half forward and do a lot of the grunt work rather than visit the wide open spaces of the MCG, especially early on. He may be a sneaky option if he doesn’t start on fire and drops to $350k but otherwise probably a little too risky for me.
Ben McEvoy – $503,300 – A surprising trade from the Saints to ship out their ruckman. He is a very accomplished player and a perfect fit into this Hawthorn side. He will not be asked to win games or carry his side and should be able to play his loose man role given Hale will be roaming around the front half of the ground. With no Bailey and Hale/Roughead as back up it is a perfect spot for McEvoy to get back into All Australian form that he has been capable of. Certainly a good option but with so many ruck options he may miss the cut.
Lance Franklin – $531,00 – The charismatic and freakish Franklin heads up north to the Swans. He has got a very good record up at the SCG against the Swans and should enjoy being out of the footy spotlight. Since his 100 goal season, he has had 4 seasons in the 60s (goals) and 1 in the 80s. Not what some may think of when asked about Buddy. He has got all the talent required and with the Swans reloading for another crack at a premiership, it is likely Buddy will continue to get ample supply. He is priced pretty low and could easily amass an average of 105+ (up from 90 last year). He is pretty close to a lock but he will be in most sides.
Nick Dal Santo – $525,700 – Nicky Dal only averaged 97 at the Saints last year. He should see less attention with Wells and Harvey there to burden the taggers too. He is a mid priced midfield option without a huge ceiling. He should probably crack the ton average in a winning team but much higher than that may not be possible. Probably not for me.
Stuart Crameri – $390,400 – His price is very low for a high half forward if he can get around the ground and find the football. He needs to improve on his 72 average from last year which doesn’t match his impact on games. Her certainly started well last season at Essendon so we will know early what to expect from Crameri. At the price is worth a look but probably not a starting spot.
Dale Thomas, Eddie Betts, Dom Tyson and more featured here.