Coaches ready to strike in 2008 AFL draft

While all the media attention will be on the kids and their proud new mentors at the 2008 AFL draft this Saturday, fantasy coaches are also keeping a close eye on where their favoured prospects are going to end up, hoping that they’ll go to a club that desperately needs them in the seniors from Round 1 onwards. So what are the best fits?

Let me start with a little rant. This time of year sucks. The draft camps are over, there’s no footy on, everyone’s seen what the kids can do. Lists have been pared down already, so we know what clubs want in terms of shoring up different parts of their depth charts for each player type. What are we waiting around for? Start the draft already!

The only thing that is still left to work out is the power plays within clubs to figure out whose favourite gets picked. It’s all down to internal club politics now. A kid can suddenly teleport from top three to second round, and vice versa, based on chatter within and between clubs. With little or no reference to current ability or past performance, just opinions of crusty has-beens. That’s what we’re really trying to second-guess now.

Okay, now that I’ve got that out of my system. Let’s delve into the draftee prospect list, mix it up with the positional drill-down post earlier this month, and see what sort of player would be suited to each club based on looking for holes in the FanFooty Depth Charts.

Key defenders
Holes: Adelaide, Carlton, Collingwood, Essendon, Geelong, Hawthorn, Melbourne, St Kilda
Players: Michael Hurley, Jackson Trengove, Jordan Lisle, Phil Davis
Talls are the new black this year, though forwards (the Buddy/Roughy effect) and rucks (the NicNat effect) are getting a lot more attention than backs. Hurley will be the highest pick, with Essendon probably needing him more but Carlton more likely to get him. Either would be a good fit but Essendon would ensure Hurley more early games and thus make him more fantasy-relevant. Adelaide is likely to take Davis or Trengove in round 1 but their public pronouncements have been about showing faith in other players like Aaron Kite and Greg Gallman in this position, at least to start with, so whoever they pick is likely to be warehoused in the SANFL to begin with. The two grand finalists of 2008 would be grateful to see Lisle, Trengove and/or Davis falling through to the end of the first round, and whoever Geelong gets might be a strong chance to displace the aging Darren Milburn during the year.

Small Defenders
Holes: Carlton, Essendon, Melbourne, Port Adelaide, West Coast
Players: Nick Suban, Rhys O’Keefe, Clancee Pearce, Kade Klemke
If Suban lands at any of these clubs then his fantasy stock, which is already very high, goes through the roof.

Key Forwards
Holes: Adelaide, Carlton, Melbourne, North Melbourne, Richmond, Sydney, St Kilda, Western Bulldogs, West Coast
Players: Jack Watts, Lewis Johnston, Tom Hill, Shaun McKernan
Many seem to want to drag Watts down from his preordained spot as #1 pick. They don’t have any real basis to do so. It’s the right choice for Melbourne. Unfortunately it doesn’t mean much for fantasy coaches because he’ll have his nose in his VCE books for most of the year. This position doesn’t mean much for fantasy in any case.

Small Forwards
Holes: Adelaide, Brisbane, Carlton, Fremantle, Melbourne, St Kilda, West Coast
Players: Chris Yarran, Jack Ziebell, Nick Heyne, Michael Walters, Neville Jetta
Ah, now this is what I like to see. From an overview of the FanFooty Depth Charts, the small forward spot seems to be the least populated, yet it is a very lucrative one in the the first year of AFL players for Dream Team purposes. The only team to truly overcommit to small forwards is Collingwood, to the extent that they just pinched another one off the Lions! Any of these players who end up at any of these clubs suddenly becomes a strong contender for your forward bench, if not a starting 22 spot.

Inside Midfielders
Holes: Brisbane, Collingwood, Fremantle, West Coast
Players: Daniel Rich, Tom Swift, David Zaharakis, Dayne Beams, Matt DeBoer
Rich is another one of those players who is being attacked in some quarters despite being a consensus top three pick for months now, e.g. Emma Quayle’s draft rankings article in the Age. Freo fans must have pined this year for two of Rhys Palmer, and in Rich they get their wish. I don’t see what the fuss is about, they’ll call out his name, fantasy coaches will tick him off as their sixth starting mid and that’s that. Swift is possibly the only other potential round 1 starter, though not for the Cats if he drops all the way down there. Brisbane and Collingwood in particular need his type desperately, and I would be confident that Michael Voss would want to play his first-rounder from the first game to showcase the new Lions.

Outside Midfielders
Holes: Brisbane, Collingwood, Fremantle, North Melbourne, Port Adelaide, Richmond, St Kilda, Western Bulldogs
Players: Hamish Hartlett, Steele Sidebottom, Stephen Hill, Sam Blease, Ranga Ediriwickrama
Hill has been attracting a lot of press this week as a first-round bolter. There’s always one, isn’t there? Not necessarily the one that the media have been spruiking, though. Sidebottom has been forgotten about slightly, with his 10-goal performance in the TAC Cup final fading in the memory, which makes me wonder if someone’s trying to pull a fast one. Hartlett has also been getting some praise as probably being worth a higher pick than he had been projected as going, though with the trend towards needs-based recruiting, that’s an inevitable phenomenon, particularly for outside mids who traditionally are more plentiful. Again, looking through the depth charts there are a lot of teams who are light on in this position… not in raw numbers as such, but in quality, meaning that a first-round pick for any of these clubs could quickly leapfrog over half a dozen players or more in their list.

Rucks
Holes: Adelaide, Port Adelaide, Sydney, St Kilda, West Coast
Players: Nick Naitanui, Tyrone Vickery, Ayce Cordy
No, Melbourne isn’t going to pick NicNat first, don’t be silly. Vickery, who had been talked up a week or two ago as Port’s favourite, is now drifting as Choco Williams plays his predictable mind games with other players in the media. If the Power don’t do the right thing by him, he will get his fantasy price shaved, but may also find himself learning the trade in the magoos for a good while, rather than getting fast tracked to replace Brendon Lade.

A final note: for Big Points*, see if you can identify each player on the bowling pins on the front page image… ;)

  • note: Big Points are not transferable for actual currency of any kind.