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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.

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.


  1. Captain Fantasy

    November 25, 2008 at 8:51 am

    Top analysis, this is what we want to see!

  2. Big Jim

    November 25, 2008 at 8:51 am

    The smoky small forward if drafted is Charlie Sharples, has played a lot of SANFL this year and is a ready made player. Apparently may be the sleeper of the draft if you believe the rumour mill.

  3. Captain Fantasy

    November 25, 2008 at 9:32 am

    Left to right;

    Steele Sidebottom, Michael Walters,Michael Hurley(tough to pick – had crew cut at draft camp), Jack Watts, Tom Scully(tough one, thought it could be Trengrove), Jack Ziebell, Nick Suban.

  4. m0nty

    November 25, 2008 at 9:41 am

    Big Points for Captain Fantasy! :D

  5. Chad

    November 25, 2008 at 9:56 am

    Great Post monty. Hmm i have Rich as my 5th midfielder not 6th. apparently will have live video of the draft, look forward to watching that hopefully. Last year the tracker on the afl website was quite good.

    The big unknowns for me at the moment is who to go with in the #3 ruck spot (i have cox and simmonds so only minimum cover needed) and will chad cornes be a back next year. I am praying so, but i doubt it.

  6. Nick

    November 25, 2008 at 12:09 pm

    Hayden Ballantyne might be a roughie to keep in mind. Small forward, sandover medalist.

    I don’t know what it amounts to but when Priddis nabbed a medal he also rose $300,000 in dream team price over the year.

    If he finds himself at Fremantle, perhaps a second round pick, then he could be worth a look in I think.

    He could be one of the few unique rookies available, what do you guys think? There was lots of noise about him at the end of the WAFL season here in Perth, but not so much lately.


    November 25, 2008 at 7:34 pm

    I’m with you Nick. I think Ballantyne will be picked up by either Freo or West Coast. Will be able to play the small fwd role left by Farmer for Freo or Steve Armstrong for WC…

  8. XztatiK

    November 26, 2008 at 10:12 pm

    Yep, I’m definitely thinking about Ballantyne, he’s about 3-4yrs older than the average draftee already so looks like a ready made AFL small forward.

    “The smoky small forward if drafted is Charlie Sharples, has played a lot of SANFL this year and is a ready made player. Apparently may be the sleeper of the draft if you believe the rumour mill.”

    I’m tipping he’ll be rookie-listed, in which case he could be a good downgrade mid-season. He hasn’t exactly dominated the SANFL though and I think he’s about 20 already.

    Great wrap monty, few things though…

    Adelaide don’t have a “hole” in the ruck.

    Ziebell as a forward? where did you gte that from? I’d call him an inside mid who can play across HB in the Luke Hodge mould.

    Add M.Broadbent and Ash Smith to the small backs, Cornelius and Lynch to the Key forwards and Tom Rockliff to the SF’s.

    “Hartlett has also been getting some praise as probably being worth a higher pick than he had been projected as going”

    I spoke to Hamish recently and he said there was “no chance” he would be there at pick 10 :(. He said the lowest he will slip is 8th (Richmond). Matt Burgan has him going to Port at 4 but I’m pretty confident they’ll be taking Vickery.

    Can’t wait for the draft :D, I’ll even wake up at 9.30 on a Saturday for it!

  9. m0nty

    November 26, 2008 at 11:37 pm

    If your rucks are Ivan Maric, Jonathon Griffin and Brad Moran, you’ve got a hole in your rucks. ;)

  10. XztatiK

    November 27, 2008 at 5:45 pm

    monty, big Ivan came on in leaps and bounds last year and Griffin and Moran are both also improving and are solid backups on any team. Plus, add Kurt Tippett to that list who can pinch-hit in the ruck I think the Crows are looking pretty good for the next 5 years.

    There’s no one in the draft other than NicNat and Vickery who would even challenge Griff/Moran for a spot in 09 and they will both be gone.

    I’d say Brisbane, Essendon, Freo, Melbourne, Richmond and even the Dogs have all got more of a “hole” than the Crows and you haven’t even listed any of them.

  11. XztatiK

    November 27, 2008 at 5:49 pm

    Seriously though, where did you hear Ziebell was a forward? That would be great if champdata listed him as a MID/FWD.

    And how do you think freo’s selection of S.Hill will effect his fantasy prospects? Will Rich be as effective at Port? Where will Vickery slip? etc.

  12. Scuzzlebut

    November 27, 2008 at 7:00 pm

    I reckon if Freo chooses Hill at 3, instead of Rich, it could be a win for DT’s because Hill is more likely to get early games with Freo than probably any other team. Rich should play, regardless of where he goes.

    And if Vickery is still around at 8, he’ll most likely go to Richmond, where I reckon he’ll be a good chance to be our 2nd ruck early in the year because Polak’s still injured, and Pattison is a hopeless ruck (but could be a handy CHF).

  13. XztatiK

    November 27, 2008 at 9:32 pm

    Check out my mock draft on the forum and tell me what you think:

    Burgo’s is there too but who really cares about that :P

  14. Chad

    November 28, 2008 at 7:22 am

    XztatiK for the crows to look good for the next 5 years, they need to fix the problem they have had for the last 10 years. GET A FORWARD! hehe

  15. XztatiK

    November 28, 2008 at 12:35 pm

    Haha, can’t argue with that. Hopefully we already have one with Walker/Sellar/Tippett but we better draft Johnston, Trengrove or Schoenmakers just to be sure.

  16. XztatiK

    November 29, 2008 at 9:24 am

    Nooooo! Ziebell to North. Well he can forget about a spot on my bench – hello Steele!