Cross out the X-man (updated) – FanFooty
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Cross out the X-man (updated)

Oh no, not again. The jungle drums are beating about a prominent fantasy back with a season-wrecking injury that has led to major surgery. Xavier Ellis, who is vying for the spot of most popular back in the Fanplanner, is rumoured (EDIT: now confirmed in the papers!) to have had hip surgery that could put him out well past round 1 of 2009. Will the defender curse of 2008 ever stop?

The rumour thread on BigFooty quotes no definite sources, but after years of reading between the lines on these types of threads, it looks legit to me. There have been dark rumblings about this in other threads, and it fits the facts of Ellis’ 2008, which was indeed hampered by hip problems. (EDIT: here’s the Age story.)

Ellis is currently lying second on the list of most-picked backs in the Fanplanner, only a few behind Chad Cornes. In the last 20 complete plan teams for DT, Ellis is in 75% of them, which is the biggest share of any defender. We face the very real prospect of having both of those players being taken away as options in fantasy backlines, Ellis with injury and Chad with possible reassignment by VirtualSports as a specialist midfielder.

At a price of $349,200 in Dream Team and $392,400 in Super Coach, Ellis’ popularity was based on a much improved second half of the year, culminating in a dominant grand final performance of 136/110. Who is the obvious replacement at around that price if the news does turn out to be for the worst?

Looking at the list, there’s a good reason Ellis was so widely picked, because there’s nobody that really jumps out at you in that price band. You’ve got aging stars who won’t reach their former peaks again like Andrew McLeod and David Wirrpanda. You have the key position players who have already hit their ceiling such as Brian Lake, Scott Stevens and Brett Jones. There’s the perennial underachievers who look great in March but inevitably let you down in June, like Beau Waters and Josh Drummond. Then there’s the gaggle of Fremantle backs, of which there seem to be legion but none can bob their head up from the pack for more than a week before descending back to fantasy mediocrity.

No, my thought is that the natural replacement would be Nick Malceski, coming off a double-digit drop in his fantasy averages during an ACL-interrupted year. He’s yet another injury risk to throw on the pile, I know, but I can’t see anyone with a higher ceiling at about that price. Plus you get a few extra dollars to play with elsewhere. To be honest, though, Ellis was such a good fit and his contemporaries are so relatively untrustworthy that I’d consider rejigging other parts of your team to enable you to upgrade Ellis to a true premium. Ellis’ teammate Grant Birchall comes to mind.

Finally, if Ellis does miss a significant stretch of the early part of the season, who replaces him in the Hawthorn team? There is already a competition going on to fill the retired Shane Crawford‘s role between Travis Tuck, Josh J. Kennedy, Beau Muston, Ben McGlynn and Brendan Whitecross, and my feeling is that that the second placegetter in that particular handicap race would get Ellis’ spot. Tuck and Kennedy would be my favourites, if only due to having more senior experience and more upside than McGlynn, who seems to have been marginalised this year. Muston is getting a lot of Hawk fans excited with the traditional pre-season reports of him “FLYING!!!”, but so he should be flying in comparison to teammates who have just gone through a gruelling 26-week premiership season. To my mind, Muston has to prove himself thrice over that he won’t break down for a third time with his dodgy ACL. Whitecross is the big smokie.

This is one battle well worth watching in the preseason, and hopefully we’ll even get to find out who wins if the Hawks release their squad before the 160 minutes of madness begin before round 1.

Let the wailing and gnashing of teeth commence in the comments!

12 Comments

  1. XztatiK

    November 26, 2008 at 9:50 pm

    I wouldn’t say Jarryd Morton is exactly a ‘replacement’ for Shane Crawford but I’m expecting him to get a few more games after some Daniel Cross-like performances on my forward bench in 08.

  2. Chad

    November 27, 2008 at 8:04 am

    Would be horrible news, I had him last year at 200k he was a steal. Even at 350 looked to be a bargin. I’m going to wait it out and see though, there are always threads, i remember alot of people saying Nick Stevens wouldn’t be playing last year too.

  3. Chad

    November 27, 2008 at 8:16 am

    Oh, and the problem with upgrading to birchall monty, already have birchall :) If i go down to a Ibbotson or Hargrave then i am losing one of my “keepers”. hmm, oh well got time to re-asses.

  4. Virgil

    November 27, 2008 at 4:45 pm

    Fair assessment m0nty. Malceski seems like the most obvious downgrade, though I had him in there already, which makes things a bit troublesome.

    I’d honestly gone cold on Ellis in the last few days, not really sure why, but I have a feeling that his absence could hurt Grant Birchall’s scoring potential. What stops me from entertaining the though on Birchall is that I think he’ll have Heath Shaw type trouble if he draws attention from opposition defenders.

    Other than that, I’d consider Ryan Hargrave from the WB (who I am surprised did not rate a mention) and one of the legion from Fremantle, Luke McPharlin.

  5. Chad

    November 27, 2008 at 5:31 pm

    hargrave/ibbotson arent keepers though. i think teams would tag hodge more than birchall.

  6. XztatiK

    November 27, 2008 at 5:53 pm

    If Hodge stays down back Birchall will have no trouble, but will he?

    Virgil, don’t mention the word “McPharlin” here… arrrggghh :P

  7. m0nty

    November 27, 2008 at 11:20 pm

    Edited to add the Age confirmation story. :(

  8. scotty4

    November 28, 2008 at 9:40 pm

    also, in other injury news, simon black has done something to his ankle

  9. ryz

    November 29, 2008 at 10:11 am

    i heard on something (possibly hawks website, not sure where though) that he was going to miss NAB cup but he himself was almost certain to be back for round 1, although no preseason….
    http://www.hawthornfc.com.au/tabid/4742/Default.aspx?newsid=70390
    this suggests its dependant on how well his body gets over the surgery

  10. ryz

    November 29, 2008 at 10:14 am

    monty, found it slightly interesting the hawks couldnt nab ROK, but with the first pick, we got schoeee who “Which AFL player do you most resemble?
    I suppose I’m a bit similar to Ryan O’Keefe…” haha wicked

  11. Nathan

    November 30, 2008 at 4:50 pm

    my replacement: Raphael Clarke

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