Time for the author of this blog to lay it on the line by posting his AFL Dream Team for this season.
I can’t say I wasn’t one of those making trades up until the last second, because I was. God bless those VirtualSports boys for making this year’s lockout a time of magic and merry, instead of the previous editions of maelstrom and madness.
Brendon Goddard (who was starting in around 60% of Exteam DTs): The best fantasy back in the game, and like most others I couldn’t see any reason why I shouldn’t select him seeing as his average was so much higher than any of his rivals.
Ryan Hargrave (8%): If last year taught us anything, it was that winning teams breed fantasy premiums. If the Dogs are going to win the flag this year, as many predict, players like Hargrave will turn into monster stat winners. I know everyone was on Corey Enright but I wanted to go more uncommon in this slot.
Paul Duffield (13%): I still think there’s upside in Duffield’s game, mainly through the Dockers getting some better players at inside midfield this year to feed the ball to outside runners like the Duff Man. Again, the masses plumped for Luke Hodge here but I don’t like Hawthorn’s chances of rebounding as a team as much as other pundits do.
Joel Macdonald (4%): I have had success in the past with rebounding backs moving clubs like Martin Mattner, and I like the way that Melbourne have structured their team to allow Macdonald to be the replacement for Jack Grimes as the latter moves into midfield, much the same way as Freo did last year in moving David Mundy into midfield for Duffield.
Nick Malceski (30%): A late injury scare was dampened down by an excellent training report in the week after the NAB, putting to rests any fears that Eski would let anyone down, fantasy coaches included.
Tadhg Kennelly (54%): It seems not many coaches could stomach two Swans in their backline, but I had no problem with this. Kennelly is a proven scorer and he’s had a year off keeping fit in a non-contact sport.
Josh Hunt (51%): If there’s one thing I do know it’s what makes a good Supercoach specialist, so after seeing him last night I should have put more thought into whether he really was start-worthy in Dream Team. The fact that he’s taking so many kick-outs, which are worth nothing in DT, is hurting his scoring potential. It’s not as if he’s going to be a bust pick by any stretch on round 1 form, but I would have liked a structure where he was 8th back rather than 7th, in retrospect.
Beau Waters (39% – note this is a starting percentage only): While I was dismissive of Waters as a starting option all through the preseason, I always maintained that he was a perfectly acceptable bench back, so those planning to pot me for going back on my word should go back and read what I wrote originally. After hearing some poor reports on Rick Ladson and losing Levi Greenwood to injury, Waters was the best of what’s left, given I had no confidence in the Tiger cheapies.
Matt Maguire (8% starting, 17% emergency): The perfect ninth back, in the mould of Zac Dawson. I hope I never have to play him, as he slowly matures as a cash cow to be ready for sale by halfway through the season.
Dane Swan (28%): Sure, Gary Ablett jnr delivered a stellar captain’s score yesterday. But will he play all 22? That’s why I chose Swan, his consistency and durability.
Jimmy Bartel (49%): I don’t think I need to justify this pick, it’s a no-brainer. I toyed with both Swan and GAJ at times, and sometimes all three, but eventually sacrificed Ablett after the Gold Coast rumours hit fever pitch.
Bryce Gibbs (16%): A relatively late pick-up. I have always liked him as a player and have picked him every year. I was slightly disappointed that he didn’t join in the slutfest against Richmond as he concentrated on tagging Brett Deledio, but if he averaged 106 or thereabouts for the season in the games where he tagged I couldn’t complain.
Dustin Martin (75%): Right body shape, right level of commitment, mid-60s will do nicely for the first 8-10 weeks thanks Dustin.
Michael Barlow (43%): Everyone important has him.
Jarrod Kayler-Thomson (0.5%): I had Jack Trengove for a long time here but I decided late on that I was going to commit fully to a mature-ager policy. Players like JKT may not be as inherently gifted as those in the top five of a draft but their experience, bigger body and confidence means their fantasy ceiling is 10-15 points higher than their younger counterparts, with a higher likelihood of lasting long enough on the rollercoaster to max out their price playing consistent games. Evidently the masses have written off the Hawk kids as fantasy factors, just like they did last year with Garry Moss and Brendan Whitecross. I think JKT has enough staying power to withstand the selection pressure of the return of senior midfielders like Cyril Rioli and Clinton Young.
Ben Howlett (0% starting, 0.5% emergency): 72/65 in his first game just shows the value of the mature-ager policy. He got one quarter where he ran with Ablett, where he scored 28 in DT and snagged a goal. His other quarters on 19, 16 and 11, however, showed that he wasn’t the sort to completely go missing, as some young players do. I wasn’t sure which of Howlett or JKT to start in R1 and eventually went on matchups. The two players’ form may make the decision for me in future weeks.
James Strauss (0%): I would have liked Brodie Moles in this position, but him not being selected for round 1 has scared me off. Strauss has had glowing official reports from training sessions, which is always good as it shows he’s got the coach’s eye. There are goldmines at the Dees for fantasy coaches, but not many have looked there again this year beyond the two famous draftees.
Matthew Kreuzer (15%): Could turn out better than I anticipated if his tandem with Warnock blossoms, as it started to on Thursday night. His spells up forward should become increasingly brief once Setanta O’hAilpin and Lachie Henderson come on.
Robert Warnock (1% starting, 8% emergency): I didn’t have him as an emergency so I couldn’t pull the “cheat” tactic of making him my #2 ruck if I tried. Which I wouldn’t have wanted to anyway, as he won’t play Richmond’s non-existent ruck division every week. David Hille owners will find that out soon enough.
Matthew Lobbe (0% emergency): Is only here to enable multi-positional tactics.
Nick Riewoldt (79%): It’s actually a bit unhealthy how popular Big Nick is in fantasy circles. He’s not that much better than smaller, less injury-prone players at about his price. Take Alan Didak at 6% or Leon Davis at 3%, for example. Still, he looked a million dollars in the preseason, even if he’s not getting paid a million this year.
Daniel Giansiracusa (45%): I wanted not to pick him, again because it was such a nothing, boring pick. But the logic is inescapable: key player in a flag favourite team, coming off an injury-affected downer season, but with a great preseason. With hindsight I could have taken Eddie Betts (5%) at this position and been much happier now.
Shannon Byrnes (0%): Woo Byrnesy! 141 big big points in round 1, including 57 in a Q4 riot. Ecstatic with that start. The thinking here was that with no Mathew Stokes, Ryan Gamble or Max Rooke, and with Steve Johnson still ever so slightly underdone, Byrnes would start the season off with a bang. And wow, did he go BANG!
Matthew Bate (2%): With no Liam Jurrah, Bate becomes all-important to the Demon structure, and his targets should go through the roof as a link player across the wings and flanks. They need him so badly to straighten them up that they have to feed him the ball continuously, from what I’ve seen on their preseason without him. He may not start like a train but I’d expect this pick to pay off in the second half of the year.
Kurt Tippett (16% in rucks, 8% in forwards): If the two-premium-ruck strategy wasn’t enough, I have bolstered it with MPP support. Tippett is another one who should get an insanely large amount of targets, as he did in the game against Carlton in the NAB. Adelaide have gone into round 1 with no Ivan Maric (or injured Brad Moran) supporting Jonathan Griffen, which is a strong indication that Tippett will rotate through the ruck as he did last year. This is a bit of a lowballing pick for a forward premium if he merely holds his average, but there’s enough upside to justify it in my opinon.
Ben Warren (7%): Petrie’s injury helps Warren even more than it does McIntosh. North’s new coach Brad Scott has decided not to pick either Aaron Edwards or Corey Jones for round 1 despite the absence of Petrie, which sends a message to both the Roo players and fantasy coaches that he’s going to stick with youth. Warren probably won’t be a keeper but he should appreciate in value enough to deliver a single trade to a premium midway through the season using cash from midfield cows.
Patrick Dangerfield (48%): Many would have been agonising over Dangerfield or Hayden Ballantyne, with others tossing up the name of Sam Wright. I decided to go with the majority on this one, as I didn’t like Ballantyne’s soft tissue issues or Wright’s job security after getting exposed for defensive shortcomings in the NAB. Dangerfield is no keeper either, so hopefully he lasts long enough to upgrade later on.
Mitchell Duncan (1% starting forward, 2% emergency): Most would have had Tom Rockliff here before news of his non-selection. I liked the idea of handcuffing the two rookie-priced Geelong forwards.
James Podsiadly (1% starting, 8% emergency%): He may not have started this week but that may have been a matchup thing, because he probably would have got pantsed by Dustin Fletcher. I am hanging onto the fact that coach Mark Thompson said this week he will play plenty of games this year. Then again, he said that last year about Simon Hogan…
I will do a Supercoach version of this post presently.