2009 fantasy smokies club by club (2 of 2)

This is part two of my fantasy “smokies” post (see part one), where I comb through AFL lists searching for gold among the river mud, as every fantasy coach does at this time of year.

Any hope that you might have been holding out for Sam Blease to be a smokie for round 1 should have been snuffed out by this article from AFL.com.au, which sets out in no uncertain terms that the kid will be sent to the weights room until he bulks up to somewhere well above 70kg – not to mention that like fellow Demon draftee Jack Watts, he’s finishing Year 12 this year. With every man and his dog on the backs of Ricky Petterd and Jack Grimes, and to a lesser extent Rohan Bail, that doesn’t leave a lot of room on the Melbourne list to find a smokie. You might expect to see Liam Jurrah‘s name here but that’s too much of a stretch for mine, his body and mind need some work before he’s ready I think. Melbourne training reports keep talking up James Frawley, and he’s my pick as their foggiest smokie. Priced at an average of 43 in both Dream Team and Super Coach, the nephew of Danny has been leading team sprints, which is no mean feat for a 193cm key defender. I would be careful of expecting too much out of him, but he has potential in Super Coach in particular.

North Melbourne
One look at the WAFL statistics from last year tells you who the smokie for the Kangaroos should be: Liam Anthony. Whether he’ll get games or not is an entirely different story. Dean Laidley doesn’t like smokies.

Port Adelaide
I’ve already banged on about the Power midfield and how blessed they are with fantasy depth, so I won’t go on about it. How about Nick Salter? Two games last year with only 53% time on ground (TOG) and not much scoring leaves him at a nice price this year. I currently have him as third on the Port Adelaide depth chart in the key forward list, just ahead of Matthew Westhoff and Matthew Lobbe. Westhoff junior has one extra game under his belt and arguably better form, while Lobbe has burned up the track in the preseason. Admittedly the Power forward structure may not always need a third tall, with Daniel Motlop being used in the square and Brett Ebert as a lead-up flanker, but Warren Tredrea is every chance to break down yet again leaving a spot open for Salter or one of the others. Like Whitecross of the Hawks, Salter has a lot of obstacles in front of him, but that just makes him a rarer smokie if he does come good.

Another name I’m seeing a lot in training reports is Daniel Jackson (edit: oops, not Connors). He’s leading the sprints at training and looks to have bulked up, as many young Tigers have done. The Richmond side will be a tough one to break into this year – you try making a best 22! – but if he’s named for round 1 then I will be looking very closely at him.

St Kilda
I’m not seeing much value in the rookies outside Nick Heyne, and he’s no smokie, so I’m going to go out on a limb here and nominate Farren Ray. Yes, he’s priced at 72.7 in DT and 64.5 in SC so he’s not cheap, meaning that you’d have to buy him as a keeper. If he’s still classed as a midfielder it’s hard to make a case for him, with the outside chance of him being reclassified as a back. Halfback flank is where the Saints will play him though, I feel, so it would be accurate if Champion make that decision. I can see a scenario where Ray is given the job that was allocated to Raphael Clarke late in 2008, freeing Clarke to shift up the ground. This is still a longshot, admittedly, but it’s the best I can pluck out of the Saints list.

I’m going to keep on pushing Ed Barlow until he comes good. 47.5 in DT and 55.1 in SC from 7 games in 2008 was down on his 2007 numbers, though he got only 67% TOG. I am hanging on grimly to early reports that he was the natural replacement for Adam Goodes, and with Goodes likely to be played forward for much of the time in 2009, I can see Barlow getting more midfield rotations. Has been disappointing so far but he wouldn’t be a smokie if things were all rosy.

Western Bulldogs
I think Callan Ward still qualifies as a smokie. With figures in 2008 of 6 matches at 41 in DT and 33.3 in SC from 59% TOG, he’s got aging midfielders like Nathan Eagleton in his sights this year. His updated weight for this year will be interesting, as his 2008 weight of 76kg is not AFL-ready. If he is discounted significantly in VirtualSports competitions, his relevance will shoot up.

West Coast Eagles
It appears a reasonably large amount of Fanplanner coaches are taking their chance on Mitchell Brown and Tom Swift based on glowing training reports, so I can’t talk them up as smokies under good conscience. This is a hard one, actually. The Eagles blooded a lot of youngsters last year for a lot of games, so there’s not much value among the second-year crop. Consensus among Eagle fans is that most 2008 draftees will be WAFLed for the entire year, with the possible exception of Swift. My nomination is Josh J. Kennedy, who did admittedly get 86% TOG in his 7 games in 2008 for averages in the low 60s in both comps, suggesting that he might not have a huge amount of improvement left, but I think Quinten Lynch will be used closer to goal this year with JJK given the old Ashley Hansen lead-up role. What of Hansen himself? Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn.

Now, I know you won’t want to give your smokies up in the comments, but please don’t blow smoke where it isn’t warranted. It’s murky enough in this fog of war without mischievous coaches putting up smokescreens! Tell me your thoughts on the above in the comments.


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