211 reasons: Dogs v Dockers wrap

Anyone who doubted Aaron Sandilands has 99 problems defending themselves after this performance.

Okay, I get it. Aaron Sandilands is a lock. 122/156 including 47 hit outs, 16 possessions (14 contested), four marks (three contested), five tackles, two clearances, two rebound 50s, two 1%ers and a goal from 74% TOG. All this against one of the premier ruckmen in the competition in Will Minson (65/70), rucking solo with only three hit outs recorded by other Dockers, two of those going to Michael Barlow (93/77).

Not that this necessarily discounts Tom Hickey from calculations. There is a case to be made for dropping Matthew Lobbe instead of Hickey from my team. It certainly frees up a lot of cash to be used elsewhere. I suspect a lot of coaches are going to fly by the seat of their pants this year in the rucks – one coach in the chat last night even said they were going with a combo of 211 and Tom Derickx. That may be a bridge too far, but there is a raft of options if you don’t want to go with two premiums.

THe other big news to come out of the night was the performances of the young Dogs. At one point in Q3 the top four names on the Dogs stat sheet were Jackson Macrae (129/123), Koby Stevens (120/131), Mitch Wallis (102/92) and Luke Dahlhaus (92/119), and the only reason Tom Liberatore (87/85) hadn’t joined them was a slight knock which slowed him down somewhat. The immediate future is bright for the Bulldogs, especially when you add Lachie Hunter (65/60) and Jake Stringer (49/53) in the forward line where they are sorely needed.

For fantasy purposes, however, I would advise caution on all but one or two of these players. Liberatore has upside to jump to premium status, as discussed in the wrap of the last Dogs game. Macrae and Stevens are both priced at mid-60s which is referred to in fantasy circles as a “tricky” price because the options for a sideways trade if the player doesn’t work out are rather scarce, so they would need to lift their numbers by 20 points or so to be a valid stepping stone. For them to do this, they would have to spend a lot more time in the middle as part of the Dogs midfield engine room, where Matthew Boyd (95/87) and Ryan Griffen (DNP) have dominated for years.

It was an interesting sign that Boyd was used off a HBF at some points in this game, attracting attention from Matthew de Boer (39/32). If this was a legitimate move, it would mean more centre rotations for the likes of Macrae (who is rather outside with 20 of his 30 touches uncontested in this game and only one clearance) and Stevens (12 of 26 uncontested with four clearances). I can’t see that happening a whole lot in the regular season, though. They have their HBF spots sewn up with Adam Cooney (107/102) and Brett Goodes (52/56). Again, while it was interesting that Goodes had to move to a lockdown role on Michael Walters (105/124) after Sonny got away from Liam Picken (52/43) early, that is not a shift I can see occurring often in the home & away.

To the extent that Boyd is losing his mojo, Liberatore is the one who is taking up that slack. The likes of Macrae and Stevens will have good games like this, but over a longer period their fluctuations will translate into a gradual improvement which I think will not be satisfactory for fantasy purposes. Of course, if Boyd or Griffen get injured then all bets are off.

On the Dockers side, there wasn’t much to be said as most of their players will continue on in the manner of 2013. The aforementioned Walters is a fine player and great to watch, but too highly priced at mid-80s to buy in the hopes that he will turn into a fantasy premium; he doesn’t have enough mid rotations for that. Matthew Pavlich (95/75) is more interesting, priced at 74 in DT/AF and 81 in SC after an injury-interrupted year where he managed only nine games. He had averaged 88 or better in DT for the ten previous years and a minimum 99 in SC, so we know he is eminently capable of recovering the 20 points he lost in DT and 30 in SC from 2012. He is less than 10% owned in AFL Fantasy, compared to over 30% for Lance Franklin. These numbers should be a lot closer.

As I said in the blog the other day, I think we can cross out Matthew Fuller (DNP) from the round 1 side for the Bulldogs given he hasn’t played a minute of the preseason so far, and Mitch Honeychurch (30/35) doesn’t look ready. They might be decent downgrade targets after they spend a bit of time in the magoos. I can’t see many rookies breaking into the Fremantle side and even if they did, would you trust coach Ross Lyon to play them for any length of time? Fantasy coaches with long memories would say no.

Alright then, time to pile on m0nty for his 211 call. Come on, give it to me both barrels. Also, where do you see Macrae or Stevens averaging this year? Are you prepared to ditch Buddy and go with the Pav? Do you still have faith in Honeychurch or Fuller? Let me know in the comments.

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