Steele yourself: Boys On The Bubble for Round 4, 2009

This season the Bubble feature changes a little, looking at all rookies who are yet to have their price change.

Previously in the regular Boys On The Bubble feature I’ve gone through every player who played their second game in the most recent round of matches. That’s not quite how fantasy coaches see things, however: they’re interested in any rookie-priced player whose price hasn’t changed yet, even if they haven’t played a game so far. So that’s who I’ll concentrate on, grouped by position.

Backopalypse

Michael Quinn, ESS BAC. DT: 12,333 selections, $75,300, -33 BE, 45 avg. SC: 13,559 selections, $83,400, -34 BE, 42.5 avg.

The back situation is one that convinced me to change the Bubble feature for this season, because the decisions are mostly based around players who aren’t on what I have been calling the bubble – i.e., that they have played two games. Most pertinently, Greg Broughton should play his second game this week returning from injury, and he’s a far better prospect than Quinn and should play far more games. The Irishman’s second game shocker proves two things: first, that you should always try to get two looks at rookies you want to buy; and second, you should discount fantasy scores against the Dockers this year, because Freo is a basket case. The same applied to David Zaharakis last week. One outside chance in this position is Matthew Suckling, who was not on this week’s lengthy Hawthorn injury report and will be sorely needed to play his second game this in a criminally undermanned backline – remember how well Brendan Whitecross did in a similar situation last week.

Centrageddon

There are no boys on the two-game bubble in the centres this week, but there are a couple of interesting one-gamers in Jaxson Barham and Hamish Hartlett, with Andrew Collins and Kristin Thornton also debuting in round 4. Barham’s 122 in DT masks a shocking disposal efficiency of 61% with nine clangers, leading to a SC score of only 77. His fantasy scores were also inflated by nine tackles, something you wouldn’t expect to see replicated when conditions are less greasy than they were last Friday night at the Gabba. Despite that tackle count, Barham’s game style is very outside, as evidenced by all his marks being uncontested with no clearances among his 27 possessions. Not that that is necessarily a knock on his game, because if you look at Hartlett’s numbers they’re even more outside, with only two of his 23 disposals and none of his 11 marks being contested. Port’s draw includes the red hot Saints this Friday and then the Showdown for Hartlett’s all-important third game, so that outside ball that came to him so cheaply against the decimated Hawks will dry up considerably in coming weeks. Nevertheless, I think Hartlett’s job security is less of an issue than Barham’s, if only because Port haven’t had a draft pick as high as Hamish’s #3#4 in their club history and they want their fans to get a look at the boy. With the Anzac Day game this week, my feeling is that Mick Malthouse will pull out a signature MM move and debut Steele Sidebottom for the big occasion, which may well mean Barham won’t get the run of six games that you need out of a fantasy rookie.

Ruckolocaust

John Meesen, MEL RUC. DT: 13,045 selections, $86,600, -66 BE, 65.5 avg. SC: 14,839 selections, $94,200, -82 BE, 69.5 avg.

Meesen’s role in fantasy footy this year is pretty much as a big bird-flip from Dean Bailey to all Jake Spencer owners. If you’re making plans to buy Meesen, your team must be having some huge problems.

Forwardystopia

Robin Nahas, RIC FWD. DT: 7,504 selections, $84,300, -42 BE, 52.5 avg. SC: 8,977 selections, $92,400, -40 BE, 48 avg.
Wade Thompson, PTA FWD. DT: 21,434 selections, $88,300, -11 BE, 38.5 avg. SC: 32,356 selections, $96,400, -11 BE, 35 avg.

Collingwood Magpies Training Session

Both of these small forwards have been slightly disappointing for fantasy purposes, especially considering the historical averages of players of their type, as detailed in the debut game fantasy averages post in the 2009 cheat sheet. I suppose Nahas has been thereabouts on the 50-ish average for small general forwards, but it is Thompson who has let down tens of thousands of coaches, delivering poor numbers during two big wins for the Power in which he should be joining the party. As with Hartlett, Port’s coming opponents will allow less space than the Demons and Hawks, so Thompson is looking less and less like the livewire he showed us in the NAB. As with the backs, though, it’s the one- and zero-gamers who interest me more. Cameron Ling‘s four week injury announced during the week is excellent news for those of us who have had our eye on Simon Hogan, and he should be the primary beneficiary of game time in the Cats midfield over the next month. For those with a bit more cash, the aforementioned Sidebottom should really be bought as a forward despite also having centre eligibility. Those waiting for Hayden Ballantyne will have to wait a while longer, judging from recent injury reports, but the other big smokie this week is Chris Yarran, who Blue fans are already starting to agitate for as a replacement for the tiring Mitch Robinson.

Most of the trade talk this week should be over Hayden Skipworth with his 2-4 week hamstring, and with Hogan, Sidebottom and Yarran all likely to play this week, I think it’s perhaps a bit premature to be talking about upgrading Skippy to a premium like Nick Riewoldt or Daniel Giansiracusa, when there are so many good forward rookies coming down the highway. You’re going to have at least one week to look at all three of them, so unless you’re convinced that one of those three is Your Boy, it would be prudent to sit Skippy on your bench and let the likes of Thompson, Jack Ziebell, Taylor Walker and Mitchell Brown have their day in your 22 while you plan your next move.

I presume that the vast majority of you have Skippy and are currently agonising over what to do with him. You’ve lived through the Andrew Raines disaster and the Liam Anthony clusterbomb, so can you stomach a third injury trade in the first four weeks, or are you going to wait it out? Which of Hogan, Frontbum or Yarran takes your fancy? Tell me in the comments.

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