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2010 cheat sheet

Bogan princes: consensus Dream Team midfielders

Consensus DT midfielders

Luke Ball’s move to Collingwood is sucking him into a lot of ordinary fantasy teams as well.

Collingwood Magpies Intra-Club Match

The backs post in this new series caused a firestorm of comments about conformity and the messages that fantasy media like FanFooty are sending out to make the game more boring. The discussion is worth reading in itself if you’re interested in the inside baseball of the fantasy industry. Long story short: I have resolved in future to de-emphasise the Rate My Team and Structure posts on the FF blog, because it has become clear that they are not doing positive things in terms of diversity of player choices.

As for this feature itself, my intention with it was to criticise and/or ridicule the safe selections that everyone is making, though some seem to think that merely naming the most popular squad of 30 will tend to encourage people to conform to the norm. You can make your own mind up about that… which is supposed to be the point of this blog in the first place! 😀

Anyway, let’s get on with the show, this time with the most popular midfield structure. As was pointed out by Arky in the previous thread, a lot of coaches are going with the three-starting-rookie structure, but two is currently the more popular so we’ll examine that.

#1 midfielder – Gary Ablett jnr, the best player in the game
This is not to say that Dane Swan is not also popular as your lock-in captain. Ablett used to have a 2:1 lead over Swan in the Exteam database, though that ratio is a lot closer to 1:1 these days, which I think is a healthy sign. In Dream Team, I think Swan should be the “safe” pick, as his scoring capability is about the same plus he doesn’t have the injury worries that GAJ does. I have been a strong advocate of having at least one player who is capable of averaging 115 in your team from round 1, for what I hope you will see are obvious reasons. Leigh Montagna, the only other player to average 115 last season, trails the other two by a significant margin, but I don’t see why this has to be the case. I have criticised coaches who have foregone one of these three in favour of Joel Selwood or Bryce Gibbs, though maybe I have been a tad harsh there. Sam Mitchell is making a late charge with his NAB form.

#2 midfielder – Jimmy Bartel, the “underpriced” captain option
I have mentioned a number of times that I like the thought of having two genuine 110-115 captain alternatives in your midfield, and the one that most coaches have settled upon is the former Brownlow Medallist. Bartel’s scoring was deflated somewhat by his role changing mid-year to be stationed more on the wing, with the consequence being that he got to less contests and won less inside ball. Signs are that he is going to be returned to his rightful engine room place in 2010. I’m not quite sure why it is that fantasy coaches seem to trust Geelong players a lot more than equivalent St Kilda players. Are people worried that the Saints of 2009 are going to fall away like Hawthorn did last year? I don’t see a whole lot changing at the Saints this year compared to last, so the psychology of why Ablett and Bartel are so much more popular than Montagna and Dal Santo escapes me a little. If anything, shouldn’t fantasy coaches be worried that the dynasty has peaked already and is ready to slide, thus representing downside that the Saints aren’t exposed to? Brisbane had four grand finals in a row in the oughts, so maybe people are figuring the Cats are due one more, despite the AFL captains voting the other day that Geelong would miss the GF with the Saints and Dogs fighting it out. In any case, if you’re looking for a captain option with a slightly lower price tag, consideration should also be given to Brent Stanton who quietly averaged over 150 in the NAB, as well as early favourite Bernie Vince who will be right for round 1 despite his hamstring issues. A little lower, you could make cases for Jordan Lewis, Liam Anthony and Jobe Watson. Then there’s Adam Cooney, another one who was very popular early in the NAB but for some reason is stuck with Vince in the fantasy doghouse, despite showing his wares four times during the Dogs’ Cup run. Nope, you all love Jimmy.

#3 midfielder: Luke Ball, the new-club bounce boy
This push for Ball at #3 is only a recent development, and seems to be based mostly off Ball’s NAB average of just on a DT ton. As I said on the Coaches Box this week, some salt should be kept in hand when looking at the Collingwood NAB scores. The first game was against a St Kilda without Hayes or Dal Santo, and the Pies got beaten. The other three games in the NAB Challenge were against a severely injury-depleted Adelaide, a severely crap Richmond, and a Port side which had no lock-down small defenders, all of which were comfortable wins. I don’t trust these figures. Add to that the Shane O’Bree factor. O’Bree only played one match with Ball of the four, the cakewalk against the Power. While I omitted O’Bree from my first Magpie projected R1 side, I am assured by Pie supporters that O’Bree will play consistently in the ones while fit, and I think that means bad things for Ball’s TOG relative to what he enjoyed in the NAB. You’re paying a lot of dough for an injury-prone second-string midfielder, that’s my point. Meanwhile, just on Ball’s price is Brock McLean, who had a quiet NAB but is very favourably positioned to slip easily into the Nick Stevens fantasy slut role at Carlton, and Ryan Griffen, who scintillated in the NAB yet is in less than 1% of Exteams. Really, though, I would like to see money siphoned out of this slot given the bounteous nature of the cheaper options in midfield this year.

#4 midfielder: Chris Masten, the improving inside accumulator
To repeat in short what I have been saying about Masten all preseason: his game is too inside, which means too many handballs and not enough marks. The DT Talk boys are running this line as well apparently, and I am happy to report that either via our beratements or the fact that his four NAB numbers have trended down every week, his popularity has waned considerably since before the pre-season kicked off. David Armitage made a run for this slot during the NAB but his form in the Cup GF has dampened enthusiasm. Coaches seem to have forgotten about David Mackay in this conversation despite the Crow injuries piling up, while Andrew Walker, Josh P. Kennedy, Tom Swift, Callan Ward, Daniel Wells and Trent Cotchin are all valid uncommon/uniques above Masten’s price. Below Masten there’s not much unless you want to wait until after R3 for Rhys Palmer or wait for Daniel Kerr to get injured and/or suspended. Then there’s Mark McVeigh who also starts the season out through suspension but looms as an improver, as do Mitch Robinson and Liam Shiels. The players gunning most for this slot are, however, the rookies.

#5 midfielder, Jack Trengove, Tweedledee
#6 midfielder, Dustin Martin, Tweedledum
#7 midfielder, Michael Barlow, the White Rabbit

Both top 3 draftees have been locked in by their coaches in the press. Both have shown more than enough in the NAB. Think about this for a second, though. Last year showed that mature-aged recruits have significantly higher averages in their first year than even the best 18-year-old recruits. Greg Broughton and Robin Nahas outscored their positional averages by far more than the likes of Rhys Palmer or Daniel Rich. If you’ve bought all three of these dudes and you only have two starting spots, by rights you should bench one of the $150k-plus premium draftees, because Barlow’s average is likely to be higher. Throw in the possibility of Brodie Moles, Jarrod Kayler-Thomson, Kyle Hardingham and Ben Howlett starting for their AFL teams in round 1, then add older midfielders priced like rookies such as Daniel Connors, Rohan Bail, James Strauss and Todd Banfield, and you start to look at a fairly expensive bench. In their wisdom, VirtualSports have decided not to give price premiums to mature-aged rookies this year, and I suspect that this will be the last year that we Dream Teamers and Supercoaches will be able to enjoy this little loophole. Look at the historical numbers for mature-agers in the AFL in recent years, and ask yourself if you would like $150k in your kitty by selling Trengove and Martin.

#8 midfielder, Mitchell Banner, the gun draftee in a rebuilding side
Unfortunately, among the “gold passes” that Port coach gave out to his starting 22 on the weekend in the NAB match indicating that they would also be in the round 1 team, Banner’s name was not among them. Banner did play the second half but it’s not a good sign for his job security, even if he does end up playing round 1. Other options at this position include all of the above rookies, plus Ryan Bastinac, Lewis Jetta, Luke Shuey and Mitchell Duncan. Duncan in particular is of interest due to his dual eligibility, making him a valid “cipher” pick to enable multipositional support.

Speaking of multi-positions, the rucks in the next post will feature heavily in that discussion.



  1. Arky

    March 20, 2010 at 3:40 am

    Interesting in your mentions of 5-7: why not mention the oddity that teams usually mention Trengove but not Scully, even though they got extremely similar numbers in every game (Scully’s overall average for the NAB cup was even a hair higher) I think it’s one of the biggest sheep signs of the whole pre-season… a handful of opinion setters opine that Trengove is more used to playing at senior level and looks more ready, and poor Scully gets completely ignored. Reminds me of the trends we see in phantom drafts every year on BigFooty!

    Incidentally, my current 6 rookie mids include neither Trengove nor Scully because despite the job security, the premium on them is ridiculous. I don’t think they are going to be 20 points a game better than the likes of Shuey and Banner, and yet they are priced that way. Madness. I would probably take one anyway just for job security if not for having Martin. I think the Melbourne duo, Martin, Barlow and Jetta are guaranteed a good run, Shuey probably, Banner ought to be but who knows, and JKT and Howlett’s roles are yet to be determined. Anyone else debuting in the mids in round 1 is a serious risk of just keeping the seat warm for someone returning for injury…

    Ironically, after defending the selection of Cooney in DT for ages and leaving him in my team for ages, this morning I swapped him out for Montagna as part of a reshuffle (but that man Bartel is indeed in slot 2 next to him). Still think he’s a perfectly reasonable value pick, but he won’t be one of the top 6 scorers in the mids. Same for Luke Ball (but I wouldn’t pick Ball just on his injury record).

  2. m0nty

    March 20, 2010 at 3:44 am

    Go to bed Arky! 😛

  3. twinpeaks

    March 20, 2010 at 4:12 am

    provoking monty, i like a lot of your thinking
    you talked a lot about the rotational madness at collingwood this year, likely to mean ball and o’bree will find themselves on the field, just possible not aware of where they are meant to be standing
    agree about masten as well and i have bartel and montagna, i think its a good 2,3 combo for midfield with the obvious two rookies

  4. thall

    March 20, 2010 at 4:30 am

    What is this ‘bed’ you speak of?

    Nice post m0nty. Alot less feed for the n00bies with that one. 😉

  5. Disco DB

    March 20, 2010 at 5:52 am

    Montagna has been a premium for one season, I’m not certain whether he’ll back that up, therefore he’s not worth the price from the get-go. Similarly Dal Santo has also only had the one good DT season and his stinker in 2008 still clouds what he could do – he’s no worries for SC, thou.

    Screw Jack Trengove and his up-market price.

    btw monty, #9 should be #8.

  6. SpikeFX

    March 20, 2010 at 5:55 am

    Brock McLean? BROCK MCLEAN? Melbourne would have traded a ham sandwich for Brock McLean and would have been thrilled. He is useless!!!

  7. Tigerssss

    March 20, 2010 at 8:36 am

    Monty, what do you think about Bartel, Mitchell and Watson top three mids. Its solid, but doesn’t have the two people averaging 110-115.

  8. TheBaron

    March 20, 2010 at 10:05 am

    I am surprised at the lack of mentions that L.Hayes has had over the pre-season. Surely he is another option as an alternate captain, or are people predicting a drop-off in his scoring this season? He’d have to be one of the most reliable players in the game.

  9. m0nty

    March 20, 2010 at 10:31 am

    Hayes injured his troublesome calf in the preseason and is doubtful for R1.

  10. TheBaron

    March 20, 2010 at 10:58 am

    Even prior to that though, he had not been rating many mentions in people’s teams (at least that I had read). A lot of Saints fans seem to think Hayes will be ready to go for the opener.

  11. m0nty

    March 20, 2010 at 11:31 am

    His age will discourage a lot of people. It’s not often that players increase their average after the age of 30.

  12. Zan5hin

    March 20, 2010 at 11:49 am

    I liked this post better than the backs one Monty. Had some good advice in there along with the criticisms, and that is why I just took Ball out of my team and replaced him with Griffen.

    With his form in the NAB and a nice video on youtube showing some highlights, I can see he is a better option at that price.

    Pretty hard decision for a pies supporter, but happy to have another doggie in my side.

  13. koray

    March 20, 2010 at 12:25 pm

    Cannot wait for your semmation on the forwards.Great reading keep up the good work.

  14. Cicjose

    March 20, 2010 at 2:19 pm

    I have no idea why you pick bastinac monty. he hasnt played at all and is unlikely to play round 1, he would automatically be on my bench if he had already played 3 out of 4 in preseason and scored well.

  15. m0nty

    March 20, 2010 at 2:38 pm

    What are you talking about Cicjose, Bastinac played the last three of the NAB for respectable scores of 55, 62 and 76. A pleasing trendline, that. Perhaps you’re getting confused with Cunnington.

  16. numberwang

    March 20, 2010 at 2:39 pm

    why griffen replace ball with griffen? look ryan griffen up in the dictionary and all you find is the image of a yo-yo.

  17. numberwang

    March 20, 2010 at 2:43 pm

    Was just about to write that Monty – Cicjose is obviously either not with it or trying to throw people off his scent.

  18. andyiomoon

    March 20, 2010 at 3:32 pm

    Re: Bastinac – where are you finding these scores? Is there a secret part of this site with the Challenge cup DT/SC scores?

  19. megawatt

    March 20, 2010 at 3:35 pm

    keep it quiet about brent “clanger” stanton monty. he’s my x factor. once he takes his clangers out of his game he will outscore ablett, week in, week out.

  20. 23TBear23

    March 20, 2010 at 4:29 pm

    Why mention him here if you want to keep him quiet megawatt. Unless you want everyone to pick him. Had monster scores against Melbourne and Richmond.

  21. koray

    March 20, 2010 at 4:32 pm

    @ Megawatt the most ridiculous comment i have read this year,and i have read plenty.
    WTF, Stanton out scoring Ablett.
    Your an idiot !!!

  22. 23TBear23

    March 20, 2010 at 4:34 pm

    Skipped ofer the part where Monty mentioned it in the post. 😛 (My bad.)

  23. koray

    March 20, 2010 at 4:40 pm

    Monty i want you to excuse my ignorence,but what do you mean by (de-emphasising) RMT and team structure. Does this mean i will not be able to read everyones teams posted on RMT.
    Sorry to hear that as i spend hours and hours scrolling through these features on this site.

  24. nameless

    March 20, 2010 at 6:30 pm

    No mention of Boyd?? Thought he’d be a good option as a 2nd or 3rd GUN midfielder – should improve or hold his points playing in probably the best team in the comp…

  25. megawatt

    March 20, 2010 at 6:36 pm

    you’ll see koray, you’ll see. think off me everytime stants pulls in a 150. that said ablett is my captain. but stanton will be this years montagna.

  26. djhar9

    March 20, 2010 at 7:29 pm

    Hi Monty, love your work. Just wondering where you find the SC/DT scores? The Stanton avg of 150 obviously will intrigue a few

  27. Monaco

    March 21, 2010 at 2:26 am

    mOnty, at the end of the day you and your site are here to provide information to the masses. Information based on your reportive expertise and unbiased opinion. The i9nformation you suply is no different to other sites on people who you feel are performing well and have a big opinion on. I think this year is just one of those years where everyone is gonna have 85% of the same players and it is gonna come down to Sheer luck and good fortune in having the right mid pricers at the right time. Your information is valued by both noobs and vets alike.
    Dont change now my friend.

  28. longaz

    March 21, 2010 at 11:41 am

    ive only got 2 of those players. im going a different strategy this yr. only starting 1 rookie in mids

  29. Pokerface

    March 21, 2010 at 11:44 am

    How many people enter dreamteam/supercoach? I think combined last year there was over 500k? Don’t you think it is a bit conceited to think that your one website out of the multitudes that are out there will affect the diversity of dreamteam/supercoach teams if you place less emphasis on RMTs?
    These ’nuff nuffs’ have the same players that every other website mentions as well – and 80% of the public that has a clue can see for themselves anyway.
    Starting teams have the same core players for a reason. Trading is where the game is won or lost, and where the game becomes interesting and diverse.


    March 21, 2010 at 1:03 pm

    Just wondering who ling will pick up round 1 watson or stanton;)


    March 21, 2010 at 1:06 pm

    I agree with monaco,is the pressure getting too much for you monty?

  32. AndyJ

    March 21, 2010 at 3:58 pm

    [quote]I am assured by Pie supporters that O’Bree will play consistently in the ones while fit, and I think that means bad things for Ball’s TOG relative to what he enjoyed in the NAB. [/quote]

    So Ball left St.Kilda for a new club who still wont give him what he wanted? .. i’m finding that hard to believe, Unless i’m missing something?

  33. bradway

    March 21, 2010 at 4:58 pm

    m0nty I hope you dont give out any info regarding the whereabouts of the dreamteam and supercoach nab cup/challenge scores.

    You cant give them everything they want on a silver platter, especially when it is not difficult to find them if you look.

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  36. Najo_man86

    March 24, 2010 at 1:05 pm

    Any love for Wells at all?? Obviously, a massive risk…but deciding between Wells and Robinson for that mid-price midfield role??

  37. mayzer32

    March 25, 2010 at 1:05 pm

    i am one of these nuff-nuffs that every one speaks about. i like to have a go at dreamteam every year but unlike most of you losers actually play footy myself, have a job etc etc:
    i dont have time to pore over stats each week or read coaches comments on who is training the house down.

    So thank you Monty, keep up the good work and go tigers!!

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