Dome does Dons: Suns v Bombers wrap

Gary Ablett jnr cocked a snook at those avoiding him in their 2014 fantasy sides with another starring role.

Gary Ablett jnr's bald headThere has been more talk this year in fantasy football circles than any I can recall about taking a chance of not buying established fantasy guns from the start of the season in salary cap comps. Dane Swan, Scott Pendlebury, Nick Riewoldt, Steve Johnson, Dean Cox… all have been written off by fantasy coaches as overpriced before the real stuff starts, to the extent where some have even started talking about taking no midfield premiums in at all. It’s still only the preseason of course, but Gary Ablett jnr showed tonight why it’s folly to think this way with a 92/139 including a 65 point SC Q4 boosted by kicking the winning point just as the final siren was sounding.

Sure, the Suns midfield is full of stars besides Ablett. Jaeger O’Meara, the absent Harley Bennell, and new kid Jack Martin are all fantasy relevant. When they need to win the match, though, they give it to Gazza. The original Suns draftees may be into their fourth preseason but they still act like starstruck teenagers when Ablett’s bald bonce hoves into view. If anything, GAJ is underpriced given his numbers were 10 points down in DT and SC last year. His ceiling is still yet to be seen, particularly when the Suns start winning enough to become a top 8 team. All signs point to Ablett being well worth the spend.

On the other side of the midfield, David Zaharakis registered 43 possessions for a 145/125. There was no Jobe Watson or Brendon Goddard in this one, admittedly, but his form after a couple of slightly down years with injury is pleasing. We know he has at least 10 points of upside based on his 2011 numbers, so if he can escape the vests (he wore three last year) and hold that form then he’s worth a buy. He was in the news for refusing to be part of the Essendon injecting scandal, but it was leaked days later that he had taken a questionable substance. It’s always hard to tell what effect such turmoil will have on a player, but on this evidence he is pouring himself into his footy for good results, as many Bombers did in the first half of last year.

Speaking of first half of the year, Brent Stanton (96/72) is a specialist at that, so he’s always worth a look if you’re casting around for a premium mid with a round 10 bye; probably only for standard formats though, since the lack of the pressure loading on his possessions means his SC form is average.

Back on the Suns, much discussion will surround the move of David Swallow to midfield. Personally, I don’t believe it. The Suns still have weakness in their small back brigade – witness the unimpressive games of Jeremy Taylor and Greg Broughton – so I think he will spend a fair bit of time there chasing tail when rotating out of the guts, as he did in this game. He still managed an 88/78, which is roughly equal to his 2013 SC output but 18 points above his DT, but I don’t think that’s what he’ll average. He might add 5-10 points in both comps but that’s not enough to be a keeper, so he’s priced too high for mine.

It was pleasing to see both Fraser Thurlow and Patrick Ryder have the sort of games as the Essendon ruck tandem you would hope for in the regular season. I have often bought Ryder in SC and rarely been disappointed. In fact, it should be a popular move to handcuff these two, because with the injury to Tom Bellchambers there’s not much else left in the hutch for the Dons if either gets injured, so the other would have to shoulder the load. Thurlow showed that he can play the Bellchambers role, not quite as well of course but good enough for 40-50s to generate cash on your ruck bench.

Sam Day ripped off the green vest like the Hulk after half time for a 40 point quarter including two goals and ended with 56/45, while down the other end Joe Daniher made some pretty plays for a couple of goals but only managed 43/36 from a full game with seven touches. Both players are priced around the 50s and are young key position forwards, which should set the klaxons blaring for any experienced fantasy coach. Avoid.

Finally, the aforementioned and much-hyped Martin started slowly, had a 31-point Q2 for DT, went missing in Q3 and bobbed up again in Q4 for 18 DT for a total of 62/42. O’Meara totalled 38 and 42 in DT in his first two preseason games last year, so I wouldn’t get too worried if this didn’t excite you enough. While all the comparisons are being made with JOM, I suspect he plays a lot more like Bennell, and may even be held back a bit like Bennell was, playing only 4 of the first 10 games in his debut year of 2011. Harley managed to average 67/68 across 2011, though, so even if Martin doesn’t match the 89s that O’Meara racked up last year, he’ll be a lock.

So, did you like the look of Martin, and do you think he’s anything other than a starting mid rookie in your team? Have you got room for two Don rucks? Are you swallowing the Swallow theory? Do you boo Stanton, or do you pick him pre-byes every year? Is Zaka trickily priced, or just an underpriced premium? And do you have faith in the Son of God? Let me know in the comments.

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