It’s fashionable to say that Richmond and Carlton are poised to improve further in 2009 after their Hawthorn-like bottoming out, but I’m not so sure with the Blues. They’re sort of Geelong Lite to me: a very good midfield, flawed key position players and falling away sharply in their 17-22 range of players. Like Geelong currently and the Eagles of several years ago, they are going to rely on their midfield dragging the team over the line despite structural deficiencies in the 50s. The problem with that is that it requires a huge advantage in the corridor, and I’m not sure the kids have big enough bodies to deliver on that. I’m happy to be proved wrong though.
Nevertheless, there are going to be a lot of points scored in fantasy comps by Blues players in 09, win or lose. I can’t see nearly as many Carlton players in fantasy sides in ’09 as there was in ’08, due not to lack of scoring but lack of value. Obviously Nick Stevens (90/22) will be fully priced, and the Bryce Gibbs (87/21) boat sailed in the second half of 08. Chris Judd (85/21) still has a way to go to match his 2006 average of just on 100, but I think his best fantasy days are behind him and it would be a sucker move to hope that he could score as freely as he did at the Eagles.
Matthew Kreuzer (54/20) is the big disappointment for me. He was almost set to be the default #2 ruck in 09, next year’s Simmonds, but the mooted recruitment of Robert Warnock (46/9) puts paid to that for mine. It’s a shame Warnock is ineligible for a discount but I fear neither of those two are fantasy-relevant next year if the deal goes through. Cameron Cloke (74/20) was one of the underrated fantasy success stories of this year, but his ceiling is probably at or under his rolling average given how the ruck committee is likely to change next year.
Speaking of discounts, it would be lovely if Andrew Walker (82/7) got one and stayed as a back. Jarrad Waite (80/21) is also worth keeping an eye on: his injury record is a little patchy but he’s improving as a fantasy player as the kids around him take up defensive stopping duties. Andrew Carrazzo (94/21) and Heath Scotland (90/21) both dropped significant points off their 100 averages in 07, and unless either of them are reclassified as backs nobody is going to touch them.