Early 2009 fantasy preview: Collingwood

I find myself liking the Pies less and less as a fantasy team as long as Malthouse is in charge. He’s an inflexible coach, unsuited to today’s game. Collingwood lost several games this year purely due to MM’s unwillingness to address the tactics of the opposing coach, no more stark than in the Saints final where he allowed spuds like Raphael Clarke to run riot.

In particular, I find it hard to trust Heath Shaw (82/18) if Mick does nothing to help break tags on him. I’m not so sure that Heater needs to be released into the midfield, Gram/Goddard-style, but when that hard tag comes as it inevitably does every three weeks, the Pies have to do something about it and not let him wilt.

Travis Cloke (75/21) is another one I can’t bring myself to like. It’s highly noticeable that the vast majority of his good games come against skinny kids, and when he cops a big-bodied CHB he normally powders. Unfortunately, while I like Dale Thomas (73/20) a lot more, he suffers from Daicos HFF syndrome: lovely silky skills but poor for fantasy because he just doesn’t get enough of it on a consistent basis. I am going to try very hard not to get sucked in by Thomas’ 08 injuries and not to pick him up again. It feels to me like Collingwood has about four Daicoses, but when you look at this year’s numbers, something seems to have clicked with the other three small forwards. Leon Davis (84/20), Alan Didak (95/18) and Paul Medhurst (88/22) have all suffered from the same fantasy affliction in the past, but each of these players boosted their average by 25-30 points this year. My instinct is to think it can’t last. Even Didak, with the year he had, I can see turning into a Stevie J type in 09 where he sacrifices his own game to prove how team-oriented he is.

The main problem with the Pies, of course, has been their unhealthy reliance on Scott Burns as their only gun inside mid when Swan is off the ground, as he so often is. With Burns moseying into the sunset, Shane O’Bree might get more TOG and responsibility, but will he do enough with it? I didn’t see any Rhys Palmer types put their hand up this year in black and white, but Scott Pendlebury (88/21) is the one who needs to step up if they don’t recruit a Burns replacement. If they get Ben Cousins it will be a circus, and I would only expect Cousins to play 12 games in between hammy twangs anyway. Daniel Harris would be another useful option if picked up. They need at least one more in-and-under type, which is why their first-round pick is going to be interesting from a fantasy perspective.

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