Early 2009 fantasy preview: Essendon

I like the Dons as 09’s version of Carlton in terms of fantasy popularity. It’s going to be interesting to see whether Knights sticks with the lockdown gameplan that he toyed with in the second half of 08 or go back to the expansive shootout one he let the kids run with in the first half. At one point he was sending out three taggers per game, but my feeling is he won’t do that very often next year. His younger KP players really need to play well early for Knights to make that work, though

Obviously Scott Gumbleton (0/0) and Scott Lucas (50/9) are going to be in a lot of sides. A large amount of spud coaches are going to rely on Lucas in particular… he could produce Bradshaw levels of robust debate on the forums with those who don’t like the idea of taking chances on older players returning from major injuries. Personally I don’t think it’s a Bradshaw-like situation, as there will be pressure on Lucas to play a different role as part of the youth policy. Alwyn Davey (62/5) averaged exactly the same as his debut year, unfortunately, so unless he gets discounted he’s off the radar.

I think Bachar Houli (73/10) is worth another look, particularly in SC (85/10) where a lot of coaches (including me!) got pleasure out of his consistent scoring early in the season. Houli’s rise may have been part of the reason that Jobe Watson (81/19) went backwards in DT, albeit not in SC. I like Watson a lot as a player, and if he can get a consistent run at it he is every chance to break out in SC. I can’t see all that much upside in Mark McVeigh (89/14) or Brent Stanton (93/22) though – some will see a bit of first-half-08 Daniel Cross potential in Stanton where perhaps it’s not there. Also, Jason Winderlich (69/9) will probably improve his average yet still not earn you enough money to make it worth your while buying him.

David Hille (86/20) deserves serious consideration in the rucks. Many people will be looking at a two-premium ruck structure this year with the lack of a reliable Simmonds replacement, and if you’re looking for a solid ruck with 95+ ceiling then Hille is probably your man. Jason Laycock (50/16) represents zero threat to Hille’s rotations.

There is some small interest in the backs, particularly with Dustin Fletcher winding down. Andrew Welsh (77/17) would need to really impress me that his last month was indicative of all of 2009 for me, though. David Myers (60/8) has probably priced himself out of contention unless it becomes clear that he will continue to be given run-with roles a la Gibbs – which I don’t think will happen. Adam McPhee (75/20) gave me the joey brits this year with a 15-point drop in production, so I don’t think I’d go to that well again until Lloyd & Lucas hung them up.

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