Early 2009 fantasy preview: Melbourne
- Updated: October 4, 2008
Now this is another situation I really do not like. Out of nowhere, Paul Wheatley (92/19) became an elite fantasy back this year, but I would argue that he hurt his team in doing so. The more he racked up meaningless stats chipping the ball around halfback, the easier it was for the opposition to zone back, and the less the Demons scored. Wheatley may even start 2009 the way he went in 08, but at some point I think there has to be a Bowden-style reckoning down at Casey, and Bailey will have to rein him in for the good of the team so that they don’t turn into Richmond West. Unfortunately Bailey is a shizenhausen coach, so it may take until 2010 for the penny to drop. That’s the uncertainty over Wheatley, and for the same reason Matthew Whelan (75/12), which will cause me to stay away. Ricky Petterd (46/2), if he stays a back, is the only Demon defender I’d touch.
Due to the above pile of horse hockey, I can’t like any Demon forwards either, despite some fantasy quality. The horse bolted on Colin Sylvia (83/18) this year, I can’t see his ceiling getting to NGB/Dids levels. Matthew Bate (80/15) is too expensive for the risk he represents. Brad Miller (71/19) is Travis Cloke in red and blue. Michael Newton (50/6) would need a big discount to overcome his inherent crappiness.
Bold coaches are murmuring the name of Paul Johnson (69/16) as a sleeper for next year. There’s no question that Jeff White leaves a big hole to fill in the ruck at Melbourne, and everyone remembers him running down Justin Sherman, but let’s take a closer look at his late-season form. Yes, he averaged 84 in his last four, but only 70 in the five-game stretch where White was dropped from rounds 14-18. Mark Jamar (56/14) averaged 75 in those same five games. I don’t think either of them are in the conversation for the #2 ruck spot at this stage, without seeing what the eventually TOG share is like in the NAB.
As for the mids, bite me Nathan Jones. That is all.