Early 2009 fantasy preview: Sydney

It’s easy to predict a big slide for the Swans, everybody’s doing it. I’m not so bearish on them though, because even if their flooding gamestyle is anathema to the new cluster paradigm, what is the ultimate goal of the cluster? To force turnovers, or at least stoppages. The Swans still have a distinct advantage over most teams when it comes to stoppages – their big loss to the Hawks was about losing the clearances, for instance, not the cluster per se – so I think they’ll do fine, especially at home and against bottom eight teams.

There are two unanswered questions for mine. One, will the Swans effect still hold steady in 09? There were signs of it cracking a little towards the end of this year, e.g. the Lions game where the top three or four Brisbane mids still got tons or thereabouts. It’s certainly true that the AFL is far less prone to matchup trends than, say, the NFL, but I think this is one trend that will hold up to a large extent, at least for this year (injuries to key inside mids notwithstanding). Perhaps the one aspect that will change is that we might start fearing other matchups more for certain player types, like the Richmond and Carlton matchups vs inside mids, as per the Breakdown table.

The other issue is whether Roos is going to continue injecting youth into the 22. That might mean Daniel O’Keefe (0/0) and maybe Daniel Currie (0/0). The Patrick Veszpremi (65/4) train has already left, I’m afraid, unless he gets a 40% discount. Obviously their 08 draftees will be keenly scouted for fantasy value, given what happened this year.

Otherwise it’s all about the injured stars from 2008: Nic Fosdike (58/1), Nick Malceski (67/9), Adam Goodes (81/19) and even Barry Hall (80/13). Lot of debate to happen around those four names in the pre-season, I bet.