Franklin damn: Swans v Eagles wrap

Plenty will be damning Buddy Franklin for this performance, but there were extenuating circumstances.

It has all been set up for Lance Franklin (31/23) to have a big year. The distraction of contract talks is behind him and he is free to just play football, as did Travis Cloke last year to renew his status as a premium fantasy forward. One behind from six touches in 70% TOG isn’t going to cut it once the regular season starts.

Allow me to make some excuses on Buddy’s behalf. The rain started falling in the second quarter and grew in intensity as the night went on, making it a poor spectacle and preventing much in the way of the clean, one-touch football that Franklin thrives on. His scoring dried up as the conditions got more soggy. The Swans forward line didn’t look much like the way it will once the season is on in earnest, with no Adam Goodes or Kurt Tippett to spread the defenders.

Having said that, Tippett won’t start the season anyway with tendonitis and Goodes is doubtful on the long return from his knee problems, so the structural problems that beset Franklin in this game will persist into the regular season. Sydney’s draw this year, after the round 1 bye against the Giants, is rather tough with the Pies, Roos and Dockers all visiting and a tough away game against a fired-up Crows in their first Adelaide Oval home game. The more I research it, the more I am starting to think that Buddy won’t have a Cloke-like rebound, at least not to start with.

The other aspect of the Franklin issue is that the Swans seem like they want to use him more as a traditional key forward, which is not really how he was used at Hawthorn because they found out the hard way that kicking to him inside 50 and expecting him to take contested marks wasn’t very productive. Buddy could end up being a decoy, with Gary Rohan (80/71) benefiting in the manner of Jack Gunston. I said in the Dogs v Dockers wrap that Matthew Pavlich should be owned at about the same percentage as Buddy, with a three-to-one lean in Buddy’s direction at the moment. Plenty of coaches should switch, based on these two games.

Rohan certainly put his hand up to be in fantasy sides in this one. It didn’t look that way when he was grimacing on the sidelines after a knock to his right ankle in Q3 (it was his right tibia that was smashed to smithereens in 2012), but it was a fantastic sign that he returned to score 2.1 and 34 DT points in Q4 as an isolated full forward. I still think he is bench fodder at best, because he doesn’t get many points outside scoring chains and you are just as likely to catch his 20s as his 70s when you start him (the GWS procession notwithstanding), but his average should be enough to kickstart some decent cash generation.

Callum Sinclair (109/102) and Scott Lycett (88/120) did some excellent work in the ruck totalling 41 hit outs between them and beating the tandem of Mike Pyke (41/56) and Tom Derickx (53/47). For fantasy, these two have two knocks against them: pricing of mid-50s in DT and mid-60s in SC, and competition with Nic Naitanui (DNP) for second ruck behind the evergreen Dean Cox (DNP). With Jack Darling (60/66) moving to midfield and NicNat looking like he will struggle for fitness all year as he did last year, there will be opportunities for both of these players to spend some time in the Eagles seniors during the year, but West Coast may lose one or both at the end of the year due to lack of gametime.

As I said in the popular players post, I can’t see how Jeremy Laidler (75/84) fits in to the Swans 22. Ted Richards (DNP) was interviewed during the game and said Laidler was recruited to fill the boots of Martin Mattner which suggests at 189cm he would play as a small defender, but I don’t think he’s there yet. I can’t see him pushing out Nick Malceski (108/110), Nick Smith (75/64) or Rhyce Shaw (54/60), with Jarrad McVeigh (DNP) as a reigning All-Australian HBF rotating through. Shaw is recovering from injury but he provides invaluable outside run when fully fit, so I think they play him in round 1.

Then, there was this:

The eye injury to Luke Parker, which involved some bleeding behind the eyeball suggesting it was more than just a scratch, might open up a temporary spot for Harry Cunningham (92/95) in the small forward brigade alongside Brandon Jack (73/73) and Craig Bird (119/116). It was probably Bird who was going to replace the retired Jude Bolton in that structure to play defensive forward, while the injuries to Tippett and maybe Goodes means Rohan gets counted among the talls for the moment. At a rookie price and classified as a midfielder, Cunningham is worth a look in place of the more expensive draftees. He is a big vest risk, though, so he probably isn’t startable.

How about you, are you hanging onto Buddy or have you been washed away in the flood of bad karma? Is Rohan startable outside the GWS game? Am I going to be proven wrong about Laidler as I was about Aaron Sandilands? And what about Harry, can he make the 22 and escape the vests? Let me know in the comments.

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