As with the NAB Challenge round 1 game last year where Carlton sent its lambs to the slaughter against West Coast at the same ground, Richmond “rested” its A-rotation midfield and inevitably got thumped at windy Mandurah. As such, there wasn’t nearly as much to take from this game as Thursday’s more even contest.
It’s hard to gauge midfield performances from this sort of lopsided contest, but even though David Mundy was rested and Nat Fyfe (58/58) only played the second half, it was clear that the move of Michael Barlow (125/131) from the HFF back to inside midfield is going to be very lucrative this year. He dropped over 15 points in fantasy production last season, as he was too often sheepdogging the packs rather than diving in, as per coach instructions. His role and points were taken in 2015 by Lachie Neale (94/114), and I would like to see how things work with Mundy and Fyfe playing full games – you can’t fit them all into the centre square at once, and someone’s got to miss out in stoppage attendances. Nevertheless, Barlow looks unlikely to drop below his average so locking him into your salary cap forward line seems like a no-brainer.
Darcy Tucker (94/72) and Tendai Mzungu (92/116 and two goals) started on opposite wings and put in solid performances in a game where the ball was easy to find for Docker midfielders with the disposal count going +108 to Fremantle. Tucker as a rookie and Mzungu as a comeback mid-pricer present interesting options, though I suspect one wing spot is going to be filled by Harley Bennell and the other possibly by Stephen Hill. Hill played a lot last year off a HBF, and Harley could be rotated off a HFF, so there might still be one or two spots open for outside runners. Given Ross Lyon’s historical reluctance to blood youngster early, however, I suspect Tucker will develop in the WAFL. Mzungu has had a hard time of it at the selection table under Lyon lately but he deserves another chance, and I think Lyon would prefer him over Tucker if that’s the decision to make.
Speaking of the HFF, Lachlan Weller (59/81) showed some flash in kicking a goal and getting his long hair flowing with some runs from midfield to half forward. He showed more upside than journeymen like Clancee Pearce (57/51) and Matthew de Boer (25/25 but only 27% TOG), and the hamstring injury to Hayden Ballantyne (33/51) might be advantageous to his round 1 prospects. You would have to be relying on Freo dominating the early rounds for Weller to be a decent pick for salary cap comps, but their first month is rather tough and I could certainly see him going missing in round 1 at Docklands against the hyper-energised Dogs.
As for the Tigers, the only fantasy interest was in Nathan Broad (60/67), who spent all but Q3 in defence and didn’t trouble the scoreboard when he did play forward, albeit that was a quarter where Richmond were kicking into the stiff breeze. I expect he will play forward later in the NAB Challenge because it looked like Tyrone Vickery (10/27) had some problems with dizziness that will mean he will be put in cotton wool for a while, not to mention the big knock to the jaw that Ben Griffiths (46/57) copped. Opportunity could be knocking for him as a fantasy rookie.
Onward to the weekend!