If you hadn’t already, get Jared Polec into your fantasy side based on this performance.
Jared Polec was already in plenty of fantasy sides. 30% of AFL Fantasy squads included him, for instance, so he wasn’t exactly unknown. After his 96 in this game, however, he should be in all of them. All nine of his kicks in the first half were effective, he ended with nine marks, a nice kick-to-handball ratio of 16:7, and even got forward for a few long-range shots for 0.2. He is significantly outside with only 8 touches contested, but the amount of marks should make up for the lack of tackles (one in this game). All that from only 70% TOG. Lock him in.
On the Essendon side, the major news was the hamstring tweak to Michael Hibberd (34). He was a slightly underpriced pick given his poor second half of 2013, but there are plenty of other premium backs with round 10 byes to swap in who will probably do just as well: Jarrad McVeigh, Garrick Ibbotson and Pearce Hanley are all valid choices. Given that Hibberd pulled his right hamstring twice in 2012, albeit that this time it was his left, this puts me off him because it’s not a great time to be doing rehab this close to the start of the season, even if named for round 1.
The Power had their injury worries too, with Jay Schulz (57) ending the game on crutches after Michael Hurley (56) fell across his ankle and left him crying on the sidelines with the pain. Schulz is so vital to the Port forward structure that it casts a shadow over the start of their season if it’s a long term injury. 2013 was the first year he has played a full 22 in the ones, and him standing at full forward helped Port to the second week of the finals. There isn’t much behind him to come in: Mitch Harvey was only just drafted and is not ready, and Mason Shaw has had one year in the SANFL and no senior games. None of this would be fantasy relevant if not for Justin Westhoff (99), whose 2013 heroics relied in part on the presence of Schulz providing structure further up the ground. He had a good game last night, but could get swamped inside 50 without the Sergeant to draw defenders.
Amongst the other big blokes, Joe Daniher (65 and 2.2) was top of the Essendon stat sheet for much of the game before dropping away late, but again I will caution you to take his first week of 43/36 into account as well, and realise his average is going to be much closer to that than the mid-60s. He is bench fodder at best, for mine. Fraser Thurlow (45) is much the same, though ruck rookies are more valuable so his solid numbers were much more encouraging, and he deserves a ruck bench spot. I was not worried about Matthew Lobbe (33 from 51% TOG) having a quiet one, as he is being managed severely to keep him cherry ripe for round 1.
Finally, I am not on the Chappy Jalopy this year. Paul Chapman (77) showed in this game that his football contribution is going to be important for Essendon FC this year, but I am of the opinion that his time as a fantasy premium has passed. His TOG will be managed to ensure maximum burst performance, his ageing calves will be rubbed a lot on the boundary line, and he will be vested occasionally. Priced at mid-80s in DT/AF and mid-90s in SC, I see significant downside risk and not much on the upside.
How about you, do you have faith in Grandpappy Chappy? Are you trusting Daniher in your starting lineup? Who are you replacing Hibberd with? Ahd do you know anyone who hasn’t locked in Polec yet? Let me know in the comments.