Post-draft structure for 2009 AFL Dream Team

I’ll be posting regular tidbits from the Fanplanner leading up to the 2009 fantasy season, with one of the main features being the “structure” posts, where I group together the most popular players in each position according to their price to give you a rough outline of what a generic fantasy team looks like. So let’s drill down into the early December Fanplanner Dream Teams for the latest trends.

For those not familiar with what this post is for, check out the previous one from late October. Players are grouped as “premiums” (highest prices), “mid-prices” and “rookies” (low prices). Note that fantasy coaches use the word “rookie” to mean any player priced very low in Dream Team or Super Coach, typically $150,000 or lower.

BACKS
4 premiums from: Chad Cornes, Brendon Goddard, Luke Hodge, Sam Fisher, Grant Birchall, Jason Gram, Beau Waters, Josh Drummond, Heath Shaw
2 mid-prices from: Ricky Petterd, Nick Malceski, David Myers, Garrick Ibbotson, Gavin Urquhart
3 rookies from: Jack Grimes, Jesse W. Smith, Nick Suban, Tom Lynch, Alex Rance, Greg Gallman

CENTRES
2 premiums from: Travis Boak, Daniel Kerr, Kane Cornes, Gary Ablett jnr, Jordan Lewis, Nathan Van Berlo, Joel Selwood
3 mid-prices from: Paul Hasleby, Bryce Gibbs, Travis Boak, Trent Cotchin
3 rookies from: Daniel Rich, Mark Coughlan, Patrick Dangerfield, Steele Sidebottom, Jason Davenport

RUCKS
2 premiums from: Dean Cox. Troy Simmonds, David Hille, Hamish McIntosh, Drew Petrie, Brad Ottens, Aaron Sandilands
2 rookies from: Tyrone Vickery, Daniel Currie, Nick Naitanui, Ayce Cordy, Ben McEvoy, Shaun McKernan

FORWARDS
2 premiums from: Matthew Pavlich, Nick Riewoldt, Lance Franklin, Steve Johnson, Quinten Lynch, Ryan O’Keefe, Robert Murphy
3 mid-prices from: Shaun Higgins, Scott Lucas, Jason Porplyzia, Des Headland, Alwyn Davey
4 rookies from: Chris Yarran, Jack Ziebell, Hayden Ballantyne, Sean Rusling, Scott Gumbleton

Since my last structure post, money seems to have drifted away from the centres and forwards and into the rucks and backs, with the defences being so cashed up that four premiums is now the norm. With all of the draft news, fantasy coaches are feeling more adventurous with picking draftees in their 22s, especially in the forward line where Ballantyne, Ziebell and Yarran are popular.

Among the losers since October, Matthew Egan and Xavier Ellis are the obvious ones through injury as well as the undrafted Ben Cousins, and the low level of support for Heath Shaw continues. In the Adelaide midfield, the love has shifted from Brent Reilly to his teammate Van Berlo. Taylor Walker is rather scarce in Fanplanner teams nowadays, while Andrew Raines has almost disappeared and Robert Warnock has dropped off the radar. Jack Watts has fallen sharply as more and more fantasy coaches twig about his reduced expectations from the club due to Year 12 commitments. Strangely, Cox does not stand unchallenged as #1 ruck any more, appearing in only around 75% of the latest Fanplanner Dream Teams – what is wrong with you people?!? Kidding!

The big winner, apart from the draftees, is Travis Boak. This surprises me in the absence of any strong training reports, but he’s a top 5 midfield starter in recent Fanplanner teams. Higgins has jumped up to be the most popular forward, which is less alarming given that he’s had some favourable media coverage lately. Plenty of coaches are prepared to support Daniel Kerr despite a softly softly approach taken by the Eagles hierarchy to his training regime.

Another interesting aspect of the structure is who gets benched and who gets to score for your 22. Fanplanner coaches who buy Sean Rusling are buying him almost always as a bench player but not as a starter. Is he less trustworthy in your 22 than a Yarran, Ballantyne or Ziebell? Many of you think so, apparently. The same goes for Gumbleton. I’m guessing the thinking there is that these two are not going to be consistent in their scoring, with the example of Kurt Tippett‘s 2008 yo-yo numbers as a fresh example in our minds for young key position forwards. Steele Sidebottom is another bench specialist, though this is harder to fathom. It seems to me as if the vast majority of fantasy coaches are prepared to stomach playing one draftee on the field from round 1, and this year that draftee is Rich, and there’s no room for anyone without at least one year under their belts and a tighter grip on selection.

This list is compiled from Fanplanner teams you lot have been making, so tell me if I’m gauging your mood correctly. Why are Rusling, Gumby and “Frontbum” not getting a look in for your 22? Where’s this Boak love coming from? Is it really possible to have a satisfactory fantasy team without Big Cox? Tell me in the comments.

NB: Yes, a Super Coach structure post is coming soon.

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