Return of the Dees: Tigers v Dees wrap

Like an avenging angel, the Demons are back playing actual football. Are they really real?

Return of the DeesIt was as plain as the nose on Paul Roos’ face. The Melbourne Football Club are actually playing AFL-level football. Not since the days of Neale Daniher in 2006 have the Demons even looked like being competitive for long stretches. The win over the Tigers on Friday was only one preseason game, of course, but the signs were all up.

Under Dean Bailey, the Demons lacked skill and coherence, but occasionally won games on pure belief. Under Mark Neeld, they lost even that, and were not AFL standard. They failed to run to support, they failed to chase, they failed at most of the basics of football. Under new coach Roos, they have rediscovered how to play like a team. They work hard off the ball, something that was barely seen under Neeld. They commit to possessing, even overpossessing the ball. They try to have some system coming out of defence. They play players in their proper positions, and train them to maintain a proper structure.

I won’t bang on about this, as you would have read plenty about it elsewhere; suffice it to say, we can treat the MFC like they’re a real footy team now. Not a good one, mind you, just a normal one. They are still highly flawed and have a long way to go to bring their skills up to a level that can pick apart organised defences. They may still also have trouble with variability of effort in 2014, which was the curse that condemned Bailey but is something I am sure Roos would be planning to neutralise over the long term. They won’t dissolve into a blancmange under Roos, though, that much is certain.

Looking at the Melbourne draw, they have a pretty sweet run in the first couple of months with contestable home games against the Eagles and Swans (if they are up and about) strewn among a raft of winnable games. They could conceivably be 4-4 or better by the time they meet Richmond again in round 9, with plenty of fantasy points to share around.

What does this mean for individual Melbourne players for fantasy purposes? Given the lopsided disposal totals – and this against Richmond, which itself has developed a habit of bossing the disposal count in games – it should mean only good things. For instance, Viv Michie (87/72) is a lock on this form as Matt Jones was last year. Even though I was looking for Michie, I just didn’t recall much of him, which is a great sign since he registered eight marks and four tackles to go with his 19 touches – only two of which were contested – to indicate he has the sort of anonymous outside link role that will quietly accumulate stats without too much fuss week after week.

I liked Alexis Georgiou‘s game with a 70/60, especially given that Colin Garland is injured to start the season and has been playing on smalls since last season anyway. His 14:2 kick to handball ratio and only two contested is pleasing along with nine marks, denoting that he gets involved a fair bit with the overpossession from the backline that seems already to be a hallmark of the Roos Demons. The three tall backs for Melbourne should be James Frawley, Tom McDonald and Giorgiou in round 1, with Jack Watts playing a roving commission forward and back a la Justin Westhoff or Jarryd Roughead. Giorgiou is worth at least a bench spot.

Jay Kennedy-Harris kicked the sealing goal among his 3.1 from 13 touches for a 69/96, but I’m not quite as bullish about him. As a small forward who relies on crumbs a fair bit, he will have a lot of opportunities if he plays to scrap for scraps at the feet of the like of Jeremy Howe, Mitch Clark and Chris Dawes, but there will be games in the regular season where he will go missing for sub-20 scores as the Dees will get flogged, even early. Rohan Bail plays a bit higher as a small forward and scored an impressive 96/66 with 11 marks, something I wouldn’t expect him to replicate on a consistent basis in the home & away.

I have always liked Jack Trengove (130/102) as a player, even for fantasy, but he has never had a full run at a season in a half-decent team. The taggers will always go to Nathan Jones (102/95) and if there is a second one then probably Bernie Vince (105/103). Vince is too highly priced for mine already compared to his upside; it’s only a handful of points more than Trengove, but I like the latter to win that particular points battle anyway. Priced in the mid-70s, his should be the boat that rises highest on the Roos tide. He is a bit of a DT specialist, and if you’re slightly ambivalent about him then I’d confide his purchases to standard scoring format comps.

To round out the Dee talk (yes Tiger fans, I haven’t forgotten you), Max King kicked a goal among 10 touches for a 40/48, but I wouldn’t expect to see anything of him early unless big injuries hit. Then again, they have already started hitting…

Okay, now onto Richmond. Dustin Martin (86/58) and Brett Deledio (88/107) have swapped roles, with Lids going forward and Dusty going back, but I don’t think this is going to change their output all that much. Deledio will still get a lot of tagging attention, while Martin still hasn’t got a tank big enough to run games out consistently. Same old same old, which will be good enough for mid-90s or so with some pretty high standard deviation.

I have liked Anthony Miles from his work at GWS. While he has always known how to get the footy, the knock on him was always his disposal. A solid 75% disposal efficiency from his 16 touches for a 67/76 including eight clearances indicates that he may have worked on that part of his game. Still early doors on that stat from a small sample size, though. The other question mark is how many centre bounces he would attend once Trent Cotchin (61/56) is fully operational.

Brandon Ellis (60/41) copped the tag of Jordie McKenzie, and I expect that trend to be replicated in the regular season. Like Andrew Gaff and Isaac Smith, Ellis may not be the best player in the team but he’s so crucial to their structure with his outside run that coaches will increasingly key on him. He’ll take time to adjust, so if you were hoping for his numbers to rise to another level this year I would advise caution.

23-year-old mature-aged Frankston recruit Sam Lloyd put up donuts in the first half but ended up with a 57/43 from nine disposals, five marks and three tackles. 51% TOG indicates he was used sparingly, and he only managed one behind on the scoreboard despite playing as a small forward, but he’s worth watching especially as Chris Newman injured a knee after being tried as a forward. One wonder if Lloyd can beat out Jake King for a spot, before Jake’s bikie mates can beat him to it!

Are you on the Dee Train? How many Demons will be in your side? Can you see Miles or Lloyd making the Richmond side for round 1? Let me know in the comments.

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