Traps waiting to snare you in 2008

You may think that fantasy football is where you get to stride the AFL scene like an invincible colossus, slinging your power left and right like so many laser beams. But no! There are actually a lot of hidden pitfalls in being a fantasy AFL coach. Instead of a Dream Team, you could end up coaching a Nightmare Squad if you don’t escape the clutches of the monsters lurking in the shadows. Here’s a map of the snakepits and giant stone rolling balls lying in wait for you, Indiana Jones style.

Beware the Wounded Lion. Many was the coach who jumped on Nigel Lappin last year, only to get insanely frustrated after Luke Hodge kicked him in the shin and the Brisbane hierarchy refused to admit he was injured, naming and then withdrawing him multiple times during what ended up being a four week absence. Rumours that Nick Stevens got a knock to his troublesome neck on the weekend bad enough to threaten his career has struck fear into the hearts of fantasy coaches everywhere, and you can bet that if he is injured that the Blues are going to try to hide it from fans who need a bit of hope. It’s going to be hard to drop Stevens because his price is so tasty, but you’ll have nobody to blame but yourself if Stevens burns you.

The Curse of the Snakebite. Plenty of coaches bought Adam McPhee in 2006 but the gawky-looking Bomber let them down with a rather average 78 average in DT, 5 less than in 2005. Then last year he bounced back with an average of almost 90 to be in the top 10 backs, yet those who had been snakebit by him in ’05 could only curse their timing. Another group of coaches have been similarly let down by Angus Monfries after his 2006 average was almost identical to his 2005 numbers at just under 67. An 86 in the first NAB Cup game had his fantasy stocks soaring but those who had him last year remember his 99 in the NAB Cup last year, and are finding it hard not to be twice shy. Will they be kicking themselves at the end of the year? Only Angus himself can tell.

The Babyfaced Assassin. Related somewhat to the previous trap, this is the one where you get sucked in by a rookie who is going to be a good player, but not just yet. The hype around Lachie Hansen before last season was considerable and his naming in the Kangaroo team for round 1 had him in a lot of fantasy teams. After posting two consecutive 21s in DT he was dropped for round 3, and wasn’t seen again in the senior side until the second week of the finals. Needless to say, this was a disaster for his owners… they didn’t get a cent in profit from him! Hansen is still at nearly rookie prices this year, and his 52/49 in terrible conditions for tall forwards in Darwin in the NAB Cup was impressive. Thousands of coaches won’t be tempted again. Those same thousands will gnash their teeth if this is Hansen’s breakout year.

The Shimmering Mirage. Many are wondering who will take up the halfback rebounding role for the Swans after Nick Malceski‘s ACL injury. Some look at Tadhg Kennelly‘s 2007 numbers and see his first four rounds with a 98/129 average when he was given the same role. That may very well be a fair indicator of his 2008 numbers, but if you look at the history of Tadhg’s fantasy scoring in totality then those four weeks are an oasis of goodness in the midst of a huge desert of mediocrity. Are you so thirsty for halfback rebounding sustenance that you’ll run towards what very well might be a tantalising illusion that will never solidify into reality?

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