The Crows need more from their midfield, and there’s at least one under their noses.
Matthew Wright (111/113) is one of the great fantasy teases of modern footy. His ceiling is even higher than the mid-80s he achieved across 19 games in 2012, but last year his averages dropped almost 20 points as he was used forward and in tagging roles, and seemed to fall out of favour with coach Brenton Sanderson. This was summed up in round 8 against St Kilda, coming off a 27-touch game the week before, where he was subbed off without injury and wasn’t picked again until round 12, getting dropped twice again and totalling five vests across the year, none from injury. The only game where the roles he was given really worked was against Geelong in round 17 where he kept Corey Enright quiet and kicked four big goals, including the match winner. Otherwise, fantasy coaches must be wondering what Sanderson doesn’t like about this proven ballwinner.
With the Crows adding a number of dedicated small forwards in Sam Kerridge (49/38) and now the recruitment of Eddie Betts (five goals last week), Wright should by all rights be shifted back to pure midfield. The Crows have needed midfielders to step up to support Scott Thompson (93/89) and Patrick Dangerfield (58/82) for a while now, with Rory Sloane (98/104) successfully making the grade last year and other holes to fill. Wright should be one of those players, walking away from the smoking wreckage of his 2013 and into the centre rotations. His ceiling could be at least 20 points higher than the 70s he is priced at, and maybe even 30 points to push it to 100 as Bernie Vince did for the Crows several years ago. He will get tagging roles occasionally – a job on Daniel Rich in round 2 last year netted a 49/61, while he tagged Marc Murphy in round 5 for an 80/80 – but it’s all upside for Wright, assuming Sanderson isn’t bloody-minded about it.
Dale Thomas played his way into plenty of fantasy sides with an energetic 62-DT-point first half to finish with 70/74, and with 31.4% ownership in AFL Fantasy he was in most serious ones already. Daisy blew up after half time, but that was to be expected coming off ankle surgery last year and a chest infection the previous week. This is not anything you don’t know already, admittedly, but he’s a pretty safe bet priced at mid-70s to lift at least 15 points. Stretching to be a keeper is probably beyond him, but if you plan on him being a stepping stone to trade pre-byes you should stay out of trouble. If you’re lucky he will last until the byes, and be traded then with your blessing.
It was another excellent game for David Ellard (86/79) who, priced at mid 40s, should be competing with the likes of James Aish and Claye Beams for a starting midfield spot in your squad. Ellard should be named for round 1 and play for at least a month to earn six figures in cash generation, but there are still legitimate questions over his job security longer than that; we haven’t seen much of Dennis Armfield in this preseason of whom coach Malthouse is obviously a fan as well.
Elsewhere, I am not worried about Dangerfield spending so much time forward, he is just tuning up. The form of Brodie Martin (47/49 from 60%) was more of a concern, as he didn’t get near it in the first half. He is drifting to my back bench as others impress me more for a starting berth. Dylan Buckley (52/47) showed zip but he hasn’t got much more to his game at this early stage, and doesn’t look like he would deserve a round 1 spot. Cameron Wood (74/80) had an excellent game as first ruck, though of course he will be in tandem with Robert Warnock once the real stuff starts so 80s are not going to be regular deals. Matt Crouch (54/52) putt-putted along like a good thing, with five tackles and 3 FA showing that he is learning at the coalface.
Have you been burned by Wright before, or are you expecting him to shoot for the stars this year? Is Daisy a lock, or are you suspicious of his fitness? Are you singing Ellard Ellard, ay ay ay? Let me know in the comments.