Dream (Team) Weaver – 8th Feb by tbetta 10 months ago
We’re counting down until the NAB Challenge starts, but while we do, the AFL PR machine chugs on.
Here’s your weekly dose of fantasy-centric news, complete with a Dream Team spin:
CARLTON’S ACHILLES IS JUDD’S INJURY
Superstar Chris Judd will miss the early rounds of the upcoming AFL season, booking in surgery for a nagging Achilles tendonitis issue. The procedure follows a reported 12 months of Achilles pain, and was only a last resort after traditional rehabilitation methods failed.
It’s fair to say that Chris Judd (447,300 MID) isn’t quite the player he once was (his 2013 average of 81.8 was his lowest yearly output since 2003), but his frequent flashes of genius are enough to warrant game-long attention from the opposition. It’s for this reason that Judd’s injury is relevant to use Dream Teamers – it now leaves popular under-priced midfielder Marc Murphy as the prime and only serious tag target in the Blues midfield early in the season.
To be honest, this shouldn’t really affect Murphy’s production. Judd only attracted the primary tagger in 2 of his 18 appearances last year, meaning Smurph was already the first Blue locked down – partly explaining his lowest fantasy average since 2007 (85.5 DT per game). If you’re one of the many coaches on the Murphy train, take a deep breath and relax. It’s hard to see the young Carlton Captain (when fit) averaging any less than he did last year, irrespective of Judd’s availability – but the upside remains. If he learns to navigate the tight tag on a regular basis, watch out!
DEMON BABIES ON FIRE
Eye-catching performances from three young Demons was the big news to come out of Melbourne’s intra-club match on Friday. Jimmy Toumpas, Christian Salem and Jay Kennedy-Harris are the up-and-comers in question, while Jack Watts (illness) and Mitch Clark (foot) watched from the sidelines.
As a Dream Team coach, it’s a bit hard to not get excited about press releases talking up our rookies in this fashion. While it’s admittedly just a low-key intra-club hit-out – and we’ve travelled this road long enough to know that it’s often paved with pre-season heroes who fail to make an impact in the regular season – it can have a significant flow-on effect for rooks. One blistering intra-club leads to a NAB Challenge berth, which leads to consideration for Round 1 – and that could eventually spell dollars for our Dream Teams.
Jimmy Toumpas ($261,400 MID) is probably the most promising of the aforementioned youngsters, snapping 4 goals and looking settled in a half-forward role. Unfortunately, the fourth selection at the 2012 AFL Draft has harmed his fantasy chances by playing 14 games for the Demons last season, albeit at a clip of just 47.8 DT a game. On the other hand, Christian Salem ($172,800 MID, last year’s Pick 9) and Jay Kennedy-Harris ($112,800 FWD, Pick 30) are untried, and therefore cheaper, prospects that are more worthy of our attention. Watch the pair closely in Melbourne’s first NAB Challenge outing against the Tigers – there are plenty of spots up for grabs in Paul Roos’ line-up.
One subplot of the intra-club was Jack Grimes’ ($419,500 MID/DEF) role, with the Co-Captain returning to a sweeper role. According to Assistant Coach Jade Rawlings, Paul Roos has decreed that Grimes’ best position is the backline ‘General’; so beware when considering him for your Dream Team squad. As a defender his ceiling lowers significantly, which could possibly tip the scales away from ‘value’ and back into the direction of ‘risk’ with his constant injury troubles.
IS DOM, IS GOOD
Newly-appointed Eagles Vice-Captain Scott Selwood believes draftee Dom Sheed is poised to make an impact in the NAB Challenge, describing him as “ready-built for AFL footy”.
We know next to nothing about this year’s draftees, so any snippets of information like this are like fire to an Eskimo for Dream Teamers. With Adam Simpson coming in as the new Senior Coach, the slate is wiped clean and everyone has to earn their spots again – which is a great opportunity to fast-track rookies like Sheed ($162,800 MID). While draftees normally have to bide their time as they work their way up the hierarchy established within their club, a new coach gives Dom the chance to jump the cue a little. Taken at Pick 11 in last year’s draft, the kid has obvious talent – consider Sheed as strong a chance as we have to debut in Round 1.
Again, a sidenote – during the Interview, Selwood revealed that he expects to return to a run-with role in 2014. Hmmm. it’s very difficult to pick a tagger when they’re priced at $592,100; although the precedent is there with Kane Cornes, who averaged 106.5 DT a game last year in a tagging capacity. Scooter is now a very interesting prospect, and should be scrutinised heavily alongside Sheed in the NAB Challenge.
THE RETURN OF ZORKO?
Dayne Zorko returning to a midfield role was the story out of Brisbane’s intra-club match on Thursday, while rookie James Aish ($182,800 MID) was credited with classy disposal in the shortened hit-out.
As far as I’m concerned, there’s very little news here. To suggest that this pre-season teaser indicates that Zorko will play in the midfield for the Lions in 2014 is short-sighted – you need twice the amount of midfielders to play against yourself in an intra-club! He was just as likely simply filling a logistical void. Basically, the ‘news’ is that Zorko played well in a next-to-meaningless practice match, hardly Dream Team-changing information. At best, he veers away from the ‘Never Again List’, and back towards the Watchlist at a sensible $403,200.
To be clear – he may well be in line for a return to Brisbane’s midfield… But we’ll need more than an inconsequential intra-club performance as our best guide.
BIG BOYS ON TRACK
Young Key Forwards Jesse Hogan, Jonathon Patton and Tom Boyd all enjoyed positive media attention this week, with all three expected to take part in the NAB Challenge in preparation for the home and away season.
While this is excellent news for the similarly priced Hogan ($212,800 FWD), Boyd ($212,800 FWD) and Patton ($208,300) and their respective careers, it shouldn’t create too many ripples for your starting squad. Key position players are notoriously slow-starters, an unavoidable side-effect of playing in a low-disposal and goal-reliant role.
Joe Daniher (54.2 avg from 5 games in 2013), Sam Day (30.7 avg from 7 games in 2011) and even Jonathon Patton himself (35.5 avg from 7 games in 2012, 47.6 avg from 3 games in 2013) are all recent examples of dominant key forwards taken early in their Draft year that have failed to trouble the fantasy scorers early in their careers. Even budding superstar Jeremy Cameron hardly set the world on fire in his first season, averaging 58 DT points a game.
So do yourself a favour, and leave the young key forwards alone in 2014!