Every year there are SuperCoach locks. There are several blokes who you simply just have to pick. But that’s not what separates the winners from the losers. To set yourself away from the pack, it takes the courage to avoid the basic ‘cookie cutter’ team, and take a punt on a bloke who may slide under the radar of other coaches. Here’s a look at two players capable of being successful PODs for your side.
2016 SuperCoach Average: 92.1
Bye Round: Round 11
Virtually irrelevant in Fantasyland as a midfielder, Vince has surged into contention as a valid option in our sides with his new backline eligibility.
The former Crow has been extremely consistent over his three seasons in Melbourne colours, producing averages in excess of 90 every year. In addition to this annual consistency, his body has remained extremely durable, playing at least 21 games in four consecutive years.
In 2016, the emergence of younger midfielders such as Christian Petracca and Clayton Oliver meant Vince had to relinquish some of his midfield minutes – pushing him to spend more time across half-back in a quarterback role where he was able to launch Demon counterattacks with his penetrating kicking.
Heading into 2017, it is certainly possible his minutes in the defensive half could be extended, with the arrival of Jordan Lewis and the lifted ban on Jake Melksham. Nevertheless, the former Crow is still a ball magnet at his best, and being part of a stronger team could be exactly what he needs to eradicate the odd stinker from his scoring, to boost his average closer to 100.
2016 SuperCoach Average: 92
Bye Round: Round 13
After arriving at Collingwood with the vision of adopting a Jack Gunston- like role, it was half-back that Jeremy Howe called home in 2016.
Possessing an athletic leap that we all know about, Howe was able to intercept the ball frequently throughout games and rebound for the Pies. The former Demon managed to end the home and away season with a SuperCoach average of 92 points, with the freedom to jump at the ball in defence proving fruitful for his scoring. An average at that level is more than reasonable, but it should be noted that it took until Round 7 last year for him to nestle into his fantasy-friendly role. The high-leaping Pie was absent for the first two games with ankle issues, and played his first four games in a starved role up forward, beginning with a four-game average of a nasty 58. But if you take those games out of the equation, Howe averaged triple figures for the rest of the year – which bodes well for him in 2017.
Another encouraging aspect of Howe’s game is his ability to score big without amassing huge sums of possessions. A 135-point effort against Brisbane last year from just 20 touches underpins his credentials as a player suited to the SuperCoach scoring system.
Howe’s JLT series performances (be careful to not get too excited!) have been tremendously promising, with the cousin of Matthew Wade maintaining his defensive role, as well as taking responsibility for the kick outs.
If there are any concerns for the half-back, it could be the lack of genuine key defender stocks around him. The loss of Jack Frost and Nathan Brown might force Howe to focus more on locking down opponents, but it would be reasonable to assume Buckley could allow his high-flyer to continue to be an offensive weapon.
Both the defenders are genuine, yet somewhat unpopular SuperCoach selections with most of the limelight taken by Docherty, Shaw, Adams and Laird this preseason. But to get yourself ahead of the pack, both of these blokes could be the difference. For me, Howe offers more scope for improvement than Vince, but the Demon’s output is more easily forecast. I’m backing Howe to push the 100 barrier for the first time in his career, with Vince to emulate his performances of recent years with a projected average of 95.