New Club: Gold Coast
2016 SuperCoach Average: 98 (13 games)
2015 SuperCoach Average: 93.6 (22 games)
As a whole, falling out of favour with coach Ross Lyon coupled with an average year left Michael Barlow without a home at season’s end.
Moreover, as his form began to peak late in the year, he suffered a season-ending injury. Barlow said he knew he had played his last game for Fremantle after this shattering blow, and then came the wait to see if he would be picked up as a delisted free agent.
Keen to play footy at any AFL club in 2017, the 28-year-old was picked up by the Gold Coast Suns, keeping his career alight.
Despite his sub-par season, Barlow did have a scintillating purple patch as a tagger towards the end of the year before a shoulder injury in Round 17 sidelined him for the remainder of 2016 – frustrating himself and the SuperCoachers that had stuck by him.
Unfortunately, I was one of the coaches who rode the bumps of his three 60s to begin the year, followed by his eventual omission from the underperforming Dockers lineup – leaving Barlow playing for Peel Thunder in the WAFL.
After his re-invention as a tagger weeks later which yielded four straight tons, I was the one saying “I told you so!”
His match-winning performance against Port Adelaide was the highlight of this fruitful period, gathering 43 disposals and laying eight tackles on his way to a monster 168 SuperCoach points.
He was on fire again in Round 17 against Geelong with 70 points at half time until disaster struck. A bump left Barlow running from the ground holding his shoulder in agony, and that was the last time we saw him on the field in 2016.
I knew I had spoken too soon.
Anyway, enough about my SuperCoach woes. If anything, this form displays Michael Barlow’s true potential as a fantasy player, and spits in the face of anyone saying the game is past him.
At the Gold Coast, Barlow will be one of the most senior midfielders, especially without Dion Prestia or Jaegar O’Meara in the guts. Most importantly, Barlow will be played in his true position in the midfield, instead of being played forward as Ross Lyon has done at times over the past two seasons. Stints up forward hindered Barlow’s fantasy output over this time, reducing him from the highs of a 110+ average in 2014 to a sub-100 point averages over the last 24 months.
The big variable for Barlow is whether his position will remain mid/fwd in SuperCoach, because his dual position status will improve his value immensely.
Ideally, you don’t want the ex-Docker as a starting midfield premium, purely because there are so many better options on the table. It is hard to fit the crème de la crème into the midfield as it is without throwing Barlow in there as well.
What we must consider is his stellar 2014 season playing entirely as a midfielder, amassing 12 tons in this season and just three sub-90 point scores. In saying this, Barlow is turning 29 in a month which suggests he may be past his best fantasy form.
If he is gifted dual position status next season as he was in 2016, he is worth a look. He stood out in the NAB Challenge at the beginning of this year but was ultimately a tease. Sadly, this will be the only real indicator of how he will fare at the Suns in 2017.
Barlow has the potential to be a top 5-10 fantasy forward at his very best, which he illustrated at the latter stages of 2016 until his injury.
His keenness and intent to give 2017 his all is somewhat of a positive though, and could inspire a career revitalisation for the ball-magnet.
Watch his pre-season, and go from there. Barlow’s best indicates he is one to take a look at.