Coach: Sarah Lucken
Salary Remaining: $6,400
When selecting my backline, I started with two players who I think will be top six defenders come years end. Rory Laird was my first pick, along with the rest of the world as he currently sits at 49% ownership, however, he’s proven himself for a number of years now and is super consistent whether he gets more midfield minutes or not. Michael Hibberd was my next pick, I did toss up Elliot Yeo and Michael Hurley but in the end, I went with – hopefully – the more consistent player with a slightly lower cost. Jake Lloyd is my value pick, locked in pretty early on. I think he’s slightly underpriced and will still find plenty of the football for Sydney.
Like most coaches, at some stage this pre-season I’ve had five, even six, rookie defenders in my team but as news of debutantes and non-debutantes (Nick Coffield) has leaked over the past week, I’ve settled on four. I’ve found some cash, from my midfield, and can afford Heath Shaw at d4. He took a few people for a ride last year and looked to be slowing down, but with Nathan Wilson heading to Fremantle and Zac Williams injured for the bulk of the season, he’s got no choice but to lift.
Aaron Naughton, Sam Murray and Tom Doedee are confirmed debutantes and I think all have reasonable job security going forward. Jeremy Finlayson is a placeholder at the moment while I wait for the teams to be announced tonight.
As I’m writing, the news is dropping that Patrick Dangerfield and Chris Scott have agreed that the risk is too great for the superstar to face Melbourne in Round 1. I’m ok with this. He was my first picked because he averaged 15 points per game more than the next best midfielder. If he does that again this year, he’ll make up for missing round one pretty quickly.
Behind Dangerfield, I locked away Nat Fyfe and Patrick Cripps pretty early on. I’m backing Fyfe to return to his best, kick a few goals and pump out regular 130+ games and Cripps looks to be fit as a fiddle, unencumbered and ready to do what the football world thinks he will; explode. A couple of goals in the JLT was enough to convince me I’ve made the right move.
Lachie Whitfield is probably my POD and one of my two biggest punts this season. In the past, I’ve opted for tried and tested midfielders who can give me consistency, but this year I’m taking a risk and backing in the former number one draft pick. He’s got a point to prove after serving a suspension for part of 2016 and if JLT is anything to go by, it looks like he’s going to spend some time at halfback this year. I’m hoping to see big possession numbers, high disposal efficiency and triple SuperCoach scores every week. After filling the rest of my team I had enough money for Marcus Bontempelli (or anyone cheaper) and am glad to lock him in. He started the year strongly, very strongly, and faded as did the Bulldogs. I’ll be looking for him to add some consistency to his game as the Dogs try to climb back into Finals contention.
Andrew Brayshaw and Bailey Banfield picked themselves when it was announced early in the week that they’d make their debuts in Round 1. Brayshaw should have excellent job security and will focus on pressure, tackles = points. I’m less bullish on Banfield’s job security but he’s in the team to play a role and if he does so, he should maintain his spot.
A lot of coaches have jumped off Luke Davies-Uniacke after seeing his SuperCoach scores from two JLT games, but I think he’s probably got the best job security of all the rookies and I’m happy to sit him in my team as a slow burn and watch him grow as a player. Tim Kelly should make his debut and has shown that he can score well and I’m hoping Nick Holman and Dom Barry get named tonight too.
I locked my two ruckmen in on day one and haven’t waivered but for wanting some extra cash on a couple of occasions. Max Gawn is undervalued and will find his best form after dropping some weight during the pre-season and Brodie Grundy can only get better. Aside from the expensive Matthew Kreuzer and Patrick Ryder (who has the Round 10 bye), I think Grundy will be the most consistent ruckman in 2018 and one of the few with room for improvement. Tony Olango or Mitch King will be my r3 as both have a number of Sunday games – Olango the cheaper option while King swaps easily with Gawn – and let me utilise the VC/C loophole when needed.
1,2,3 I locked them all in and built my team around them. Isaac Heeney is a forward line gift, Toby Greene I think can hit triple figures this year and hopefully has calmed down enough to stay on the park and Jack Billings looks ready to absolutely announce himself. Had Billings have kicked straighter last year he could well have been All-Australian.
Lack of forward line rookies early on caused me to search for a mid-priced forward and once I found Jesse Hogan I was sold. He’s cheap at $383,200 and is coming off a horrific year for him both personally and through injury and illness. I saw him find a fair bit of the ball outside the forward 50 in the JLT and expect him to kick plenty of goals as Melbourne push to play Finals. I’m hoping for an 85-90 average from Hogan.
Those forward line rookies have started emerging at the back end of the week. Ed Langdon, Bailey Fritsch and Jarrod Garlett have been confirmed to debut while West Coast is expected to name one or both of Liam Ryan and Daniel Venables. I’ll wait until teams are announced before tweaking but I think Venables has the higher scoring potential.
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