(Last year finished 9th)
Predicted Average: 1572
Another struggling year predicted for the Badgers despite some decent picks in the past few drafts. Badgers really cemented their forward line for future years with the addition of Taranto and McLuggage to sit beside the likes of Brayshaw, de Goey, Lyons and Ziebell. Unfortunately, these picks don’t help the team where it is lagging the most – the midfield. Badgers will be deliberately avoiding looking at the ladder this year and instead choosing to enjoy any signs of improvement from their young brigade. However, any win will still be thoroughly enjoyed this year.
Breakout Player – Angus Brayshaw
Brayshaw didn’t necessarily have a poor season last year but concussion and injuries conspired to prevent him from getting a consistent run. Brayshaw ended up finishing 2016 strongly and after a delayed preseason will hopefully see his scoring follow a similar trend to that of Melbourne.
Time to Slide – Brett Deledio
Deledio was the picture of durability between 2008 – 2014 where he played 140 games in a row. His past two years have been riddled with lingering soft tissue injuries that have limited his preseasons and games played and pushed him out of the midfield. Thankfully he seems to find the ball wherever he goes but his move to GWS certainly won’t see him afforded any extra midfield time. He’ll once again start 2017 injured and needs some turn of luck to arrest his plummeting value.
Make or Break – Lachie Whitfield
Badgers are desperate for players to step up in their midfield and, after some very mediocre scores in the middle of 2016, Whitfield was able to break back into the GWS side and ended up being the Giant’s best player across the finals series. The prefect stepping stone for 2017… shit. When Whitfield returns from his forced hiatus he’ll face an uphill battle to collect match fitness and crack back into the GWS midfield. The timing couldn’t be much worse as Whitfield seemed like he was just about to take the next step in consistency. Badgers need him enter the upper echelon of mids if they ever want to compete in this league.
That’s a Bold Strategy Cotton, Let’s See If It Pays Off For ‘Em…
Holding so many mids anchored as forwards may one day result in a league leading forward line for the Badgers but it also comes with downsides. Mainly, the out of position forwards lose massive trade value when they lose their forward status but also that there will be no allowance for flexibility on their list due to having to work around the anchored players. They only made this problem worse by drafting Taranto and McLuggage as forwards with their first two picks. The opportunities were too good to pass up but a second McGrath would have been much preferred.
Badgers are probably in much the same position as this time last year except that their young talent is of a higher quality and well anchored. They’ll continue to look to the draft for the pieces required to turn their team into a dynasty and, after some shocking picks, will back their recruiting department. Their delisting department could do with a lot of work however with Tuohy, Wright, Howe, Watts, Dumont and Hrovat all currently sitting on other lists after being dropped.