(Last year finished 3rd)
Predicted Average: 1724
I’m surprised to see the Ducks this low but the only thing separating 2 – 5th is captain choice really. The Ducks must have migrated this summer as they were non-participants in the trade period and took just the two picks to the main draft. The Ducks have the luxury of Oliver, Brad Crouch and Hill on the bench of their midfield making it possibly the deepest in the league. Somehow their forward line, boasting Hunter, Dahlhaus, Crisp and Wingard is considered below average in the league.
Breakout Player – Clayton Oliver
The Badgers will make no secret that they tried many times to get Oliver on the trade table with the Ducks but their management was stoic that Oliver was off limits. For good reason too. Oliver is composed and clean by hand in traffic and gets first hands to the ball much like fellow Duck – Cripps. Oliver’s time on ground in 2016 was very restricted and he should improve if only from a higher fitness base and more time. That won’t be his only scope for improvement though as another year in the system should see Oliver get even better.
Time to Slide – Heath Shaw
Heath Shaw is overdue to do something silly. He’s somehow built up a reliable reputation but this is all part of Shaw’s plan to burn all his owners one last time. It’s a Shaw thing. The only surprise is whether he’ll do it via roller-coaster scoring, untimely injuries or suspension.
Make or Break – Jack Crisp
The midfield composition at Collingwood is far from settled. There seem to be a dozen players that can rotate through the guts – Adams, Sidebottom, de Goey, Smith, Greenwood, Aish, Varcoe, Wells, Phillips etc. Treloar is the only player that plays full time in the midfield and even Pendlebury has spent time on half back. 2017 could be a sink or swim year for Crisp. He finds the ball but disposal can be poor and if he can’t improve in that area then other players will be preferred over Crisp. The Ducks can’t afford Crisp to fall down the pecking order at Collingwood.
Special mention: Wingard – more midfield time or just hot air?
That’s a Bold Strategy Cotton, Let’s See If It Pays Off For ‘Em…
I thought the Ducks would have been fully erect when they saw Boyd still sitting there at pick 8 but to my surprise they opted for a Salem as a defender. Their theory was that an available ruck at their next pick at 28 would be much less of a downgrade than whatever defender would be available at 28. However, I think rucks need to be viewed as less of a gradient and more night and day – they either play or they don’t and that’s most important. The gamble could pay off if Naismith and Jordan Roughead can cover the season between them but both could miss games which would be sorely felt by the Ducks as they aim to win their first final.
The Ducks scoring comes for a fairly even spread of players in each position. They sit 4th for rucks but this is an incredibly tenuous ranking based on at least Naismith or Roughead always providing reasonable service. I thought they could have been more aggressive in the off season to try and address some of their deficiencies especially considering the depth of their midfield – Oliver might spend the entire year on the bench even if he does push his average towards 90. Instead the Ducks held onto their ducklings and will back improvement from within their team to win their first final even and hopefully snag a premiership.