(Last year finished 2nd)
Predicted Average: 1721
The Titans no longer boast one of the strongest forward lines in the league and within the space of a year seem to have become one of the worst. The Titans made the wrong call on which of Swan or Roughead to keep and as a result neither are Titans now while Montagna has been swung into defence. Only Zorko, Westhoff and Breust remain from this time last year. The Titans took 4 forwards in the most recent draft and drafted young. Their haul of Tom Phillips, Ed Langdon, Venables and Daniel Robinson in their forward line to go along with Berry and Perryman indicate the Titans are planning for their long term future however their first pick was Watson. Further confusing things are the Titans decision to bring in Leuey and LeCras while trading away Jack. Like Wolverines I’m not quite sure if the Titans are rebuilding or hoping for another crack this year. Phillips (fwd) at pick 29 was one of the steals of the draft in my opinion – he averaged 120 across 12 games in the TAC and 106 in the VFL last year.
Breakout Player – Trent Dumont
Dumont has been starved of opportunities at North Melbourne while the team believed their premiership window to be open. The capitulation of North was always coming though and after round 16 he finally got a solid run of senior games. Dumont has been consistently performing at VFL level for the past three years with averages of 107, 114 and 103. He’s translated this form into the JLT series and scored at a respectable 1.06 ppm. Dumont looks best placed to benefit from the departure of Harvey, NDS and Wells and should see plenty of time in the guts at North. He’s been in the system for a few years so I expect Dumont’s output to build through the year rather than drop away as he adjusts to AFL level.
Time to Slide – Bernie Vince
Vince earned defender status this year but it might be one year too late. Melbourne have a host of players fighting for spots in the midfield and Vince’s role within the team is unclear. His spot in the best 22 isn’t in doubt and he’ll still be handy as a fantasy defender but I expect Vince to shave at least 10 points off his 2016 average.
Make or Break – Gary Ablett
I hate seeing good players cut short by injury and it must be even more frustrating for the Titans to have received very limited output from their first pick in the initial draft. Ablett is 32 now but is good enough that he could play on for several more years and even re-earn his forward status. He’s also copped enough recent injuries that one more lengthy stint on the sidelines might be enough for him to hang up the boots. Ablett looked great in the JLT series and the Titans will need Gary Ablett back to his best if they want to contend. If the opposite happens and Ablett retires then he’ll be a tough loss to cover.
That’s a Bold Strategy Cotton, Let’s See If It Pays Off For ‘Em…
Titans haven’t taken too many risks lately but the selection of Daniel Venables over Oliver Florent seems an odd one. Florent has featured in the JLT series and looks set for a round one debut while Venables hasn’t been sighted. Florent averaged 90 across 11 games in the TAC while Venables averaged 72 across 3. The Titans have never had the benefit of high draft picks yet they still have a good record of unearthing late draft gems. Venables is touted as a raw athletic talent but I can’t see any other reason to ignore Florent. Unfortunately this looks like one they might regret.
Special mention: They might miss Jack if they make it into the finals especially if they run up against the Vipers.
Titans will remain competitive in 2017 with a fairly even spread across their defence, midfield and ruck division. Their forward line will hemorrhage points to opposition teams. The Titans might realize a bit of bonus output from Goldy with the third man up rule and there is scope for improvement from Fantasia, Blakely, Phillips and Cox during the season. They will need improvement from all these players and some serious injury luck across their mids and forwards to keep up with the pack leaders.