Game over?

Whilst its only round 2, there are already seasons on the line. To assure yourself of a finals spot in August, you need to hunt for a final H&A record of 12-6.

  • 2015 – 4th and 5th were both 11-7, separated only by percentage
  • 2016 – 4th spot (Rines), finished the year 12-6

 

12-6 is the benchmark people, anything less and you’re relying on luck to get yourself into the August jamboree.

Whilst the losers of round 1 are no doubt licking their wounds, winning teams can hardly sit by and congratulate themselves. Each team is only a short skid of losses away from denting or ultimately blowing their finals chances.

Losers from round 1 / teams already under the spotlight include Badgers (realistically rebuilding year anyway); Outlaws (expected to rebound this year); Vipers (defending champions); Titans (decorated career); and Rines (made finals both years).

Interestingly, a few August jamboree regulars might be at risk of missing the dance at the conclusion of round 2.

Doubly interestingly, is that each matchup this week is a case of winner vs loser. Will we see the unlikely scenario of half the ladder being 2-0 vs the other half of the ladder at 0-2?

Starting 0-2 isn’t doomsday, but you leave yourself a huge task, going 12-4 the rest of the H&A if you want to lock in a desirable and finals bound 12-6 record.

Starting 0-2 isn’t panic stations, but leaves you at risk to starting the year 0-3, at which point it’s practically…

Joffa + Game over

 

 

 

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2017 1st Place Prediction – Gators

Gators LogoGators

Place: 1st

(Last year finished 8th)

 

Predicted Average: 1800

8th to 1st in one season is an incredible call but the Gators look to have the cattle to do it. In the offseason they secured the services of Simpson and Ebert, got the biggest free hit since Montagna with Macrae going forward (kicked 1.2 for the H&A Season!) and were able to shore up their backline by swinging Mills into defence. After spending countless (actually 3 – Spencer, Campbell, Vardy) draft picks Gators were finally able to address the biggest issue dogging their list by securing a half decent ruck in Nankervis. The Gators run quite thin on forward and ruck depth but look for them to shuffle their rucks and maybe swing Gresham forward come the first mid-season draft.

Breakout Player – Toby Nankervis

Fun fact, Toby Nankervis averaged 228 DT points from two wins at the 2013 U18 National Championships and 105 points in three losses. He scored 209 against Queensland and 247 against Northern Territory. Huge! Toby the Nank-Engine looks to be of a similar mould to Stef Martin – less of a tap ruckman but mobile around the ground. If he can approach big Stef’s scoring the Gators are laughing.

Time to Slide – Brandon Ellis

Kade Simpson was going to get this but since he’s only a recent acquisition it didn’t seem fair. Many doubts surround Ellis’ role in the team with the mini midfield overhaul at Richmond. He loves his soft outside ball but his ball use is questionable. Ideally the addition of Prestia and Caddy means Ellis is able to receive more outside ball but who knows how long he can survive as a one dimensional player. (This was written before Thursday’s game)

Make or Break – Carlton

Gators have a heavy reliance on three Carlton players who’s roles are uncertain in a team going through a full rebuild – Simpson, Wright and Kerridge. Simpson could hang up the boots at any moment. There doesn’t look to be an abundance of fantasy points going at Carlton again this year and the way Wright and Kerridge finished the year was less than inspiring. Thankfully Kerridge and Wright are probably battling for the same positions.

Rucks are a repetitive theme but Gators will be scraping through the first 9 rounds with English on their bench. Any injury to Big Boy or Nank will likely spell a donut for the Gators.

That’s a Bold Strategy Cotton, Let’s See If It Pays Off For ‘Em…

Probably learning from the example set by the Vipers last year, the Gators have quickly shed young talent in order to grab players that will help them in the short term with Kade Simpson being the best example. Gators gave up Maynard and Stringer for Simpson and will expect at least a full years’ worth of service from him or the trade will be a bust.

Summary

Gators actually scored much better than their ladder finish indicated last year and were less than 500 points off the ladder leaders so the jump from 8th to 1st isn’t completely out of the blue. The Gator’s scoring will continue to come from their solid midfield and some absolute cream in the defence and forward line. A scary realisation is that the Gators haven’t sold the farm to get to this position. They hold a decent number of draft picks in future drafts and they core playing group is still very young.

Rankings

Coach B C R F Total
Gators 1 4 4 1 1

2017 2nd Place Prediction – Vipers

cropped-vipers-logo.jpgVipers

 Place: 2nd

(Last year finished 1st)

Predicted Average: 1744

 Last year I predicted the Vipers would finish 5th but Jero decided to make moves this league hasn’t seen before and brought in a host of contributing players to get his team into finals and the second UKL premiership. The biggest move was the trade that saw Vipers move on Heeney, a traditionally untouchable player, in exchange for Nick Riewoldt and Birchall. Vipers also traded David Swallow who was out for the season in exchange for Broadbent and snapped up NDS in the draft. The Viper’s finals campaign mirrored that of the Bulldogs as they came from 4th to win three in a row to take it home. NDS retired in the off-season but everyone else remains and as a result the Viper’s premiership window remains wide open. The 2017 version of the Vipers might be even stronger as they’ve been able to swing Caddy forward and topped up their midfield with Kieren Jack and Sam Gibson. They can also elect to move Hartlett into their defence later in the season but for now he remains a midfielder.

Breakout Player – Curtley Hampton

A breakout year for Hampton would be a well-deserved reward for the Vipers who patiently held on to him for zero games played in 2016. Adelaide have a plethora of rebounding defenders and holes in their midfield which is great for Hampton. Even if Hampton “only” becomes a rebounding defender it seems to be a productive position within Adelaide with the likes of Laird, Brodie Smith and Seedsman all scoring well. If Laird pushes into the midfield that can only mean more ball for Hampton with his biggest risk coming in the form of other fringe players fighting for a similar spot. The timing could be especially handy now that Malceski has retired.

Time to Slide – Josh Caddy

I’m not buying into Caddy at Richmond. I recall Caddy having huge wraps on him as a junior ball magnet but he’s never really taken that next step to replicate it at AFL level. This may have been due to playing team roles at Gold Coast and Geelong but I can’t see that changing at Richmond. Caddy will swing between the midfield and forward line in 2017. Being forward eligible lowers the bar of expectation from a fantasy perspective but I’m predicting Caddy to drop almost 10 points from his average which will put him on the cusp of a starting forward.

Special mention: Nick Riewoldt – “Surely he can’t do it again, can he?” – coaches since 2013

Make or Break – Shane Mumford

When firing the Vipers have probably the best, and comfortably top 2, ruck divisions in the league with their Gawn/Mumford combo. Mumford played 21 home and away games in 2016 but looking back reveals that Mumford has never achieved that number of games in any previous season. Considering the way Mummy plays I was expecting a lot of the missed games to be a result of suspensions I can’t find a record of Mumford ever missing a game through suspension. The unfortunate reasons for games missed comes down to injuries with Mumford missing swaths of previous seasons and usually in the back end of the year. Vipers generally give up points to their opponents in their defence and midfield so if Mumford goes down it will mean the loss of their biggest point of difference.

That’s a Bold Strategy Cotton, Let’s See If It Pays Off For ‘Em…

The Vipers had a pretty safe and vanilla off-season. They covered fairly well for the loss of NDS and Malceski and could even afford to drop Walker and Bird with Caddy swinging forward and drafting Hrovat. They didn’t enter the preseason draft until pick 20 and have already traded away their 2018PSR1. The shifting of draft picks in order to bring in established players makes sense as long as their team is in premiership contention. Selling off early picks means that they’ll need to really capitalise on any sliding players at future drafts to make sure the next generation of Vipers are ready to step up when the older players fall away.

Summary

The Vipers will be expecting to make finals this year and anything less should be considered a bust. Their 6th ranked midfield isn’t as bad as it looks. Most teams except the Badgers and Barbarians are within 30 points of each other. None of their players look like they are about to seriously drop away and they have pockets of improvement possible from Thurlow, KK, Fiorini, Hrovat, McLean and Keays. A premiership team doesn’t need an overhaul and Vipers have really only filled the holes where they need to. Should they get an unfortunate run of injuries then they may wish they still had a few more assets to trade with but you often can’t have your cake and eat it too. Vipers showed the league last year that it pays to pull the trigger especially when your rivals are unwilling to.

Rankings

Coach B C R F Total
Vipers 5 6 1 3

2

 

 

2017 3rd Place Prediction – Jackals

Jackals LogoJackals

 Place: 3rd

(Last year finished 5th)

 

Predicted Average: 1737

Injuries and suspensions were the Jackal’s worst enemies in 2016. Bennell, Hurley and Ryder missed the entire season. Shiels, Sidebottom and McVeigh also suffered untimely injuries that curtailed the beginning of the Jackal’s season. Similarly, a few Jackals again begin 2017 under injury clouds including repeat offenders Bennell, Scott Selwood, Wells, McVeigh and Hurley. Like the Ducks the Jackals also didn’t feature in an offseason trade and they continued to target young players in the draft. A sneaky late season pick-up of Bob Murphy could pay dividends this year.

Breakout Player – Darcy Parish

I’m hesitant to nominate second year players for breakouts but, like Oliver, I think Parish will buck the trend. Parish was dropped in the deep end in 2016 and survived which will only make him a better player. His preseason has been solid and the return of a few more senior players to dish the ball out and teach him the craft has me backing him for a big year. Another player the Badgers unashamedly threw out offers for but couldn’t get a deal over the line.

Special mention: Petracca

Time to Slide – Jarrad McVeigh

The obvious choice. Not only will McVeigh again miss the start of the year through injury but the Swans have a lot of players pushing to fill his role in the team. Lloyd, Mills and Jones are all capable of swinging between the Swan’s defence and midfield. Swans actually boast one of the youngest lists in the competition and have a reputation for developing players from within so expect McVeigh to step back further throughout the year.

Make or Break – Harley Bennell

The ongoing Bennell saga has been shrouded in rumours of drug use. He’s currently still listed as a 5-7 week “calf” injury. As previously mentioned there are some juggernaut forward lines in the league and the Jackals need Bennell back and firing especially if Wells, Ryder and Robinson miss chunks of the season. Bennell was a high selection at the initial draft that has not paid dividends but there’s still time to turn it around.

That’s a Bold Strategy Cotton, Let’s See If It Pays Off For ‘Em…

For a team with their premiership window open the Jackals didn’t make a single move in the off-season to improve their odds and probably even went backwards. They had the opportunity to take both Roughy, Watson or Tuohy but instead selected Ainswerth, Jayden Hunt, Preuss, Bonner and Weller. Ainswerth at pick 6 seemed especially early. I don’t expect any of those players to contribute in a meaningful way to the Jackal’s season. They delisted established players Griffen, Menzel, Bugg and Bagueley to do so. The window isn’t shutting as quickly for the Jackals as other teams but if they narrowly miss out then they might regret this draft.

Summary

The Jackals can claim the strongest midfield in the league thanks to Dangerfield, Sloan, Sidebottom, Scully and Cotchin. Jackals don’t really have an outstanding weakness which is the sign of a team ready for a premiership. Injuries and a shaky ruck bench may cause them issues through the year but there isn’t much they can do about the first and they can always swing Ryder from their forward line back to their ruck division if they need. If competition is as tight as predicted in the top half of the ladder then the Jackals might need to change tact and bring in some more experienced players.

Rankings

Coach B C R F Total
Jackals 6 1 2 6 3

2017 4th Place Prediction – Ducks

Ducks LogoDucks

 Place: 4th

(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.

Summary

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.

Rankings

Coach B C R F Total
Ducks 4 2 4 7 4

2017 5th Place Prediction – Titans

t-logo1Titans

 Place: 5th

(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.

Summary

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.

Rankings

 

Coach B C R F Total
Titans 2 7 3 9 5

2017 6th Place Prediction – Wolverines

WolverinesWolverines Logo

 Place: 6th

(Last year finished 4th)

Predicted Average: 1701

While the capitulation of their ageing backline hasn’t been as spectacular as expected the writing has been on the wall for the ‘Rines. At the end of 2016 Bartel retired and Mundy missed out on defender status so the Wolverines look like they have non-committedly hit the rebuild button in the off season. They overlooked the likes of Roughy and Watson in the draft in preference of Josh Smith and Menegola. They also moved on stalwart Kade Simpson for Stringer and Maynard. In slightly stranger moves they also traded out Ebert (26yo) and brought in Dale Thomas. The much hyped Tom Ruggles was also delisted in the off-season.

Breakout Player – Josh Smith

Josh Smith is not the flashiest of player nor the classiest user but when given the freedom he certainly knows how to find it – he averaged 105 over the JLT series. He already averaged 75 in 2016 but could easily improve on this in 2017 which would put him into premium defender territory. The only thing holding Smith back will be his role within Collingwood.

Time to Slide – David Zaharakis

Ignoring the obvious Boyd, Hodge, Gibson, Johnson, Mundy, Lewis and Sandilands for a moment I’m predicting the return of players to Essendon will see a reduction in output from Zaharakis. In 2015 Zaharakis averaged a very worrying 75 before storming out of the gates in 2016 to average 94. Zaharakis might not slide as far as 75 but his output certainly won’t be in the 90s again.

Make or Break – 2017

2017 is the last year the Wolverines can make a premiership without committing to a proper re-tool, re-plumb, re-wire. They seem in two minds about it though and have arguably weakened their side while maintaining the services of some quickly depreciating players. The Wolverines can either see if they can eek out a premiership from this list or ensure they get the best value from players that won’t be around for long. If they choose to move on players then how they do so and who they bring in will probably define the Wolverines list for the next 3 years. 2017 is make or break for the Wolverines in more ways than one.

That’s a Bold Strategy Cotton, Let’s See If It Pays Off For ‘Em…

The positional jenga happening at the Wolverines made sense when they were in their premiership window but with their current list it’s difficult to justify. Boyd, Wallis, Stevie J, Tippett and Corey Ellis are all currently filling roles in positions without being anchored. Planning the next stage for a team is difficult when upwards of 6 players could retire at the end of the year but unexpected positional changes might cause some very unwanted headaches for the Wolverines. Virtual Sports seem to play it a bit fast and loose with awarding player positions and we’ve seen some inconsistent allocations before. Even if the coach doesn’t have to make a tough decision about making room in his midfield for an unanchored player or jettisoning the player it still robs that line of a slot that could have been used holding a developing asset.

 Summary

The fact that the Wolverine’s forward line is 10th in the competition is probably more of a reflection of how strong the other forward lines are comparatively. A lot of jet mids were available as forwards in our initial draft and a fair few break-out players seem to be gifted fwd/mid status this year. Franklin, Rioli, Stevie J, Riewoldt and Stringer are a serviceable set of forwards but it just won’t stack up to others going around. Their backline continues to be their strength but the rest of the competition has caught up. Honestly, Wolverines seem to be in no man’s land with their list right now. They haven’t won a premiership and their side is weaker than 2016 but they also lack a suite of players with upside. The coach will need to decide on a direction early and commit to it because time is running out for a lot of his players.

Rankings

 

Coach B C R F Total
Wolverines 3 5 6 10 6

2017 7th Place Prediction – Outlaws

Outlaws LogoOutlaws

 Place: 7th

(Last year finished 10th)

Predicted Average: 1683

The Outlaws were the big winners in the pre-season draft for me after being massive, dumb, ugly, smelly losers in 2016. They locked away, McGrath, who could be the first Heppell/Ellis type defender this league has seen in a draft, with pick 1. Roughy then slid to them at pick 11 but they weren’t done there. Setterfield, arguably a first round pick had he been drafted by a club other than GWS, was available at 19 and Tuohy, who could be a new Enright, was there for him at 21. Outlaws were also able to handcuff Darcy to Clarke with their rookie selection though the fact that Clarke remains on their list at all probably nullifies all the previous good work. Outlaws also shrewdly shored up their defence with the acquisition of Hooker and Rance at the end of 2016.

Breakout Player – Josh Kelly

Kelly looks set for a massive year. He improved his average by 16 points in 2016 to 89 but I think his ceiling is around the 105 mark. Kelly was prolific in the JLT series averaging 94 and racking it up at 1.22 ppm. Whitfield’s absence in the first part of the year should also help Kelly establish his role in GWS. The 4th year mid, anchored as a forward, will help nullify some of the forward PODs in the league such as Merrett, Hunter, Bont, Martin, Mitchell and Adams.

Time to Slide – Tom Nicholls

Nicholls gets no love from Rocket and seems to be constantly out of favour and out of the Gold Coast team. Their recruitment of Witts along with the Sun’s fair amount of tall timber might spell the permanent relegation of Nicholls to a back-up ruckman. The onus will be on Nicholls to get his body right and prove that he deserves the number 1 ruck mantle.

Make or Break – Michael Hibberd

Hibberd was the Outlaws 2nd pick in the initial draft and they’ll be expecting a better return from his Melbourne playing days than they got from Harry O’Brien Perennial Flog Heritier Lumumba. Hibberd’s fantasy production used to be more consistent than publisher Mills & Boon. He’d rarely crack the ton but also rarely would he return a dud score. Outlaws would have been expecting Hibbo to be the rock that they build their defence around. If Hibberd can return to his 85+ ways then the Outlaws defence will be serviceable but anything less will likely see them giving up points in that line most weeks.

That’s a Bold Strategy Cotton, Let’s See If It Pays Off For ‘Em…

There weren’t many trade rumours flying around of Outlaws hunting a ruckman in the offseason but they really should have been. It was announced a few weeks away from list lodgement that Clarke would miss at least half the year. Nicholls seems out of favour and when you have to rely on McKernan playing each week you know you’re in trouble. Their only bankable ruck is Rory Lobb. Outlaws didn’t even enter the draft with a ruck spot free and as a result had no choice but to watch English go by at pick 11 (though Roughy wasn’t a bad selection). It’s difficult to tell how good English will be or how quickly he’ll achieve his ceiling but it could be a decision that the Outlaws lament for many years.

Summary

With the addition of Hibberd, Stanton and essentially Beams to the 2017 Outlaws side I expected the Outlaws to surge up from the bottom of the ladder. However, the real catalyst to an Outlaws climb will require a return to form for Armitage, Hanley, Greenwood and, especially, Redden. Unfortunately, Outlaws probably need to find even more improvement from somewhere to be a serious premiership threat and this would traditionally come in the form of kids with potential about to step up to be solid contributors. For a team near the bottom of the ladder they only have a few candidates with Stretch, McGrath, Wilson, Setterfield, and Duggan falling into this category. Outlaws will need a high strike rate from them or the team will not progress.

Outlaws will give up massive points in the ruck division but when their midfield is firing they should be competitive with any side. As mentioned before, the competition in the middle of the ladder is tight and will likely be decided by injuries and match-ups.

Rankings

 

Coach B C R F Total
Outlaws 7 3 10 5 7

2017 8th Place Prediction – Barbarians

viking-barbarian-axes-mascot-logo-17602295

Barbarians

 Place: 8th

(Last year finished 7th)

 

Predicted Average: 1670

 The Barbs received one of the softest draws in 2016 especially in the first half of the year which helped them finish 7th. They have improved their side overall but Naitanui is a tough loss to cover and Outlaws and Gators have leapfrogged them in the order so I’ve got them tipped to slide slightly. The Barbs had a relatively quiet preseason compared to 2016 where they were involved in only a single trade and would take two picks at the draft. The back end of 2016 saw them make a big play for Hogan and Jack Martin and despite earning defender status Martin remains anchored in their forward line for 2017. Ditto for Taylor Adams and Jake Lloyd.

Breakout Player – Jack Steele

Steele’s NEAFL average is fairly outrageous even for NEAFL: 119 across 11 games in 2015 and 156(!) across 10 games in 2016. Unfortunately the GWS midfield is deeper than the Mariana Trench and Steele didn’t see much time in the guts when he was able to crack the side. A trade to the Saints should present Steel with more opportunities and an average of 93 from 63% TOG @ 1.44ppm across the JLT series indicates that he’s ready to translate his NEAFL form into AFL form.

Time to Slide – Shaun Burgoyne

The evergreen and big game defender will be the victim of the mini rebuild taking place at Hawthorn if injury doesn’t get him first. Expect to see Burgoyne given less responsibility on field as Clarkson takes a long term view to the list. He should still have his moments through 2017 but he won’t continue the barnstorming end he had to 2016.

Make or Break – Richmond

The unabashed Richmond supporter unsurprisingly has a few Tigers in his team but so far none of them have developed while under Barbarian tutelage. There’s a bit of a reshuffle taking place at Tigerland and the Barbs will be hoping it benefits Vlastuin, Menadue and McIntosh. Nobody should be better place in the league to make the call on whether to hang onto these players or move them on. Lots of question marks remain but one thing for certain is that a premiership Barbarian outfit will not be able to carry these Richmond players with their current output.

That’s a Bold Strategy Cotton, Let’s See If It Pays Off For ‘Em…

There was probably no bolder nor eyebrow raising pick than Bailey Williams – defender at 14 on draft day. Some digging revealed very little about the 19 year old because Williams missed out on the SA U18 side and wasn’t involved in the TAC Cup due to being outside of Victoria. Williams played for Glenelg in SA in 2015 which was highlighted anecdotally by a 56 touch game. Pick #48 in the 2015 draft averaged 78 across 8 games for Footscray in the VFL last year and 50 across 6 games for the Bulldogs. These are hardly inspiring figures but Bulldogs and Barbarians have a history of nailing obscure picks.

Summary

The Barbarians have some of the absolute gems of the competition locked away including Treloar, Wines, Grundy, Merrett (fwd) and Adams (fwd). Barbs continue to build a war chest of young players that could all be stars of the competition if they aren’t already. The fact that Barbs opted not to break the forward anchors of Lloyd, Adams and Martin show that they are planning for long term success. The Barbarians could have had a much stronger 2017 team overall had they swung those players into defence but Naitanui’s ACL was probably the catalyst for another year of development for the baby Barbs.

Rankings

 

Coach B C R F Total
Barbarians 10 9 6 2 8

2017 9th Place Prediction – Scorpions

Scorpions Logo

Place: 9th

(Last year finished 6th)

Predicted Average: 1659

Scorps welcome back Heppell and received another  set of positional blessing with I. Smith, M. Kennedy and Hopper earning forward status and while Greene and Sheed both maintaining forward status… wait… what the hell happened here? Grand Final appearance to 9th in two years? A big trade at the end of last season saw the Scorpions move on top players Riewoldt and Birchall in return for Heeney. They then took 7 selections to the draft after delisting the likes of Rosa and Bell while also trading away Leuey. I think the Scorpions have hit the rebuild button but I’m not quite sure because Scott Thompson remains on their list.

Breakout Player – Sam Mayes

I’m actually serious this time. Fagan looks to have implemented a game plan of maintaining possession at Brisbane and with Mayes being one of the better users at the Lions they should want to get it into his hands. He’ll be perfectly suited to that cheap +6 mark/kick across the half back line and wing. If this isn’t the season that Mayes breaks out then he never will.

Time to Slide – Scott Thompson

Thompson earned this nomination last year and I don’t want to pick on him but he didn’t slide as much as expected and, to be honest, I’m struggling to see another worthy candidate. I wouldn’t bank on Heppell stepping straight back up to his previous output.

Special Mentions: Blicavs – third man up rule will not help him.

Make or Break – Zak Jones

Some speculative and risky recruiting has seen Scharenberg, Scrimshaw, Z.Jones and Witherden added to the Scorpion’s backline with no rookie defenders providing additional depth. Jones looks set for a good year but none of them have any job security. Throw in Mayes and the ever concussed Brodie Smith and Zac Jones will need to play every game if the Scorpions are to avoid copping donuts in their backline. Not only that but the ‘Pions payed a premium price for Jones by selecting him at pick 9 (though to be fair they just missed out on Josh Smith and Salem).

That’s a Bold Strategy Cotton, Let’s See If It Pays Off For ‘Em…

The Scorpions invested heavily in this draft and shed some middling and promising players on the way to 3 first round draft picks and 7 overall selections. I’m not a fan of having too many picks close together as you usually end up reaching for players in order to fill team positions. It seemed to work out for the Scorporation in the first round where they snapped up Bowes at 5 and then crossed their fingers that Boyd would still be around at 9/10. I’m not sure what their excuse was after that with two out of left field selections in Scrimshaw at 18 and Witherden and culminating with Polec. This draft may define the Scorpions teams for years to come.

Summary

Scorps will struggle this year, no doubt, and I don’t think they’ll be surprised considering the moves they’ve made recently. The competition between 9th – 2nd is also shaping up to be very even this year so expect injuries and draw to play a big part in the order of the middle of the pack. The Scorpions have a competitive forward line but their backline has been stripped right back to make way for youth.

Rankings

 

Coach B C R F Total
Scorpions 9 8 8 4 9