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Carlton Blues: Dream Team Preview

JLoh brings us the Carlton Football Club preview and some players we should be casting our eye over. Will Bryce Gibbs be one of the most selected players now as a DEF/MID? Are there any other Blues on your radar for 2011?

This is the next of our submitted Club Dream Team Previews. Thanks to JLoh for sending this one in! You will receive a stubby holder and if your article is one of the two that gets the most Facebook “Likes’ (just above this blurb), you’ll get yourself an AFL Prospectus! Read on!

The Outlook

Most Blues fans still would have painful memories and be left with a bitter taste in their mouths from close finals defeats in both 2009 and 2010. The Blues were poised to win in both finals, however were not able to deliver in either 4th quarter after leading at three quarter time.

In 2011 the Blues MUST win a final. Anything less will be considered a disappointment for a team that is on the up and promises to deliver to long suffering fans of this proud club steeped in rich history. Carlton should make the top eight and although talk of a top 4 finish is not out of the question, it is highly unlikely. Realistically the Blues should push for a home final in 2011.

The Draw

The Blues must be paying someone in the AFL to receive such a favourable draw. In 2011 the Blues will only travel 4 times interstate and will play 9 games on the hallowed turf of the MCG. Carlton has byes in Round 8 and Round 23. The Round 23 bye will be perfect for the Blues, who will benefit greatly from the break leading into finals football.

Fantasy Value

The Blues were the ranked 5th in the AFL as a team in DT averages and have players who will be worthy of consideration in all 4 positions for any dream team. The Blues generally will be encouraged to play a fast and high possession brand of football moving the ball quickly into the forward line.

It was evident last year that the Blues seemed to lack that extra gorilla defender or that tall target up forward to provide a contest.  Trading in utility Jeremy Laidler from Geelong and the drafting of young key position players Matthew Watson (Pick 18), Patrick McCarthy (Pick 34) and Luke Mitchell (Pick 42) should provide a solution to this problem.

Defenders

Strongly Consider: Andrew Carrazzo (2010 average: 81.6)

If Carrazzo is available to be picked as a defender it would be foolish not to consider him. Although sometimes used as a tagger, Carrazzo still is able to rack up the possessions averaging 22.6 disposals in 2010 with a kick to handball ratio of 1:1. Carrots also contributes in fantasy gold averaging 3.4 tackles and kicking close to a goal game (0.8).  Carrazzo also proved his durability not missing a single game in 2010.

Bottom Line: Carrazzo may push for premium status by the end of the season. Predicted 2011 average: 85+

Think TwiceHeath Scotland (2010 average 93.0)

Scotland has been a fairly consistent DT performer over the last 5 years never averaging less than 86.3 DT points a year, however 2011 may be the year where we will finally see a drop-off from the steady Heath. Over 30 years old and coupled with the breakout season of Jordan Russell, Scotland may struggle to pick up those cheap possies in the backline.

Kick in duties will fall to Russell who generally enjoys the cheap ‘kick to himself’ to gain that extra disposal.  While Scotland is a beautiful kick, I believe Ratten will use him on the half-forward flank delivering inside 50 to the forwards (averaged 3.9 last year).

Bottom Line: If Scotland is played by Ratten in the forward half of the ground, look for a drop off in DT scoring but a possible cheap pick up in the later half of the year. Predicted 2011 average: 75+

Rook To Watch: Matthew Watson (Drafted Pick 18)

Will need to monitor over the NAB cup to evaluate his chances of playing, but on paper seems like a good fit for the Blues. Described on the Carlton FC website as a ‘left-footed tall defender with impressive marking ability and a tremendous ability to win the ball.’

Bottom Line:  Watson is likely to get a game sometime in the 2011 season and may be a unique bench option. Predicted average: 40+

Midfielders

Strongly Consider: Bryce Gibbs (2010 average 96.4) EDIT: Gibbs is listed as a DEF/MID.

While the Prince of Perfection (Chris Judd) should be considered by every DT coach out there, Gibbs warrants the same if not greater consideration due to the fact that he is a player who has not yet reached his true DT potential. Carlton fans have been frustrated at Ratts for leaving Gibbs in the backline or sitting on opposition players when the game is there to be won.

The 2011 season sets the stage for Gibbs to stamp himself on the competition and announce himself as a truly elite midfielder. A score of 166 in Round 10 last year is a taste of what Gibbs is capable of. Gibbs has lacked in the goal kicking department, however if allowed to run wild in the midfield, it is likely that there will be an increase in both goals and possessions for the 21 year old. In his four seasons Gibbs has only missed one regular game.

Bottom Line: Gibbs has surely completed his education of the game and at only 21 years old is ready to take the AFL by storm. Predicted average: 110+

Think Twice: Andrew Walker (2010 average 77.7)

Early January and the first time trial results are released and without fail 1AW always is leading the pack. Maybe this year he will live up to the hype as a #2 in the 2003 draft? Maybe Walker will have a breakout season? Maybe he will play out the season this year with a solid pre-season? Answers to all three questions: No he will not. Do NOT be seduced, as it is the same story with Walker every year. Promises much early, but delivers very little. In the last 3 years Walker has played 27 out of a possible 66 games.

Bottom Line: Pick up Walker at your own peril, he may have ‘recommitted’ to the Blues after the trade rumours, but he will not be committed to your DT and will surely miss games when you need him most. Predicted average: 60+

Smokey Newcomer: Andrew Collins (2010 average 66.2)

While most DT coaches in 2011 will go with premium/rookie combo especially with all the new kids from the Gold Coast Suns, the new recruit from Tigerland Andrew Collins may sneak under the radar as a unique option. Although priced a little high, Collins averaged close to 15 disposals a game and contributed a goal a game in 2010 with the Tigers.  Some may question whether he will get a game with the Blues, but having watched him play, Collins has strong hands, can take a solid grab and kicks fairly well providing Ratten with another option up forward.

Bottom Line: Collins is a unique option for those who seek an alternative strategy to their midfield setup in 2011. Predicted average 70+

Rucks

Strongly Consider: Matthew Kreuzer (2010 average 76.2)

Matty Kreuzer aka Special K/Humphrey was struck down in Round 13 last year with a season ending knee injury. Reports from the pre-season indicate that Kreuzer is well on track for Round 1 with coach Brett Ratten even suggesting that Kreuzer and Robbie Warnock may start in the centre square together. This seems unlikely, however Kreuzer moves extremely well for a big man and is often thought of as that extra midfielder. This big man definitely has the potential to pull out big scores evidenced by his 127 in Round 8 last year. Look for Kreuzer to push forward often and provide a marking target in the 2011 season.

Bottom Line: Kreuzer could potentially be the 3rd highest scoring ruckman in 2011 behind man mountain Aaron Sandilands and the big Dean Cox. Predicted average 90+

Forwards

Strongly Consider: Chris Yarran (2010 average 60.1)

Yarran is entering the supposed ‘third year-breakout’ season in 2011. Yarran often doesn’t need that many touches to impact a game and Blues fans know that when Yarran does touch the ball, this smooth mover who seems to glide across the ground often produces magic. With another solid preseason under his belt, Yarran should see an increase in his time further up the ground in the midfield causing an increase in the number of disposals. Yarran will also look to push his goal average from 1.3 a game closer to 2 and will be fed the ball to deliver inside 50 due to his accurate and precise kicking.

Bottom Line: Monitor Yarran closely through the NAB cup, he may be that unique pick that sets you apart from other teams giving you that jump early in the season. Predicted average 80+

Think Twice: Lachlan Henderson (2010 average 60.6)

A year on most if not all Blues fans will be happy with the trade that brought Henderson to Carlton in exchange for Brendan Fevola. Henderson is a young developing forward at only 21 years old and seemed to play some solid games especially later on in the 2010 season as he found his place in the Blues set up and style of play. Hip surgery just before Christmas has put Henderson in doubt for the NAB Cup and he is no guarantee for a Round 1 start against the Tigers. Even when he returns, expect Waite to still be the number one option in the forward line.

Bottom Line: Henderson should be skipped this year and monitored for the 2012 DT season. Predicted average 60+

The Final Words

The Blues have a young developing list and will definitely be among the highest DT scoring teams. Led by skipper Chris Judd (is he the luckiest man in the land after marrying Twiggs?) expect good things from this team. Although we don’t know what is coming and we can’t smell what is cooking down at Carlton, there is one thing for certain heading into the 2011 season: the Blues have NO Passengers.

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