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Chook’s Rooks – Round 6

I don’t know how much training you need to become an actual meatworker, but in the Dream Team abattoir you’re free to start carving up your cows with no less of an apprenticeship than five minutes in a live chat room with Dr Dream Team. I mean, he’s a got a PhD in AFL after all.

I don’t know how much training you need to become an actual meatworker, but in the Dream Team abattoir you’re free to start carving up your cows with no less of an apprenticeship than five minutes in a live chat room with Dr Dream Team. I mean, he’s a got a PhD in AFL after all.

The point is, you can pull the trigger on a trade whenever you want – the trick is timing it so your out-going rook has hit their peak price and the guy you’re bringing in is, if it’s a downgrade, still in the basement or, if it’s an upgrade, as low as they’ll ever go. Not rocket science, agreed, but it gets messy. Take this week, for example. One of the main decisions for DT coaches over the next couple of days will be whether to upgrade, downgrade or keep Nick Duigan. The popular Carlton defender has made a healthy $125,000 for his 100,000-odd owners but takes a breakeven of 76 into his round-seven encounter. That’s 12 points higher than his average and a score he’s managed to exceed just once in the opening six rounds, going for a memorable 94 in the first of the multi-bye rounds three weeks ago. Also influencing the decision to love or shove Duigan is Carlton’s bye in round eight. So what are the options?

STAY ABOARD THE SINKING SHIP

You might have more urgent matters to attend to in your forward line and midfield. You might be backing Duigan to reach his breakeven against misfiring St Kilda. I mean, it’s not like he’s Richmond enigma Shane Tuck, who’s facing a BE the wrong side of 250. In the same way that contestants on The Biggest Loser drop the weight of two Jake Kings, Tuck could shed the starting price of a Broc McCauley when e next steps on to the park. Sorry, got a bit sidetracked. Anyway, you’re not risking a great deal by hanging on to Duigan, as a repeat of his 43 from round six will see him drop only a touch over $10 grand. Keep in mind that round eight bye, though.

THE WATER-LOGGED PREMIUM

I’m not talking Brian Lake here. I said “water-logged”, not “ship-wrecked”. (Y’all sick of the maritime theme already, right?) I’m thinking more a Corey Enright type, someone who’s dropped a bit of value but promises strong returns in the future and has already served one of their two byes this season. This kind of upgrade is possibly the best option, depending on the make-up of your team and, of course, the amount of spare change in your back pocket. About $140k should get the deal done.

THE MISSED-THE-BOAT MID-PRICER

If you haven’t hooked on to the Jed Adcock bandwagon yet, then Duigan might be the vehicle to get you there. You’ll need about $5000 more than you’ll spend on Enright, but you can’t argue with his form over the past four games. Plus they’ve got the Suns this week.

THE MISSED-THE-BOAT-BUT-YOU-COULD-PROBABLY-MAKE-IT-WITH-A-BIT-OF-A-RUN-UP ROOKIE

I hate bringing in rookies once they’ve had their first price rise. Their first price hike is invariably their biggest (although Mitch Wallis looks set to be an exception to that rule, but more on him later), plus it’s a bit of a pride thing. I’m considering swallowing that (and the $40k jump he’s had already) to do just that though and bring in Adelaide defender Luke Thompson this week. Now priced at $134,000, Thompson not only had a great scoring game in round six, but his job security was greatly enhanced by the shoulder injury to fellow Crow backman Phil Davis. I’d expect his average to sit much closer to the mid-50 mark that he managed in his first two games than the near-100 he knocked up against the Saints, but there were enough positives on Saturday night to bring him under serious consideration as a downgrade option.

THE SAILING-THIS-WEEK ROOKIES

There are a couple of defenders about to enjoy their first price rise, but neither Jack Hutchins or Matthew Shaw has done enough in their Gold Coast games to date to suggest they’re a better option than those above and below. Last week I’d have been saying the same things about Thompson, so there’s every chance I’ll end up with more egg on my face but neither Hutchins or Shaw has managed to crack the half-century mark yet and I’m pretty sure that’s around about their ceiling. Expect them to prove me wrong, of course.

THEY’VE HAD A BOTTLE OF BUBBLY SMASHED ON THEIR FRONT BIT, BUT THAT’S ABOUT IT

What is the front bit of a boat again? A bow, the sternum, Portsmouth FC? Whatever. Anyway, there a couple of downgrade options in the backline that have had a taste of the AFL but we’re yet to see them for a second time. The likeliest lad of those is probably Essendon’s Michael Hibberd, who ominously followed in the footsteps of Chook’s Rooks Hall-of-Famer Michael Barlow by winning the Fothergill-Round Medal as the VFL’s most promising player last year. No one’s expecting 130s, but dual-position eligibility is a party trick that gives Hibberd an edge over his peers. While his team was setting records, Hibberd made a confident debut that yielded 68 points. The next best option of the one-gamers, St Kilda’s Jamie Cripps, only scored about half that, but it came in a little more than a quarter of footy. Given that St Kilda’s season is spiralling out of control, you could expect some of the kids to get more time that would’ve been expecting had they started the year 5-0.

THE YET-TO-GET-HIS-RUDDER-WET ROOKIE

Your final option is to consider someone yet to make their first appearance, a rare and risky route only taken under extreme circumstances, i.e. – the player you want to get rid of is extremely bad or the one you’re bringing in is extremely good. Port Adelaide’s Ben Jacobs has convinced plenty of DT coaches that he’s the latter, so ditching Duigan for the dual-position Power draft pick wouldn’t be the craziest of calls. After recovering from glandular fever to feature in the SANFL reserves a fortnight ago, Jacobs stepped up to senior level last week and picked up 22 disposals. Lots of options and, of course, whichever way you go you’ll be wishing you did something else by Sunday night. Alright, on to the rest of the three-or-more gamers, then.

Three-or-more gamers

Only one other player in this bracket has a better breakeven than Thompson, and that’s Brisbane ruckman Broc McCauley (-62). As regular senior players regain fitness and are slowly being added to the Lions’ team, McCauley’s doing all he can to retain a place. Cheers for the ruck coverage during the multi-bye circus, big dawg. West Coast forward Jack Darling deserves a mention for his second successive monster score, as does Carlton midfielder Ed Curnow, although we’re getting used to premo-like scores from him. In fact, so good has Curnow been that I wasn’t overly shocked when he finished the round as my highest scoring midfielder. I was far more surprised, however, to see Andrew Krakouer’s name in second place when a doughnut or sub-affected score were looking like more likely results from the Collingwood mid-fwd. While Krak was the best example, there were a few others who scored well enough to ensure their price rises don’t freeze up. Gold Coast trio Danny Stanley, Josh Toy and Daniel Harris all scored around the 70 mark to give them Bes below 20 that even Cam Richardson could make. Speaking of Richardson, he was one of his VFL team’s best on the weekend, putting his name forward for a recall if a spot opens up in the North side. The Kangas’ big win doesn’t help his case, unfortunately. Finally, owners of Luke Tapscott would’ve been happy to see the Melbourne forward pick up 91 points until they realised they were given by the match review committee, not Virtual Sports. Tapscott’s free to fatten up a little longer then, with a BE of 26, but one indiscretion and he’ll be sidelined.

Two gamers

I’ve mentioned the unappealing Hutchins and Shaw already, leaving just midfield pair Sam Isles, of the Gold Coast, and Mitch Wallis, of the Western Bulldogs, in the two-game group. Both have plenty of upside, but the issue might be finding a midfielder in your team that’s cashed up enough to justify the downgrade. Suns reigning b&f winner Isles has put together palindromic scores of 47 and 74 in his first two, giving him a BE of -33, while Wallis showed the kind of ball-winning ability that had DT coaches drooling in the pre-season to gather 70 points against Collingwood after a sub-affected 10. That initial score means Wallis has a BE of -6 – quite high for a double-gamer – but once that 10 drops out of his price calculations he’ll start to really rocket. Speaking of rockets, coach Rodney Eade seems to really rate his youngsters in Libba and Wallis, indicating there’ll be plenty of opportunities for the Bulldogs pair. Isles has pretty good job security, too, you’d think, having played at AFL level before, if only fleetingly. Job security is hugely important when making a downgrade like this, as you may find the player remains on your bench, being called on to fill gaps, for the remainder of the season.

One gamers

Hibberd had his time in the Sun during the long-winded Duigan discussion above, as did Cripps. Of the other debutants from round six – Gold Coast forwards Steven May and Liam Patrick, North Melbourne forward Kieran Harper and St Kilda defender Will Johnson – only Harper really shapes as being a possible downgrade option next week. Keep your eye on his role/score this weekend and enjoy the return of league games. With every team in the land missing a Swan, Pendlebury or both, it’ll be interesting to see whether coaches bolster their midfields by choosing to prematurely chop a Harris/Libba type to bring in a Rockliffe/Redden (against GC) or Mitchell (against Port) type. It’s another big week at the DT trade table.

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