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Chook’s Rooks – Round 15

One of the best things about being a dad is getting to play with your favourite childhood toys – like diecast cars, Transformer action figures and Lego – without copping the “creepy, weird man” or “nerd” tags. Well, not as much anyway. My sons are starting to get into Hot Wheels cars and it hasn’t taken long for me to be reminded that, like rookies, not all Hot Wheels are created equally.

One of the best things about being a dad is getting to play with your favourite childhood toys – like diecast cars, Transformer action figures and Lego – without copping the “creepy, weird man” or “nerd” tags. Well, not as much anyway. My sons are starting to get into Hot Wheels cars and it hasn’t taken long for me to be reminded that, like rookies, not all Hot Wheels are created equally.

Not content with slow-moving models that crawled down the track and limped up the loop-da-loop before tumbling to the floor, I was determined to hunt down the quickest and slickest kiddie cars on the planet. My research led me to the aptly-named Faster Than Ever series, which boast nickel-plated axles that reduce friction. Oh man, do those bad boys fly! Find one with a full metal jacket and you might just leave scorch marks on your floorboards. Gold Coast midfielder Trent McKenzie is a Faster Than Ever series car – a genuine jet. To prove it, the boy with the blistering left boot went ballistic in round 15, scoring a rookie round-high 122 points, taking his season average to a touch above 75. His 910 total points to date sees him ranked inside the top 10 for rookie-priced players this year, putting him in the illustrious company of young DT guns like Dyson Heppell, Shane Savage and teammate Dave Swallow. I’d love to have overlooked McKenzie’s breakout two-goal performance in what, admittedly, was a pretty DT-friendly game between Gold Coast and Fremantle at Subi after his monster score helped tbetta’s team sink my Merv Gray Autos, but it was simply too good to ignore. The next-best effort in round 15 came in the same game, with Fremantle mid-fwd Tendai Mzungu delivering on his preseason promise with a 108 that included a particularly productive third quarter. The only other hundred this week belonged to fellow multi-position star Heppell, who’s doing his best to convince coaches that he is in fact a perfectly fine candidate for your seventh defensive spot, as long as you’re confident in your cover for the DT grand finals when Essendon have the bye.

After Heppell was Port Adelaide ruckman Matthew Lobbe, who followed his first-up 95 in round 14 with a 94 this week. If Lobbe was a Hot Wheels car, the 2011 version has been completely remodelled. The man given first crack at filling the Dean Brogan-sized hole in Port’s clearance crew averaged just north of 30 points in three games last year, so his near-hundreds this season have come as something of a surprise. Having said that, it’s clear the substitutes rule has had positive affect on ruckmen’s scores across the board, and Lobbe’s woeful scores last season came in the back-up role whereas this time around he’s number one. The ability to switch between the rucks and forwards makes Lobbe an attractive option for those wanting to unlock Drew Petrie’s dual-positioning. This, coupled with those impressive scores and Brogan’s retirement, should result in a another sharp rise in Lobbe ownership this week. He quadrupled in popularity last week, rising from 6000 to 24,000 owners ahead of round 14 as coaches scrambled to cover the doughnut created by Cox’s bye. If you’re a Sandi or Smith owner and have more trades than a Simpson character could count on one hand, then Lobbe looks to be your car, er, man.

Three-or-more gamers

The good guys got a mention in the intro, so we’re left with the bad and the ugly here. Despite missing his first two price rises, more than 10,000 coaches jumped at the chance to recruit Hawthorn mid-fwd Isaac Smith last week. If they were lured in by his mammoth 138 in round 14, they would’ve been disappointed with his 53 against Collingwood in round 15. Port Adeliade def-mid Ben Jacobs was another to drop away after a big score the previous round, managing just 47 against Brisbane after scoring more than double that in round 14. In the same game, Brisbane’s Rohan Bewick maintained his recent good scoring rate, but only had half a match in which to get his hands on the footy after starting as the Lions’ sub… again. He finished with 40 points, which sees him fall into the bad category, narrowly avoiding ugly land. That’s where Sam Day resides. The Gold Coast forward picked up just 22 points against Fremantle, lowering his season average to 30 and, amazingly, dropping $10 grand to just $120,000. Horrible. Two more popular Gold Coast players in Zac Smith and Brandon Matera have also gone into a tailspin, courtesy of a huge hit in the big man’s case, and green vest for the little man. Smith, who has said he’s fine to play this week, by the way, dropped $16k and has a new breakeven of 109, while Matera leaked $10k and has a lofty BE of 91.

Two gamers

It might seem strange that, after several weeks now of shovelling Ian Callinan down your throats, I’m advising against selecting the Adelaide mid-fwd when he’s finally on the verge of his first price rise. The second-gamer started strongly against Sydney, pushing towards 50 points by half-time, before finding far less of the ball in a forward role that includes forays into the midfield. It’s not his second-half fade out that has Callinan on the outer, but a slight hamstring injury late in the game that looks set to have him sidelined for 2-3 weeks and the fact that Adelaide sit out their second bye of the season in round 16. If you haven’t got him yet, keep an eye on Adelaide’s team sheet from next fortnight onwards, as you don’t want him leaping up in price before you nab him. He’s got a breakeven of -88 – the same as Lobbe, in fact. After spruiking Lobbe in the intro, I won’t say any more other than weigh it up with some of the possible negatives. Price is one, starting at $120 grand. There is a chance as well, that Port will use some of the remaining games this year to “road test” some of their other young ruckmen, (although Lobbe is the most developed of the lot), and there’s also Brogan’s farewell game to factor into the equation. Oh, and don’t expect 90s each week. I’d predict an average of about 60-70 from here on in (watch him get 120 this week now!). I’m not trying to put you off – DP eligibility and good job security are big positives – but no one likes the used car salesman who fail to mention the crack in the engine before you buy the car.

I’m finding it hard to get very excited about the other “boys on the bubble”, as m0nty would call them, but that might be my low trade count talking. Outside of Callinan and Lobbe, there are two midfielders, two defenders and two forwards to consider. Collingwood’s Alex Fasolo (mid, $92,500), Gold Coast’s Hayden Jolly (mid, $97,600), Geelong’s Mitch Brown (fwd, $97,600), Fremantle’s Josh Mellington (fwd, $92,500), Gold Coast’s Joel Wilkinson (def, $97,600) and  are either vest fodder, lack job security or have serious concerns over their scoring potential.

One gamers

My computer said “no” today, just after I’d contemplated the two-gamers, so there are no one gamers this week. From memory there were about six rookie-priced players to get their first taste of AFL action in 2011 in round 15, although that included some with a bit of experience, like Andrew Hooper at the Dogs and Ben Griffiths at Richmond. I’ll try to get an update done if my computer begins to unsuck tomorrow, but don’t sweat it too much… you’ll get another look at these ones before their price rises.

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