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Point of Difference – A Unique Perspective

Each year there are the same old rumblings about team similarity and lack of differentiation with rival teams. Safe to say that this will continue to occur and be of hindrance to us as much as Heath Shaw will continue to do stupid, stupid things. Aside from smart trading strategies and great amounts of luck, the one shining light that will always help this argument is that of unique players.

Each year there are the same old rumblings about team similarity and lack of differentiation with rival teams. Safe to say that this will continue to occur and be of hindrance to us as much as Heath Shaw will continue to do stupid, stupid things. Aside from smart trading strategies and great amounts of luck, the one shining light that will always help this argument is that of unique players. It’s simple: find a player that few others have the mettle to pick and stick with it. If you’re right, it could give you that edge in differentiation that you’ve been looking for. Or, what you may find happen (like did to me last year) – you chose said unique player (in this case it was Fyfe); who was relatively unique and awkwardly priced at the start of 2011; then they start performing so well that the entire Dream Team nation jumps on the bandwagon too. Then, sadly you become another one of the masses. [End of rant].

I’ll say this now – choosing a successful ‘unique’ won’t be easy – as there is always the risk that a) they will fail from the get go and will cost you money and a trade; or b) they will over perform and everyone will take notice and start jumping on the bandwagon. At least when choosing these unique players you can rest assured knowing you’re different (or so you think you are).

I’ve compiled a list of unique players – one from each club in the AFL. Some of you may not agree with these; however this might at the very least encourage a few more coaches to go out on a limb and go unique in 2012.

In alphabetical order by club, may I present McRath’s Point of Difference:

Adelaide Crows

Rory Sloane

2012 Details
Position:
MID
Price: $429,500
Age: 21
Bye: Round 11
2011 average: 86.3 (18 games)
Percentage coach ownership in 2011: 1.98% (6,035)

Why is he unique?

With all the love flowing towards his more seasoned teammate, Scott Thompson; Sloane may slip under the radar of many coaches in 2012. Considered as one of the breakout players we hear about (heading into his 3rd proper season in the AFL), coaches will find it hard to fit in a player of his price in a year where there appear to be a bevy of viable mid price options in the midfield.

Why should you pick him?

Sloane has established himself as a rising star in Adelaide’s midfield and will surely be a DT star in a matter of time. The fact that they play Gold Coast, the Bulldogs, Hawks, GWS and Port in the first five rounds means that Sloane should show us early on why he will have a breakout year. Averaging 94.25 from his last 8 games in 2011, Sloane ticks all the boxes; and should be a worthy pick for your 4th/5th midfield spot.

Predicted average for 2012: 100

Brisbane Lions

Pearce Hanley

2012 Details
Position:
DEF
Price: $396,600
Age: 23
Bye: Round 11
2011 average: 80.2 (22 games)
Percentage coach ownership in 2011: 3.45% (10,499)

Why is he unique?

The young Irish recruit is still learning the game, improving with each game he plays. With the likes of Jed Adcock, Josh Drummond and new recruit Sam Docherty likely to attract most of the attention in the back 6, this leaves Hanley to keep plugging away under the radar. Given he only played his first full season in 2011, many coaches will feel he won’t warrant selection yet.

Why should you pick him?

With the recruitment of Docherty, along with a healthy Drummond, Merrett and Adcock; this should free up Hanley to play further up the ground. After a successful International Rules series, he is looking fit and ready for another full season of AFL footy. Expect him to play more midfield in 2012, gaining more experience as he goes along. In terms of DT, he managed 4 x 100 + games last year. Expect this to improve in 2012 along with his overall average.

Predicted average for 2012: 85

Carlton Blues

Kade Simpson

2012 Details
Position:
MID
Price: $471,900
Age: 27
Bye: Round 13
2011 average: 95.4 (22 games)
Percentage coach ownership in 2011: 1.41% (4,299)

Why is he unique?

Simpson can be classified as the ‘forgotten man’ in the Blues midfield, constantly overshadowed by his classier, more famous teammates. Compared to Judd (25.06%) and Murphy (12.68%); along with the uprise of Mitch Robinson – Simpson will again be eclipsed in numbers, however rest assured your opponent won’t have him – so when Rocky or Barlow have a bad game, expect Simmo to be the difference in your matchup.

Why should you pick him?

Despite being behind Judd, Murphy and Gibbs in the spotlight, his feats on the football field are just as superior. His durability is unmatched (has not missed a single game in 6 years) and his ability to score points when needed is vastly underrated (having averaged 101 and 95 in the past two years). With many choosing one of the aforementioned Blues midfielders in 2012, Simmo will again be largely overlooked – but that won’t faze him. He typifies point of difference and could prove to be just that if you pick him for your midfield this year.

Predicted average for 2012: 100

Collingwood Magpies

Chris Dawes

2012 Details
Position:
FWD
Price: $357,800
Age: 23
Bye: Round 12
2011 average: 72.3 (15 games)
Percentage coach ownership in 2011: 7.05% (21,481)

Why is he unique?

A lot of coaches jumped on Dawes early in 2011 as he started the year with a bang. This would explain why his % ownership is a little higher than a few of my other uniques. His scores waned towards the end of the year, along with a long layoff between round 15 and 23 due to injury. With an average of 72 last year, he is far from a gun DT player – yet. Add to that the competition in the Collingwood forward class of 2012 (Sidebottom, Beams and Cloke) and it will be tough to squeeze Dawes into your team for the upcoming season.

Why should you pick him?

Because he is a huge unit. And he is only 23. Given key forwards take a bit longer to develop, don’t be distressed by Dawes’ numbers from 2011. Up until that niggling finger injury he sustained in round 15, he was averaging a healthy 76. After he returned underdone in round 23, he only managed an average of 49 in his last 5 games. The news around the Pies camp is that he is in good spirits and travelling well in the preseason after his injury-marred 2011. Dawes should start out 2012 as a focused and committed figure in the Collingwood forward line. Look for him to start to make more of an impact this year; and emerge as an up and coming DT power forward.

Predicted average for 2012: 85

Essendon Bombers

Stewart Crameri

2012 Details
Position:
FWD
Price: $365,000
Age: 23
Bye: Round 12
2011 average: 72.7 (20 games)
Percentage coach ownership in 2011: 2.34% (7,140)

Why is he unique?

With the DPP allocated to David Zaharakis, he will be the most selected Essendon player in 2012, certainly in the forward line. Also, given the plethora of other forward line options, Crameri will likely fly under the radar. If he starts performing consistently and Essendon looks on the up, then he could prove to be a real diamond in the rough.

Why should you pick him?

After being elevated from the rookie list in 2011, Crameri has emerged as a mainstay in the Bombers forward line. Despite injuring his shoulder in Round 22 last year, he is on track to be right for the start of the season and to pick up from where he left off. Like Dawes, he is only 23 and should continue to improve around a rising Essendon outfit. As his midfield gets more of the ball, look for his numbers to start increasing as well. Given there are a lot of risky options in the forward line this year, Crameri may prove to be the anchor in your forward line that helps steer your team to glory in 2012.

Predicted average for 2012: 82

Fremantle Dockers

David Mundy

2012 Details
Position:
MID
Price: $474,400
Age: 26
Bye: Round 12
2011 average: 95.9 (12 games)
Percentage coach ownership in 2011: 1.33% (4,050)

Why is he unique?

With the value surrounding Michael Barlow; and the breakout season of Nat Fyfe; Mundy will again slide into the shadows in 2012. After a career best season (average-wise) in 11’, Mundy was still relatively unpicked by the majority of coaches. Also injuring himself mid season, he had a long layout before finally returning for a cameo in round 22 against North. These factors together will mean Mundy should start the season as a very unique 4th midfield option.

Why should you pick him?

Perhaps partly due to the absence of Barlow; Mundy became the key midfield contributor in the first half of the year, averaging 109 in his first 9 games for the year. We can pretty safely exclude those last few games due to injury. Despite his injury affected 2nd half, many will say that David Mundy finally came of age in 2011 as a DT star. If he can get close to what he averaged in that amazing streak (between round 2 – 8 his lowest score was 108 v Richmond in round 7); then he will well and truly be a smokey pick that, if he can combine well with Barlow – could well become the best unique player of 2012.

Predicted average for 2012: 105

Gold Coast

Danny Stanley

2012 Details
Position:
FWD
Price: $392,800
Age:
23
Bye: Round 13
2011 average: 79.4 (22 games)
Percentage coach ownership in 2011: 11.63% (35,424)

Why is he unique?

The reason Stanley was so popular in 2011 was because of his starting price tag – $106,400. Unfortunately for him, his starting price tag in 2012 is almost 4 times that amount. That makes choosing him a much higher risk, meaning far less coaches will choose him. Most will go for more popular picks such as Sidebottom, Rioli and Zaharakis as they are around the same price and provide more upside than Stanley. Also, given Stanley is only available as a forward in 2012 means that if you pick him, he is staying in your forward line all year (barring injury of course).

Why should you pick him?

Unlike most of last year’s cashcows, Stanley turned into a keeper – averaging a huge 85.6 points in his last 13 games of the season. Given this was only his first full year having previously only played 4 games in 3 years for Collingwood; Stanley still has his best to come and should improve in 2012 as he looks to add to his blistering end to 2011.

Predicted average for 2012: 90

Geelong Cats

Trent West

2012 Details
Position:
RUC
Price: $338,300
Age: 24
Bye: Round
2011 average: 76 (6 games)
Percentage coach ownership in 2011: 0.75% (2,294)

Why is he unique?

With the popular ‘set and forget’ option being employed in the ruck division this year; choosing West as your 2nd ruckman would immediately set you apart from the rest. As many like their rucks to start scoring highly from the get go, many won’t have the patience or mettle to risk falling behind in this section of their team.

Why should you pick him?

Usually I would not advise picking up a relatively untried player who is priced at almost $340k who has only played 17 games at AFL level. However this particular player finds himself in a rare situation, whereby he is one of only two viable ruck options for his club to start the season. As the more experienced (games, not age) AFL player of the two (the other being Orren Stephenson), Trent West will have all the opportunity in the world to cement a spot in the Cats 22. After an encouraging season where he played 6 games and averaged 76, he should play enough games (and score highly enough) to justify his selection. Whether you use him as a platform to that 2nd premium ruckman later on; or you back him to step up as a keeper in 2012, this guy is one of the best mid price ruck options going around.

Predicted average for 2012: 82

Greater Western Sydney Giants

Callan Ward

2012 Details
Position:
MID
Price: $404,300
Age: 21
Bye: Round 13
2011 average: 81.7 (22 games)
Percentage coach ownership in 2011: 2.32% (7,051)

Why is he unique?

Most coaches will be staying away from both mid price midfielders; and senior Giants players in 2012. Despite getting more opportunities, Ward will get a lot more attention without the likes of Cooney, Griffen, Cross and Boyd around him. These two points alone; along with his awkward price, will be enough to lure coaches away in 2012 and make him a unique selection for your midfield.

Why should you pick him?

At the Dogs, Ward never truly got his chance. Despite playing 22 games in 2011, he was regularly subjected to the vest and strong midfield rotations. Still only 21 years of age, his best is well and truly ahead. In a team that lacks AFL experience, his 50 + games will be called upon every game. When given the opportunity last year, Ward didn’t disappoint, averaging 90 points in his last 11 games. Coming into his 5th year, Ward is ready to breakout and will be given every opportunity in 2012 to do so. Given his game equally revolves around tackles as it does possessions, he should still rack up the points even in a side that gets dominated around the ground.

Predicted average for 2012: 95

Hawthorn Hawks

Brendan Whitecross

2012 Details
Position:
FWD
Price: $377,800
Age: 21
Bye: Round 13
2011 average: 76.4 (18 games)
Percentage coach ownership in 2011: 1.01% (3,065)

Why is he unique?

Franklin. Rioli. Roughead. All of these names will likely appear in peoples teams before Brendan Whitecross. Add to the mix players who also share the round 13 bye (Robinson, Martin, Riewoldt); and I’m sure you can agree that he will a very unique pick in 2012.

Why should you pick him?

At the tender age of 21, Whitey is a future star at the Hawks. He has now played 50 games and cemented his spot in the best 22. Clarkson has recently come out and said that he is primed for more opportunities in the midfield in 2012; along with being touted as an important player at the club who will develop into a key midfielder. Having played mostly in the forward line until now; he has still managed to score solidly, cracking the DT ton 4 times in 2011. Expect him to have a breakout season in 2012 and appear on more people’s radars as he steps into the spotlight in an already-star studded Hawks line-up.

Predicted average for 2012: 90

Melbourne Demons

Jack Trengove

2012 Details
Position:
MID
Price: $443,600
Age: 20
Bye: Round 12
2011 average: 89.7
Percentage coach ownership in 2011: 2.08% (6,330)

Why is he unique?

Many coaches will be employing the Guns ‘n’ Rookies strategy in 2012, immediately ruling future guns like Trevgove out. For those that do adopt a more mid price strategy, there is only really room for 1 or 2 players in this price range. Given the emergence of other breakout players like Sloane and Ziebell, along with underpriced guns such as Barlow and Hayes; Trengove sadly won’t get a run in many teams this year.

Why should you pick him?

Because he was picked at # 2 in the 2009 draft for a reason. Not only is the kid a future gun, he is a long term captain prospect (which could eventuate as early as this year). Managing an average of 90 in just his second year after a great debut season, Trengove is my pick to have a breakout season (along with Martin). He has the ability to score well (6 x 100 + scores in 2011) and has a fairly low standard deviation for a young player (only dropping below 70 three times last year). He is the definition of a breakout player; and should show in 2012 that he is ready to become a star in his own right.

Predicted average for 2012: 105

North Melbourne

Andrew Swallow

2012 Details
Position:
MID
Price: $491,500
Age: 24
Bye: Round 11
2011 average: 99.4 (22 games)
Percentage coach ownership in 2011:
6.26% (19,074)

Why is he unique?

Playing for a potential top 8 team, Swallow should warrant more attention than he gets. However due to the fact there are so many great midfield options these days; Swallow can be considered a unique premium, who may well fly under the radar in 2012. However if he breaks out to score among the elite, don’t expect that to remain the same.

Why should you pick him?

Swallow is coming into his DT prime; has proven to be durable (played every game the last 3 seasons); and is an absolute jet when he gets going. In an improving North side, he should start to dominate in the AFL and in DT. Including his round 11 demolition of Adelaide, where he tallied 39 possessions; Andy Swallow racked up 30 + touches on 8 occasions. He knows how to find the ball; is coming into his prime; and is ready to make the step up to the Dream Team Elite – this guy should be considered by everyone.

Predicted average for 2012: 110

Port Adelaide Power

Robbie Gray

2012 Details
Position:
MID/FWD
Price: $402,000
Age: 23
Bye: Round 13
2011 average: 81.8 (21 games)
Percentage coach ownership in 2011: 3.13% (9,523)

Why is he unique?

Because he plays for Port, Gray is automatically vetoed by many coaches due to their lack of DT scoring compared to other teams; plus their general inconsistency and current poor AFL standing (sorry Port fans). Add to this the fact that there are seemingly better DPP options around his price (Zaharakis, Martin, Sidebottom) and Gray will be a big unique in 2012 – unless you’re a Port supporter.

Why should you pick him?

Gray has been likened to Gary Ablett Jnr in his ability and his efforts. Hoping to make the step up to permanent midfielder in 2012, he is ready to breakout and become Port’s top DT player. Stringing together 21 games last season, his body will be ready for a big season as he looks to make the step up to a premium player. In terms of DT, he has the ability to score from everywhere; with his points coming equally from marks, tackles and possessions. If he makes a spot in Port’s midfield his own this season, he could be a great unique pick for your midfield or forward line.

Predicted average for 2012: 95

Richmond Tigers

Bachar Houli

2012 Details
Position:
DEF
Price: $415,300
Age: 23
Bye: Round 13
2011 average: 84 (22 games)
Percentage coach ownership in 2011: 1.35% (4,120)

Why is he unique?

With all the hype surrounding the likes of Scotland, Goddard, Shaw and Enright in 2012; Houli could be a unique option for your backline, setting you apart from the masses in the process. With many jumping on Houli’s star teammate, Deledio – he looms as a real smokey in this years defensive division.

Why should you pick him?

With Deledio touted for a more permanent move into the midfield this year, Houli could well step up and make spot on the half back flank his own. Making huge improvements last year, Bachar finally put together a full season; and didn’t disappoint – having his best year yet. He looks set to be flying in the preseason after leading Richmond’s first time trial of the year. Houli will look to build on his breakout 2011 and continue his improvement to become a DT gun in the 2012 backline class. With his ability to find the ball (5 games with 30 or more disposals), his consistency should naturally improve and thereby his average. He would make a great unique as your 4th defender in a year where there are few reliable options in this area.

Predicted average for 2012: 90

St Kilda Saints

Jack Steven

2012 Details
Position:
MID
Price: $394,500
Age: 21
Bye: Round 13
2011 average: 79.8 (20 games)
Percentage coach ownership in 2011: 1.93% (5,892)

Why is he unique?

Steven is still relatively unknown in the DT world, only really coming onto the scene last year. With a big future ahead of him, this unique has shown to be a quiet achiever on the big stage. With so many star teammates still surrounding him, Steven will fly under the radar this year – in what could see him truly breakout.

Why should you pick him?

Very stiff not to get DPP as a MID/FWD in 2012, he could be a real smokey this season after 2011 saw him average 79.7 from his 20 games. Getting his chance after Hayes went down in round 3; Jack took the opportunity with both hands, not missing a game from there. Seen as a future leader of the club, watch for Steven to slowly take over from his senior midfielders and get more time on the ball. Given the injury worries of Hayes and Dal Santo, Steven should get his chance from the get go with new coach Scott Watters likely to want to get more experience into the Saints youngsters as they look forward to their future.

Predicted average for 2012: 90

Sydney Swans

Ben McGlynn

2012 Details
Position:
MID/FWD
Price: $378,800
Age: 26
Bye: Round 12
2011 average: 76.6 (22 games)
Percentage coach ownership in 2011: 4.54% (13,819)

Why is he unique?

With several viable MID/FWD options around this price, McGlynn will fly under the radar. Also, as many will opt for Brown, Christensen or Riewoldt in this price range, he will be a unique pick in your forward line for 2012.

Why should you pick him?

Despite dropping his average a notch from the year prior, 2011 was McGlynn’s first full year of AFL footy, playing in every game including both finals. One of the few viable DT options in an otherwise meagre Swans scoring outfit; he could well break into a 90 + average in what should be an improved Sydney team in 2012. Along with Rioli, Ben is one of the few small forwards in the competition capable of scoring in that scoring range over a long period of time. Hoping to have another career best season, watch for McGlynn to start to come into his own in the upcoming season.

Predicted average for 2012: 85

West Coast Eagles

Matt Rosa

2012 Details
Position:
MID
Price: $426,800
Age: 25
Bye: Round 11
2011 average: 86.2 (18 games)
Percentage coach ownership in 2011: 0.49% (1,481)

Why is he unique?

Rosa is a good midfielder in a team with a very good, developing midfield. Unfortunately for him, there are several players knocking at the door ready to take over should he fall out of favour. With the likes of Priddis and Kerr attracting all of the attention; along with fellow round 11 bye guns Scott Thompson, Tom Rockliff and Matthew Boyd in the frame, don’t expect many coaches to jump on Rosa in 2012.

Why should you pick him?

Up until he got kicked in the knee by Daniel Jackson in round 20, Rosa was having a career best season; averaging 86 DT points a game in a strongly performing side. Coming into his 8th year of top level AFL; with a good preseason behind him, expect him to again raise the bar whilst trying to add more consistency to his game. When Rosa is on; he is on – shown by his ability to rack up a good score and similarly gain a lot of junk time points (shown in his round 12, 127 point showing against the Crows). If this guy can start the season well, he could become a viable, unique option in your midfield.

Predicted average for 2012: 95

Western Bulldogs

Ryan Griffen

2012 Details
Position:
MID
Price: $486,500
Age: 25
Bye: Round 11
2011 average: 98.4 (22 games)
Percentage coach ownership in 2011: 3.16% (9,615)

Why is he unique?

Like Swallow, Griffen looms as a unique premium this year, as he will continue to fly under the radar of many coaches opting for more proven DT guns. Not quite averaging 100 + yet, Griffen will be overlooked by the majority that will instead go for top of the range premiums or mid price breakout/bargain players.

Why should you pick him?

Arguably the most potent player in the Bulldogs midfield, Griffen has the ability to rip teams apart with his effective disposal and consistency. Looking to generate a bit more consistency at an age that many players hit their DT prime, Griff will be aiming to push into the category of AFL elite and DT premium. Scoring 100 + fifteen times in 2011, Griffen only needs to improve slightly to take his game to the next level. If the Dogs can rise from their forgettable year and challenge for the top 8 again; expect Griffen to be at the forefront of this, whilst also trying to wrestle the mantle from Boyd as the best DTer in the Dogs pack.

Predicted average for 2012: 108

Understandably, a lot of people will stay away from the above players for the reasons mentioned; or perhaps they don’t agree with my thoughts on their potential. Feel free to use this as a forum/discussion for any other uniques you have. Or – you may wish to keep them to yourself so they can remain a secret until the opening of the season. Whatever your intentions – good luck to anyone going unique in 2012 and may your research and courage pay off in what will be an awesome year of DT.

 

 

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