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The Universal Soldiers: Back from Serious Injuries

Just like the 90’s movie, AFL sees some players broken in pieces and put back together for the following season. I have had a look at a few of these guys that are coming back in 2012 and whether or not I think they are worth owning in your teams.

Ok, so you may not have gotten the reference to the great 90’s Van Damme film where they took dead soldiers and rebuilt them to be super soldiers.  Well, this is happening in footy every year.  We are seeing guys go missing for half a year or more and then they come back after miracle surgeries.  But, the issue that we have as DT coaches is… do we trust these guys who are coming back to be just as big and confident as they were before their injuries?  Well let’s have a look at a few guys that are coming back from major issues last year and whether or not we should put them into our teams this year.

Jack Grimes

Injury: Fractured Navicular (foot bone)
2011 Games: 6
2011 Ave: 74
2010 Games: 14
2010 Ave: 88
DT Price: $329,400

Now one of the co-captains at Melbourne he will be a certainty to get a game as long as he is fit.  He was a lock in a lot of teams in 2011, mine included.  He had a great 2010 and was getting a lot of possessions across half back which were predominantly kicks.  In 09 he had an average of 94 from 11 games so was really looking like developing into one of the premium defenders.  If he can come back injury free and continue his quarterback role for the Dees defence he will be a valuable player in any team.

Given this was a bone fracture the likelihood of reoccurence in the short term should be lower and I think that he is a fairly safe risk to take into your 2012 team.

Jonathan Brown

Injury: Smashed face
2011 Games: 10
2011 Ave: 73.4
2010 Games: 16
2010 Ave: 97.6
DT Price: $331,400

The Browndog is a guy that a was an automatic lock for most teams in the past, and with good reason, he has been the main focal point for Brisbane for the last few years and gets the job done.  Since 05 he has averaged between 86 and 110 so has always provided a reasonable return for his price.  His problems in 11 came from Luke McPharlin’s knee and then Mitch Clark’s elbow.  Well they have solved the Clark problem for the majority of the season and had about 2tonne of metal put into Browny’s face so that should be all good.  He is one of the most courageous players and takes a lot of marks and kicks more often than not.

Given these two were impact injuries and the way he plays invites these sort of injuries he has always been a risk.  Last year, luck just caught up with him.  I think that he should be able to average in the 80’s again and for the price of $331k that would be a reasonable return.

Jason Porplyzia

Injury: Shoulder
2011 Games: 1 (6 mins)
2011 Ave: 16
2010 Games: 19
2010 Ave: 68
DT Price: $202,500
This guys shoulder has been known to pop out as he gets out of bed.  However, in the past he has often had the “quick fix” surgeries and been back later on in the season.  This time, they have opted for the full deal which kept him out for the year.  He has been hampered throughout his whole career with these type of injuries and still managed an average of 86/87 in 2008 and 2009.  He is the focal point for the Crows up forward and is a great kick for goal.
I think we have every right to be concerned about him coming into this season.  He is a risky pick, but at that price and the potential to average around 80 for a $200k outlay, I think it is a risk that you should be seriously considering taking.  Personally, I will have a keen eye on him in the NAB and am keeping an ear out for Crows training news (not hard to do here in Adelaide) to see just how solid that shoulder really is.

Lenny Hayes

Injury: Knee Reco
2011 Games: 2
2011 Ave: 86
2010 Games: 21
2010 Ave: 108
DT Price: $382,800

Lenny is an out and out gun of the competition and he hasn’t averaged less than 92 since 2003!  When he did his knee many thought that he was a certainty to go through with the LARS surgery, but he opted for the traditional route.  This was an interesting decision given that he will be 32 at the start of the 2012 season.  However, such is his quality that many, myself included, think that he can return to that form of the previous few years and average in the 90’s again.

A couple of concerns that I have with Lenny are basically the knee is an injury that can go again, and this is a bigger risk in players of his age (unlike Morabito below).  The Saints midfield did struggle without him, so there are a lot of posessions left there in the midfield for him to grab.  Just watch his NAB form to see how much trust he has in that repaired knee, however, I think he may be a steal at that price.

 Hamish McIntosh

Injury: Achillies (both of them)
2011 Games: 1
2011 Ave: 79
2010 Games: 20
2010 Ave: 81
DT Price: $273,500

H-Mac was well on his way to being one of the elite fantasy ruckmen after playing every game in 2009 and averaging 92.  Whilst he experienced a dip in 2010 he was still a very servicable 2nd ruck to Cox or Sandi.  However, his poor luck last season where he basically lost the entire year has really put a bit of a shade over whether or not he still holds the same value.  Whilst he did play 7 games for Werribee, it was the emergence of Todd Goldstein that has really hurt the value of H-Mac.  Goldstein has clearly taken the number 1 ruckman post off of McIntosh and this may mean a move to being a permanent forward.  Whilst this wouldn’t be the end of the world, McIntosh was known for picking up a lot of possessions around the ground as well as kicking goals whilst resting up forward.

Given these soft tissue injuries and the issues others have had whilst coming back from them, I am very wary of the health of Hamish.  I am mostly concerned about how his body will hold up when we are at half way in the season.  On the other hand, if he does last that long, his value should have appreciated to the point that you can trade him for one of the premo ruckmen that has perhaps dipped in price.  He is a bit of a watch and see from my perspective.  See how much training he misses after NAB games and where they use him.

Anthony Morabito

Injury: Knee Reco
2011 Games: 0
2011 Ave: 0
2010 Games: 21
2010 Ave: 56
DT Price: $168,000

Morabito had a fairly good rookie season averaging 56 and during that season we certainly saw why the Dockers were so keen on picking him at number 4 in 2009 draft.  He has a great engine and will certainly find plenty of the footy.  With the disappearance this year of Rhys Palmer, there is a spot in the midfield rotations for him to walk back into.

Given he is so young, his body’s natural healing ability should really kick in here and see him fairly solid in terms of his recovery.  As with all guys that come back from a knee there will be that bit of uncertainty in his mind, but given his youth he should get over that fairly well.  I think that this guy is a great buy at this price.  But as with most of the others, make sure you keep a keen eye on him in the NAB to make sure he is in that midfield rotation group.

 Brian Lake

Injury: Hip, Shoulder and Knee
2011 Games: 5
2011 Ave: 52
2010 Games: 22
2010 Ave: 100
DT Price: $255,200

Talk about the bionic man!  He had 3 separate operations in the 2010 off season and unfortunately he just didn’t get back the sensational form that he had in 2010.  There were also the committment and attuitude issues that were circling in the press also.  Of his 5 games last year, his highest score was only a 61.  This coming from a guy that averaged 73, 81 and 100 in the previous 3 years and had only missed 2 games in the prior 5 years!  One other factor that will see him be a risk to some punters is that he turns 30 at the end of February so will be over that magical 30 by the time the season starts.  The big question is whether his body has recovered enough for him to keep up with the pace of the game after all those operations and effectively a year out?  Personally I won’t be risking him, but I see that Dr DT and Mr Fantasy both have him in their starting lineups!

Michael Barlow

Injury: Broken Leg
2011 Games: 9
2011 Ave: 86
2010 Games: 13
2010 Ave: 110
DT Price: $424,800

Not sure that I need to say alot about Michael Barlow.  We know he is a gun!  Those 13 games in his rookie season were sensational until Palmer broke his leg (and the hearts of every DT player).  Last year he came back in for the last 9 of the season and he had the green vest in one of those which netted him 25pts, but there was 3 tons and 2 98’s in those 9 games also.  To me, the end of last season was really about him blowing out the cobwebs after effectively a year out of the game and starting to ramp up for this season.

Given it was a bone break, the likelihood of reoccurrence is pretty minimal so I wouldn’t be put off by that.  What interests me most is the nice little discount he has given what we know he can average.  I expect to see him in a heap of teams this year!

Now I know that there are more players than this that are coming back from injury this year, but they are the ones that I thought had the most fantasy relevance to us when selecting our initial sides for 2012.  But the most important thing is to understand what you are getting yourself into when you select these guys and to make sure you have a close eye on them during the NAB cup to see just how well they are over their injuries and if the pre season has really done them some good.

Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

Find me on twitter @pkd73

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