Chook’s Rooks – Post-NAB
Now that Kevin Sheedy has named up his round-one team, Chook takes the pick of the litter and possibly a few mongrels too. Which rookies are you taking into your 2012 campaign?
“I’d love if this was about six times as big”. Something I’ve said to myself plenty of times before in the shower, but right now I’m referring to this here post. If it was six times as big, it’d mean we had a plethora of young punks with which to stuff the tail end of our DT lines. The truth, though, is that a spate of injuries and some less-than-perfect pre-season form has conspired to limit the number of rookie-priced players we can confidently pick from to just a handful in each line. If that. A guns ‘n’ rooks strategy might be the proven route to a shiny, new car at season’s end, but it’s simply not going to work if the rooks don’t hold up their end of the bargain. Let’s have a look at who’s still in the Karmichael to make your team when those unlimited trades finally run out next week.
In previous years, the little sub-head above would’ve been something like “Safe as houses”, but it seems there are job security and/or scoring potential concerns over even the strongest candidates this year. About an hour ago, GWS defender Tommy Bugg and Richmond rookie Brandon Ellis enjoyed the highest ownership of this lot, each finding themselves in 28% of teams. While they are far from worry-free picks, they’re the best of a bad lot. I’ve got an uneasy feeling that Bugg and Sam Darley are going to alternate through that spot in the GWS defence frequently this year, while Ellis has shown promise without taking a stranglehold of his spot in the Tigers’ best 22. If you’re putting rookie-priced players on the ground in the backline, as I imagine the majority will be, then Bugg and Ellis will need some mates. A bit higher up the price bracket ($140k-$150k), you can latch on to Magpie Marty Clarke or, Sun Karmichael Hunt. You’ll cringe at the latter, but Hunt’s scores will almost certainly increase from the 30s he coughed up last year with his first season under his belt and more time in the middle of the ground. His job security is definitely better than that of Clarke, who is yet to cement a spot in the Collingwood team, despite the opportunities on offer.
Need more fresh meat?
Sam Darley missing out tonight sucks. The one time I got to see GWS in the flesh this pre-season, Darley really impressed in a role well suited to raking in the DT points, receiving the kick-ins and pin-pointing the next pass down the ground for easy +6s. The guy sitting in front of me with the faded Giants hat that suggested he’d been on board for more than five minutes seemed to be a bit of a fan too. When I struck up a conversation, he spoke glowingly about quite a few of the GWS lads but reserved his highest praise for Darley. Okay, so it turned out that it was in fact Sam’s dad, who might not be the most objective judge of his son’s talents. Still, combined with what I’d already seen of Darley and the research I’d done, he had me convinced he was going to a good fit for my DT side this season. I’m pretty confident that the GWS rotational policy means we’ll see Darley sooner rather than later, and am still tempted to take the risk of picking him from the start, but you’ll want to have a fair bit of faith in your other bench defender if you go down the same path. Someone like Tim Mohr could fill that role, as he’s expected to play a lot of games in the Giants’ last line this year. As expected, his pre-season scoring has failed to match the heights it reached in the VFL last year, but if a warm body on the bench is what you’re after, then Mohr could be your man. Jacob Townsend looks set to be the biggest benefactor of Darley’s omission, however. He has been handed the big tagging duties in the GWS pre-season and, after some impressive performances, finds himself in the round one team to take on Sydney. Age (he’s an 18-year-old) and the fact that Kevin Sheedy will soon need to find room for Scully and co in that midfield group means we might not see him every week, although the fact that he’s done well in run-with roles sets him apart from the rest of the “accumulators” in the side. If none of the GWS boys have you hooked, then you could wait a week and see if Steven Morris gets a gig alongside (and hopefully not in place of) Ellis in Richmond’s round-one side. A mature-ager, they recruited him to play on small forwards, and Carlton has some of the better ones, so an early debut beckons although his place in the team is likely to be tested weekly by his current poor disposal skills.
Scraping the barrel
Collingwood pair Jackson Paine and Peter Yagmoor, as well as GWS defender Jack Hombsch.
As with each line, which midfield rookies you pick really comes down to your structure. If you’re running more than one on the ground here, one of them really should be Stephen Coniglio. Sure, he ain’t cheap at $170,000-odd, but has the best job security and scoring potential from the get-go, given the injuries to teammate Dylan Shiel, Melbourne’s James Magner and Fremantle’s Lachie Neale. The inclusion of Shiel tonight makes him a must-have, in my opinion. There’s the chance that he’ll cop a vest or two as he works his way back to full fitness, but the alternative is wasting a trade as early as pre-round three after a couple of walloping scores. You could lock in a third GWS midfield rookie in James McDonald, but I’d be leaving room for Magner and, if you’re loading up with rookies in the midfield, Neale too after it was revealed that he’s making a quicker-than-expected recovery from injury and could still feature for the Dockers next week. If he doesn’t, you could take Clay Smith, who seems to be a favourite of the new bloke in charge at the Western Bulldogs.
If you need more fresh meat
St Kilda’s Tom Ledger has been doing good things this pre-season, but it’s got to be him or Coniglio at that price and, for some reason, I’m siding with the kid who calls hair “salad”. The same argument applies to big-dollar Giants Dom Tyson and Will Hoskin-Elliott, as well as Port Adelaide’s Chad Wingyard: they’re simply too expensive considering their shaky job security. Anthony Miles might’ve been on your short-list, but the fact he missed out tonight puts him well behind that lot in the “Best bets” group. Alternatively, Sydney’s Harry Cunningham did make the Swans’ round-one team, but is a likely vestee and could just be keeping a spot warm for Ryan O’Keefe. There’s no doubt that the number of injuries occurring in the West Coast camp help Koby Stevens’ cause, but not sufficiently for me to pick him yet.
By now, Jon Giles should be firmly implanted in your ruck line-up, either as your money-saving hope at R2 or solid back-up/cash cow at R3. Roy, Warnie and Calvin have sensibly locked in Geelong’s Orren Stephenson and Port Adelaide’s Jarrad Redden as his accomplices in their free version of the Cheat Sheet, although Brisbane’s Billy Longer looms as a potential alternative after a decent NAB. Just lock in Giles at this stage and decide on the others next week!
There aren’t any real certainties here, which is why a lot of teams will feature dual-position mid-fwd rookies here than in the midfield where they are more useful. At least this year, a rule change will allow us to eventually shift the mid-fwd DPPs to the midfield with some clever trading. Anyway, the forwards. The aforementioned injuries piling up at West Coast have put Gerrick Weedon back in the frame, but I still prefer mature-age recruits Aaron Hall, at the Gold Coast, and Tory Dickson, at the Western Bulldogs. Just. If you’re not sold on them, and don’t think you will be by next week, then you might want to jump aboard the Jeremy Cameron express before it pulls out of the station on Saturday night. The big Giant forward has better job security than any of them, but his scoring won’t likely reach great heights. St Kilda’s Ahmed Saad loomed as a potential pick, although the fact that he’s been named to play VFL this week hurts his chances.
Devon Smith is the only lock here, with GWS teammates and fellow mid-fwds Adam Kennedy and Curtly Hampton secondary options if you need them. Port Adelaide’s Darren Pfeiffer, Adelaide’s Sam Kerridge and Tom Couch, (if he’s granted elevation to Mebourne’s senior list in time) are all outside chances to turn up on teamsheets next week, but I’d rather take Kennedy this week such is the volatility surrounding those three. Back-forward duo Adam Tomlinson (GWS) and Billie Smedts (Geelong) will wind up in a few teams, but their DPP status is outweighed by their scoring potential and job security concerns.
How many Giants is the right number of Giants?
It’s a question I’ve been getting a lot this week. Less than four is nuts, as Bugg, Giles, Smith and at least one of Shiel/Coniglio/McDonald should be locked in. More than seven looks to be stretching their resources a little thin. For the record, I’m currently rolling with Bugg and Darley/Townsend in defence, Coniglio, Shiel and Kennedy i the mids, Giles in the ruck and Smith in the forward line.
So, who are you betting will be your biggest earner this year? The first 17 people to tweet me (@ChookDT) their answer will get the code to the DT Talk Chook league, a shoe-in to finish in the top 10* leagues this year. If I don’t get 17 tweets (don’t laugh, Cal-I’ve-Got-2000-Followers-Now-Vin), I’ll fill the league with a mix of teams from Nick Maxwell and Joey Montagna’s to ones I make for my toddler-age offspring, pets and, probably, inanimate objects around my house. Having actual people to compete against would be way cooler than having to line up against the Spare Room Cupboard’s Crushers in round one, so tweet me now!
*By 10, I mean 10,000 or so.