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Tbetta’s Bullets: Round 13

After two weeks rest, I’m back with the Bullets. A heap to get through inside, so I can’t divulge it all here – so get in and let us know what you think about all the issues coming out of Round 13!

 

  • No Thanks, I’m Full.

Firstly, just some housekeeping things to get out of the way. A big thank you to Griff, who piloted this segment for Rounds 11 and 12, and did a fantastic job.  Couldn’t have failed three exams without you! Also, thanks to Andrew Demetriou and his team of ‘masterminds’ who, ultimately, delivered the least enjoyable three rounds of DreamTeam I’ve ever experienced.

At least the footy was captivating this weekend. We were gifted a highly skilful and tactical arm-wrestle between two heavyweights in the Pies and Eagles, not to mention a fitting finish to the game. Geelong’s comeback against the Swans was equally as intriguing, so to the upsets delivered by the Lions and Roos. As always, these results largely dictated the production of our fantasy players, and we saw one of the more ton-less weeks in DT to date.

The real story of the week was, unsurprisingly, the donuts. Our back and forward lines sustained huge hits, mainly due to our Carlton, Richmond and Hawthorn players having the week off. Only 3 defenders topped the ton this week, which is where we copped most of our grief. I’d rather not dwell on these last three weeks however, so let’s take a look at Round 13 with a big-picture mentality in this week’s edition of the Bullets.

 

  • Mid-year Review

Each season, I find it therapeutic to take a step back mid-year to review some of the decisions made in the pre-season. Did I make the right calls structurally? Did my 50-50s pay off? Has my trading strategy been effective? Answering these questions help make you better decisions for the remainder of the season. I’ve had to make a lot of adjustments this season, as we all have. This week, I’m going to look at the head-to-head calls and see whether we made the right call.

The Bulldogs were playing a possession-happy brand of footy this pre-season, and these two veterans down back were the primary beneficiaries. With many coaches wanting one or the other due to bye and mid-priced concerns, you probably ended up with just one, if that. Lake had a shocker to start the season, but has been productive since. Hargrave was the opposite – started with a bang but has dropped off remarkably since then, posting just 162 points in the last 5 games that the Bulldogs have played.

Verdict: Lake.

Lesson: Cash in unreliable mid-pricers at their peak. Both have dropped about $40k off their highest price.

 

Here we have two under-priced former premium mids, both coming off leg injuries. When selecting a player in this awkward price-range, you’re looking for a keeper that you pay unders for. Hayes was looking good to start the year, going at 105 a game after Round 6, but he has slowed considerably since then, not topping the ton once. Again, Barlow is the complete opposite. He started lukewarmly, but has notched 5 straight tons. Price-wise, Barlow has an extra $44k on Lenny.

Verdict: Barlow. He’s the keeper of the two at this stage.

Lesson: Broken legs take time to heal, but ball-magnets will always be ball-magnets.

 

The two premier ruckmen of the competition coming into 2012. Cox was pricier ($532k) than Sandi ($470k), who was slightly under-priced due to last year’s toe issues. This one’s pretty clear cut – Cox has shed just over $80k due to averaging 10 points less than 2011, but unlike most of the ruckmen this season, he’s played every game. Sandi just couldn’t keep fit, despite dominating with 101 per game when he got out there.

Verdict: Cox.

Lesson: It’s hard to stay fit when you weigh 140kg, and turf toe is a little more serious than we thought.

 

The Steele Beam – the new-age DPP combo. Beams was much pricier pre-season and was ruled out of Round 1, but had more runs on the board than Sidey. Who was the right pick? Average-wise, Beams edges out Sidey 112 to 109. But Sidebottom has played that extra game, and has shot up $70k to Beams’ $30k this season.

Verdict: Sidebottom. The smart play was to take the cheaper Sidey and get Beams in once his price dropped, where it got down to $470k at one point.

Lesson: Overpriced players always drop in price, no matter how awesome they are.

 

I personally went back and forth on this one all pre-season! Swan was only $22k more expensive, but it felt like 100, I swear. There were different thought processes throughout the DT community – Swan will drop in price, Pendlebury has more improvement left…. Or, Swan is a gun, Pendles will get the tag… In the end, both sustained injuries and have each missed 2 games so far. So who was the right guy to back in?

Verdict: Swan. Has averaged a heap more than Pendles and was fit over the MBRs, whereas Pendles was out without cover.

Lesson: Luck plays a huge part in DT, get used to it.

 

  • Bye-bye Future

With the AFL confirming two MBR blocks next year, moulding the fantasy landscape has been thrown into the limelight yet again. To me, this is like running up to Nathan Brown after he horribly snapped his leg and swiftly breaking the other one. It’s twice the pain, and given that we barely survived the bleakness and irrelevance of this year’s MBR period, something has to change.

For me, it has always been one of two options. Some coaches have suggested Temporary Trades (too gimmicky), Last 5 Average (too easily affected by injury or an outlier) and even Unlimited Trades (yuck). None of those are sustainable solutions, and that is a must with the AFL likely to continue with this bye format for the foreseeable future. These are the two options that I’d be happy with going into 2013:

 1.       Extended Benches – More Trades

The last time we had an issue with Byes, we went with three extra players on the bench and a few extra trades to play with. Why can’t we roll with that next season? Give us squads of 33, a few extra trades, and possibly even raise the magic number a little. This year, most well-structured teams had 8-12 donuts. The extra 3 bench players basically take care of that, provided you place a higher importance on job security. The extra trades would help account for injuries over the extra bye period, where a week off is equivalent to a donut.

Some coaches think that this will lead to an easier competition, and ‘finishing’ your squad will be much simpler, which was the criticism with how 2011 panned out. I disagree. We don’t have any more expansion clubs coming into the competition (that I know about), which cuts off about half the rookie stocks we’ve become unhealthily accustomed to over the last two seasons. Put it this way: of the 10 biggest price-risers of rookie-priced players so far this season, only Zorko, Magner, Dickson and Horsley weren’t from GWS. Our cash-cows will be few and far between, and you can bet that generating the cash to field a ‘finished’ squad will be far from a cakewalk.       

2. Reduced Field over MBRs

The other proposal, which was my preferred solution for this season, is to reduce the scoring players over the bye rounds. I’m talking a 6-5-1-6 positional structure (5-4-1-5 is probably overkill). It would ensure that coaches still plan for the MBR’s, both structurally and trades-wise, without altering the game we all love and know too much. This format has some merit, too. Virtual Sports make a decided effort to ensure that DT is as comparable to the real thing as possible – with some of the players having a bye in the AFL, why shouldn’t some of ours?

As with every solution, there are issues to be worked through. VS stated during the last off-season that this particular format would be incredibly hard to code. But compared to the horror of this season, something has to be done, and without looking too far out of the box and changing things dramatically, these seem to be the most viable solutions.

What do you think? How should we attack the MBRs as a community in 2013? Let me know in the comments!

 

  • Makers and Breakers

I’m going to put myself on the record here and say that Rockliff is going to average 120 over the remainder of the season. I have utmost confidence in him, not because he scored 141 this week, but the way he got there. We saw the old Rocky – the multi-faceted midfielder who averaged 112 last season, but a huge 121 from Round 13 onwards – trotting around Etihad Stadium this week. Maybe Voss altered his role, or maybe he his running patterns finally paid dividends, or maybe it all just clicked for him – but Rocky’s back. He knew precisesly when to head down back and ice the footy with +6 combos (in eerie Swan-like fashion), and he knew how to push forward and use his uncanny strength and transcendent football IQ to apply scoreboard pressure. At $448k, he’s a steal.

Brisbane’s surprise demolition of the Bulldogs in the midst of a tight round in the AFL means that three of Rocky’s teammates follow him in the Makers. Hanley (134) bounced back from his poor effort last week and ended up topping it by a clean 100 points. I’m not sure that Mark Neeld will permit him as much space next week, so beware. Zorko continued his incredible debut season, scoring 120 points in a fashion that has you wondering how it took this long for him to get an AFL gig… Not to be forgotten, Redden scored 125 points with a powerful mix of uncontested and contested football, deadly disposal efficiency and fierce tackling. Like Rockliff, he is set for a red hot end to the season – and he’s already averaging 116 since Round 6.

Waters’ uncompromising playing style forced him into an extra weeks break in Round 12, then contributed largely to the 126 points he gathered in his return game. Beau had 16 marks, many of them backing into packs or under incredible pressure due to the high ball. When your DT player puts his body on the line for you like that, it’s hard to begrudge him a risky bump or two every now and then.

 

Fitting the number of disappointing efforts in the Breakers seems to be so much harder over the MBRs. Why should our expectations of our bench players be greater for 3 rounds of the season? For them, it’s just another game. But for us, it’s the perfect time for them to hit a hot streak. Unfortunately, Marty Clarke did the complete opposite, scoring 36 at the weekend following his 44 in Round 11. More on what to do with him soon.

Boyd finds himself at 2nd on another list the week, after scoring just 70 points at a legitimate Captain option. Raines, one of the premier taggers in the competition (only Crowley and Clinton Jones are in his company) headed to Griffen, leaving Boyd without the hard-tag. He just failed to capitalise.

Two indigenous DPPs, Goodes and Johnson, had shockers this week. While untimely, both are excusable – it was Goodes’ return game from the first sustained injury of his decorated career, while this is just the third time that Johnson has scored under 80 this season. Expect both to bounce back in Round 14.

Sam Shaw had just 21 points this week, which is probably more than we could have hoped for. He had an astonishing zero points to half time (one FA and a kick) and looked to be in the box seat for the red vest, until Kurt Tippett pulled up lame before Shaw could be pulled out. Luckily, he can familiarise himself with the D8 or D9 slot for many of our sides now that the MBRs are done and dusted.

  • Keep or not?

As much as we hate the MBRs, they’re kind of like a cocoon. We crawl into them as mere caterpillars, with mid-pricers and dodgy rookies littered throughout our team. Then, it’s kind of nice to see a glorious butterfly emerge out the other side, thanks to three weeks in hibernation with 9 possible trades as nutrition. The obvious question now is, who are the keepers? Let’s examine the guys warming our final on-field slots and find out.

Ryan Hargrave

As I mentioned earlier, Hargrievous’ form has decayed heavily. He was averaging a healthy 89 after Round 7, but has scored 56, 64, 42, a Late Withdrawal and a DNP since. He’s obviously battling some kind of ailment; possibly old age? The optimistic school of thought is that he’s had three weeks off on the trot now, surely he’ll slot back in nice and healthy? Call me a pessimist, but I’m not convinced. Hargrave’s cooked.

Verdict: Upgrade before he leaks any more cash, or hold as bench cover.

Marty Clarke

The Irishman has been a solid D6/D7 all year, normally good for 65 a game. He’s coming off the two worst scores of the season though, 44 and 36. I’m not sure whether it’s just an aberration or a trend, though. Clarke did seem to play much more across the halfback line than his customary winger role, despite lining up on Gaff to start the match…

Verdict: Line ball. I’m going to back him in for my D7 slot, mainly due to his low price and the amount of cash it would take to upgrade him to anyone decent.

Jon Giles

The Twitterverse has been going mad with this same question – can we continue to rely on Giles to prop up our ruck division? History, common-sense and form all say no. Zac Smith, the best historical comparison for Giles we have, slowed considerably after this same point in the season. He averaged 80.3 up until Round 14, then just 63.4 points afterwards. I can definitely see Giles going through the same phenomenon, especially if Brogan remains in the side.

Verdict: Upgrade if you have the trades. Maric and Griffin look particularly enticing.

Dayne Zorko

The dynamic mature-ager has burst onto the scene, with a five-round average of 110.4 the catalyst for some unprecedented price-rises. His outburst is shades of Mzungu circa 2011, a likely mature-ager who was held back by injury until mid-year. If you remember correctly, Mzungu was pretty handy as a F7 last year, and Zorko should be no different.

Verdict: Keeper written all over him!

Dustin Martin

It’s a bit ridiculous that people have itchy trigger fingers where Dusty is concerned. He’s been solid this year without ever dominating, and he’s more the victim of juxtaposition to a school of rampant forwards surrounding him. When it’s all said and done, 84 points per game is more than handy from someone who could end up being your F7.

Verdict: Keeper. I’d play Zorko over him in his current form, but you’ll need a decent Mid/Fwd to cover injuries over those positions for the next 10 weeks, and Dusty is a luxury as a back-up if you can use him like that.

Quick Comments:

Lake: Keeper. Going at a good click at the moment.

Ellis: Bench cover, unless you can turn him into Carrazzo.

Morris: See above.

Conca: Line ball. Role change has seen a scoring dip, but I feel better rolling the dice with him than Clarke or Hargrave at the moment.

Magner, Horsley, Shiel, McDonald: All either Cash Cows or bench cover. You can’t compromise on that M6 slot heading forward.

Kreuzer: Luxury trade. He’s not in any immediate danger of leaking cash, but he’s not setting the world alight either. I’d rather attack the home stretch with him than Giles, though.

Porplyzia: Not scoring enough to hang around as a F7 at the moment. Turn him into Beams or Chapman if you can; otherwise, he’s bench cover.

Treloar: A poor man’s Dustin Martin. Perfect guy to have as Mid/Fwd insurance.

 

  • Tbetta’s Tweets

I don’t think the shoulder is any concern to be honest. He showed no signs of pain or tentativeness against the Eagles in Round 12, a dewy arm-wrestle too. If you take out the match he injured his AC joint, then he’s posted 106, 98, 90 and 118 this season. Carrots is good to go!

 

Great question. Upgrading Redden/Orren enables Giles to sit there as your 3rd ruckman, to cover any injuries… It’s elegant, but probably a waste of $120k, which is the extra dough you’d have to find to upgrade Stephenson instead of Giles. At the end of the day, if you get an injury to one of our rucks, you’re probably better off having Redden cover or sideways trading them out if it’s a serious issue.

 

You’ve implied here that Maric is also a must-have ruckman, and you’re spot on. There’s no stopping the mulleted monster, who is the only ruckman to average the ton in 2012.

Three guys come to mind when you’re thinking of whom to partner him with. Cox’s price has dropped enough that you’re not paying overs for him anymore, and he’s probably the most reliable guy. If you want to save $20k, Goldstein is always a great option as long as H-Mac is on the sidelines, as he’s averaged 108 in the last month. Is it worth the risk that he’ll start pumping out 60’s once McIntosh returns, though? Lastly, Griffin is an excellent option in a value sense. He’s actually cheaper than Giles, but you can be sure he’ll average 80+ for as long as Sandi remains on the sidelines.

 

  • Round 14

It’s an amazing feeling, subbing all of your premium players onto the ground and seeing a half-decent projected score smiling at you. Compared to the past three weeks, we have markedly less to stress about this week. For many, it’s whether to get Carrazzo in now or next week, whether to cash in Giles or not, and which Gun they should crown ‘Captain’ heading into Round 14. Things are simple, and I like it.

Well, that it’s from me for this week. Again, a big thank you to the DT Talk boys who gave me a much-needed two week break, and Griff for stepping in with the Grenades. I’ll sign off with a meme – I swear I examined this for about 35 seconds before I figured it out…

 

Good luck!

 

 

 

Tweet me at @Tbetta9 for all things fantasy.

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