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A round where you can dare to dream

Trent Cotchin is set to join the AFL Fantasy elite this year - ${keywords}
Trent Cotchin is set to join the AFL Fantasy elite this year
I know we had two home and away games to kick off round one last week, but my mind keeps telling me tonight’s game between Carlton and Richmond is a true sign that footy’s back.

The march from a pub in a vibrant suburb like Richmond to the hallowed Melbourne Cricket Ground to watch the Blues and Tigers renew hostilities is like the opening ceremony at the Olympics.

More recently, there have been some ripper contests.

In 2008, Blues fans celebrated every possession from new recruit Chris Judd by giving him an ‘ole’ as if he had found a way to transform into a Spanish bullfighter. Carlton lost.

In 2009, fans heard the hamstring of Ben Cousins tear like wrapping paper on Christmas Day. Richmond lost.

And there has also been some Dream Team hits and misses in these battles. In 2008, former Tiger star Matthew Richardson finished with 104 Dream Team points after a five-goal haul. He went on to finish equal third in that year’s Brownlow Medal.  

In 2010, a Richmond debutant by the name of Relton Roberts found himself in many Dream Team sides due his bargain-basement price. He scored 35 points against the Blues, played one more game for the year and has not been seen at an AFL level again.

The consensus is that the Tigers will break a five-year hoodoo and beat the Blues tonight.

Many people are expecting a huge season from Trent Cotchin ($570,200), who finds himself as one of three premium midfield picks in my side (Gary Ablett and Scott Pendlebury are the other two).

Last year, Cotchin averaged over 110 in a breakout season. I expect him to improve that average by between five and 15 points in 2013.

The only issue tonight is that his likely opponent will be Andrew Carrazzo ($467,400), a man equally accomplished at stifling his opponent’s Dream Team score as he is at tallying a big total himself.

Those who took the punt on Richmond’s first-year prospect Nick Vlastuin shouldn’t be unsettled by the fact that he’s an emergency this week. Expect the backman to find a spot in the side before too long.

In other games, Gary Ablett is the easy choice as Dream Team captain when the Gold Coast Suns take on the Saints on Saturday night. In round two last year, the champ finished with 143 points against St Kilda and he’ll be keen to start the season off with a bang.

The game that will be of highest interest when looking for cheap, young stars will be Melbourne v Port Adelaide.

Names like Oliver Wines, Kane Mitchell (Port Adelaide), Jimmy Toumpas and Jack Viney (Melbourne) will catch the eye and be brought into sides if they perform as expected.  

I’d also expect a huge game from Geelong’s Joel Selwood, who saves his best footy for the Hawks in a highly-anticipated Easter Monday clash.