THE NAB AFL Fantasy season is well underway. Our series of Fantasy Face-offs continues, pitting two similar players against each other to see which one should force their way into your squad.
Today, it’s the battle of the tattooed tough guys – one on the way up and the other looking to bounce back after an injury-hit year. Both boast decent value across different positions after years of consistent scoring.
|DUSTIN MARTIN (RICHMOND)||DANE SWAN (COLLINGWOOD)|
|2015 starting price||$553,000||$531,000|
|Price change from start of 2014||+$27,000||-$105,600|
|2014 high score||128||145|
|Currently owned by (% of coaches)||33.42%||43.67|
|Key Fantasy stat||Ranked elite in the categories of score assists, score involvements and goals last season, Martin also became an attacking weapon by winning possession 57 per cent of the time he was a target inside 50.||Swan's poor 2014 saw him suffer the second biggest drop in Champion Data ranking points from 2013 of any player in the League to play at least 10 games in both seasons. He spent more time forward but that didn't help, with his average Fantasy score under 100 points for the first time in five years.|
|Value for money||Has trended upwards the last three years and took his game to another level in 2014. Priced high but Dusty has shown he can deliver consistent scores and is physically durable.||It depends. He's cheap for the Dane Swan of 2010-2013 where his lowest average was 117, but mildly expensive for the Dane Swan of last season who played just 17 games and dipped to 94.|
|Job security||Firmly in the best 22, Martin isn't entering the season with any serious injury concerns. Was recently troubled by some minor hamstring soreness but it shouldn't disrupt him for long.||Hard to get a gauge on at this stage. Swan missed games with four different injuries last year and was then captured in an unflattering photo at the start of the pre-season that depicted he was out of shape. He's since been spending time in the gym in a bid to discover a physical strength he hasn't had before and that could improve his durability from last season.|
|Where he'll play||Despite proving a revelation one out in the forward line last season, Damien Hardwick has ambitions to get more midfield minutes into Martin this year. He'll still pop forward for cameo roles but expect him to take on more responsibility in the middle.||Same as last season – in the forward line and through the middle. Swan will be keen to return to his status as one of the most consistent on-ballers in the competition.|
|Injury concerns||Nothing serious. Has had the usual pre-season aches and pains but hasn't suffered a long-term complaint in his 108-game career.||Had hip surgery after last season and didn't run until Christmas. Battled an assortment of complaints including heel, foot and hamstring problems last season but Swan seems to being having a relatively smooth pre-season so far.|
|The case for||He's exciting, he's flashy and there's no one better to watch when he's charging forward and dismissing opponents with his signature "don't argue" manoeuvre. Martin also went from strength to strength in 2014 despite the carry-on regarding his contract at the end of 2013. Imagine what he could do coming out of an off-season where that hasn't been a distraction? Also, more midfield time equals more possessions, which equals more Fantasy points.||In 2013, Swan was the man no Fantasy team could live without. With a brilliant average that stemmed from his amazing ability to collect possessions, despite his less-than-fluent running style, he was the centre-piece of most winning teams. While he didn't have the best 2014, he reminded on Anzac Day what he could do at his best – 26 touches and four goals – and he still scored over 100 points on eight occasions despite his injury and form concerns|
|The case against||He can burn the ball. Martin committed the second most turnovers in the League last year. He can dip down on the odd week score wise, and despite his contract not being a distraction going into last season, he's coming out of contract again and everyone is talking about it – will it affect the way he plays?||He's 30 – the Pies' only true veteran this year – which means he's more susceptible to soft tissue injuries. If you're looking at 2014 in isolation, you'd probably decide his price tag is too high for a player seemingly on the way down. Swan also ranked elite in 13 categories in 2013 but failed to reach those benchmarks last season.|
|The verdict||Dustin Martin: He's younger, he's seemingly revitalised and is coming off his career-best season, while Swan's coming out of one of his worst with injuries playing a big part in that. Martin is also predicted to spend more time gathering the ball in the midfield while Swan could track in the other direction and be located in the forward line more often. I'd take the younger of the tattooed twosome and enjoy the ride.|