THE MARSH Community Series sees Fantasy coaches step up their game as we get a little more insight into role changes, player fitness, and those who look set for a breakout season.
The Traders' Roy has cast his eyes over week one, and here are three key things he noticed from each game.
St Kilda v Hawthorn
1: Throw away the key! Just in case anybody thought that selecting the Pig Tom Mitchell (MID, $671,000) was too risky following the severity of the leg injury that kept him out last season, think again. Personally, I never had a doubt and it didn't take long for him to prove himself with a typical swine-like start to the game, racking up eight points in the first 13 seconds! I mean, who does that? As per usual, he found the pill when he wanted to, eventually finishing with 72 from 21 touches in 61 per cent game time.
2: Before this game started, Chad Wingard (FWD/MID, $582,000) was sitting in my forward line but the amount of time he stayed there was dependent on something more important than his points per minute. I was looking at one thing and that was the amount of times he attended centre bounces (CBA). After registering 18, which was second-highest to Mitchell in just 51 per cent time on ground, he is basically locked in for me, given the Hawks' star midfielders were all playing. The fact he knocked up a solid 53 from 15 possessions is a handy bonus.
3: There were a couple of talented big men on the radar and both have left the jury out at this stage. There is no denying the talent of Rowan Marshall (RUC, $736,000), I love the bloke but the concern of sharing ruck duties with Patrick Ryder is undeniable. Now, although it was evident he will be the No.1 man in the middle, he still spent plenty of time forward … where he happened to kick two goals on his way to a solid 92. It's a pass for me at this stage. As reported on the Traders' AFL Fantasy podcast a couple of weeks ago, Hawk recruit Jonathon Patton (RUC/FWD, $366,000) is fit and firing. And remember, the former No.1 draft pick is priced at an average under 50. He looked outstanding, 'too big, too strong' as we like to say, on his way to 71 which included six marks, three goals and some bonus pinch-hitting in the ruck to keep his score ticking over.
Western Bulldogs v North Melbourne
1: The Dogs' 'big three' mids are the real deal … Not that I am telling you anything you didn't already know. Going into the game, Marcus Bontempelli (MID, $777,000) was the least popular choice of the three with less than four per cent ownership despite his dominant finish to 2019. That may not be the case for long as he now looks the value option after a sensational display where he racked up a whopping 151. The other two were more than serviceable with Jackson Macrae (MID, $858,000) doing his thing with 126 and Josh Dunkley (MID, $824,000) piling on 99 from 23 possessions playing the inside mid role that saw him dominate the second half of 2019. Hard not to have at least two of them.
2: All eyes were on former Giant and DPP option Aiden Bonar (MID/FWD, $333,000) who was making his Roos debut after a pre-season where he has been touted at a midfielder. He was solid without being spectacular and certainly still presents value as a forward after scoring 71 from 61 per cent game time. He was equal sixth for centre-bounce involvements with nine, which is a slight concern given the Roos were missing some key personnel in the midfield. What he lacked in midfield opportunities, he made up for with tackling pressure, laying an impressive eight.
3: The Dogs went in with an inexperienced ruck department but credit where credit is due, Tristan Xerri (RUC/FWD, $170,000) has played himself right into contention for an all-important bench position after his impressive performance. He was the second-highest scoring Roo with 99, mixing it up between supporting Todd Goldstein and playing forward where he finished with two goals.
Melbourne v Adelaide
1: If you are after unique options, a couple of Demons put their hand up. A trim Christian Petracca (FWD, $563,000) played predominantly through the midfield, not that his goal tally would suggest that after kicking three goals to complement his huge haul of 38 disposals for a whopping 145. Once again, coaches are now nervously anticipating this as his potential breakout. There shouldn't be any nerves with his counterpart Clayton Oliver (MID, $786,000) who coasted to 123 from 31 disposals and 11 tackles, which will no doubt cause a spike in the under-priced premium's five per cent ownership.
2: A lot of coaches have their eyes on second-year speedster Chayce Jones (FWD, $318,000), especially given the pre-season hype he will be called upon for his explosive ability through the midfield. Given his price tag, he was solid while playing through the middle and off a wing, tallying a score of 64. While it wasn't quite enough to lock him in just yet given the role uncertainty with Brodie Smith returning to the side, he remains a player of interest.
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3: Reilly O'Brien (RUC, $719,000) certainly did enough to comfort coaches who have selected him as a starting ruck. The big fella started fast before slowing down against inexperienced opposition, rolling the legs over for 83 from 69 per cent game time. It looked as though he will be playing a huge percentage of his game in the ruck department which should result in a triple-figure average.
Gold Coast v Geelong
1: It's a welcome change to be excited about watching the Suns with so much young (and more importantly cheap) talent running around. But, before I get to the rookies, a large chunk of my excitement was to see the opportunities given to 'my boy' Hugh Greenwood (FWD/MID, $581,000). Now we all know I can be a bit narrow-minded when it comes to a man crush but hear me out. All that stopped the contested beast from consistently scoring well at the Crows was opportunity and time on ground. Despite those handbrakes, Hugh still ranked elite for contested possessions and tackles so imagine if he is given a crack at being a full-time mid?! You don't need to be Albert Lord to know the answer. In his first game for the Suns, the signs were great. His imposing figure was a regular at centre bounces and he played 82 per cent of the game, a far cry from the 70 he averaged at the Crows. Probably worth mentioning he also laid a lazy nine tackles on his way to an impressive 114. Also keep an eye on Draft slider Darcy Macpherson (FWD/MID, $648,000) who dominated with a game-high 131 from 31 possessions.
2: We finally get to see the young guns in action and they certainly didn't disappoint. Firstly, the No.1 pick Matthew Rowell (MID, $270,000) deserves every bit of hype he receives and he should be featuring in 100 per cent of teams. He looked right at home, both size- and ability-wise on his way to 82 from 67 per cent time on ground. Although he didn't score as well, his partner-in-crime Noah Anderson (MID, $268,000) also has to be considered with the expensive rookie's price justified by his job security. He played predominantly out on a wing for 55 which included a nice goal. Now if you want to add a cheap Sun to the mix, look no further than Connor Budarick (MID/FWD, $170,000). The Fantasy-credentialed Suns Academy project did his round one chances no harm with 65 from 85 per cent TOG.
3: There has been a bit of pre-season hype around Quinten Narkle (MID, $497,000) getting plenty of opportunity following Tim Kelly's departure. He didn't disappoint with a polished performance, leading the way for the Cats with 99 from 26 touches in only 65 per cent TOG. Despite this being impressive, there are plenty of players with forward eligibility who are in a similar position to Narkle, which will keep his ownership low.
Brisbane v Port Adelaide
1: Lachie Neale (MID, $777,000) is no stranger to scoring 160s … He did it in round 22 last year and it didn't take him long to reach those lofty heights once again, posting a whopping 164 from 47 possessions in his first game of the year. There is never a question if Neale can match it with the best, the concern with him is always the way he handles a tag, as we saw in the finals vs Matt de Boer where he was held to just 58.
2: Hugh McCluggage (MID, $678,000) had a breakout last year but many coaches are tempted to jump on and watch him take his game to another level again. If you are one of those coaches, the signs are good and don't hesitate to back your selection. The fourth-year player was a dominant force, filling the stat lines with 21 disposals, five marks, six tackles and three goals for 116.
3: Port young guns Dan Houston (DEF/MID, $596,000) and Connor Rozee (FWD, $539,000) justified their names being on high rotation this pre-season after turning in impressive performances and leaving their hats well and truly in the ring for their respective positions. Houston overcame a slow start to rack up 22 possessions and nine tackles for 95 while attending a team-high 24 CBAs to lock himself into many teams, while Rozee continued the impressive start to his career with 19 touches, eight tackles and two goals for 94 from… wait for it… just 57 per cent game time, keeping him in the mix as a mid-priced forward position.
Bring on round two!
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