OUR PRE-SEASON has gone up a notch again with just one round of the AAMI Community Series to help finalise our starting squads.
Every coach gives these games different weight and the balancing act is a fine line. A rule I make for myself is not to drop my premium players based on a poor game (often they play at about 60 per cent effort - see Brodie Grundy) and not bring in a player who hasn't previously been invited to train with my squad based on one good performance (see Josh Caddy).
FANTASY LATEST Tips, strategy, draft, podcasts, more
Pig insight Dane Swan once told me good players don't really try in pre-season and bad players go full sweat - and are likely to score well - in a bid to get noticed.
CARLTON v St KILDA
Zac Williams (DEF, $626,000): Attended 16 CBA and was a constant threat up forward. Massive first half before scoring 80 from 72 per cent TOG. Note: he will challenge his one-match ban at the Tribunal. Fingers crossed he wins.
Sam Walsh (MID, $739,000): Attended 24 CBA, 25 touches for 82 points. We saw enough, he is in the middle.
Jack Steele (MID, $867,000): Looked very capable of taking his game to another level again. 109 from 80 per cent TOG including a couple of piggish +6 passages.
Jack Higgins (FWD, $563,000): Showed plenty of signs he is capable of scoring like his junior years with 107. If you had him in, keep him there.
Patrick Cripps (MID, $718,000): Showed he will still struggle to pump out big scores at times due to being the opposition focus defensively. Didn't have a kick in the first half and eventually scored 57. Will be given more freedom in round one.
Thomas Highmore (DEF, $182,000): Scored 37 from 57 per cent TOG. Came on the ground when yet another Saint defender went down injured. A chance to debut depending on how they structure up according to Brett Ratten.
Jimmy Webster (DEF, $316,000): Did enough for interested coaches, especially with their injury issues. He had 16 touches and scored 66.
Paddy Dow (FWD/MID, $323,000): Had an awesome role with 18 CBA but only converted it to 51. Williams suspension helps him round one.
COLLINGWOOD v RICHMOND
Jordan De Goey (FWD, $605,000): Attended an equal team high 19 CBA to score an impressive 125. Taylor Adams wasn’t there but his performance would encourage Pies to keep him in this role.
Scott Pendlebury (MID, $805,000): Floated around half-back to great effect with 124. A nice tweak to his usual role that makes him an interesting prospect.
Jayden Short (DEF, $694,000): Dominated, as in next level dominated. Houli wasn’t there and the Pies give up points to defenders but 171 from 43 disposals demands attention.
Dustin Martin (FWD/MID, $713,000): Played between fwd and mid as he does. Looked fit as anything, took it easy and scored 60 from 64 per cent TOG.
NORTH MELBOURNE v HAWTHORN
Jaidyn Stephenson (FWD, $470,000): Was back on the wing after playing forward in his last practice match. He scored 98 and looks a great option if he maintains that role. Slight concern given they were missing some best 22 mid/wing types.
Luke McDonald (DEF, $692,000): Didn't dominate like a heap of other defenders from other games.
Tom Powell (MID, $246,000): Lock and load the youngster. Didn’t look out of place at all with 64 from 67 per cent TOG.
Ben McEvoy (DEF/RUC, $477,000): Remains interesting DPP option given No.1 ruck mantle. Scored 79 from 69 per cent TOG.
Tom Phillips (MID/FWD, $602,000): Lock. Easiest pick of the year. 141 from 71 per cent TOG.
Tyler Brockman (MID/FWD, $180,000): Threw his hat in the ring for a round one birth and spot on the bench with 69 after three first=quarter goals.
Jacob Koschitzke (DEF, $170,000): Snagged six goals! Unreal. Probably plays round one now and sits on our defender bench.
Connor Downie (MID, $202,000): Made the most of his opportunity with a number of Hawks front liners missing. Scored 63 and a great option if named.
GEELONG v ESSENDON
Jordan Clark (DEF/MID, $422,000): As flagged in the AFL Record and Traders Draft Kit, this kid is hungry. Scored 135 from 66 per cent TOG and has to be considered. Mitch Duncan didn't play which gave some more opportunity but he was everywhere… literally taking kick out and shots on goal.
Patrick Dangerfield (FWD/MID, $780,000): The role is there to justify him as a value pick, especially given fwd status. 86 from 76 per cent TOG.
Jeremy Cameron (FWD, $488,000): Didn't set the world on fire but I can see him going off in round one when the Cats play the Crows. 67 from 77 per cent TOG.
Zach Merrett (MID, $884,000): Dominated. If you are paying up for one of the big boys in the middle, he has to be in the conversation. Looks to have said goodbye to last year's role and looked great with 37 possessions and 134.
Nick Hind (FWD, $409,000): Never scored well as a forward at the Saints, but the Bombers grabbed him knowing what he can do off half back. Scored 75 from just 60 per cent game time before resting a shoulder knock. Great role.
Jye Caldwell (MID/FWD, $502,000): Did enough, role was there in the midfield and even Merrett said post game he loves having him in there. Scored 75 from 67 per cent TOG which you take given forward status.
Harrison Jones (FWD, $170,000): Looks a good bench option but I would be hesitant to put him on the ground.
GREATER WESTERN SYDNEY v SYDNEY
Tim Taranto (MID, $718,000): I've been keen on Taranto as an under priced premium as long as his CBAs were there. He attended 18 and scored a thumping 121, so yep, did enough.
Tanner Bruhn (MID, $248,000): Has an inflated price but has been impressing all pre season at the Giants. Kicked four goals and scored 66 to give himself every chance to debut.
Isaac Cumming (DEF, $355,000): I wanted to be convinced to give him another go but was disheartened by his 58 from 15 touches.
Connor Idun (DEF, $221,000): Continued an impressive pre season with 60 from 81 per cent TOG. If named, looks a great option given the saving from his teammate Cumming.
Kieren Briggs (DEF/FWD, $170,000): Very solid effort with 51 and handy DPP for the utility position if named.
Errol Gulden (MID, $208,000): Backed up an impressive pre season from all reports with a great 14 disposal, five mark, four tackle and one goal effort for 72. Potential M8.
Braeden Campbell (FWD/MID, $262,000): Did nothing that would tempt me to remove him as a starting forward for me. Had 18 touches and scored 57 despite taking no marks.
Callum Mills (DEF, $705,000): It seems the midfield role is real with 23 CBAs. He didn't score well with just 63 but if the role is what you were after, he has it.
Chad Warner (FWD, $196): Is well worth a look after scoring 70 from 19 touches and a goal. Still rookie priced despite gaining experience last year.
ADELAIDE v PORT ADELAIDE
Rory Sloane (MID, $580,000): Not overly inspiring but did enough for his price.
Rory Laird (DEF/MID, $763,000): All we needed to see was the mid clock, it was there, lock.
Lachlan Sholl (DEF/MID, $442,000): Overcame a slow start to remain an option down back with 72.
Reilly O’Brien (RUC, $828,000): Continued the run of disappointing scores from ruck options. 60 from 84 per cent TOG is hard to swallow for that price but back him in.
James Rowe (FWD, $196,000): Is locked. A busy effort for 62 pushing up the ground.
Dan Houston (DEF, $697,000): Yes, we see you Dan… sorry we haven't given you much love this pre-season. Would you accept a late invitation to training? He scored 154 and is a worthy candidate for selection.
Zac Butters (FWD, $595,000): Did everything I have been talking about this pre-season, going on to score 111. Remains a bargain for under $600K, especially as a forward.
Orazio Fantasia (DEF/FWD, $353,000): Surely I'm not writing about Fantasia! Well I am, and with some level of confidence. He had 73 from 38 per cent game time… They had seen enough, have you? So cheap and DPP.
Tom Rockliff (MID, $873,000): Came on in the second half and, like a pig, made up for lost time by feasting.
Miles Bergman (FWD, $170,000): Confirmed himself as a starter on your ground with an outstanding game. He had 86 with eight marks and is well and truly ready.
Lachlan Jones (DEF, $240,000): Showed he is more than ready when given the opportunity with 37 from 42 per cent TOG.
Andrew McPherson (DEF, 432,000): Threw his hat in the ring for one of those mid priced defender spots. Appeared to be filling the shoes of Laird down back and scored an impressive 87.
WEST COAST v FREMANTLE
Alex Witherden (DEF, $654,000): Did enough to justify selections. There will be some huge junk time Sunday afternoons incoming. He has 83 from 77 per cent TOG.
Liam Duggan (DEF, $661,000): Had 88 points and attended eight centre bounces. Remains worthy of consideration given defender status.
Andrew Gaff (MID, $831,000): Did what he does and will do. 31 touches running around unmanned for 98.
Hayden Young (DEF, $337,000): Did what we wanted from him with 72 and some kick-out duties. There was no Luke Ryan or Nathan Wilson though which is a slight worry.
Lloyd Meek (RUC, $170,000): Locked down the bench spot for our rucks. Obvious job security and life expectancy concerns with Sean Darcy returning at some stage and going head to head with Max Gawn round one. Scored an impressive 70.
Michael Fredrick (FWD, $292,000): Isn't a player I've been considering but turned heads with 100 from two goals and nine marks.
WESTERN BULLDOGS v MELBOURNE
Jack Macrae (MID, $860,000): Now there was no Adam Treloar, so there is still a possibility he gets pushed to a wing but crikey… It doesn't matter when he is this good. Looks set for another massive year after scoring 152.
Marcus Bontempelli (MID, $801,000): Talk about class, Bont looked next level on his way to 133. He kicked three goals and was unstoppable.
Josh Dunkley (MID/FWD, $741,000): The mid time was there and he showed he is hungry with 11 tackles and 130. Will likely be the No.1 forward this year, so he is currently under priced.
Max Gawn (RUC, $944,000): It's no real cause of concern but Max certainly spent plenty of time forward, only played 76 per cent game time and scored just 84 while Luke Jackson held his own in the ruck. Even if the slight role change is a thing, his easy draw to start the year will ensure scoring won’t be an issue.
James Jordan (MID, $170,000): Went OK with 14 touches, four marks and three tackles for 49. As bad as it sounds, he was their 11th highest scorer.
GOLD COAST v BRISBANE
Matt Rowell (MID, $574,000): Got through the game with high CBA but didn't look himself as he continues to recover from a shoulder injury. Possibly not the walk up starter I thought.
Joe Daniher (FWD, $432,000): Looked great on debut for the Lions with 71 which included five marks and three goals. Certainly still one to consider.
Jarrod Berry (MID, $680,000): Looks a breakout contender after an impressive game. Oozed class on his way to 28 possessions, nine marks and a goal for 119.
Jarrod Witts (RUC, $615,000): Following a disappointing weekend of ruck scores, the Suns big man was very solid with 36 hit outs for 88 points. He doesn’t share the duties either, which is a good sign.
So there you have it… There is a bit going on!