Lock and Load: After averaging 102.5 in 2017 (107 from Rd5 onwards) sees Michael Hurley ($563,500) as the most expensive healthy defender. Defenders that can consistently tonne up are few and far between, and with Hurley racking up midfielder like disposal numbers combined with half back number of marks in 2017, he was able to do so in 14 of his last 17 games. Years ago the notion floating around was that you never spend big in defence, but over the last few years and an update to scoring (particularly intercept marking points), this is where some of the better scorers have come from so one should not shy of some of the top defenders.
Feeling Lucky: Showing moments of brilliance in 2017 and showing why he was worth the number 1 draft pick the prior year, Andrew McGrath ($388,400) looms as one of the mid-priced DEF hopefuls. The addition of Saad and the increased midfield minutes is whats getting people excited about him. Awkwardly priced, he’ll either score well enough and become a keeper, or score mid 80s and stagnate in price.
Lock and Load: If you like points, lock Zach Merrett ($600,600) into your starting team and throw away the key. While his game style is more suited to other formats, he is still a very solid pick in SuperCoach averaging 111.5 and 109.2 over the last two seasons. The little piglet he is, he always finds a way to gather the ball, lay a tackle or 12 on occasion and score well. Only missing 1 game over the last two seasons due to cheeky arm swing, you can be more than sure to bank yourself 2,420 before the season even starts.
Feeling Lucky: One of the banned bombers in 2016 and a popular fwd/ruck swingman in the past, Tom Bellchambers ($504,500) returned in 2017 with some impressive performances scoring 90+ on 8 of 14 games (including the EF). He finished the home and away season off strong, with 128 and 150 in the last two games – the only issue is the 45 and 48 either side of those games. Never played a full 22, but as solo ruck, could increase his average to 95+ as the frequency of those poor games become less and less as the Essendon youngsters grow but would take some mighty fine foresight to start with him.
Lock and Load: This may come as a shock to many of you, but it will all become more clear when my “Peril of the 2018 Forwards” article hits, but Joe Daniher ($472,800) is a lock for 2018. Heading into his 5th full season, he is at that ripe age where key forwards come of age. Raising his average by 17 points last year, expect a second jump due to natural improvement and as the team begins to settle post drug saga. Verdict: 22 games at an average of 95.
Feeling Lucky: Essendon have heard about the “value forward line” and decided to offer a couple of picks themselves. Devon Smith ($439,100) rose his SuperCoach stakes when he left GWS for “increased midfield time” – which is 3 words that are music to SuperCoachers ears. Averaging 91.2 in his 3rd season and 89 in his 4th playing predominantly forward, he has the tools to increase his average playing more midfield in red and black. Word on the street is he tore the intra-club apart and looks set to average 90+ if he plays all 22 rotating through the middle, you are betting against his injury history after only having played 12 and 16 over the last 2 years, in which he has averaged 80 and hence comes in $100k less than the top few forwards.
Then there is Jake Stringer ($356,000), who was never really on the radar until recently when reports came out he was training with the midfield group. He then played midfield in the intra-club match before coming off with a foot injury. Assistant coach said he is probably 50-50 mid/fwd split at the moment however they are hoping is tank can go 70-30 mid/fwd by the start of the season. Stringer has never averaged more than 79 but has shown he is capable of big scores with numerous 100+ games, he just needs to iron out the 30s and 40s he throws up just as often.
If you would like to submit your own team review, post in the comments below and I will get in touch with you. Have any questions about Essendon players? Fire away!
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