2020 Team Preview – Essendon

Written by Chillo on February 14 2020

Whether they like it or not, the Essendon football club has often found themselves as the centre of attention in recent years. Without even going into all the details of the Dank saga, there has been frequent dramas surrounding player movements and internal politics at the club, including most recently the dumping of Zach Merrett from the club’s leadership group last week. And that’s before we get to the time that has passed since the club last won a finals match….*

I know I speak for all the Bombers fans out there when I say it would be nice to see Essendon’s 2020 season played out on the field, with minimal focus on the other part of the business. It would also be nice if they could score us some Supercoach points!

* It’s 5641 days since Essendon won a final. Just in case you were wondering.

Defenders

Feeling Lucky: Lots of handy rather than brilliant scorers populate the back half for Essendon, with the likes of Adam Saad ($443,500), Connor McKenna ($443,600) and Michael Hurley ($432,900) all posting notable numbers at different stages in recent years. Probably the one with most potential for growth though is Aaron Francis ($352,300). A former pick 6, Francis has had his battles in his career so far, but managed 16 games last year and is reportedly in the middle of his best pre-season yet. Aaron is a terrific talent, and if he can get it all together he could be a viable option for your backline in the years to come.

Money Maker: Brandon Zerk-Thatcher ($189,000) is a tall defender with a terrific name who showed a bit of promise on debut in his lone game in 2019, compiling 11 disposals and 58 points. Unfortunately that game has almost ruined his starting price, although BZT is only $9K more than favoured rookie def Hayden Young. Monitor.

Midfielders

Lock and Load: He’s not quite an uber premium yet but for those of you who baulk at picking too many $600K+ mids to start the season, Zach Merrett ($573,600) is certainly worth consideration in the next tier of midfielders. Merrett has shown he is capable of averaging over 110 for the season while maintaining a high degree of consistency, and an uninterrupted pre-season bodes well for his prospects in 2020. Can find the footy like few others in the game and averages just shy of six tackles a game for his career. The other big attraction here is durability, with Zach having missed just one game in the past four years despite battles with concussion and an ankle injury at different times.  Merrett has plenty to prove this season and is a nicely priced POD at just 3% ownership.

Feeling Lucky: Dylan Shiel ($529,100) has been promising so much for so long, it’s hard to believe he’s still only 26 years old. Often compared to Chris Judd for his exciting acceleration away from the contest, it’s quite incredible that Shiel has only averaged in triple digits for the season once in eight years. Will this be the year Dylan finally breaks through and dominates the way his fans believe he should?
Speaking of promise, former number 1 pick Andrew McGrath ($399,400) has shown glimpses of Supercoach relevance throughout his brief career. Used primarily as a rebounding halfback but capable of spending more time in the midfield, there’s no doubting McGrath’s class and poise with footy in hand. The frequency of that event is what will determine whether McGrath takes the next step into premium territory. No DPP status this year probably rules him out of serious calculations, but don’t forget about him!

Money Maker: Mitch Hibberd ($114,400) has shown plenty of promise in the VFL as a running halfback for a few years now, but still hasn’t quite cracked it in the top league. After four games in three injury-plagued seasons at the Kangaroos, the delisted Hibberd was picked up by the Bombers in the rookie draft. Minor knee surgery in the off-season is a warning sign, but the club seem positive on his prospects and his VFL numbers suggest he will be a decent scorer if he can get a run at it in the senior 22. Definite shortlist for your mid bench.   

Rucks 

Feeling Lucky: To be brutally honest there’s not much to see in the Bombers’ ruck department. Tom Bellchambers ($460,500) and Andrew Phillips ($403,100) will probably have some good games, some flat games and spend time in the grandstands at some stage throughout the year.

Money Maker: Sam Draper ($123,900) is a promising big man who unfortunately suffered an ACL tear in the VFL last year. Hopefully he will return at some stage this season, but for now you can mark him down in the book for future reference.

Forwards

Lock and Load: Here’s the thing with Devon Smith ($335,800). He tackles like a maniac, loves a goal, and is essentially a dynamic and balanced midfielder who is available as a forward. That’s three big ticks, and at this price he should be a no-brainer, right? But there’s a reason for everything in Supercoach and in Dev’s case, he’s cheap because he misses games. Quite often. In fact in eight seasons, Smith has only played all 22 games on one occasion: his career best year in 2018 when he averaged 98. If he repeated that effort in 2020, he would be a must-have. All reports of his pre-season are super positive and he is justly a popular pick at 48% ownership.

Feeling Lucky: Every Supercoach worth his or her salt spends this time of year searching for that elusive breakout player. In 2020, Darcy Parish ($465,400) has to be among the candidates. Now in his fifth year of senior footy, Parish has steadily improved his scoring each season after being drafted at pick 5 back in 2015. The big attraction here is the new addition of DPP status – history suggests that Darcy only has to add 10 ppg to his efforts from last year to finish as a top 10 forward. Temptingly priced and will not be tagged at any stage. Watch his Marsh Series campaign closely.
According to reliable sources, i.e. himself, Jake Stringer ($384,600) is “borderline flying” throughout his pre-season campaign. Apparently Jake doesn’t mind putting himself under a bit of pressure to perform! The Package certainly has the ability to influence a game with his speed and power in the forward 50; his major downfall throughout his career has been putting those efforts together week after week after week. Smokey for a late draft pick perhaps?

Money Maker: Jacob Townsend ($222,900) played 48 games in eight seasons at the Giants and Tigers, before signing with the Bombers as a pre-season supplemental player for this season. Not overly impressive so far, right? His Supercoach relevance is based entirely on two factors. One, his incredible run at the end of the 2017 season when he kicked 16 goals in five games to help Richmond to a flag. And two, the Bombers have signalled their intention to play him as an inside midfielder, the role he played when he won the JJ Liston Trophy as the VFL B&F in 2017. He’s certainly a bit pricier than your average cash cow, but if he gets a string of games going early in the season, Townsend will provide that wonderful combination of profit and points that we’re looking for in an onfield rookie. Do not discount.

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23 thoughts on “2020 Team Preview – Essendon”

  1. Darcy Parish is an interesting one. Whilst increasing his SC average by 4-5 points each year virtually all his stats for 2019 are identical to his career stats. He has been super constant in each of his 4 years in regards to his season statistics.

    Probably the biggest knock is his tank and whether he has the capacity to play 80% TOG as pure midfielder.

    Needs to get that possession count from 20 to 25 to become forward relevant.

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      1. Yeah it is… wish I’d thought of it!

        I was going to make a joke about how much attention Joe’s groin is getting this pre-season, but kiddies sometimes read this site so no go

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  2. Nice one Chillo.
    Watching clips of Jacob TOWNSEND going at it like some rabid tackling machine in training yesterday, has me thinking that Devon SMITH will get the opportunity to play more MID-time in 2020 as he boldly stated earlier in the week. SMITH is also having his first full pre-season since 2015 and Shiel heard saying he’s looking the best he has in years.
    Have gone from a no on SMITH, to a maybe, to a very likely. Am not dismissing TOWNSEND either at this point. Doesn’t need to average too much to be a highly valuable ‘on-field’ FWD in 2020 who will also make significant cash.

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    1. Same here AS. I had Heeney at F3 until recently, but with his injury, talk of more time forward, and the good news on Smith, I’ve now got Dev at that spot.
      Townsend is too expensive for mine, I think there are cheaper rookies who will score just as well. Marsh series will be interesting though

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    2. Damn you As…you have let the cat out of the bag re Townsend. $223k for a premiership winning fwd at f6…priced to average 41 pts and likely to get midfield time. Dons are going for a particular player in the mids…..grunt !!! And that includes Cutler.

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  3. Still struggling to buy into the hype of Devon Smith at the moment. Think those picking him thinking he will walk back into his inside mid role from 2018 will be mistaken. Now chances are he didn’t play that role from his limited game time in 2019 due to his knee issues but saw a video this pre-season of Devon being mic’d up at training and he was training with the forwards. Think with Shiel coming into the midfield and the improvement of players like McGrath and Parish we will see Smith being played predominantly as a forward. Can see that he is obviously underpriced but just don’t see him making it to be a keeper this season.

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    1. There’s definitely alot of candidates at the bombers for midfield time.

      Hibbard when he is fit as well.

      I also wonder with the amount of injuries over the pre-season at the bombers will they struggle early as a team.

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    2. Not a chance. I honestly don’t know if people honestly watched Dev’s last full season of footy. He is first picked in Essendon’s midfield. First magnet on the board . Essendon have a battery of small/ medium size forwards they said when they recruited Smith he was recruited as a midfielder. True to their word they played him their he won the best and fairest and averaged 98. I think it’s more likely you will see a Heppell push to half back and play off their at stages when they play around with their midfield mix.

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    3. This something that confuses me a bit, maybe I didn’t pay enough attention in 2018 but did attend a lot of centre bounces, seemed to play wing and HF & push up to stoppages but this was pre-666 so I am pretty wary of the role

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  4. Great article Chillo. So far I have zero Bombers bit I have fond memories of Devon from 08.

    By the way, does Brandon Zerk-Thatcher have the nickname Bezerk and if not, why not?

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    1. Essendon Website:

      Brandon Zerk-Thatcher – Pick 66 (Sturt, SANFL)

      After joining Essendon from South Australia, the man fondly dubbed “Berserk” by the Bomber faithful played 19 matches at VFL level, where his consistency as a key defender saw him secure a top-five position in the Best and Fairest after being named among the best players three times.

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  5. Devon Smith firming as a l0ck for me.
    Good memories of picking him in my first Supercoach team in 2017. If he can recapture that form he might below me get back in top 800 that I achieved in first year.
    Also watching Cahil . Hearing sonn m S good things and DPP a bonus but not worrying to much about DDP at this stage .

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