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.
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.
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.
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.
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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