2020 Team Preview – Western Bulldogs

Written by Thommo on February 17 2020

     WESTERN BULLDOGS

As predicted in the 2019 Bulldog’s preview, Mr Magnets was not to be trusted. As we dreaded, Luke Beveridge did indeed shift players between the midfield and forward lines early in the season.

Thankfully, those role changes adversely effected the Bulldogs’ form early in 2019 so Bevo was forced to shift his best midfielders back into midfield roles.

Shockingly this strange theory worked and the Bulldogs started winning matches consistently and even made the top 8.

We can only hope that Bevo learnt his lesson and he will avoid changing his midfield line-up.

So now we can move on to a new debate: How many midfielders can you select from the same club? Well, it’s not really a new debate given we had the same debate about Geelong (the Bartel, Ablett, Corey days) and Collingwood (the Swan, Pendlebury and Beams days) but it’s a new debate about the Bulldogs.

Can we select two, or even three, of Macrae, Dunkley and Bontempelli in the same midfield?

I’ll give you the answer in the 2021 Bulldogs Preview!

Defenders

Lock and Load: Good things come in small packages! After Caleb Daniel ($537,900) was moved to the backline in late 2018, he scored three centuries in four weeks for an average of just over 100ppg. In that time he was the main ‘distributor’ off of half-back and he averaged over 30 disposals per game.

Daniel punched above his weight in 2019.

Due to the small sample size and our lack of trust for Bevo, many Supercoaches avoided Daniel to start 2019 but it was soon evident that the hype was real: Caleb Daniel was playing loose across half-back and racking up the touches! He lifted his average to 99ppg from 27 disposals per match and could have averaged slightly higher if not for a couple of soft tissue injuries (something he has not suffered with often in his career).

Considering Daniel only scored below 80 points on four occasions and above 100 points on ten occasions, he looks a safe and relatively unique defensive option.

Money Makers: I haven’t read anything that indicates that the Bulldogs’ defensive rookies like Buku Khamis and Louis Butler will appear in 2020.

Midfielders

Lock and Load: As mentioned in the introduction, the engine room is where the Doggies thrive. After averaging 123 and 116ppg respectively, Jack Macrae ($668,900) and Josh Dunkley ($632,400) are two of the most expensive midfielders available to start the 2020 season.

Macrae needs no introduction; if you don’t know who he is then you haven’t been playing  Supercoach. He averaged 127ppg in 2018 and 123ppg in 2019 and he has only scored less than 100 points in a match 6 times in the last 2 years. And one of those was injury-effected.

Macrae will give you exactly what you pay for: Points, lots and lots of points!

He looks like an accountant and knows how to rack up big numbers!

Dunkley is a more interesting case: With Mr Magnets moving him out of the midfield to start 2019, Dunkley only averaged 85.8ppg for the first 6 matches of the season and his Supercoaches (including me) were unhappy. The Bulldogs were playing crap and Dunkley was a shadow of his late 2018-self. When Bevo woke up to himself and moved Dunkley back into the midfield, he averaged 127.9ppg for the remainder of the season and, more importantly, the Bulldogs were good.

If Bevo has any sort of a brain, he leaves Dunkley in the midfield and Dunkley may be as much as 10ppg under-priced.

If you trust Bevo, you need to select Dunkley.

The third mouseketeer, Marcus Bontempelli ($623,000),  broke-out fully in 2019 to record a career-high average of 114.7ppg and provides a slightly unique option in Supercoach. Due to his elite ball-use and ability to take contested marks and kick goals he can score well off a limited disposal count. What surprised me when I examined his 2019 form was that Bontempelli was a consistent scorer throughout the season. I have always assumed he was inconsistent due to the extended time spent in the forward line, but he only dropped below 90 points twice for the season, recording 73 points in Rd 11 and 70 points in Rd 18. He more than made for those lows with 5 scores over 140 points with a season-high of 166 points against Brisbane.

A repeat of that stellar season appears likely in 2020 when you consider that the Bulldogs traded for Josh the Bruce to play alongside Aaron Naughton and Josh Schache in the forward line. With the added tall forward (and Keath in defence preventing Naughton swinging back), it seems more than likely that Bontempelli will spend less time up forward in 2020 and pump out many monster scores.

Can the Bont reach an even higher level in 2020?

Money MakerAgain, I question whether the Dogs will play many rookies in 2020. It seems like Riley Garcia ($117,300) is recovering from injury and won’t play early in 2020 while Callum Porter ($123,900) is a bit inconsistent and very lightly framed so he will probably need time to develop.

 Rucks

Feeling Lucky: Look, I wouldn’t do it, but Tim English ($448,400) has received some attention in the preseason. If you look back on his draft year of 2017 he was called the best ruck prospect since NicNat and Footy Freako’s comment was, “He’s a ruckman. Let’s talk in three years.”

Well, it’s three years on and English is now the number one ruckman at the kennel and he finished 2019 with scores of 97, 105, 105 and 84 points. The only concern was his form against the best ruckman: He recorded just 6 hit-outs against Grundy, 7 hit-outs against Goldstein and 7 hit-outs against Maxy.

2020 could be the year he breaks out but it may also be a year early.

Either way, selecting English will take some stern intestinal fortitude.

Money Maker: Unless English is injured, Jordon Sweet ($123,900) seems unlikely to debut in 2020 given the number of tall options the Bulldogs now have to pinch-hit in the ruck. That said, he is he only back-up ruckman and he is now 22 years of age, having played both AFL and SANFL footy so he is certainly mature enough in stature to deal with the rigors of AFL footy should his chance arise.

Forwards

The forward-line is interesting at the Kennel. They have no Supercoach guns but they certainly have lot of mid-pricers or fallen premiums (under-pricers AllSaints?). If you pick the right one, you might get a leg up on the competition. If you don’t nail that decision…

Feeling Lucky: In my humble opinion, Patrick Lipinksi (FWD/MID $441,500) is the best break-out candidate in the Doggies’ forward line. He started his third season in the VFL before breaking into the team in Round 10 and remaining there for good. Playing between half-forward and wing he demonstrated excellent ball winning ability, lifting his average disposal count from 15 to 22 per match and his Supercoach average from 59 to 81ppg. More importantly, he averaged 94 SC ppg in the last month, recording 27 possessions in Rounds 21 and 22. He won’t increase in average enough to be an elite midfielder in 2020 but as a forward he could be worth the risk…

Is 2020 the break-out year for Lipinski?

Second on the list is Mitch Wallis (FWD/MID $454,500). He copped yet another injury set-back in 2019 with ankle surgery ending his season after Round 10 but he has a good scoring history having averaged 92 SC points in 2018 and 98 SC points in 2015. Apart from his injury history, the main concern with Wallis is that he seemed to spend more time forward after Rd 5 in 2019. It is likely that Macrae, Dunkley, Bont and Hunter will spend a bulk of time in the midfield and players like Wallis will be pushed forward more often in 2020.

Another player to watch is Bailey Smith (FWD/MID $415,900) who deserved more publicity than he received in his debut year. Selected as pick 7 in 2018, he played every match in 2019 mixing his time between the backline, forward line and midfield for an average of 77ppg. While it is a big stretch to predict a second year break-out with the stacked midfield, this kid is such a gun it could happen.

This time last year we discussed starting with Toby McLean (FWD/MID $380,100) but he has clearly lost his battle for a midfield role and is firmly ensconced in the forward line. His scores last season made for grim reading and he finished the season with a 57 and two 40-something scores. Avoid him!

The No-Toby’s Rule is alive and well in 2020!

Money Maker:  The son of a gun, Rhylee West ($231,300), only played two regular season matches in 2020 for an impressive average of 71ppg. Obviously the Bulldogs team will be hard to break in to given Mitch Wallis appears to be fit again, but if he has his father’s ability to find the ball, fantasy football is his jam! He will also be competing with te mature-aged recruit from 2018, Ben Cavarra (FWD $123,900), who twice made the VFL Team-of-the-Year selections as a small forward and should come into calculations for a debut in 2020.

The other players to watch in the preseason are Cody Weightman (FWD $144,300) who was rated one of the best small forwards in the 2019 draft and Fergus Greene (FWD $157,400) who hasn’t set the league on fire due to injuries but he is entering his third season and is one to watch in the preseason if he is over his shoulder injury.

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23 thoughts on “2020 Team Preview – Western Bulldogs”

      1. Definitely has merit. Nothing wrong with 3 premos from the same team (see Pendles/Beams/Swan) or (Parker/JPK/Hanners) the years they were all top 10 MID in the same season. No reason why the three dogs couldnt do the same.

        3 games last season the trio would have given under 300 points and 2 was in the first 6 weeks when Dunkley was being played forward.

        The maximum score between them each round is pretty insane. There was 1 x 95 but:
        4 x 120s
        3 x 130s
        5 x 140s
        3 x 150s
        2 x 160s
        1 x 170s and 200s

        Average of 352 per game combined last season with a standard deviation of 45. Not bad.

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  1. Thanks for the write up, was very thorough. Keeping an eye out for Cavarra, was unlucky with injuries last year.

    There’s a quirk in the dogs draw where they play the Giants/Deboar twice before their round 14 bye.

    IDK if that bothers anyone, Bont got most of the tag in their last two games and he did ok 90 and 84.

    They also play north twice, I’m not sure if Jacobs is playing this year or not?

    but they have Giants/North Round 3 and 4.

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    1. I was thinking the same for Cavarra but Suckling was quoted as saying he thought Weight man would break into the side soon…

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  2. Great write up Thommo. The guts is where it all happens for the doggies, but I’m a bit concerned about having all three amigos due to scaling etc….Love to see some stats on how these guys scored in the same rounds of 2019…..As ?? Opposition clubs can realistically tag only one, so if you have them all, two should be off the leash each week. Lipinski the interesting one…I brought him in in r19 only because he was all I could afford…you get lucky some times, but he does look like a 90+ average player, and for an f/5/6 thats great…also the bye as you say, and dpp !!

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    1. The word out of the Kennel was they have high hopes for Lipinski, back in 2018 they were talking him up and he had a very good half-season last year.

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    2. If you are playing for overall rank, it doesn’t really matter how they score per round, only their total score. Barring a role-change their averages shouldn’t change much.

      If you are playing for league, having all three means you will cop some down weeks if the team loses badly. That said, when all three players were playing sole midfield, they didn’t drop under 100 points often. As a trio they are amazingly consistent when playing midfield together.

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  3. I’m very bullish on bailey smith but that’s one hell of a midfield too break into & that is such an awkward price.. reminds me of dusty Martin has a few similarities in his game

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        1. Last years “Super Seven” draft was stacked, the questions getting at this years draft was: “Where would Rowell go if he was in that draft class?”

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            1. If he was in that year, surrounded by those other hyped players I think he would have gone 3rd or 6th for mine. (Based on the info that had at the time, i.e just their junior careers)

              The top 6 picks from that year are below, I could see GC taking him.
              Saints were super keen on Max King and Port on Rozee. Lukosius was seen as the next Nick Riewolt.

              Walsh
              Lukosius
              Rankine/Rowell
              Max King
              Rozee
              Ben King/Rowell

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  4. Great write up
    Have Macrae and tossing up between
    Dunkley Trade up
    J Kelly Trade down

    Will Kelly avoid injury and go bang
    Good preseason to date or will Dunkley continue whew he left off

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  5. I’ve really wanted Lipinski in my side, and as a biased doggies fan I think he’s primed for a breakout.

    But he’s a great link player constantly being involved in scoring chains & involvements. So he might be better use in that half forward/wing role closer to goal. He’s also got a horrible kick to handball ratio and while he was 5th for clearances at the dogs from round 10 onwards… I don’t actually think that number is that impressive.

    You’ve also got Wallis & Liberatore trying to make their way back who are both probably better clearance players but less damaging on the outside than Lipinski.

    Love him though.

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