Ah, Champion Data. You have really screwed us this time!
In their quest to make sure our teams vary sufficiently from one another, they often make little tweaks to player prices or positioning. This season, the ace up their sleeve was making Rory Lobb a forward only despite everyone, and I mean everyone, knowing he will ruck for GWS. And the silly thing is, his interrupted preseason would have prevented many Supercoaches from starting with him anyway: He was never going to be selected in every Supercoach team!
They generally do great work, but sometimes Champion Data just try and control player pricing and positioning a little too much!
Therefore, the issue we now face in 2018 is finding a back-up for our ruckmen. Where we had numerous ruck-forward options in the 2017 season like Nank and Ryder, we are bereft of options in 2018 unless a rookie ruckman like Darcy Cameron, Tim English or Marc Pittonet push for regular selection. If we can find no coverage for the ruck line, we could see enough donuts to start a Krispy Kreme franchise. All we need is the odd knee knock, ankle roll, concussion by Stevie May or simple case of gastro to strike our ruckmen and our season could be over.
No matter how reliable the ruck combination you choose is, any player can suffer bad luck and it just plain ridiculous that our entire season could be shaped by pure chance!
So what can we do?
Barring a miracle, the only answer I can give is: Select the most durable damned ruckmen you can find and cross every digit for the next six months!
So who are our main Ruck suspects for season 2018?
SAM JACOBS (Ade) $526,300
Matches played 2015-17: 63
2017 matches: 22
2017 SC Points: 95.7ppg
SC score 2016-2012: 87, 107, 115, 85, 101
2017 Av. Hit-outs: 39.8 (Win rate: 50.7%)
2017 Av HAd: 11.7 (29.3%)
2017 Av. stats: 14.4 disposals (CP 6.7), 3.7 marks (CM 1.4), 3 tackles
2017 goals: 8 goals, 5 behinds.
Bye Round: 14
Jacobs is something all Supercoaches like: a dependable ruckman who has missed just 3 matches in 5 seasons and who always rucks alone. He enjoyed a career best season in 2018 but the change in ruck rules meant he could not match his 115ppg from 2014 or 107ppg from 2015. The only criticism is on his value as he is priced near his maximum.
Overall, Jacobs could be the smartest selection in 2018 as he is the most durable ruckman currently available and, although he is unlikely to increase in value, he could save you a donut.
STEFAN MARTIN (Bri) $540,000
Matches played 2015-17: 62 (2 suspended)
2017 matches: 22
2017 SC Points: 98.2ppg
SC score 2016-2012: 89, 111, 112, 45, 78
2017 Av. Hit-outs: 35.0 (Win rate: 47.7%)
2017 Av. HAd: 10.5 (30%)
2017 Key stats: 14.4 disposals (CP 9.0), 4 marks (CM 0.5), 3 tackles
2017 goals: 1 goal, 3 behinds
Bye Round: 13
Stefan Martin was almost as durable as Jacobs over the last 3 seasons, averaging 21 matches per season and playing the full 22 games last season. Like Jacobs, he also averaged a career high SC score in 2014 and 2015 with 112ppg and 111ppg before dropping down to 87ppg in 2016 and rebounding to 98ppg in 2017, but in Martin’s case his average dropped mostly due to him recording less possessions rather than the new hit-out rules.
That drop in possession rate dropped in 2016 because Stevie May knocked his head off early in the year and he suffered from knee tendonitis mid-season, while in 2017 he shared his ruck role with Archie Smith on 6 occasions. To break it down, in 2017 he averaged 87ppg when playing with Smith and he averaged 102ppg in the other 16 matches when he rucked alone.
So, in other words, Stefan Martin is unlikely to cost you a donut but if Archie Smith plays too often he’ll drop in price.
At age 31, is he worth the risk.
MATTHEW KREUZER (Car) $603,700
Matches played 2015-17: 55 (3 VFL games in 2015)
2017 Matches: 21
2017 SC Points: 109.8ppg
SC score 2016-2012: 73, 89, 69, 98, 92
2017 Av. Hit-outs: 31.7 (Win rate: 45%)
2017 Av. HAd: 9.0 (28.4%)
2017 Key stats: 15.3 disposals (CP 9.8), 3.3 marks (CP 0.9), 5 tackles
2017 goals: 12 goals, 12 behinds
Bye Round: 12
We all knew Kreuz had talent yet we were all surprised in 2017 when he improved on his 2016 SC average by 36 SC points. His ruck-tap statistics weren’t overly impressive but he had a large impact around the ground with 15 disposals, 4.5 clearances and 5 tackles per match. He also averaged 1 shot on goal per match and actually averaged 117ppg after Round 6 (He averaged 86ppg in his first 5 matches).
So while we are satisfied Kreuzer can play, there are two big questions that cast doubt as to whether he will back up his career-best 2017. The first is his durability. We are speaking here of a player who never plays a full season, even requiring round 5 off in 2017 when he was at his fittest. Can you afford a $600k ruck donut?
The other question is Lobbe’s arrival at Carlton. In a recent interview, Kreuzer mentioned that he had shared the ruck role with Lobbe in preseason practice to allow Kreuz to play forward more often. Now I can’t see Lobbe playing many matches but who wants that anxiety?
All up, Kreuz could well back-up his average but he will probably miss games. I, for one, see Kreuzer as an unnecessary risk.
BRODIE GRUNDY (Col) $534,700
Matches played 2015-17: 60 (2 suspended 2017, 1 in VFL in 2016)
2017 matches: 20 (missed 2 games with suspension)
2017 SC Points: 97.3ppg
SC score 2016-2013: 95, 91, 63, 75
2017 Av. Hit-outs: 35.7 (Win rate: 50.9%)
2017 Av. HAd: 9.7 (27.2%)
2017 Key stats: 18.4 disposals (CP 9.8), 3.7 marks (CP 0.9), 4 tackles
2017 goals: 4 goals, 5 behinds.
Bye Round: 13
Brodie is another durable ruckman who rarely misses a match through injury. He is gradually improving his tap work but he still gains more points through his high possession count than hit-outs to advantage.
Yet despite his great work ethic and improving form, Grundy is not popular in Supercoach land because of the dreaded ‘shared ruck role’ issue. In 2017, Grundy averaged 105.6 ppg when he played alone but only 81.7ppg when he shared the role with Cox.
It has been well publicized that Buckley wishes to play Mason Cox in the same team as Grundy, but with Darcy Moore moving to the back-line, Cox may stay forward more often. Given he is only turning 24 this season, Grundy has plenty of natural improvement, but do you want to risk a ruckmen you know is not going to ruck alone?
AARON SANDILANDS (Fre) $480,000
Matches played 2015-17: 36 (1 suspended)
2017 matches: 10
2017 SC Points: 87.3ppg (off Q1 with 12 in final game)
SC score 2016-2013: 71, 108, 108, 64, 112
2017 Av. Hit-outs: 41.1 (win rate: 67.5%)
2017 Av. HAd: 13.1 (31.9%)
2017 Key stats: 11.0 disposals (CP 7.0), 2.2 marks (CP 1.3), 2 tackles
2017 goals: 0 goals, 1 behind
Bye Round: 14
Sandy said in the preseason that he wants to play every match in 2018. It’s good to see the big fella staying positive but, on average, he has missed 10 matches per season over the past 3 years so those words seems more like wishful thinking than a prediction.
And it’s a shame because, if he’s fit, Sandy will score well even it he doesn’t win much of the ball simply because he taps to advantage so often.
So expect a few high scores early in the season while Sandy’s fit and Darcy is out with his calf injury, but also expect to have a trade ready for when he inevitably injures himself.
People, he’s just not worth the risk!
ZAC SMITH (Gee) $501,800
Matches played 2015-17: 50 (12 in VFL/NEAFL)
2017 matches: 18 (+3 finals)
2017 SC Points: 91.3ppg
SC score 2016-2012: 77, 79, 76, 77, 70
2017 Av. Hit-outs: 32.1 (Win rate: 48.2%)
2017 Av. HAd: 8.6 (27.1%)
2017 Key stats: 14.7 disposals (CP 7.3), 1.5 marks (CM 0.5), 3 tackles
2017 goals: 6 goals, 6 behinds
Bye Round: 14
Smith has struggled to consolidate the ruck position at Geelong, dropped in Round 7 and again in Round 14 of 2017. Despite this he finally seemed to be showing some of that great form predicted early in his career. However, instead of rucking alone as we Supercoaches would like, Chris Scott insists in sharing the ruck role between Smith and Rhys Stanley. Heaven knows why!
When Smith rucks alone he averages a healthy 101.5ppg compared with 75.7ppg when he shares time with Stanley.
So the choice here is simple. Unless you can guarantee Smith is rucking alone at the Cattery then you just can’t risk it.
Part 2 and a ruck poll will be up tomorrow…
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