Well, this has been a fun preseason! Between the lack of rookies and the uncertainty surrounding many established premiums, it’s a minor miracle that anyone has been able to put together a team at all. Many have dealt with this by leaning heavily on the Brodie Smiths and Brad Crouches of the world. As my in-season game style is rather trade-intensive, I need to be able to start as many keepers as I can, so I have taken a slightly different approach.
There are five decent cows at this end of the ground. The only one that’s missing from my team is Sam Collins, who, at his price, I have deemed surplus to requirements. It’s possible he could find his way in if I need to make any unexpected changes.
Lloyd and Laird should need no introduction, nor should Williams. I originally had Whitfield, but when the news came through about him potentially playing forward this year, I decided to find a new D3. Simpson is a bit expensive, Sicily also has question marks over his role, Milera, Andrews, and Witherden are all promising but still a tad speculative, and Crisp is a slow starter (he’ll be coming into my team sometime around round 7). Eventually, I settled on Luke Ryan. He wasn’t playing a lockdown role in the JLT, which is what likely caused his output to decline in the latter half of last year, and he is somebody who could definitely benefit from the new kick-in rules. And, as Adam has noted in his Elite Numbers, he doesn’t depend on having a high disposal count to score well. Throw in the fact that he’s still only 23, and I don’t see what’s not to love. Surprisingly, he’s only in two percent of teams.
This is where the good cows are this year, so I’ve made sure to leave enough room for them by only starting four premiums + Liberatore.
Like Lloyd and Laird, Cripps and Oliver need no introduction. Merrett is definitely underpriced relative to his abilities, and has a good early draw on an average-vs-opponent basis. There’s also a good chance that Shiel will draw the opposition taggers, freeing him up to rack up even more points. Finally, Neale is very durable, and has the potential to boost his average further now that he’s no longer in Fyfe’s shadow. If I had a bit more money I probably would have got Macrae instead, but I don’t, so Neale will do fine.
And now, the forward line.
Hang on, forward line? Isn’t the normal convention to talk about the rucks at this point?
It is. But in this case I want people to see the rest of my team before they freak out about that. Also, aren’t you Father Dougal’s rhetorical device?
I’m a different interlocutor!
I see… and who gave you permission to be here?
Umm… err… Mot… err… no… err… Schwozzelbadger!
I don’t think he did… anyway, clear off! You’re distracting my readers.
You know, your avatar’s not even a salamander… what is that, a meerkat?
It’s a lemur. And I said clear off!
I’m terribly sorry about this…
Once again, the first two require no introduction – I can sense a pattern forming! I’ve rounded them out with Tim Kelly at F3, and a very underpriced Toby Greene at F4. Apart from Moore, who is cheap enough to be cow-like, Setterfield is the only rookie I have on the field on this line. And that’s exactly how I like it!
Aaaand cue the downvotes. But before you do, look at the rest of the team: a beefy backline, a powerful top-line midfield complemented by plenty of good cash cows, and a near rookie-less forward line. All of that had to be paid for, and the money had to come from somewhere. That somewhere was here.
The Goldstein pick shouldn’t be too controversial – he’s priced to average 100, and could easily go ten percent better than that – but Lycett will probably raise a few eyebrows. Eventually, I want to play him forward and use him as swinging cover. For now, though, I need him to hold down R2, because with Mumford getting himself suspended, no compelling budget ruck options have presented themselves during the preseason (apart from Andrew Phillips, whose job security is pretty shaky). I’m not optimistic about Lycett’s chances against Gawn this week, but after that, his draw isn’t too bad in terms of direct opponents. He’ll probably only average 80-something for the season, but that’s okay – I have a cunning plan:
1. Play him at R2 for the first four weeks.
2. Bring in Mumford for round five, and move Lycett to the forward line, where he’ll eventually end up on the bench.
3. In terms of direct opponents, Mumford has a good draw up to his bye, so as long as he gets through his first two matches unscathed, he’ll be great value for his $320K price tag.
4. Like Goldstein, Mumford has a round 14 bye. That happens to be a week after Gawn and Grundy. If the form of one or both of them warrants it, I’ll be able to trade them in during round 14. By being able to play two good rucks during every bye round, that’s potentially an extra 200+ points I wouldn’t have otherwise got, which puts a sizeable dent in the spread between whatever Grawndy and my Goldstein/Lycett/Mumford combo score over the first 12 rounds. Throw in the money I’m saving upfront (which is being spent, i.e. converted to extra points), and it’s going to be hard for me to not come out ahead here.
So, that’s my team. I’ll update this post if I make any major changes over the weekend.
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