Having done my very best Icarus impersonation last year, I am determined to make up for it with a big 2018.
I have learned the hard way that to get where I want to go, I am going to have to conserve some trades. As such, a big part of my plan going into this year is to minimise the need for trading, through measures such as:
- To the greatest extent possible, making sure I nail the rookie selections the first time around. This also means building my structure around the availability of rookies, not the other way around, which, in addition to maximising cash generation, will also prevent me from having to spend precious trades pivoting my structure early in the season.
- Starting as many keepers as possible. This means avoiding O’Meara and Armitage types.
- Trying to avoid injury-prone players, especially on lines where I have no cover, such as in the ruck. If there’s one thing that I have really emphasised in my selection criteria this year, it is that durability counts. Obviously, when push comes to shove, overall scoring potential trumps durability, but nevertheless I think it’s fair to say that I have put greater emphasis on it than most people this year.
- I should declare at the outset that I play primarily for overall ranking, not league wins. This is not to say that I don’t want to win my leagues, because I do, but I don’t base my decision-making around doing so. At the end of the day, total points are what matter to me.
With that out of the way, let’s take a look at each of my selections:
With Docherty and Williams going down during the pre-season, Laird was clearly the best available defender.
Ellis may not be the most popular pick, but he hasn’t missed a game since 2013, and has consistently posted a solid average in that time. Some may be put off by his performance in last year’s finals series, but heading into last year with a career finals average of 51, Ellis had always performed badly in September; last year was just business as usual for him. He didn’t get off to the best of starts last week, but having averaged 91 last year, and 100+ from round 10 onwards, I don’t see any reason to be concerned just yet.
Sicily averaged 90+ once Clarkson moved him into defence last year; as long as he stays in that role, he should continue to do so. He does have a temper, but luckily, his date with Jed Lamb does not come until round 18.
All the rookies here are fairly standard, although Naughton is on notice after that debut. The one selection here that might raise a few eyebrows is Keeffe; I was originally going to park him at F8, to use as a conduit to beam Sicily up and down the field. I was going to drop him when he didn’t make the Giants’ final 22, but with Mark O’Connor being a late out, and with no information at the time as to the severity of his injury, I had a hole to plug at D8. There were no playing rookie defenders that I could afford available by the time the news of this came through, and also I couldn’t afford one of the more promising absentees such as Tom Cole, so I was left with little choice but to stick Keeffe there for the time being. Hopefully he plays fairly soon.
A lot of the best cash cows looked to be in the midfield this year, so I decided to start 5 premiums and three on-field rookies on this line, using the savings to bolster other, less cow-friendly parts of the ground, namely the forwardline.
Mitchell struck me as the next best option given Dangerfield’s absence, whilst Zorko has shown himself to be an absolute beast when Rockliff is not around, last week notwithstanding. If he starts getting regularly tagged I may be in trouble, however.
Fyfe, Parker, and Cripps are all manifestly underpriced, and all three are a good chance of being top-10 mids this season.
The rookies, once again, are fairly standard – I just happen to have a fair few of them.
Gawn should require no explanation.
Nonna compared Jacobs to a 1987 Volvo station wagon in this week’s Trade Talk, and I think the analogy works quite well: of all the R2 options, Sam Jacobs is just about the most boring player you can pick, but with his durability and role-security, he’s far and away the least likely to blow up in your face.
I think we all know why Olango is here.
You’ve heard of set-and-forget rucks… introducing the set and forget forwardline! I rate all six of these players as keepers, and with no on-field rookies in this line, it’s going to save me a lot of headaches throughout the season. I wouldn’t mind bringing in Franklin at some point, at which time McLean could perhaps become my M9, but even if that doesn’t happen, I’m perfectly happy to keep this lineup the way it is.
Heeney and Billings seemed like obvious choices, whilst McLean and Smith, both widely tipped to receive significantly greater midfield time, felt like pretty safe (and common) bets.
Given that I have been pumping up Curnow and Lobb all pre-season, you didn’t honestly think I was going to start without them, did you? They were two of my first players picked, and neither has ever left my side since. As I have said many times before, Curnow averaged 93 from round 14 onwards last year, and Lobb averaged over 100 when playing as the number 1 ruck.
Apart from Garlett, who I have in the midfield, Fritsch looked like the only decent forward rookie leading into round 1. With the hole left by moving Keeffe to the backline, I was forced to pick the player I deemed the least-bad option. I narrowed this down to Liam Ryan and Zac Giles-Langdon; I ultimately went with Giles-Langdon, simply because I thought the GWS forwardline would be a much nicer place to be than that of West Coast this year. Time will tell whether or not that was the right call.
My bye balance is not perfect, with 5 keepers missing in round 12, 4 in round 13, and 7 in round 14, but overall, I think this is manageable. With $35,200 in the bank, I don’t have much of a Danger fund, but with the fast cash generation that will come from some of those midfield rookies, hopefully I won’t need one.
Anyway, let me know what you think in the comments below.
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