Team Review – Fremantle

Written by Thommo on January 19 2016


After 9 straight wins to start the season including wins over Sydney, West Coast and Port, Fremantle looked unstoppable. But when the Tigers knocked them off at home in round 10, the Dockers’ form dropped off and they never rediscovered that invincible form again despite remaining on top of the ladder. This inconsistent form was perhaps in part due to injury to Fyfe courtesy of Sam Mitchell’s knee.

Fremantle still managed 8 wins from the last 13 games but they were unconvincing in wins over Gold Coast, Collingwood and Richmond and terrible in losses to West Coast and Hawthorn in Tassie.

Although they won the minor premiership, the Dockers struggled to defeat the undermanned Swans at home in the Qualifying final and were comfortably rolled by the Hawks in the Preliminary final.

Back to the drawing board for Ross Lyon.



B: Lee Spurr, Zac Dawson, Michael Johnson

HB: Stephen Hill, Garrick Ibbotson, Cam Sutcliffe

C: Harley Bennell, Nat Fyfe, Danyle Pearce

HF: Chris Mayne, Matt Taberner, Michael Walters

F: Hayden Ballantyne, Matthew Pavlich, Jon Griffin

Foll: Aaron Sandilands, David Mundy, Lachie Neale

I/C: Tendai Mzungu, Tommy Sheridan, Michael Barlow, Nick Suban

Fringe: Alex Pearce, Alex Silvagni, Darcy Tucker, Hayden Crozier, Shane Yarran, Matt de Boer, Brady Grey, Clancee Pearce, Lachie Weller, Zac Clarke



From the outside, Fremantle looks like a house of cards with foundations built on ageing players. The forward line relies too heavily on the 34 year old Pavlich and the backline looks weak with the retirement of McPharlin, relying on the 31 year old Johnson and 30 year old Dawson (although Pearce, Silvagni or even Collins could fill his role).  They have depth in the ruck but how good are they if 33 year old Sandilands goes down? They are obviously a class outfit in the midfield and the arrival of Harley Bennell only adds to that but they appear only an injury or two away from trouble. They have many decent fringe players but how well can they cover injured stars?

If everything goes right and their stars are managed well, the Dockers are good enough to go all the way but the general consensus is that they need to find another tall forward and they need Fyfe fit. After missing out on Cam McCarthy, can Hannath, Apeness, Taberner, Clarke or Griffen step up and will mature age recruit Shane Yarran make the forward line more potent?

The Dockers will again be tough to beat and will finish in the top 4 again but they will need a charmed run to win Ross Lyon that elusive flag.

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GUNS (>$400K)

Nothing to see here. Michael Johnson is the only option and he’s only played 33 games in the last two seasons.



Tom Sheridan – D – $351,100

2015 Av. 65 from 19 games

Vests:    2 G, On Q4, Rd 8 (NM), On Q3, Rd 9 (Adel)

1 R, Off 3QT, Rd 21 (NM)

Past: 45, 50, 5

2015: Sheridan took some time to cement his spot in the team after being dropped after the round 1 victory over Port. After several weeks in the WAFL he returned to the senior side in Round 7 and held his spot until the end of the year, playing both finals. He finished the year strongly with the exception of his butterfingers in the Prelim loss to the Hawks.

PROs: Entering his fifth year and averaging 85 from round 17, Sheridan is a definite break-out contender. Discounted by 2 green vests in 2015.

CONs: Lacks composure at times and may not be in the best 22.

Verdict:  Watchlist. A real smokey to improve significantly in 2015.

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Brady Grey – D – $238,000

2015 Av. 63 from 1 game

2015: Grey spent his second year on the Fremantle list in the WAFL. He finally debuted in Round 23 in a defensive role on Wingard when Lyon rested most of the team and did a good job, but not good enough to hold his spot.

PROs: He’s still rookie priced, entering his third year and was a good ball winner in the WAFL.

CONs: Does he have a role in the best 22? He’ll need a good preseason to have a chance.

Verdict: Preseason watch.


ROOKIES (<$200K)

Samuel Collins – D – $117,300

2015 Draftee, Selection 55 from the Box Hill Hawks.

A mature age recruit (age 21), Collins played as a key defender for Box Hill and was a member of the leadership group. Given the retirement of Luke McPharlin, he’s a good chance to play a lot of footy this year.

Verdict: He won’t score a lot but he should play footy this year, perhaps early with the retirement of McPharlin. Could be a good defensive bench warmer for our squads.


Darcy Tucker – D – $117,300

2015 Draftee #27 from the North Ballarat Rebels

Tucker is a running half-back who likes to run and carry the ball. He wasn’t particularly consistent in 2015 so he slipped down the draft order after early predictions had him going in the top 10.

Verdict: He’s training well but don’t expect him to play in 2016.

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GUNS (>$450K)

Nat Fyfe – M – $670,600

2015 Av. 124 from 20 games

Past 5: 122, 106, 94, 108, 73

2015: A Brownlow medal topped off a brilliant year that was only slowed down by injury and a Mitch Robinson tag. From Round 1 until Round 14 he didn’t miss a game and managed 13 straight centuries, but after a corked thigh in Round 15, Fyfe struggled to recapture his brilliance, playing only 7 of the next 11 games and fell below 100 on 3 occasions.

PROs:  Fyfe is made for Supercoach with his contested ball winning game. Amazingly he scored a bulk of his points in the second and third quarter of games and could go crazy if he evens out his scoring rate. He can also improve his average if he can avoid injury.

CONs: He has mentioned that he will spend more time forward to avoid injury. This may reduce his scoring output.

Verdict: He’s a beast and I would hate to play against somebody with him. He’s in!


David Mundy – M – $612,600

2015 Av. 113 from 23 games

Past 5: 102, 104, 89, 107, 94

2015: All the talk was of Fyfe, but Mundy was the quiet achiever of the Dockers, playing every game barring his round 23 rest (thanks again, Ross) and only dropping below 100 on 5 occasions, 2 of those being finals. His worst score of the year was an 85 after a head clash against the Doggies in Round 7.

PROs: He’s super-durable and a point of difference. He hasn’t missed a group of games since 2011. Could being recently named captain motivate him further?

CONs: He’s top price, so no value compared with many other midfielders this year. You also can’t trust Ross not to rest him anyway given he’s 31 in July 2016.

Verdict: He’s a gun, so if you want to be different he’s your man. There is better value out there this year.


Lachie Neale – M – $562,900

2015 Av. 104 from 24 games

Past: 87, 87, 47.

2015: Neale broke out as we all predicted, pushing Barlow out of the midfield completely. He still suffered with some fluctuating form, mixing scores of 45 (illness effected) in round 4 with 170 in round 3, but avoided the Round 23 rest.

PROs: This guy could go nuts if he can even out his form as he has a massive ceiling. In his average of 104 he dropped below 80 on 6 occasions so he has definite upside. He’ll also be fired up for 2016 after copping a Ross Lyon baking during the Grand Final.

CONs: He’s less consistent than other midfield premiums and he offers less value this year.

Verdict: There’s better value out there but he has the ability to become elite. Will he make the next step this year or next?

Sorry, there are no polls available at the moment.

ROOKIES (<$200K)

Anthony Morabito – M – Rookie listed – $123,900

2015 Av. DNP

Past: 2014: 36, 2010: 52

2015: Missed most of the year with recurrent knee tendonitis and was delisted but then re-drafted as a rookie.

PROs: Rookie priced and mature age.

CONs: He may never get over his knee problems and is further from playing than ever before now that he’s rookie listed. It’s a tough midfield to crack.

Verdict: I’ll be surprised if he plays much this year.



GUNS (>$450K)

Aaron Sandilands – R – $581,700

2015 Av. 108 from 23 games

Past 5: 108, 64, 112, 111, 114

2015: Big Sandy looks to have put the turf toe woes behind him, playing 21 regular season games for the second straight year. Impressively he put together 7 straight tonnes to finish the season, with only the round 23 rest breaking his run. A slow start to the year means he could push his average a bit higher in 2016.

PROs: Sandy averaged 128 over the last 7 games, so if he starts faster in 2016, he could challenge Goldstein. He seems to have found durability post-30!

CONs: He’s 34 in December 2016, so he’s a massive risk. He can struggle to find the ball when he’s out of form.

Verdict: Sandy has been a great fantasy ruckman across his career but there are better, and less risky, options this year.



GUNS (>$400K)

Harley Bennell – F/M – $548,600

2015 Av. 100 from 15 games.

Past: 96, 97, 97, 69

2015: If you don’t know his story, you’re just not paying attention. During the season, he missed 3 out of 22 games with a calf injury and the other 4 through team suspension and poor form, yet he still managed a 100 point average. And then he pushed Eade’s buttons with some more indiscretions and he was shown the door.

PROs: His talent is without question, he a high ceiling and he provides outside pace that the Dockers need.

CONs: He’s only played one full season in his 5 years in the league and in terms of off-field behaviour, he’s a time bomb.

Verdict: As a pure midfielder, no. As a forward, yes. Surely Ross the Boss can turn him around!

Sorry, there are no polls available at the moment.

Michael Barlow – F/M – $505,300

2015 Av. 93 from 24 games

Vests: 1 Red: subbed Q3 in Rd 20 (West Coast).

Past 5: 112, 110, 95, 84, 116.

2015: Barlow was pushed forward by the emergence of young guns like Neale and like all forwards he struggled with consistency.

PROs: He is now a DPP, he is durable and under-priced compared to 2013 and 2014.

CONs: He was pushed out of the midfield by younger midfielders in 2015 and he may never make it back again. Is he at risk of not being in the best 22?

Verdict: At the moment he is in my forward line but I’m concerned with his 8 sub-80 scores in 2015.



Matthew De Boer – F/M – $289,500

2015 Av. 54 from 19 games.

Vests:    7 G: On Q3, Rd 1 (Port), On Q4, Rd 2 (Geel), On Q2, Rd 5 (Melb), On Q4, Rd 6 (Ess), On Q3, Rd 13 (Bris), On mid-Q3 (Rich) and On 3QT, Rd 21 (NM).

1 R: subbed Q4, Rd 3 (WC).

2015: didn’t consolidate a spot in the team until late, being dropped to the WAFL between rounds 7 and 12. When he returned he was used as a defensive forward and tagger and held his spot right through the finals.

PROs: He seems to have earned a spot in the best 22, his 8 vests gives him a large discount with an unvested average of 71 in 2015 and he has proven that he can score well with an average of 86 in 2012.

CONs: As he is used in tagging roles and defensive roles, he will score inconsistently. The arrival of Bennell could push him back out of the best 22.

Verdict: If you are hard up for forwards, he will earn you a bit of cash, particularly if he tags a midfielder. There are better value forwards around this year.


Hayden Crozier – F – $227,600

2015 Av. 42 from 11 games.

Vests: 4 G, on Q4, Rd 3 (WC), on Q1, Rd 10 (Rich), on Q3, Rd 16 (Carl) and on Q3, Rd 20 (WC). 1 R, subbed Q3, Rd 13 (Coll).

Past: 56, 59, 41

2015: I thought he would push for more game time in 2015 but after an ankle injury delayed his start to the year, he never really got going. He has real talent but he just can’t establish a spot in the side.

PROs: 5 vests from 11 games means he is under-priced and he is entering his fifth season.

CONs: With the arrival of Bennell, he is no lock for the best 22. As a pure forward, he doesn’t win a lot of the ball having never managed 20 possessions in his 34 games.

Verdict: I thought he would break-out last year, now I’m not so sure. There are better options out there.


ROOKIES (<$200K)

Michael Apeness – F – $123,900

2015 Av. DNP

Past: 44 (2014)

2015: After only 2 games in 2014, the Dockers were hoping Apeness would develop further in 2015 to help their forward line structure and take attention away from Pav. However he struggled early in 3 WAFL games before a knee injury prematurely ended his season.

PROs: He will be rookie priced and Fremantle need tall forwards so he’s likely to be given every chance to play.

CONs: Apeness only turns 21 in January, 2016 and tall forwards are notoriously slow to develop, so at 200cm, don’t expect him to be peaking yet.

VERDICT: Don’t expect huge scores but if he does enough in the preseason to earn a game, he may be a handy forward bench option.


Harley Balic – F/M – $117,300

2015 Draftee selection 38.

Balic was one of the odd draft drifters. After expecting to go in the first round, he was starting to panic when he was finally drafted by the Dockers. The clubs have not explained why nobody wanted him but he should fit in nicely across half-forward for the Dockers. His preseason was interrupted by wrist surgery in late 2015 so don’t expect him to play early.

Verdict: He won’t play early.


Shane Yarran – F – $117,300

2015 Draftee #61 from Subiaco (WAFL).

At age 26, Yarran is a great chance to play AFL for Fremantle this year. In 2015 he kicked 54 goals and had 5 goals to half time in the Grand Final until a knee injury prematurely ended his day. That injury has also delayed his preseason so he’s unlikely to feature early.

Verdict: As a mature age selections, he’s likely to play this year but he won’t play early.



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18 thoughts on “Team Review – Fremantle”

  1. Great write up, as always!

    I like De Boer but it worries me that you don’t. I suppose we shall see what happens in the pre-season. He has such a nice discount he could be a great value…..


  2. Looks like some good downgrade options in Yarran, Apeness and Morabito.

    But honestly, I wouldn’t be touching any of them until they are on the bubble, as none of them are screaming for selection.

    Crozier maybe, Taberner maybe, but they are priced too awkwardly.

    Right now I have 1 freo player, and at present it is looking like it’s gonna drop to zero in my next draft.

    The only “value” pick is Barlow, but he’s not a value pick if he doesn’t get back into the midfield.

    Like Sydney, and a lesser degree Hawthorn, consistent time at the top means a stable team and minimal discounting.

    The value is elsewhere than Fremantle.



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