In 2015, Melbourne was like a box of chocolates. You never knew which one you were going to get. The Dees started with an upset of Gold Coast (not really an upset in hindsight) and went on to defeat quality sides in Richmond, the Western Bulldogs (the first time), Geelong and Collingwood throughout the season however their good work was offset by bad losses.
Hawthorn and the Doggies (the second time) mauled the young Demons by over 100 points while West Coast, Fremantle and lowly sides Essendon and St Kilda (twice) proved too strong.
The Dees improved but they remained well off the pace for two main reasons. The first was youth. Players like Brayshaw, Salem, Tyson, Hogan and Viney will be long term stars for the side but they require time to develop before they will perform consistently.
The second reason was the overly defensive mindset. Unfortunately, Roos likes his Dee-fence and although the opposition was unable to score as easily as in previous years, the Demons were also crippled. They tended to push numbers back, flood-style but then they struggled to clear their own defensive zone. It was no surprise that teams that liked to lock the ball inside their attacking 50m arc such as Hawthorn and West Coast really punished the Demons.
Let’s hope Roos rethinks his strategy as what good is defence if you can’t score yourself?
B: Neville Jetta, Tom McDonald, Colin Garland
HB: Christian Salem, Lynden Dunn, Jack Grimes
C: Angus Brayshaw, Nathan Jones, Dom Tyson
HF: Dean Kent, Jesse Hogan, Christian Petracca
F: Jeff Garlett, Chris Dawes, Jack Watts
Foll: Max Gawn, Bernie Vince, Jack Viney
Int: Sam Frost, Aaron vandenBerg, Heritier Lumumba, Tom Bugg
Fringe: Cameron Pedersen, Ben Kennedy, Ben Newton, Clayton Oliver, Jack Trengove
Sorry Demons fans, your team is still in its rebuilding faze and is unlikely to feature in the 2016 finals. Thankfully, there is light at the end of the tunnel with the team list benefiting from a more structured re-creation this time around.
There are a few key ingredients missing, but a backline of Dunn, Tom McDonald and Garland is solid, especially with Salem providing damaging run off of half back. The midfield is taking shape around a core of Jones, Viney, Tyson, Brayshaw and Vince and will only improve further with the drafting of the contested ball specialist Oliver, the debut of Petracca (we hope) and the possible return of ex-captain Trengove.
Up forward Jesse Hogan is looking a monster and franchise player, with comparisons being made to Jonathan Brown and Nick Reiwoldt. He may be even better! Hopefully Weideman will eventually fill the second tall forward role better than Dawes and Perdersen have to date to support the star. In the meantime, the Dees need big Max Gawn to stay healthy and keep kicking goals to provide that extra avenue to goal.
So, sit back and enjoy the Jesse show while you wait for the Dees to return to the finals in 2017-2018.
Tom McDonald – B – $517,500
2015 Av. 95.9 from 22 games
Past: 70, 75, 74, 75
2015: After a strong preseason, McDonald started the season on absolute fire with scores of 125, 118, 95, 92, 122, 123 and 124 playing as Melbourne’s best key defender who also provided run and rebound. A lot of coached jumped on board only to have McDonald’s form drop off, with only 7 more scores over 90 from 15 games, including 3 scores under 60 and 3 in the 60s.
PROs: McDonald managed 19 possessions and 7 marks per game, elite for a key defender and he’s proven he can score with 9 centuries in 2015 and a ceiling of 141.
CONs: Like all key defenders, he can struggle when the back-line’s under fire or if he has to lock down a good forward. His disposal efficiency was poor in some games causing his Supercoach scores to suffer and he seriously can’t kick for goal!
Verdict: If McDonald can maintain his form from early 2015, he’s under-valued. As a key defender that will be a tough ask.
Mid-price Madness $200K – $450K
Dean Terlich – D – $203,800
2015 Av. DNP
Past (2014-2013): 63, 79
2015: Terlich was injured during the 2015 preseason and when he recovered he seemed to have fallen from favour and couldn’t break back into the team. Playing for Casey he was handy, winning plenty of possessions across half-back.
PROs: He’s a proven scorer, averaging 79 points per game across 20 games in 2013 and he’s practically rookie priced.
CONs: He’s in the last year of his contract and Paul Roos doesn’t seem to rate him so he’ll require a big year in 2016 to earn a new contract.
Verdict: If he plays, he’s a great option for B5 or B6. Not sure he’s best 22.
Josh Wagner – D – $121,900
2015 Rookie Draft#6
Who is he?
Wagner is a mature age (21) running defender from Apsley in the NEAFL, following in the footsteps of Aaron VandenBerg who the Dees also selected from the NEAFL last year. He wasn’t a big ball-winner, averaging 19 per game in 2015, low for the NEAFL.
Verdict: Mature-age player alert!! Watch his preseason closely – if he’s elevated from the Rookie list, jump on.
Nathan Jones – M – $491,500
2015 Av. 91 from 22 games
Past 5: 107, 90, 98, 89, 71
Vest: 1 Red, subbed in Q2 of round 22 (Fremantle) on -6!
2015: Nathan Jones didn’t seem his usual self in 2015, seeming less intent on tackling, harassing and winning the ball, resulting in less contested possessions and clearances. This caused a 16 point drop in his supercoach output in 2015. Jones shed light on his performance after the season had finished, explaining that he had suffered through the entire year with neck pain caused by a prolapsed disc. Surgery has relieved the pain and he’s indicated he’d be back in full training early in 2016.
PROs: He 10+ points undervalued due to averaging 5 less possessions per game in 2015. He should be pain free for 2016 and he rarely gets tagged. He’s durable, playing through most injuries.
CONs: He’s unlikely to average above 110 so he probably will leave you with a dilemma of needing to upgrade him if you want overall glory. Will his surgery delay his preseason?
Verdict: Jones is a warrior who always gives his all and as long as he gets a decent preseason, he will bounce back in 2016. If you want a POD that offers some value, consider him.
Jack Viney – M – $497,100
2015 Av. 92 from 16 games.
Past: 74, 72
Vest: 1 Green, on Q3 of round 9 (Port Adelaide)
2015: Even though he was used as a tagger in 9 games and missed 6 games with a broken leg, Viney still managed to push his average up to 92 in only his third season. Playing on the opposition’s best midfielder, Viney finished the year with 5 centuries from the last 7 games.
PROs: Entering his fourth year, he’s ready to push his average over 100, especially when you take into account his unvested average of 97.3. Roos has mentioned that Viney won’t tag this year.
CONs: It will be no surprise if Roos changes his mind and makes Viney tag after all. Can he push his average high enough to be a keeper? He has yet to play a full season with his best year being 20 games in 2014.
Verdict: If there were less bargains around, I’d take the punt but probably not this year.
Mid-price Madness $200K – $450K
Clayton Oliver – M – $207,300
2015 National draft # 4
Who is he?
Every year there is a draft bolter and in 2015 that was Oliver. Rather than take Parish, the Dees went with the big-bodied (187cm, 86kg) midfielder who spent 2015 playing in the TAC cup for the Murray Bushrangers where he won the Morrish Medal. He averaged 24 possessions (14 contested), 6 clearances and 6 tackles in 16 games for the Bushrangers, as well as floating forward to kick 20 goals across the season. He also played 2 VFL games for Richmond where he averaged 15 possessions (8 contested), 3.5 marks and 2 tackles. The only concern for the Dees is that Oliver missed the U18 championships so it’s hard to read his form against his fellow draftees.
Verdict: He has the game for Supercoach but surely there are better rookies available.
Jack Trengove – M – $156,500
2015 Av. DNP
Past (2014 – 2009): 73, 75, 74, 88, 75
2015: The former Melbourne captain has suffered with consistent foot problems that have restricted him to 2 games since 2013. If Trengove can ever recover fully, he will be like a new top 5 draft pick for the club.
Verdict: If he plays in the preseason, I’ll pick him. Not sure he’ll be ready for round 1 though.
Max Gawn – R – $550,800
2015 Av. 102 from 13 games.
Past 5: 62, 67, DNP, 55
2015: Gawn spent the first 7 games in the VFL where he dominated. Once he returned to the AFL in round 10, he held his spot until the end of the year and pumped out 8 centuries (and a 98) out of 13 games.
PROs: He can ruck, win plenty of the ball around the ground and kick goals so he had a high ceiling of 150 in 2015. If he can stay fit he could be the next Goldy!
CONs: He’s injury prone so he’s never played a full season.
Verdict: He risky but he could become elite. I’m too gutless to risk picking him.
Not this year!
Mid-price Madness $200K – $450K
Jesse Hogan – F – $422, 200
2015 Av. 78 from 20 games
Past: DNP in 2014
2015: If Melbourne is to ever make it back to the top 4, it will be due to players like Jesse Hogan. In his second season on the Dees’ list, he shook off the back issues of 2014 to kick 44 goals and take out the Rising Star award. In 20 games, he managed 5 scores over 100 and 3 over 90, showing that he could be a Supercoach star of the future.
PROs: He’s an unbelievably good contested mark, ranking third in the AFL in 2015, and he tends to push up the ground to win possessions.
CONs: Like all key forwards, he’ll fluctuate depending on his team’s form and, as he improves, he may find himself double teamed more often.
Verdict: He’ll be the next Nick Riewoldt (who can kick straight!) but too risky in 2016.
Ben Kennedy – F/M – $187,800
2015 Av. 34.8 from 5 games
Past: 49, 41
Vests: 2 Green, on Q3 of round 10 (Melb) and on Q4 of round 11 (GWS)
2015: Another year of toiling in the VFL for the Pies lead Ben Kennedy to seek a trade to Melbourne in the off-season. It may not count for much but his VFL form was exemplary, averaging over 25 possessions per game and tackling like a madman, with a high of 13 tackles in one game in 2015.
PROs: He’s cheap, he’s a ball magnet and he loves to tackle. Surely Melbourne wouldn’t have traded for him if they weren’t going to play him?
CONs: In his 3 unvested games for the Pies, he only averaged 47.6 points per game playing as a forward, probably because his kicking skills aren’t great.
Verdict: If he secures a spot running through the midfield, he’s worth a look. As a pure forward I question his value.
Christian Petracca – F/M – $123,900.
2015 Av. DNP.
2015: The number 2 draft pick injured his ACL in his knee in the preseason and subsequently missed the entire 2015 season. To make matters worse, he broke his toe playing basketball in the 2016 preseason. Hopefully he catches a break (of the good kind) soon.
PROs: He has the skills and size (186cm, 94kg) to make an immediate impact as a high half-forward. He is a dual position player and he’s rookie priced.
CONs: He’s had more injuries than he’s played games. Hopefully this will not become the norm for his career.
Verdict: As of February 1, he’s back running so he’s a big chance to play. If he plays, select him. It’s that simple!
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