2019 Team Preview – Essendon

Written by Chillo on January 14 2019

The Sash are in the midst of a long dry spell, and not to be mean about it Bombers fans, but the last time Essendon won a finals game;

  • the world’s most popular social network was something called Friendster;
  • YouTube was host to exactly zero videos;
  • A baby-faced LeBron James had just been crowned as the NBA’s Rookie of the Year;
  • Tom Mitchell was 11 years old, and just discovering his love for the leather;
  • The Australian Prime Minister at the time had held his office for more than eight consecutive years, which by modern standards is an absolute eternity.

For a club so accustomed to success, with 16 flags hanging at The Hangar, it’s been a desperate run of outs for Essendon. The good news is that, while they again failed to play in September last year, they did manage to win seven of their final 10 games (and the three that they lost in that time were all nailbiters). They landed a big fish in the trade period, and they have a promising crop of youngsters coming through to support their established stars. Things may finally be looking up for the Bombers.


Feeling Lucky: He’s averaged 90+ in each of the past three seasons, so why isn’t Michael Hurley ($491,800) a lock in your backline? For mine, it’s due to his scoring record last season, and its correlation with the form of his team. Early in the year, Hurley was playing loose in defence, and scoring well in a losing team (96 ppg, Ess 5-7 record). Post-bye, Hurley became more accountable, usually playing as a regulation key defender. He averaged 85 ppg, and the Bomber only lost three of those last ten games.
BUT…it’s a small sample size, and Hurley is a class player. He’s sure to be a point of difference this year, are you prepared to take him on?


Lock and Load: This one’s a lot easier, and my already over-taxed brain isn’t required to do much work – just the way I like it! I reckon Zach Merrett ($544,800) should be pretty close to the first midfielder picked in every side. I could go through the plethora of reasons why this is so, but Thommo has already done an exemplary job of that. Just get it done people, and quickly move on to stressing over the other 29 spots in your team!

Feeling Lucky: There are a lot of nice, reliable midfielders in the comp who will almost certainly score in the 90-100 range this year. They’re very good players, fantastic for draft leagues, but you’d be brave to include the likes of Dyson Heppell ($551,500), David Zaharakis ($509,000), or aforementioned fish Dylan Shiel ($487,000) in your starting lineup. But it would be very helpful if this trio could take enough heat from the opposition mids to free up Zerrett!

Money Maker: Noted VFL ball magnet Dylan Clarke ($147,700) has a perfect game for Supercoach, but can he break into the starting lineup? Clarke averaged 27 possessions and 8 tackles per game for the Bombers reserves team in 2018, but could only manage one senior game. He comes with a slightly elevated price tag, but if he can replicate his VFL form in the big leagues, he shapes as an excellent cash cow.


Feeling Lucky: He’ll be a despised outsider in the Supercoach ruck this year, but at 29 years of age Tom Bellchambers ($505,700) is coming off the best season of his career. TBC played a career-high 20 games and averaged a very respectable 93 last year. The retirement of Matthew Leuenberger means Bellchambers is the undisputed primary ruck at the Bombers this year, and would be an interesting pick for your draft leagues.

Money Maker: Who knows what to make of Zac Clarke ($142,600)? The former Docker hasn’t played AFL footy for more than two years, but the Bombers picked him up in the new (and quite memorably named) “pre-season supplemental selection period”. Clarke played mostly as a ruck backup to 211 over at Freo, and might be worth a sneaky look as an R3 at this price if Woosha decides to run with a dual ruck strategy.


Lock and Load: Devon Smith ($531,300) was one of the Bomber’s much publicised “3 S’s” recruits in 2018, and turned out to be easily the most impressive of the three. Smith played every game, usually spending much more time in the midfield than he had been accustomed to at GWS, leading the league in tackles and averaging just under 98 ppg. The fourth-highest scoring forward of the year in 2018, Smith comes with DPP status in 2018 and is sure to be one of the popular picks up front.

Feeling Lucky: A prolonged battle with osteitis pubis decimated the 2018 season for Joe Daniher ($277,800). After bagging 62 majors the previous year, Joe could only manage seven games before his season ended in May. By all reports, the Bombers expect Daniher to be fully fit by Round 1, and he comes with a massive discount. Mid-priced key position players are generally the height of madness, but a few big games from Joe early on could you see make some quick cash. Risk vs reward, the choice is yours.

Money Maker: He’s in the grand final for the AFL’s best name ever, and Irving Mosquito ($117,300) apparently has an exciting game to match his moniker. Mosquito is the type of jet-quick, goal-savvy small forward that every team needs at least one of. Taken at pick 38, Mosquito is viewed as a project player and will take time to develop, but is certainly one to watch for the future. Comes with mid/fwd status this year.


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16 thoughts on “2019 Team Preview – Essendon”

  1. I think Essendon will be right up there this year…..good forward line, great backline, and improving midfield

    If they lack something, it’s a really good inside midfielder. In SC terms that can mean opportunity. Could it be Kyle Langford takes his game to another level in the famous number 4? (I swear that looks like Jobe sometimes)

    Or could Dylan Shiel transform his game to become more inside than out to suit his team (and lift his average) Remember, he always had Callan Ward as a teammate, there’s no player like that at Essendon.


  2. Great write-up Chillo.
    Only Merrett for me. Maybe Smith after JLT series.
    Will be watching McGrath, Langford and Daniher.


    1. I looked at Langford as a potential breakout, especially with the DPP status this year. But there are so many other solid candidates in the forward line, I think it’s too risky to start with him at that annoying 430K price tag.
      IMO McGrath needs at least one more year, going to be a great player though.


  3. I’m a bombers fan/supporter/member for many (60 !!) years and am as excited about 2019 as I have been about anything football since first putting Barry Davis number 32 on my jumper in 1962 !!! Apologies to those who still rate the last qtr of the 84 GF no 1 for excitement. Surely there is only way up in 2019 hey yaz ?? Up up up.

    Totally agree with this review. Merret and Smith only starters for me. Clarke a lock if he gets R1…contested ball magnet. Daniher only a corrective trade if he kills it in first two weeks.

    On a lighter note, I hear the club has ordered 100,000 jumpers, all with the no 17 on the back, for sale for the 2020 season. Only to be worn at carlton and Collingwood games !!


    1. I agree Wighty, and I wouldn’t pick him yet either. But how can you completely ignore a bloke with a ripping name like that????


  4. Merret – lock … Smith an early upgrade target …. watching McGrath.
    Hurley … at his price he needs to be a load and lock selection. A top player but can’t see him being a SC Top 10 DEF, especially with Francis back there.


  5. Thanks Chillo but, I think you might be seeing things through red & black glasses with regard to Zach. The way I read his form is that he peaked in 2016 and has gone backwards each year since. What is it that makes you think he’s worthy of a spot in my supercoach team? If it wasn’t for his 6 tackles p/game he’d be a sub 90 player which is my major concern, midfielders are getting bigger and stronger and Zach isn’t getting bigger or stronger. Will he be able to stick those tackles against the new generation midfielder giants?


    1. Zach played below his average last year because of a slow start due to injury, and not playing as a pure inside mid the whole season (inside mid=contested possessions=heaps of points).

      After the bye, he averaged 113.1 over 10 games (only going under 100 once in that time), which if averaged for a whole season would put him as the 10th best player in the comp.

      I believe with the addition of Shiel, he’ll play as a permanent inside mid, which should see him average around the 113 he averaged in the back half of 2018.

      In short, a player that is likely to finish as a top 10 mid with no major injury history (his injury last year was a concussion) for roughly $540k is an absolute steal.


      1. I’m sure there are dozens of players who averaged 113 over 10-games in 2018 and also averaged more than Zac for the full year. if we’re paying 540k for a player at the start we should be looking at his history over a full season not just his best 10-games which isn’t even half of a season. As I mentioned Zach has been going backwards for TWO-Years not just last year.
        So far this year he’s still not participating in match drills and he has Shiel and an improving McGrath to compete with for midfield minutes.
        So, I can see far more reasons to avoid putting Mr Merrett in my team than there are to roll the dice on him.
        I hope everybody starts Zac 🙂



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