2020 Team Preview – West Coast Eagles

Written by The Salamander on March 11 2020


First of all, my apologies for getting this up a lot later than planned. I have been meaning to write this for a while, but other things have kept on cropping up. Still, better late than never. And, on the plus side, we now have information from the Marsh Series to help guide us.



Feeling Lucky: Shannon Hurn, $562,200

Feeling lucky might seem a bit harsh for a guy who averaged 104 last year, but he looks to be coming off a career year, having posted his first 100+ average in 2019, at the age of 31. Then again, his previous year was, to that point, also his best ever from a SuperCoach standpoint (96), so who knows? On the plus side, the balding Eagle has only missed 4 games in the last 5 years, though 3 of them were last year. Realistically, I can’t see myself starting him, but if he looks like averaging 90+ once again, he could be a good mid-season pickup at some point.


Lock & Load: Feeling Lucky/Watch & Act: Tim Kelly, $561,800

EDIT 13/3/20: Adam Simpson has suggested that, despite Kelly playing almost entirely in the midfield in the Marsh Series, he might end up spending significant time forward this season. For this reason, I am downgrading him from Lock & Load to Feeling Lucky/Watch & Act.

Lock and load might seem like a big call for a midfielder who only averaged 103 last year, but there are good reasons to save some cash and lock him straight in to your starting lineup:

1. He’s no longer being coached by Chris Scott.

At Geelong, he was often made to rotate between the midfield and forward line. Based on the Marsh Series, it looks like he’ll be playing a lot more in the midfield this year, with brief stints resting forward. That’s good news for us: if you take out the games where he spent a substantial amount of time forward last year (data from FanFooty), his average goes up to 112. EDIT 13/3/20: Or perhaps not.

2. He’s no longer playing in Dangerfield’s shadow.

Though the Eagles boast a strong midfield, it’s fair to say they haven’t had anyone quite the calibre of Dangerfield in the engine room. It’s a very small sample size, but in the two games Kelly played at Geelong without Dangerfield, he scored 118 and 140, for an average of 129. Make of that what you will.

3. He can handle a tag.

The flip side of the above is that he might get more attention from the opposition. According to FanFooty, Kelly was tagged in 4 games last year, from which he averaged 94. If you take out an injury-affected 76 from Round 14, that figure goes up to 99.

4. He’s never missed a game.

Despite having posted the odd injury-affected score here and there, Kelly has played 48 of a possible 48 games in his AFL career to date. For better or for worse, durability is often an afterthought for many coaches at this time of year, but with cash generation looking tricky this season, we can expect trades to be at an even greater premium than usual. To counteract this, it will pay to try and maximize the number of trades you don’t have to make.

5. He has a decent bye round.

Round 12 isn’t too crowded, especially now that St. Kilda and Port are having their bye in Round 11.

6. He’s relatively cheap.

Given all of the above, it’s hard to argue that his price of $561,800 doesn’t represent good value. And with coaches trying to save money any way they can due to the cow shortage, he looks like one of the more sensible ways of doing so.

What’s not to love?

Feeling Stingy: Elliot Yeo, $584,400, and Andrew Gaff, $583,200

These two sit just below the threshold of what would normally be considered relevant at this time of year, but with the cow problems we’re experiencing this year, some people have been throwing around the idea of starting players like this. If I had to start one of them in round 1, I would take Gaff. Both players have durability on their side, rarely missing games, but the arrival of Tim Kelly is unlikely to affect Gaff’s output, whereas there is greater uncertainty around Yeo. In any case, I personally think there are better places to save money (*cough* Tim Kelly), but they could be great pickups mid-season if they have a bad game and drop in price.

Money Maker: Hamish Brayshaw, $102,400

Did somebody say downgrade target? He only played limited minutes in a single Marsh game, so don’t expect the 22 year old to feature in Round 1. At his price, however, all he needs to do is play, and he’ll make money, so keep an eye out for him on the teamsheets throughout the season.

Money Maker: Brayden Ainsworth, $205,300

Didn’t play at all in the Marsh Series, so don’t expect to see him anytime soon. Nevertheless, the 21 year old averaged 23 touches a game in the WAFL last year, so he could be one to watch if he does manage to crack the lineup at some point.


Feeling Lucky: Nic Naitanui, $457,800

We all know what’s going to happen here. He’ll score well. He’ll look great doing it. And then he’ll get injured. Again. He’s potentially a good pick if you’re worried about Gawn, and want a cheap placeholder (or if you just want to save money in general), aren’t sold on Naismith or Ceglar, and can’t afford someone like Marshall or ROB, but don’t expect him to be a keeper.


Money Maker: Jarrod Brander (DEF), $133,000

A kind-of okay rookie? We don’t have very many of those. Lock him in!

Playing a combination of wing and forward across the Marsh Series, the 21 year old looks like a safe selection for your bench. Don’t expect huge scores, but it looks like he’ll play, and if he does, he’ll make money.


Are there any Eagles you’ve got your eye on that you think I’ve missed? Let us know in the comments below.


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13 thoughts on “2020 Team Preview – West Coast Eagles”

  1. Great write up sala!

    I’ve also got a eye on Bailey William’s, really impressed me marsh round 1.


    1. In a barren season for rookies…he could be manna from heaven at r3 and allow a genuine ruck cover. Also allows Comden to go fwd and remain as a permanent c loop, as well as a loop on the fwd line due to his mostly late games.


  2. To add onto Nic Nat he’s only going to be playing limited minutes (which I would suspect to be about 70-75% of the game). His PPM offsets this though which is something like 1.2- 1.4.

    This is also good news for some like Williams who’s a ‘def/rk’ (this was accidental but it’s now permanent). He could squeeze his way into the team as a 2nd ruckman (his main role is an unknown at this stage).

    Other than that it’s a great write up Sals.

    Looking forward to seeing Gaff (as an almost wingman) and Telly (as an almost pure mid) this year.


    1. | Williams was arguably the best junior ruckman in the 2018 NAB AFL Draft crop and the Eagles pounced when he was still available at No. 35, neding to bolster their ruck stocks given Nic Naitanui’s knee injury and the departure of Scott Lycett.

      Could be a good shout if named Rd1.


  3. Thanks for the write up. Had T.Kelly for a while there, I just feel like Oliver is a better option for another 30k and I don’t think I can see him averaging 105-110 with Gaff, Shuey, Yeo in there. Collectively I can see them all averaing the 100-105. Hope he doesn’t prove me wrong.

    Bailey Williams is a R3 lock for mine, hopefully ROB 2.0 or just cash in bank at the byes.


    1. If he’s named Rd1, I’ll have him at D6, using a triple-loop, ie DEF/RUCRUC/FWDDEF/FWD. Will be too good a scorer to have parked (permanently) on the bench.


      1. I agree I think he’s a little wasted at r3. I’ve got him at d6/7.
        I’d love to hear more about this triple loop. I assuming Williams, Cobden and……


  4. Brilliant stuff! Brayshaw is 0% chance of playing this season, Williams and Brander the 2 I’d look at.



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