2022 Team Preview – Western Bulldogs

Written by Gunboat Diplomacy on January 28 2022

A late slip from the top of the table and then an out of nowhere thrashing in a Grand Final overshadowed what was otherwise a phenomenally strong season from both a competition and development perspective. Their stacked engine room delivered all season with a career best Bont, an ultra reliable Macrae, a reinvigorated Libba at the coal face and then Dunkley, Smith and Treloar rotating through. The Dogs also finally found a solution to their undersized and often one dimensional forward line in Naughton and Bruce combining for nearly 100 goals, and then Cody Weightman’s carefully planned development in the 2s payed off as he burst onto the scene with an electric presence and 26 goals. They’ll no doubt go to school on the Demons, make some adjustments, unleash Ugle Hagan and recontend in 2022 rife with SC options.


Lock and Load: After spending 6 years in the system for only 58 games as a forward who didn’t look up to the level, Bailey Dale ($518 300) re-invented himself as an All Australian half back in 2021 and averaging 95.3 as the Dogs prime distributor. Still had that awkward floor in the 70s and 80s but already shown a ceiling to balance it out, with scores of 152, 129 and 130 in 2021. Secure role, great scoring stream and on a clear trajectory for a triple figures average this season.

Feeling Lucky: Very much at the expense of Dale’s ascendancy was Caleb Daniel ($510 900). Daniel lost his previous monopoly on half back distribution and was often thrown into random outside roles, resulting in a -7.6 decline on his previous average to 93.9 and a low point of that 19 down in Ballarat. Started to find his grove as a one out stoppage player after the bye at a 107.5 average. Could he go back to the well in 2022?


Lock and Load: “Lock and Load” isn’t strong enough to describe the crème de la crème of SC picks that is Jack Macrae ($699 900). Kept down to a 121 average in 2020 on account of shortened quarters, the odd wing role and reduced CBAs early, but reasserted himself as the #1 OA SC player last season with a cruisy 128.6 average. Comes in at seven hundred thousand big ones this season but never gets tagged and is the safest blind captain option going around – just start him.

Closely behind him was Marcus Bontempelli ($651 700), who finally had the year we’d all been expecting him to have bar a slight tail off in the back end of the season. Copped a few knocks and those who watched closely would have noticed the weekly strapping on his shoulder. Until then, let’s not forget that the Bont was averaging 129.8 and dropping 140+’s like it was nothing. Narrowly missing out on the Brownlow and the flag, you can bet he’ll come out hot in 2022.


Tim English ($482 600) has expressly said he doesn’t want to play as the #1 ruck and instead wants to develop as a forward, which the Dogs have approved with their persistence with Stef Martin and the initial match exposure given to Jordon Sweet. Particularly with Bruce out action, don’t expect English to have the scoring stream of a #1 RUC despite his appealing price tag.


As we know the key to picking forwards in SC is to look for options that are actually not forwards but rather half backs or, ideally midfielders, with FWD status. In 2022, the Dogs are set to treat us to two top class midfielders at sizeable discounts, however both have worrying recurring injury profiles.

Lock and Load: First up is Josh Dunkley ($558 200, MID FWD). Dunks came out last year with 113, 132, 132, 117, 148 and 132. He was comfortably the #1 FWD, #2 OA and sitting on a 129 average never at risk of a tag – life was good. As we all know, copped that shoulder injury and returned late in the season in a low impact role at 70.8 – making it the second consecutive season where he’s only managed 11 games. Even after going down in Round 6, Dunkley had already punished those who didn’t start him by putting hundred of points between him and the other FWD options. Always an injury risk but when he’s fit on the park he just scores like a premo MID.

Feeling Lucky: A little trickier is Adam Treloar ($483 200, MID/FWD). Comes in at sub 500k with DPP, 7 seasons of triple figure averages under his belt and a strong finals campaign amongst a full Dogs midfield. The only issue: a history of recurrent soft tissue injuries with have limited him to 13, 22, 8 and 13 games in the last four years. With FWD options scant however, do you fancy him to stay on the park and cruise to a Top 6 finish?


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18 thoughts on “2022 Team Preview – Western Bulldogs”

    1. Yeah I think if Bont spends more time up forward and gains that DPP he will be owned by 80% – I think I will look at bringing him in pre-byes hopefully 550-570k.

      His first 5 round avg in 2020 was 97, in 2021 it was 93.


  1. MacRAE and Dale are almost locks I like a young fella McCrombie 102k Hate to see a flogging if BONT narrowly missed a flag though NDD


  2. Think this is a really good summation, although having sat through 2017-2020 my personal preference is and always will be Daniel over Dale.

    I was gonna duck Bont but the floating DPP change should at some point see him (finally) get forward eligibility. Not like he’s going to burn you if you pick him and the change never comes anyway.

    I’m pretty sure McComb tore his string in match sim so will have an interrupted pre-season at least, and to be honest can’t see him working into calculations. None of the Dogs rookies, despite a few elevated ages, are worth picking at this stage.


    1. Hey, James.

      With Wood’s retirement, O’Brien is set to play an accountable lockdown role. Not conducive to SC scoring and Dale is already their main distributor down there.

      Awkward price as well. A pass from me rn.


  3. Not only will O’brien be a dud in SC he will be a dud for the doggies. Has shown potential for 7-8 years and done nothing with it. I know the doggies are short for height down back but don’t think hes the answer at all, easily one of the most frustrating players at hawthorn and we have a fair few!

    Doggies have so many stars I want to pick and not sure I can pick them all. Im leaning towards neither of dale or daniel and go bont, macrae and dunks just for uber premiums


  4. I’m sold on Treloar Gunboat. Macrae and Dunkley are locks of course, but I’ve been agonising over that F2 spot. You’ve gotta feel for the bloke with how he got to the dogs in 2020 trade period, it can’t have been easy to settle in. This year he’s had a settled break and with a historical average that’s far superior to Duncan and your mate Traptanto, he’s the clear pick for mine. Hopefully he’s been getting some wellness tips from his bromance mate, and expecting he’s back to his best. Besides, when you play the dogs, who the f%% do you tag – it won’t be Treloar…


    1. Sound logic, WW.

      Really found some confidence in the finals as well. Just a matter of not getting injured or atleast scoring heaps till he does.


    2. CBA’s were very poor in the prelim and grand final and he still managed to score well, too. I’m confident he’ll get decent mid minutes anyways.


  5. Gidday GD,
    was planning to start English at F1 as I had a gut feeling he was “due” to go to the next level which allowed me to start Pruess at R2.
    Back to Grundy/Darcy.
    What do you think English will ave?
    As always these articles are so informative , great work


  6. Hello Gunboat.

    Great review.

    Macrae a lock even at that price. He plays a heap of the early games and will be fantastic Captains option every week. Dunkley hasn’t left my side either.

    I was hot on Dale early, as I feel he has some upside at that price. I think he’s heavily reliant on getting the Kick ins . As he’s had less than a year in the role I’d rather not risk starting him. He may still be an upgrade target down the track.

    I’m warming to Treloar a bit as well. With the extra trades and trade boost, I think we can afford to take a little more risk with injury prone players.
    In the past if a player got injured during upgrade season you would be forced to miss out on your upgrade due to having to swap out that player.

    This year we can hit trade boost ( 3 trades ) then trade the injured player and still get a 1 up 1 down.

    I still have Butters at F2 for now as he’s $40k cheaper. Treloar is next in line if anything happens to Butters.

    Any thoughts on C. Parker ( M/F ) ?

    $102K mature aged Dogs recruit. I’ve seen him in a few sides, might be worth a shot if he’s named early.

    Once again thanks for a fantastic review.


    1. “Charlie Parker took out one of our running tests, and that’s always a great sign for a young kid in his first year coming out and doing that.” – Caleb Daniel


  7. I think Charlie will be a lock for me, even if he doesnt play Rd1, ready-made and looked good in the practice match from what I read.

    I wanna throw up Naughton at 386k.
    Increased 2020>2021 average by 10 to average 71.

    An awkward price but an awkward forward line this year and the improvement will keep coming. Can take a good contested mark, if he straightens up (47.40 last yr) a little he could be a handy POD imo. Feel like he could bust out a few big scores, obvious issue is when hes off or kicking just one goal last year you’re getting a 70 tops. Thoughts?


  8. Nice summary GD. As you’ve identified, the problem with the Dogs is figuring out which ones not to include. And Bevo, of course.
    Macrae and Dunkley are locks for me. I said last year I was picking Bont no matter what – but if I do that and then COVID makes a run through the Dogs, then that would potentially be three premiums knocked out at once. Panic!



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