As a mad Bombers fan since running around with the great Barry Davis’ number on my back as a child, it is a privilege to write this SC preview for 2021……and give you all a clue to my youthfulness!! We Bomber fans need other club supporters to acknowledge that over the past two decades or so, Essendon has made a great contribution to the concept of sharing premierships among those less fortunate than us, by way of our continually shooting ourselves in the foot !!
However, those days appear to be rapidly disappearing in the rear vision mirror, and Rutten already seems to have got acceptance to his more authoritative approach after the more consensus style of Woosha. Several big names have gone but the dons were compensated with their best draft hand ever, and many scribes believe they have chosen well. Obviously losing Saad, the often injured Fantasia, and the always injured Daniher, has been a set back in the short term, but there are genuine reasons to be optimistic in the years ahead…just not this year.
As far as SC relevance goes, I have to be honest and say there appears to be slim pickings amongst the premos (only three 100+ points in 2020), many options in mid-pricers, a few potential hidden gems in fallen priced regulars, and a very promising list of rookies if they get games.
A couple of old salts in Hurley and Hooker seem to be seeing the finishing line approaching rapidly. Ridley ($547.7) remains the only SC relevant defensive premo but can he even match last years 102pts let alone take the next step to an absolute lock ?? I doubt it as he would need to move into the 110+ range, and there appears to be safer options in that regard.
There are a number of “feeling lucky” options. Ambrose ($217.8) is priced as an expensive rookie, and when fit was almost an automatic selection. Francis ($320.3) is surely on his last chance and may be given further freedom up the ground. Recruit Cox ($175.8) looks an outstanding prospect and is quite the Buddy clone but can catch it !! He has dpp but is looking like he might play that lead up link role in the middle of the ground. I’m not starting him, even if selected r1, but will definitely be interested if/when he is on the bubble. Reid ($166.8) also looks to have outstanding potential but will take more time. BZT ($255.2) has been forced to take on a few monsters in his early days, and would need a change of role to be considered.
Despite what many may think, the Bombers midfield stacks up quiet well. The question is, is this mid-price nirvana, or fools gold.
Lock and load. Merrett ($620.9). Sixth highest mid average in 2020 and when he is not getting concussed, is very durable. Doesn’t have the ceiling of others, but is one of those players that you really don’t have to worry about missing games. Same average last year as J Kelly and Fyfe, but 250 pts more in a 17 game season.
Feeling lucky. McGrath ($510.0) is at an awkward price after taking a big step towards elite last year (congrats me for starting him). Tough as nails, great decisions and disposal, and if he can add a few goals, can lift his average again. Shiel ($548.0) continues to tease but has had enough chances to become elite…pass. Parish ($465.8) also took a step forward but has lost dpp so pass. If fit, I’m starting Heppell ($319.1) as m7/8. He will probably start off hb and rack up some easy possessions and is nicely priced if he averages 80-85, and will be a good stepping stone. While an exciting prospect, Perkins ($171.3) is awkwardly priced for a rookie, and seems to have a few players in front of him, but dpp appeals. Bubble boy for me if he looks like a good cash cow at some stage.
Some interesting options. Cox (see above) can be placed here. Langford ($436.9) came on strongly at the end of last year and has dpp…a possible f6 at his price. Caldwell ($348.6) wasn’t recruited to stand at half forward or fwd pocket, but even with his dpp is awkwardly priced. Two metre Peter ($292.3) is interesting as he will no doubt share point gathering ruck duties. Stringer ($282.6) will both inspire and despair…I can do without the roller coaster.
Feeling lucky ??? I have mentioned him before, but watch out for the Jones ($123.9) boy. Would have debuted last year but for injury. Rangy type with great hands, booming kick, and can run. If selected R1, I am starting Cahill ($161.2). Lightning fast, tough, got a taste last year, the small fwd role is his for the taking, and cheaper than some untried rookies.
Not much to say here except for those not looking to start Grawn, Draper ($378.1) is an option for R2. I think I still fancy fancy him longer term than Preuss who is quite a bit cheaper.
I will be starting Merrett, Heppell if he is fit, and Cahill, but only expect to hold Merrett for the full season.
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