With the AFL season about to start, with Adelaide v Essendon on Friday night, I thought it was about time I posted what at the moment is my starting squad in the AFL Dream Team competition. The real trick to this game is to find those players that will make you money quickly by over-performing from their starting value, combined with having players who will score the highest in each position throughout the year. As the season progresses, you trade in these over-performers for the high scorers, with the aim being that by the end of the season you will have the best possible team. Of course the related trick is to make the right trades at the right time, which is where things get complicated, however the revised rules regarding trades (you now get up to two trades every week of the season, rather than having a limit on the total number of trades made during the season) should make trading even more important. Add to that the revised team structure, with one less defender & forward, but two extra midfielders, and there should be some very high scores posted, so one would need to be on the pace early to be in contention for the overall prize at the end of the season.
With that as a way of introduction, here is my current AFL Dream Team
In terms of the team, it looks like this year there is a real shortage of good rookie forwards, while there are a number of very promising rookie midfielders & some good defenders as well. I think this factor determines the basic structure of the team - starting with 6 'known' forwards, while putting most of the rookies in the team on the bench or in the midfield.
Most of the premium selections are fairly obvious - Goddard & Gibbs should be two of the highest scoring defenders & have shown good scoring potential during the NAB Cup. Ablett & Pendlebury are stars of the competition (and Pendlebury is even a little under-priced after his leg injury last year), while Maric established himself as one of the best rucks going around. I've stacked the forwards, with Franklin, Cox (now a Forward/Ruck), Bartel, Zorko & Rockliff all likely to be in the top 10 scoring forwards by season's end.
There are a few picks which are aimed at getting players who I think will become premium scorers (even if their initial starting price might suggest otherwise), as well as a few underpriced players who will hopefully score much better than they have in previous years. These players are Hartlett & Hibberd in defense, Fyfe & Moloney in the midfield, Bellchambers in the Ruck & Karnezis in the forwards. I's generally very happy with these selections & am confident that most of them will improve their scoring during the year.
The other part of Dream Team that requires a bit of good selection, combined with good fortune is the rookies & these are still not completely locked in for me at this stage, with the all important round 1 selection being a big factor in my decision. Goodes, O'Meara & Wines have stood out in the pre-season & look like they will be definite starters for their respective teams in round 1. In terms of the other rookie defenders, Vlastuin has probably been the best from a points perspective, but there is talk about him being 'vested' & either starting as the sub, or finishing as the sub, giving him only limited game time (which obviously limits scoring potential), while Terlich is likely to play, but does not seem to be as high scoring as Vlastuin. Stevenson is an interesting case, as there are a number of young defenders at Port Adelaide who are effectively fighting for the same positions - Pittard, Colquhoun & Heath being the others - though Pittard & Stevenson seem the most likely to get round 1 selections based on NAB Cup form. In terms of forwards, there's a real issue, with Macaffer being the only standout selection & I really only expect 40-70 scores from him, rather than the potential 100s that you might see from some rookie mids during the year. Spangher is in my squad at present as he seems to be vying for the backline spot at Hawthorn created by Suckling's season-ending knee injury, though that will be one place that I'm not locking in until I see the teams next weekend! In the rucks, Currie looked impressive all pre-season until the final game & the North Melbourne coach has said he doesn't want to start with two ruckmen, so there's a chance he might not be selected in round 1. Daw is another possibility if I need a replacement, although he also lacks job security. Blicavs has come from nowhere & has been the first player to be re-classified (he's now a Mid/Ruck, rather than just a Mid) before the season has started. From all reports he has played well in the pre-season & his fantasy scoring has been reasonable, but he potentially has more job security, at least in the short term, with the injuries to the usual Geelong rucks. The remaining rookie mids are a potential goldmine or headache! Whitfield looks like a great player & has backed it up with great fantasy numbers, but the 'rotation policy' at GWS means that he might not play for a lot of the season, which would be frustrating. Mitchell has looked promising, although like Currie, he also had a quiet final NAB Cup game & is still on the Port Adelaide rookie list, which would mean that he can't play yet. Of course that could change, with Port having a player on their long term injury list, so their is a spot available for him to take, but the longer this decision takes (in spite of all the internet talk that he is 'guaranteed' the place), the more hesitant I am about including him in my team. Brad Crouch was supposed to be one of the 'must have' rookies this year, being selected by Adelaide in 2011 when he was too young to play AFL games, so he has had two pre-seasons & has looked promising in the NAB Cup. Of course with Adelaide having a quality midfield, with the likes of Thompson, Dangerfield, Sloane, Van Berlo, Vince, etc there was always a rick that there might not be a place for him in the team & the round 1 selections seem to have confirmed that, with no Crouch in sight in the team lists. This has me strongly considering swapping him for Kommer from Essendon, who has been named & who had a decent, though far from outstanding, pre-season. Viney is my final rookie midfielder & he has been another 'must have' since the start of the year, however he only played one pre-season game due to a 'minor' injury & his average scoring in that game did not scream 'must have' to me. Of course Melbourne also have a strange history with some of their recent rookie recruits (Watts, Magner, Couch), so although he is apparently a definite starter, I'm still not entirely convinced.
In terms of trading, my main emphasis early on in the season will be getting premium mids into my team - the likes of Swan, Dangerfield, Delidio, Watson & the like. Of course if someone else turns up in another position, they may also become a priority, but upgrading the mids will be the main focus of my early trades.
Hopefully it turns out well & I'll keep posting the occasional update here, but join my league if you really want to see how things go!