It's been about a month since I last updated my side, and plenty has happened in that time. Most critically, news broke that the AFL Dream Team competition would move to a new Use It or Lose It trading scheme, where you get two trades each week rather than a grand total for the season. I penned my thoughts about how it would change the way we play DT at DreamTeamTalk.com here; but in terms of picking an initial squad, here's what I'm thinking:
1. We can get risky. In recent years, I've overlooked players like Waters, Grimes, Chapman and Petrie solely because of their perceived injury proneness. In 2013, we can take a chance on these risky guys because we don't have to save the trades that would be used to get us out of any mess they make any more. I'm not suggesting we fill our teams with the Higgins' and Rioli's of the fantasy world, but simply taking a punt on one or two of these players isn't the massive risk it once was, but we still get the same reward.
2. We also have a massive opportunity to land that big break-out fish. Last season, I correctly predicted a Masten break-out (56 avg to 85 avg), but didn't have the balls to trust my instincts. With these new trading rules and the two extra midfield slots, I won't be making that same mistake in 2013. This year, I'm particularly looking at players in the 85-105 avg midfield range who could possible make that step up to Super Premium, much like Watson, Cotchin and Kennedy accomplished last season.
With that in mind, here's the way my squad stands as of February 5th:
Duffield OUT - Heppell IN
I'm still undecided on this D3 slot. I love Duffield, saved my life at the end of the 2012 season with a remarkable finish - but I also really like Heppell and his potential with the lure of more midfield time. They are basically the same price, so it might come down to pre-season; and at the end of the day, Ross Lyon doesn't coach Heppell.
Goodes OUT - Yarran IN
I'm set on taking at least one mid-pricer in each defence and attack this year, and so far Yarran is too under-priced to ignore. If he plays across half-back again, he should average 80 points in a strong season from the Blues. This is nothing against Goodes, and if he suits up in Round 1 he'll probably get a jumper.
Colquhoun OUT - Stevenson IN
One Port player for another. From what I've heard, Colquhoun is only a very distant chance of cracking the team in the foreseeable future; whereas I know his new team-mate Stevenson has the goods to perform at AFL level - it's just unfortunate that he's spent his career at the Eagles until now behind A-grade flankers like Waters, Hurn and Butler in the pecking order.
Beams OUT - Pendlebury IN
Honestly, I've been spooked by the Rockliff Effect. In 2011, Rockliff burst onto the scene with an incredible 112-point average, but drifted massively the very next season with his average plummeting by a whopping 19 points per game. While there's every chance that Beams won't do this after a mammoth effort in 2012 (116 average!), there's always the nagging thought that he's not a guaranteed Super-Premium yet. On the other hand, Pendlebury has averaged over 105 for three years running and is a fantasy treasure. It doesn't hurt that he's also slightly under-priced after a broken leg stunted his output last season.
Cotchin OUT - S. Selwood IN
I love Cotchin, but he's in that awkward niche between Super-Premium and break-out contender that my structure allows for currently. If I choose to add another Premium midfielder at the expense of a rookie then he's definitely in the mix, but until then I'm following my gut and rolling with Scooter. My thoughts on Scott are well documented at DT Talk here, and a combination of potential, fitness and man-love has him in my side as that break-out contender.
Viney OUT - Wines, T. Mitchell IN
I have about 8 or 9 midfield rookies that I need to fit into 5 or 6 slots, so the exact line-up is changing more often than Greg Broughton's role at Freo. At the moment, I've cooled on Viney because of his moderate disposal statistics and the fact that he's much better suited to SuperCoach, despite him probably lining up Round 1.
Goldstein OUT - Sandilands IN
A combination of Goldstein's highly punchable face (thanks Virtual Sports for the new head shots on the site) and the ability to take a risk with the extra trades has pushed me towards Sandi. Every year I pick him because I know what he can do without sore pinky toes, and he's shown that in games he's played fit. Maybe this will be the year that he plays all 22 games? If not, plenty of options to trade him to.
Rowe, Grundy OUT - Sinclair, Currie IN
I've gone for a more mature-aged ruck line at this stage. Grundy has to compete with Witts for a game when the opportunity comes along, while I can't see Rowe getting a game unless injury strikes one or two of Kreuzer, Warnock and Hampson. Sinclair is a Ruck/Fwd DPP and could sneak a game while NicNat is out, and Currie is beast who could pip Daw for a spot in North's side.
Thomas, Cox OUT - LeCras IN
Daisy is looking comfortable in a moon-boot at this stage, so he's out of my plans and becomes an upgrade option later in the year. I'm still considering Cox, but not committing yet given his massive price-tag... LeCras is probably the least safe player in my side at the moment - I'm looking for another mid-pricer because I'm not liking any of the Premium options in the forward line so far. He's under-priced, but not by enough to make him a lock by any standards. Honestly, I'll probably go crawling back to Coxy if he gives me enough confidence in the Nab.
Lee OUT - Macaffer IN
I have it on good authority that Macaffer is smashing this pre-season and is starting 21 if he keeps this up. That's easily enough to displace Tom Lee, who looks too much like a Morton for my liking anyway.
Additionally, here's a couple of random thoughts I'm having at the moment:
1. I'm having a heap of trouble with my midfield at the moment. So much quality, so little space... I'm set on having at least 4 Premium players and 5 rookies, which leaves the last spot up for grabs. It could be another Super-Premium, Under-priced Premium, Mid-Pricer (like Moloney), or even another rook given the quality of midfield rookies versus other lines. I'm nowhere near set on this yet, and it's costing me sleep.
2. Swan or no Swan?! And what will that mean for Ablett, who' sitting pretty at M1? My brain is close to bursting with all the mental tennis going on inside it. He's super expensive, but he's also having his best pre-season ever (allegedly), and seriously, no-one wants to be the guy that loses every week because Dane Swan was your opponent's Captain. Shit.
3. I still want to take another risky midfielder, but not sure if I have the space and/or sack to do it. Fyfe, Mundy, Greene and even Barlow make legitimate selection arguments at their respective prices.
4. What on earth will I do if Leuenberger isn't fit for Round 1, as foreshadowed in the media this past week? Changes my whole structure... Also, how long does it take to get over an injury you did in Round 3 last year, anyway? Jeez.
5. Still no Buddy, but I'm warming to the idea of selecting him given my hatred of the other forward Premium options out there. And that's even taking into account his Cloke-like contract delay.
6. I still have $375k in my bank, which suits me just fine. I'd be happy with the structure of this squad if Round 1 was tomorrow, so to have so much cash left over is encouraging. If someone steps up in the NAB Cup, as we know they will, then at least I have the capital to swing them in without making wholesale changes to my side or structure. It's kind of the price of sanity, really.
So that's the changes since a month ago - looking like a completely new team! NAB Cup will be a huge litmus test into these guys, and I can tell you that many won't survive if they don't give a good showing in the pre-season competition.
Feel free to abuse my team on Twitter - @Tbetta9.