Carlton and Sydney clashed at Etihad Stadium in their final NAB match before Round 1. The match was competitive throughout with both teams electing to field near full-strength sides, however it was the Swans ability to capitilize on their chances that got them over the line in the end.
What we learnt
Jacob Weitering: The 2015 No. 1 draft pick certainly doesn’t play like someone in their first-year at AFL level, with his composed ball-use and intercepting ability highlights of his game. Weitering finished the match with 15 disposals at 86 percent efficiency and seven marks, and looks set to play a lot games in 2016. From a fantasy perspective Weitering’s price of around $220k is the only thing that puts me off as I think I can find another rookie who is $100k cheaper that can score similarly to him.
Sam Kerridge: Another sensational performance from the first-year Blue and the first rookie I’d dub a ‘lock’ this year in DreamTeam and SuperCoach. Kerridge is firmly intrenched in the Carlton midfield rotation and against the Swans he helped himself to 26 disposals (11 contested) at an efficiency of 80 percent as well as six marks, seven clearances and three goals.
Patrick Cripps: Cripps’ ability to fire an accurate handball off while he’s been tackled is truly incredible to watch and in just his third season he’s already one of the best contested players in the competition. Against the Swans Cripps showcased his in-and-under talents gathering 16 contested possessions, nine clearances and four tackles, to go along with his 24 touches and a goal. I can see Cripps improving again in 2016 but the only format I can see him having a chance at becoming a premium in is SuperCoach and that would require a 15 point increase from his 2015 average of 96SC. A pass for me but a star of many of my teams to come I suspect.
Blaine Boekhorst: The Blues first-round selection in the 2014 draft was underwhelming last year and despite being mature-aged could only manage 11 games. However, in this match Boekhorst was terrific with his run-and-carry a highlight, as it helped the Blues move the ball quickly forward. Boekhorst ended the match with 27 disposals, six marks, four clearances and a goal, as well as four rebounds from 50 and three inside 50s, which showcased his work rate across the ground. Awkwardly priced in the midrange bracket in salary cap formats but with mid-forward status in draft leagues he could be a worthwhile late selection.
I was impressed with the Blues short-kicking style of play and willingness to switch the ball to open up space, and while their disposal was off at times that’s someone that should improve in time. In 2015 Carlton averaged 1428 DT points as a side and in this match they scored 1607 DT, which would indicate that Brendan Bolton’s game plan is making the Blues a more fantasy friendly in 2016.
What we learnt
Dan Hannebery: Hannebery was everywhere in this match and filled his stats sheet with a massive 38 disposals (15 contested), 10 marks, six clearances, six tackles, four rebounds from 50, six inside 50s and a goal. Hannebery’s ability to cover the ground and get from contest to contest is among the best few in the competition, but it’s his ability to win the ball inside and out as well as his desire to tackle that makes him a fantasy star and extremely difficult to nullify. Looks set to continue his 2015 form and will be a premium in across the formats again this year.
Lance Franklin: Franklin has looked fit throughout the preseason but against the Blues he finally showed some of the touch he has been missing. Sydney coach John Longmire played Franklin a lot closer to goal in this match than he had so far this preseason and star forward looked so much more comfortable in that role. Franklin finished the match with 20 touches, seven marks (two contested and four inside 50), four tackles, three goals and five goal assists, a few of which he could have easily kicked himself. SuperCoach is his best format and I think he has to at least be considered but for now he’s not in my team.
Callum Mills: Earlier I mentioned that Kerridge was my first rookie ‘lock’ of 2016 and closely behind him is Mills. In each of his three NAB games he’s shown that he can handle the heat of AFL level and his precision by foot is certainly something the Swans are desperate for in their side. Mills has played primarily across half-back this preseason but against the Blues he spent more time up the ground and was still able to amass 23 disposals at an efficiency of 78 percent, three marks, four clearances and a goal. I know Mills comes at premium due to being the No. 3 pick in last years draft but he looks clear best 22 and just oozes class.
Kieran Jack: After the Swans deplorable ball-use from defence in their first two NAB matches something had to change and change it did with Longmire sending Jack down back throughout the match to tidy up their exit from defence. Jack played a solid game gathering 23 disposals, four rebounds from 50 and three inside 50s, but his presence and organization of the defence is probably what helped the Swans play their best game of the preseason to date.
It’s still hard to get a read on how much time the likes of Josh Kennedy, Luke Parker and Tom Mitchell will spend forward, how much time Jack will spend back and how much these roles will impact their fantasy scoring, which isn’t ideal when trying to pick them our sides. Tom Papley was lively again in the pressure forward role laying four tackles and kicking a goal, and must be close to Round 1 selection, however, I’m not sure how much of a fantasy player he’s going to be.