The Buzz: Be wary of taggers with captaincy choice, which rookies can go already & is there a new ruck dominance?

Round 3 provided a unique challenge for many coaches as we had a variety of great and poor scores litter our teams. For the most part captaincy choices were a complete disaster.

Ethan Lee

The likes of Jack Macrae, Touk Miller, Lachie Neale and Andy Brayshaw all underperformed for a variety of differing reasons which was slightly unexpected. However, we must be aware of these circumstances and adjust captaincy picks accordingly because of taggers now.

Furthermore, some of our rookie selections did underperform on the weekend which does beg the question do they need to be culled early?

Finally, the rise of Tim English has propelled quite a few coaches to high rankings in the first few weeks this season but how is he able to outscore the elite ruckman by so much even if he’s losing most of the ruck contests? 

Is there a new ruck dominance on its way?

Tim English (AF $769k SC $522k F/R) has been one of the biggest surprises this season, not just the fact that he’s elevated himself to another level but rather he’s well clear ahead of the second highest averaging ruckman Braydon Preuss (108/109, (AF/SC)).

In the past we have always picked ruckmen who accumulate points through their hitouts and high hitouts to advantage to score well and the around the groundwork was a bonus. But a look at some of his key stats shows that English doesn’t rely on those methods of scoring, rather he does the job playing essentially as a tall midfielder around the ground as seen by his high disposals and high marks per match. Essentially, he could be creating a new model for ruck premiums to average 120+

A comparison of the top scoring ruckman since 2015. 

The above graphic shows the seasons in which each ruckman essentially had their best seasons and one thing to note was that they all, for the most part, averaged around 17 disposals, three tackles but would get way more hitouts to advantage (HTA), which in SuperCoach is worth 5 points per HTA.

However, the implementation of the 6-6-6 rule has created more free-flowing football, thus less stoppages and less opportunities for ruckman to score points from hitouts and this has evolved further as coaches develop their game around these new rules. While we have seen in the past that the likes of Max Gawn, Brodie Grundy and co are still attending the same amount of ruck contests compared to their 2021 numbers. They are still averaging the lowest hitouts per game ever since this rule came in and thus their scoring is also reliant on their ground ball work. 

So is this really a new age in ruckman post 6-6-6, because once these changes were implemented the elite ruckman were earning less hitouts per game and this was down to there being much less stoppages. Is this a concern for our current ruck crop in Grundy, Gawn, Sean Darcy and co? At this stage Gawn, Grundy are still accumulators of the footy as they’re still averaging around 18 disposals a game but being involved in those passages of play and used as an easy chip kick is an option they are being used less compared to English. 

Tag you’re it. 

After monstrous performances in Round 2 from the likes of Neale, Brayshaw, Miller and Christian Petracca, many opposition coaches were quick to assign a run-with role player in order to shut down the influence of those four listed above and it worked a treat for the most part as all of them had games where they were much less influential (although Neale did seem to be slowed down by an injury not the tag itself). But should we be worried about them?

It’s hard to say because a lot of teams generally don’t use a run-with player anymore to have a negative influence on an opposition and instead will back their star midfielders to go head-to-head with each other. But in the rare cases we need to know who from each club may be at risk of tagging one of our players and thus removing them from being a captaincy option for the week.

On the flipside it may also be a good time to plan when you want to bring in a premium that has been playing well. For example, Andrew Brayshaw (AF $972k SC $613k MID) is set to face Matt De Boer and Andy McGrath in back-to-back weeks and could plummet in price if he doesn’t get near the footy. So even though he had an impressive first few games, he could be cheaper than his starting price very soon.

Keep an eye on the teams to see if Geelong rush back Mark O’Connor as he is also a designated tagger, and he may be set to lock down Lachie Neale (AF $871k SC $597k MID)

Which popular rookie selections can go?

We have just had our first price rise in SuperCoach but already there is talk of having to adjust or cull some rookies to get ones who provide better value. Of the current most popular traded out players, quite a few of them are some of our popular rookies. So, I wanted to really investigate whether it was worth culling them this early 

Jack Hayes (AF $367k SC $188k F/R)

After an absolute monstrous Round 1 performance, reality set in for many coaches last week when he scored a 61/68 which while it wasn’t the worst in the world it was made worse by the fact that St Kilda decided to play all three ruckman in Paddy Ryder, Rowan Marshall and Hayes in the same team which if you combined their scores together it might have looked similar to Hayes Round 1 score.

I am worried that he does get dropped soon because I don’t think St Kilda can play that many tall defenders in their forward line at the same time. Preuss is set to have a price rise in SC after Round 5 so it may be a perfect time to jump from Hayes to Preuss and ride the Preuss train given he’s looking very good but as long as Hayes is playing we should still be keeping him as his BE is still very low at this stage (10/-14) (AF/SC) . Just keep an eye on team selections but don’t be afraid to pull the trigger if the right rookie presents for you. 

Josh Rachele (AF $414k SC $231k M/F)

The livewire forward, like Hayes, absolutely lit it up in Round 1 with a stunning five-goal performance, however the past two games have been a shadow of that and it’s only if you combine the scores together you might get close to what he scored in Round 1. But does that warrant a trade?

Certainly, the SuperCoach players think so given he’s the most traded out player so far however I’m far from super convinced. Unlike Hayes this rookie has one of the best job securities being Adelaide’s prized forward. Playing as a small forward he will have weeks where he is a gamebreaker and kicks a bag and other weeks he will be dead quiet and score 40, that’s the wave we must ride for the time being. He’s still making us cash albeit at a slower rate but that is natural for his role.

While I wouldn’t force a trade on him or Hayes for the time being, there are other rookies like Thomson Dow (AF $341k SC $199k M/F) who do present with a better scoring role at a slightly cheaper price, but I’d still be wary of his job security. Given Rachele is best 22 when everyone is fit, it’s a hold because he will be continuously churning out cash albeit at a slower rate because his scores will be like a roller coaster. 

Josh Ward (AF $366k SC $196k MID)

Many coaches decided to shift on Ward last week because he’s had two subpar games and after a third there are still questions to be asked on what his ceiling will be. While we were drawn into his awesome pre-season performance, and he has shown glimpses of this in his play this year. However, he just hasn’t turned it into a relevant score that coaches would be happy with and thus why he was sacrificed to turn into Patrick Cripps for many.

Even though he’s only averaging 50 odd he’s got the role and we know he’s got the ability to score well. He was the midfielder attending the most centre bounces so clearly, they rate him enough to throw him in there. With Tom Mitchell still clearly struggling to overcome his “groin awareness” from the pre-season, there is a window for Ward to show off his true performance but it’s only a matter of time before we get our next crop of rookies, so he is against the clock.

Like with Rachele he’s got great job security and already a great fantasy relevant role, just needs to convert it into a score and coaches alike will be happy. For me if you’ve held him so far, he’s got to stay as at this stage there aren’t too many midfield rookies who have that job security. 

Dylan Stephens (AF $518k SC $203k MID)

This one stung quite a bit because there was a lot of faith in Stephens to pull off a third year breakout and with a strong performance in Round 1 and 2 especially, coaches had a lot of faith to field him in Round 3 only for him to drop a 38/23 (AF/SC). He just couldn’t get hands on the ball and gave away three free kicks which really hurt his performance; however, a lot of Swans really underperformed that night as well.

With a lot of midfielders performing well in the reserves it will be difficult for Stephens to hold his spot in the team I feel this week so there will be a lot of luck needed. On one hand we’ve seen what he can do when he’s playing well but it’s hard to watch someone who’s essentially an expensive rookie does so poorly as his cash generation will stall for a week or two. This one I don’t mind moving on but like I mentioned before there aren’t a plethora of options who would be able to be traded in unless you brought a rookie in early. 

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