Welcome Community. Today we look at the second reason behind Jock’s 2.00am drunken calls, choked up and muffling “why did they bloody trade him Mick, why?”
Today we look at Nick DalSanto. We can add “why did we bloody sack him” to that list as well, but that’s another story.
This was probably the most drawn out trade in this trade period. Will he? Won’t he? There is an announcement tomorrow.. no wait that announcement will be next week.. and so on. Finally, in the end DalSanto chose to move on and signed for rival club North Melbourne on the 18th of October.
From a fantasy point of view, I believe this trade has many of us intrigued. Even Jock himself will have to admit he is aroused at the prospect of selecting what could very well be an under-priced DalSanto in 2014. I say that because it doesn’t take a genius to realise that DalSanto is a quality football player, and an extreme quality fantasy footballer. We just have to look at his Supercoach record to see that.
We can see that Nick has produced some monster averages over the last 8 years, with averages over 112 in 5 of those 8 years. However the last two years have been his worst performances during that time frame, possibly suggesting that Nick’s best years are behind him.
This is a view that might be shared by many fantasy experts.. but is it one with merit or are we overlooking a great prospect for 2014?
Yes Nick is no longer a spring chicken and will turn 30 before the start of the new season.
But if age was a factor then no one should consider Gary Ablett (30 in May), Dane Swan (30 in February), Leigh Montagna (30 as of 2nd November), Dean Cox (33 in August) or Steve Johnson (31 in July) for next year either.
So while age will have some influence on how a player can perform, I don’t buy into the view that just because your 30 means you won’t be fantasy relevant any more. It is for that reason that I will look into Nick’s fantasy drop off in a little more detail.
Nick didn’t have a great year at the Saints last year. He finished with an average of 97.45. However, what this figure in isolation doesn’t tell you is that Nick played a little of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde last season. His early season form was woeful in comparison to the hefty standards Nick set for himself over the best part of the last decade. Below is a table of DalSanto’s scores in 2013.
As you can see Nick only averaged 87.36 before the byes but managed to turn his season around in the back half increasing his output by over 20pts and averaging 107.55 in the last 11 games of the season. So the question we must ask is why was there such a different between the first 11 games and the second 11 games? For those of you who are regular readers of the Jock Reynolds Fantasy Footy Community you might remember Nick featured in a Tight Arse Tuesday article from round 9 in 2013. In that article I stated:
“It must be hard for a champion player to know that the team you play for are not going to challenge for the flag in the remaining years of your career, especially when you have come so close to the holy grail not that long ago and left it behind. However that is what Nick has to deal with and I’m sure it’s playing on his mind that he might have a couple more years left in him where he can contribute to a team that has their premiership window open. With him available as a free agent at the end of the year this might just be an option open to him and I think the uncertainty is contributing to his current dip in form.”
This isn’t an unusual concept and since free agency has come into play we have seen controversy hang over players, and as a result we have seen their on field performances suffer as a result. We have already discussed this with Lance Franklin in 2013 and Travis Cloke in 2012. I really believe we can add Nick Dal Santo to that list too, and on an interesting side note we should really look at who is out of contract in 2014 before we look at selecting them in our fantasy teams (future article I feel).
The interesting thing with Nick is I really believe he thought he would stay at Saint Kilda.
I believe he had come to terms with the fact that the Saints would not be competing for a flag in his remaining years. Pushed to lift and except a leadership and mentor roll of the younger players by the then Saints Coach Scotty Watters, Nick finally turned around his form and concentrated on his football in the second part of the year. This can be reiterated by some of Nick’s comments from as soon as the 10th of September.
“When I came to St Kilda as a 17-year-old, I had the likes of Robert Harvey, Aaron Hamill, Stewart Loewe and Nathan Burke to learn from. Now 12 years on that’s us senior players trying to pass on the same messages and lessons to the young guys. Obviously we’re still trying to contribute and play decent football, but it’s also important to pass on some messages along the way.”
You can also see why this trade seemed to take so long. With comments like the ones above you can see how hard it was for Nick to make the decision to leave. Don’t be surprised if we get a repeat of the Brendon Goddard tears of 2013 with Nick in 2014.
So going into next year what can we expect from Nick at his new club. Let’s first have a quick look at Nick’s stats the last three years before looking at North Melbourne and where he will fit in.
Nick is really the complete midfielder and has strong showings in all the big item fantasy scoring stats, with probably the one exception being his goal kicking. If we take his best year of 2011 for example you can see he won plenty of the ball, both on the inside and outside, used it well and was both a clearance and tackle machine averaging over 5 per game in both compartments. Yes he has dropped off over the last couple of years, but not in the stats that would have me alarmed.
He still managed to get plenty of the ball, averaging 24.8 last season (down 1.9 on 2011), and he used in equally as well at 71.8% (down 0.9% on 2011). Where his numbers have dropped off and what has contributed to his poorer fantasy scoring is in the categories of contested possessions (down 2.3 per game on 2011), tackles (down 2.1 per game on 2011) and clearances (down 1.7 per game on 2011). These stats confirm to me the struggles Nick had dealing with the fact he was no longer playing in a side that was challenging for the flag. It might have only been in the back of his mind and he might not even know it was affecting him but the mental side of the game is very real. It may only be a minor thought but it can be the difference between winning and losing a 50/50 ball, missing a tackle or being that fraction of a second behind the play.
Now that Nick has now moved on, I believe there are no more distractions and his focus will be solely on playing good football to try and get North Melbourne into contention for the flag. A big call here, but I believe North are genuine contenders in 2014 and I’m tipping a top 4 finish from them too. This being said, I see Nick playing a big role for them as they build off a disappointing 2013, and push up the ladder in 2014.
If we take a closer look at North in 2013 we can see where their strengths and weakness lie, and better understand what we can expect from Nick in 2014.
North are very much a possession orientated team, and actually play a similar type of game to last year’s premiers, Hawthorn. If we look at their positives first up.
- They are excellent users of the ball and actually rank number 1 in the competition for effective disposal percentage.
- They have a very tall team and play to this strength by choosing to kick more which sees them ranked 5th in kicks per game and 6th for marks per game.
- They have one of the best ruckmen in the competition and average 44.2 hitouts per game, ranking them 3rd overall
- This in turn often sees them get first use at the contest, where they average 39.2 clearances a game, ranking them 5th in the competition.
On the negative side of things: If you are a North supporter you will be well aware how many games you lost my less than a scoring shout in 2013. For those of you who aren’t North Supports, that total was 6. Even if they had won half those matches they would have been playing finals with a 13 – 9 record. Instead they lost them all and finished with a 10-12 record.
- They managed to finish bottom of the competition in the one percenter category with just 38.3 per game. In contrast last years premiers Hawthorn finished the year ranked first for one percenters with 51 per game. All the small things add up and can account for the difference between winning and losing.
- North are ranked 15th in the competition for tackles per game with 58.6 per game. This might not be a true measure as North also rank first for restricting their opponents to the least amount of possessions, so if they don’t have the ball you can’t really tackle them. However 15th is still quite low considering the Hawks rank third for restricting their opponents to the least amount of possessions but still rank in the top 8th for average tackles per game. An area that can still improve at North.
- They rank 9th in disposals per game and 10th in contested possessions a game. Not bad by any means but again when you look to play a high possession game and try to restrict your opponent first use of the ball these categories should be higher and I’d expect North will be looking to push into the top 8 in these stats. Win more of the contested ball and their disposal numbers will climb off the back of that.
So what does this mean for DalSanto and what should we expect from him in a North Melbourne jumper next year?
On the positive side of North’s stats Dal Santo should feel right at home. He too is a great ball user and I don’t see North’s or Dal Santo’s stats changing all that much in this compartment in 2014.
North do share the ball around a lot though and don’t rely on any one player to dominate the disposal numbers. In 2013 8 players averaged over 20 disposals a game, the highest being Brent Harvey with 24.06 a game.
This being the case I don’t see DalSanto coming in and getting 25+ a game and is more likely to sit around the 22-24 touches a game mark. However as North have a high kick to handball ratio, I’d expect to see Nick kick more than he did at the Saints last year. There he had a kick to handball ratio of 1.1 whereas North Melbourne had a ratio of 1.42. He will still handball in close but expect him to kick more on the outside and I’d expect a kick to handball ratio closure to 1.25 with North. Remember kicks score more fantasy points than handballs.
Also he is now going to be playing in a side with a dominant ruckman in Todd Goldstien. He is likely to get first use of the ball more often than was the case with the Saints last year. This will result in a jump of his clearance numbers and I wouldn’t be surprised if he averages back in the region of 5 a game in 2014.
On North’s negatives from 2013 I don’t actually see them hindering Dal Santo. In fact Nick has been brought in specifically to help out in those areas. All too often North relied too heavily Andrew Swallow and to a lesser degree Ben Cunnington and Jack Ziebell to do all the dirty work in midfield while the likes of Wells, Harvey, Gibson, Atley and Bastinac provided the outside run. Only Swallow, Cunnington and Ziebell averaged more than 10 contested possessions a game in 2013. The same three players topped the tackle averages at North too, with 6.29 (Swallow), 5.39 (Ziebell) and 4.8 (Cunnington) per game. The next best was Leigh Adams with 3.3 a game which was a big difference. Now some might argue that DalSanto is more of an outside player than inside but I can assure you that he can play both equally well.
Make no mistake either, North didn’t go after him so hard so he can provide them with more run and carry on the outside. They have got plenty of that with the quality players I have mentioned above. What they do need is another midfielder on the inside to help out the relatively young trio of inside midfielder’s. Currently that trio of Swallow, Ziebell and Cunnington average 23 years and 10 months. I fully expect Nick to step up in this department and average over 10 contested possessions and close to 5 tackles a game.
I’d be excited if I was a North fan, as their list will only develop and improve more and Nick DalSanto could very well be the missing piece of the jigsaw from 2013. I stand by my early call for top 4 in 2014.
On the Supercoach and AFL Fantasy side of things I believe Nick is very relevant in 2014.
I am not saying that I expect him to produce a near Super Elite year like he did with the Saints in 2011. He won’t get enough of the ball for that to happen but, for me at least, he starts the year approximately 10 points undervalued.
From my analysis above I can see enough improvement in many of the other high fantasy scoring categories like tackles, clearances, contested possessions and kicks for Nick to once again regain premium status, and push very close to the Elite level. The only down side I can see with Nick is that North’s Bye lands in round 8 meaning he will share the bye with some every popular players (see below).
God damn them byes anyway, already messing with my mind.
The Mad Irishman’s Verdict
2013 Predicted Status: Premium/Elite Premium
Predicted Average 2014: 106 – 111pts
Bye Round: 8 (shared with likely popular players Ablett, Pendlebury, Swan, Beams, Cotchin, Deledio, Selwood, Dangerfield)
Status: Likely Starter
Excellent get for North and I’m tipping he will be a great pick up for many fantasy coaches in season 2014.
Who’s thinking of jumping on?
Don’t be afraid to get involved and leave a comment below – all options are welcome here at Jock Reynold’s Fantasy Footy Community.
Mick The Mad Irishman
- 27th overall in Supercoach 2014
- Runner Up: Jock Reynolds Premier League 2014
- A mans man and a top bloke
- Follow the great man on Twitter:@Da_Mad_Irishman