Western Bulldogs 2014: Supercoach scouting report
We’ve almost finished! We’ve reached our final Supercoach Scouting Report, the NAB Wizard Cup Challenge is finished and that means we should all be in the final stages of locking down our Supercoach sides in preparation for Round 1, which is rapidly approach.
Last, but by no means least in our Scouting Reports is the Western Bulldogs, a side which struggled early in the year, but started to look pretty good by the end, winning 4 of their last 6 matches (half their win total).
The Bulldogs probably don’t have a ton of players for us to look at on the cheaper side, but they do have some interesting premium priced talent available. So let’s get cracking and go take a look at the Western Bulldogs for 2014.
Western Bulldogs 2014 Scouting Report
2013 Record: 8 wins, 14 losses
Stewart Crameri (Traded from Essendon)
Sam Darley (Traded from GWS)
Brett Goodes (Promoted Rookie)
Marcus Bontempelli (Pick #4, National Draft)
Matt Fuller (Pick #42, National Draft)
Mitch Honeychurch (Pick #60, National Draft)
Daniel Cross (Delisted)
Nick Lower (Delisted)
Lukas Markovic (Delisted)
Patrick Veszpremi (Delisted)
Dylan Addison (Delisted)
2014 Team Preview
2014 Bye Round: 9
Final 4: St. Kilda Saints, North Melbourne Kangaroos, Sydney Swans, GWS Giants
As we said before, the Bulldogs started off the year slow, losing 12 of their first 16 games of 2013. Then from Rd 18 they won 4 of their last 6, with losses to Hawthorn and Sydney, but with quality wins against West Coast, Adelaide and Carlton. The Bulldogs have been preaching a “patience” approach as they rebuild their list, so I’m sure it was exciting for Bulldogs fans to see the team perform so well towards the end of the year. Now the next step will be for them to extend that kind of quality form over an entire season, rather than a purple patch of 5-6 weeks. The biggest highlight would have been the midfield play of players like Ryan Griffen and Tom Liberatore, both displaying some of the best play in the AFL during the year.
The Bulldogs didn’t do a ton of work to their list as they continue to build slowly, they’ve added Stewart Crameri from Essendon, who they hope will begin to help with their forward line issues (Daniel Giansiracusa led the Bulldogs goal count with 36 last season), as well as drafting promising youngster Marcus Bontempelli with the #4 pick in the National Draft. Bontempelli isn’t expected to have an immediate impact for the Bulldogs this year, but they hope he will develop into a very good player for them in the future. They also added former West Sydneyer Sam Darley, who had only managed to play 13 games in his 2 years at GWS.
The Bulldogs have a reasonable fixture for 2014, getting to play 14 of their 22 games at Etihad Stadium and only having to leave Victoria 5 times in total. They also only have 6 games against the Top 8 (or 7 if you count Essendon as a Top 8 side), as well as 7 games against last years bottom 6. Double up games will come against North Melbourne, GWS, Essendon, Melbourne and the Gold Coast. There are some reasonable games in there, but if they can manage to recapture their late season form then I think they’re actually capable of winning all of those games. The final 4 is a mixed bag, with 2 tough looking matchups with North and Sydney, bookended by what should be easier wins against St. Kilda and the Giants. Some very good potential scoring games against the Saints and Giants, and the North/Sydney games could also be an opportunity for the Bulldogs players to score well if they can avoid a blowout.
The Bulldogs are kind of tough for me to peg at this stage, was their late season form just a flash in the pan, or a real sign of what’s to come? One thing is for sure, I fully expect them to post an improvement on their 8 wins of last year.
2014 Projected Wins/Losses: 10 wins, 12 losses
2012 SC Average: 95.1
2013 SC Average: 114.3
Starting Price: 616.6K
Minson is the “set and forget” choice for those of you looking to not worry about a ruck position in 2014. He was the #1 ruckman in Supercoach last year and one of only 3 ruckmen (the others being Todd Goldstein and Dean Cox) to average over 100 Supercoach points for the year. In 2013 season he averaged 14.5 possessions, 1.8 marks, 39.1 hitouts, including 11.9 to advantage, as well as 4.8 clearances. For the year that ranked him 1st in Total Hitouts, 1st in Hitouts per game, 10th in Total Supercoach Points and 8th in Supercoach Points per game.
Minson attended more centre hitouts than any other ruckman in 2013 and won a hitout from 47% of his contests, which was ranked 10th in the AFL, while also being ranked 5th for hitout to advantage. One big boost Minson had to his scores was centre clearances, where he recorded 29 more clearances than any other ruckman and as a team, the Bulldogs were +14% in winning the clearances when Minson was at the bounce, the highest differential of any ruckman in the AFL.
I know many people will struggle to fit in Minson’s massive starting price into their teams, which can be understandable, and I know there has been talk of “chasing” old scores, when we should be looking for improvers or fallen premiums, but Minson is a quality pick for those of you just wanting to nail a position down with a premium pick. The Bulldogs will once again rely heavily upon Minson in 2014 as they don’t really have any quality backups at this stage. With Goldstein looking like he may be joined with a #2 ruck in Daniel Currie, Minson has a very strong chance to be the #1 scoring ruck in the AFL once again.
2014 SC Projection: 108-114
2012 SC Average: 106.0
2013 SC Average: 116.4
Starting Price: 627.6K
I gotta admit I did not see Ryan Griffens 2013 season coming. While he has always been a good midfielder, I questioned if he had the stuff to turn into an A+ midfielder for the Bulldogs. One thing is for sure, there’s something that Brendan McCartney has done to him because he has improved greatly as a player. For the year, Griffen had averages of 29.0 possessions, 3.2 marks, 6.1 Inside 50’s, 6.1 clearances, 4.9 tackles and kicked 14.10. These stats had him ranked 16th in Total Possessions, 6th in Possessions per game, 19th in Total Handballs, 11th in Handballs per game, 16th in Kicks per game, 2nd for Total Inside 50’s, 1st in Inside 50’s per game, 15th in Total Clearances, 7th in Clearances per game, 14th in Total Contested Possessions, 7th in Contested Possessions per game, 15th in Total Bounces, 8th in Effective Possessions per game and 6th in Supercoach Points per game.
Contested possessions are probably the biggest area on improvement Griffen has had, as well as the centre clearances that often go with it. Under his last years with Rodney Eade as coach he was averaging about 35% of his possessions as contested, as well as 2-3 clearances per game. Under Brendan McCarthy that figure has skyrocketed, moving up to 43.8% and 5 clearances in 2012 and then up again in 2013 to 45.6% and 6.1 clearances. His contested ball winning meant he was able to beat the taggers more often than not as well.
Griffen is looking like another solid POD pick again this year as most are seemingly staying clear of Griffen, due to his price and on/or only picking Ablett or Pendlebury as their big ticket 600K+ midfielders. He is probably a tad more inconsistent than they are, and will have the odd game where the tagger gets the best of him (Ablett has a SD of 29, Pendles 22, Griffen is at 33), but like Ablett and Pendles, he’s shown he can put up a big score (Griffen had a high of 176 last year). If you find yourself short of cash for an Ablett or Pendles (or you already picked them) and are just looking for the next best midfielder to put in your team, then I reckon Griffen will be your man.
2014 SC Projection: 110-116
2012 SC Average: 83.1
2013 SC Average: 106.8
Starting Price: 576.2K
After some disappointing off-field issues in 2012, Liberatore did everything right on and off the football field in 2013 to prove his worth and regain the trust of the Bulldogs. To use a favourite phrase of mine from Jock, Liberatore went WHOOSKA! in 2013, posting highs in nearly every category and becoming one of the best centre clearance players (maybe the best) in the AFL at only 21 years of age. For the year he had averages of 26.0 possessions, 3.0 marks, 3.5 Inside 50’s, 8.4 clearances and 6.2 tackles, stats that had him sitting 20th in Total Possessions, 2nd in Total Contested Possessions, 3rd in Contested Possessions per game, 12th in Total Handballs, 16th in Handballs per game, 19th in Total Effective Possessions, 19th in Effective Possessions per game, 2nd in Total Clearances, 1st in Clearances per game, 8th in Total Tackles and 10th in Tackles per game.
Because of his contested style of play, Liberatore was under the second most pressure of any playing in the AFL when disposing of the ball, but still managed to keep his disposal efficiency at 72.5%. He also attended the 2nd most centre bounces of any midfielder in the AFL, with the Bulldogs recording the best centre clearance differential when he was attending.
There has been plenty of talk about young Libba this offseason, with some even suggesting he’s the next Gary Ablett Jr., which is high praise indeed! It’ll be hard for teams to tag him while Griffen and Boyd are still in the side, and one thing I loved about his year is his scores improved as the year went along. He started the year averaging 99 between Rd 1-8, 109 between Rd 9-16 and 119 between Rd 17-23. He did have 3 games under 70 last year, but these all occurred between Rd 1-9 and from Rd 10 onwards he only had 3 games below 100, 2 in the 90’s and a 74 in Rd 15 against GWS. There’s still some upside left in his scores I reckon, and could be a sneaky good pick, and like Griffen, I don’t think there will be a ton of teams going with him in 2014.
2014 SC Projection: 104-110
2012 SC Average: 83.9
2013 SC Average: 79.0
Starting Price: 425.9K
Dahlhaus is an interesting mid priced option going into 2014, he only averaged 79 in 2013, but started off the preseason NAB Challenge games with some big scores, producing 124 against the Saints, and 119 against Fremantle. Jock has already written a piece about Lukey, which you guys can read here.
For the year he averaged 16.8 possessions, 1.7 marks, 2.5 Inside 50’s, 4.1 tackles and kicked 28.18. He was ranked 1st for pressure acts for a “general forward” by Champion Data, as well as ranking elite for possessions, contested possessions and tackles while also winning the equal most groundball gets inside 50 in the AFL.
Dahlhaus started 2013 slow, averaging 67 Supercoach points between Rds 1-14. Then from Rd 15 he hit some great form, averaging 96.2, with 4 100+ scores and a high of 150 against West Coast in Rd 18. Dahlhaus has shown some great footy skills during the NAB games, but the question is will he be able to have that form translate into the real stuff? I think his last 9 games + his pre-season form is very encouraging, and he could be a nice POD choice in 2014 for your forward line.
2014 SC Projection: 88-94
2012 SC Average: 54.6
2013 SC Average: 65.5
Starting Price: 282.6K
Sam Darley, a 17 year old pre-listed player for GWS could only manage 13 games in two years at the Giants. He’s moved over to the Bulldogs to continue his career. Darley played 4 games in 2013 between Rd 16-20 with averages of 17.0 possessions, 2.0 marks, 2.8 rebound 50’s, 1.0 spoils and 2.0 tackles.
He also played 16 games in the NEAFL, and averaged 21 possessions per game there, and ranked 1st at the club for uncontested possessions there. His uncontested numbers at AFL levels were also high, sitting at 73.4% in 2013. He’s a risky pick, but there’s still plenty of room for improvement for Darley and DEF is looking like a tough spot for cheaper picks. Darley didn’t play during the pre-season, so it’s hard to judge him, but if he gets some midfield time then he could be a good pick to make at his price. He’ll certainly be a beneficiary of the fantastic inside play of Griffen and Liberatore if he does play there.
2014 SC Projection: 70-76
2012 SC Average: 79.5
2013 SC Average: 59.0
Starting Price: 254.6K
Yes, you’re reading this correctly, Shaun Higgins is in my “Consider” list. No, I am not drunk and all my cognitive functions are running at 100%, the synapses are firing at peak efficiency here! Just give me a go here and I’ll try and explain my reasoning, although I’m already preparing myself for the angry phone call from Jock I’m sure to receive after he reads this.
Shaun Higgins could only manage 3 games last year for a Supercoach average of 59. He had averages of 13.7 possessions, 5.7 marks and 3.3 tackles, down from the averages of 17.9 possessions, 4.3 marks, 3 tackles and 22.16 he kicked in 2012. Now, enough about 2013, that was a write-off, back to why we should be thinking about picking Higgins for 2014.
So there will be two themes for Shaun Higgins going into this season, the first is “Lowered Expectations” and the second is “Testicular Fortitude”. But first we need to get one thing clear about Shaun Higgins.
FACT: Shaun Higgins is never going to be a premium player in Supercoach
We know this now. Every year we’d go “hmm, maybe this is his year, maybe Shaun Higgins will become a SUPER-BLOODY-STAR of Supercoach!” So we’d rush off to pick him in our sides, giddy with anticipation that we’d made the decision of a lifetime and the points would come rolling in. Of course that never happened. He’d middle along with more than a few good scores, some bad scores occasionally too, then he’d cop a few injuries here and there, but generally, he’d be a disappointment to us because we see he’s capable of scoring 100+ in games, he just doesn’t do it consistently.
Now in previous years you’ve always had to spend a decent amount of $ to get Higgs into your side, usually somewhere between 390K to 414K (2013 was his highest starting price ever). Now you go and look at what his starting price is this year. That’s right, a cool 254K. Now this is where the “testicular fortitude” part of the game comes in, because it’ll take a Supercoacher with an enormous amount of this to put Higgins in your side. Now, normally if we had the chance to nab a guy capable of averaging in the 80’s for 250K we’d likely jump on board and then use him as a springboard to a premium forward. People complain about his injury history, but people are also looking at Hawkins and his stuffed back, or guys like Mitch Clark who’s played about as many games as football as I have in the past 2 years. It’ll take some guts to pick Higgins in your side, but he just might produce enough to make it worth it. He won’t be a keeper, but if you pick him and he manages to get through to the bye rounds putting up an average in 80’s, then he should make some decent cash, enough to where you won’t have to spend your Supercoach life savings to move him up to a premium pick.
2014 SC Projection: 76-82
2012 SC Average: 87.3
2013 SC Average: 71.6
Starting Price: 386K
Wallis was used in a few different roles last year, playing in the midfield, but then from Rd 17 onwards he was used in a run-with role, tagging players like Hodge, Murphy, Priddis and Dangerfield. Wallis’s stats dipped a bit from his 2012 averages, with stats of 18.4 possessions, 1.6 marks, 2.2 Inside 50’s, 3.4 clearances and 4.9 tackles.
His time as a tagger was actually pretty good, with him averaging 19 possessions, while keeping his opponents to an average of 17. He also laid the equal 4th most tackles of any player in the AFL during these final 7 games, and also had the equal 12th most score assists in the AFL. More importantly, his Supercoach average went up, from 65.09 between Rd 1-16 and then up to 81.7 in Rd 17-23.
Players like Andrew Carrazzo have shown the ability to average in the 90’s while still being a tagger due to their ability to play both ways. If he’s used in the same role again, all it should take is for him to win 4-5 more possessions a game and he’s a good chance to average in the Carrazzo ballpark I think and as a midprice, he could be a nice buy for your midfield, especially if you’ve been turned off a midprice option like Shane Savage due to the recent St. Kilda injury issues in their midfield.
2014 SC Projection: 85-91
2012 SC Average: NA
2013 SC Average: 61.4
Starting Price: 331.1K
Another player we might not have considered until he had some cracking form during the NAB Challenge games, Macrae, last years #6 pick in the National Draft has two excellent games for the Bulldogs, scoring 106 in game 1, then 123 in game 2 for an average of 114.5. Macrae played 13 games last year, with stats of 17.9 possessions, 2.7 marks, 2.3 Inside 50’s, 1.6 clearances and 2.7 tackles per game.
Macrae plays outside, winning 64.7% of his possessions as uncontested, but was often let down by his poor kicking, with a kicking efficiency of 56%, with a kick to handball ratio of 0.8. Macrae had a bit of a purple patch last year between Rd 8-17, where he averaged 22.8 possessions and 77.5 Supercoach points. His VFL form was also encouraging, averaging 29 possessions and winning 45% of his possessions as contested.
It’s unrealistic to expect Macrae to put up those sorts of NAB stats in the real games, and we must consider the fact that Griffen didn’t play the pre-season games also. Does he have the ability to put up stats like he did in that Rd 8-17 patch over the entire season? I think absolutely he does, and with Griffen and Liberatore winning so much of the clearance and contested ball, there’s plenty of opportunity for him to continue receiving a ton of outside ball. It’s been reported that Macrae has put on 10KG of weight and grown another 3cm’s in the off-season, he may be a slight risk, but it certainly sounds like he has done everything right in the off-season to have a breakout year.
2014 SC Projection: 84-90
2012 SC Average: 113.2
2013 SC Average: 103.8
Starting Price: 560.1K
For the first time since 2006 injuries struck Matty Boyd, with calf issues forcing him to miss 9 games in 2013. Still, when Boyd was on the field, he produced his usual quality football, with averages of 29.4 possessions, 4.7 marks, 4.4 Inside 50’s, 5.5 clearances, and 3.9 tackles, stats that had him ranked 5th in Possessions per game, 20th in Kicks per game, 7th in Handballs per game, 15th in Contested Possessions per game, 8th in Uncontested Possessions per game, 11th in Effective Possessions per game,. 18th in Inside 50’s per game, 15th in Clearances per game and 5th in the dreaded Clangers per game.
Boyd was ranked “elite” in possessions, contested possessions, and clearances, but ranked “below average” for kicking efficiency and scoreboard impact by Champion Data, with his disposal efficiency (67.5%) being the lowest of the top 10 ball winners at the Bulldogs.
At this stage I’d likely be skipping Boyd, he’s 31 years of age and we may be reaching the point where he begins a bit of a downward trend on his Supercoach scores and perhaps have injuries impact his season again. He did put up a big 150 in the Bulldogs first NAB Challenge game, showing he’s still got the stuff to produce on the field, but we’ve got two other great options at the Bulldogs in Griffen and Liberatore, and we’ll still need to pay a heft chunk of change if we wanted to buy Boyd, money that would be better invested elsewhere.
2014 SC Projection: 100-106
2012 SC Average: 78.5
2013 SC Average: 72.4
Starting Price: 390.4K
I was pretty high on Stewart Crameri after his off-season trade to the Bulldogs and talk of him spending time in the midfield. I’ve already done a player piece on Crameri, which you can read here.
Crameri was the #1 goal kicker for Essendon last year, while also leading the Bombers for scoreboard impact as well. For the year he averaged 13.0 possessions, 4.4 marks, 2.8 Inside 50’s, 2.0 tackles and kicked 30.13. He was ranked as “elite” in winning groundball gets inside 50 by Champion Data.
Now as we said earlier, the talk about Crameri in the off-season was him getting some burn in the midfield during 2014. It certainly doesn’t look like that’ll be happening if his NAB Challenge form is anything to go by, with Crameri scoring 38 and 77 in his two pre-season games so far. He played 78% and 80% in those two games, so it certainly wasn’t a case of poor scores due to only playing half or less of a game like some players had. Crameri has fallen down my list after seeing him in preseason action and I don’t think I’ll be considering him next year. He’s looking likely to repeat the scores he had for the Bombers at this stage, so while providing a ton of worth to the Bulldogs as a forward target for them, there won’t be a ton of worth to us in the Supercoach realm.
2014 SC Projection: 73-79
2012 SC Average: NA
2013 SC Average: 91.2
Starting Price: 492.1K
Goodes was an absolute godsend to us in Supercoach last year, his play was so impressive it makes you wonder what the heck recruiters were doing letting him sit in the VFL for so long. In his first season of AFL football he averaged 20.8 possessions, 5.1 marks, 4.2 rebound 50’s, 2.1 intercept marks, 1.4 spoils and 2.6 tackles and ranked 12th in the AFL for rebound 50’s per game.
Goodes was ranked as “elite” for intercept marks and intercept possessions by Champion Data and was ranked 1st at the Bulldogs for points generated from intercept possessions. The biggest reason we’ll skip Goodes is his starting price. He began 2013 at the rookie price of 128K, now in 2014 you’ll have to pay almost x4 as much cash upfront to get him in your squad. There is a slight chance that he won’t be able to run as free as he did this season and for his price you’ve got a ton of other options available like Birchall, Malceski, Hurn, Enright, Taylor or McKenzie for example
I don’t think Goodes will fall off the earth or anything, but if I were picking, I’d rather go with someone like the ultra consistent Corey Enright for only 14K more. His pre-season form wasn’t all that flash, with only an average of 54.5 in his two pre-season games. He’s not a rookie priced player anymore, so I think we’ll need to look elsewhere.
2014 SC Projection: 80-86
2012 SC Average: 84.7
2013 SC Average: 99.1
Starting Price: 534.3K
Bob Murphy had a career year at 30 years of age, averaging almost 100 Supercoach points with averages of 22.0 possessions, 4.6 marks, 3.4 rebound 50’s, 1.4 spoils and 2.3 tackles, while ranking 13th in Kicks per game.
Murphy had the 7th best kicking efficiency (84.1%) in the AFL, and was equal 4th for uncontested possessions for any player listed as a “general defender” by Champion Data. The biggest issue so far for Murphy was an elbow injury he suffered during the pre-season training, an injury that originally was supposed to put him out for quite a while. He’s managed to avoid having surgery however, and the Bulldogs expect him to be back to training within 2-3 weeks.
Even with that, I’ll still be avoiding Murphy in 2014. I think I’d avoid him even if he’d been fully healthy going into the start of the 2014 season. I don’t like picking guys who’ve had career years at 30+ years of age and I think he may be hard pressed to repeat that performance again. Murphy will be the 5th most expensive defensive player, so if you picked him he’d likely be your D2-3 pick, which doesn’t sound appealing to me at all.
2014 SC Projection: 88-94
2012 SC Average: 75.7
2013 SC Average: 98.5
Starting Price: 531.4K
Coondog was washed up they said! Well, Adam Cooney proved the doubters wrong, pulling off one of his best season since his Brownlow Medal win in 2008. For the year he averaged 25.5 possessions, 4.3 marks, 2.5 Inside 50’s, 2.3 tackles and kicked 19.11 while ranking 9th in Uncontested Possessions per game and 18th in Effective Possessions per game.
Cooney played more outside than in previous years due to the emergence of Griffen and Liberatore as elite clearance players, his uncontested possession rate rising up to 67.1%, the highest amount of his career. Cooney ranked 4th at the Bulldogs for metres gained and had the 3rd best possession retention rate. Cooney won more of his ball down back than usual, 20% of his disposals coming in the defensive 50 (surprising he didn’t get DEF eligibility because of this, would have been nice!).
Cooney’s best years are probably behind him, he’s only ever had 1 year above a 100 average, in 2008 where he averaged 106.9 and won the Brownlow. His other 8 years have all been below 100. If Cooney had of grabbed defensive eligibility I’d probably lock him into my back 6 as I do think he has the chance to average in the triple digits again, but as a midfielder I think I’ll be looking elsewhere as I can’t see him jumping up to a keeper status for the year.
2014 SC Projection: 96-102
Quick list of lower ranked players to keep your eyes on during pre-season
Mitch Honeychurch – MID/FWD – 117.3K
Matt Fuller – DEF – 117.3K
Daniel Pearce – DEF – 123.9K
And that’s how the Barron is seeing the Bullies in 2014. As usual, any questions or comments? Whack ‘em in the comments below, or hit me up on the Twitter @BarronVonCrow
Well, we’ve finally reached the end of our Supercoach Scouting Reports for 2014, but don’t’ worry, I’ll still be around to help out the community during the season. Good luck to all in your Supercoach seasons, hope you all have a ripper of a year!