The Injury Report
By Nick Carabine
G’day Community! I am excited to be writing for you beautiful people for the first time. Lek has given me the job of breaking down last season’s injured footballers, and seeing if they will be good options in SuperCoach in 2020. Please don’t be too mean, I am as fragile as Docherty’s knees!
The main player in terms of Supercoach is Tom Doedee ($273,700), who ruptured his ACL in round 1 versus Hawthorn last year. Tom had a breakout campaign in 2018, averaging 82.2 and playing a role in many SC sides as a cash cow. Priced at $273,700, Doedee is racing the clock to be fit for round 1, however if he can get back to his 2018 form and average 82.2, his price tag will more than certainly be justified.
Doedee’s return also begs the question of how he impact the other Crows defenders? Tom is renowned for his intercept marking abilities, taking 111 marks in 20 games in 2018. Will this return affect popular SC players like Rory Laird. However, with Alex Keath going, it may be a non–issue.
They didn’t have any notable long term injuries on their list last year. However, it is worth mentioning 4-time premiership Hawk, Grant Birchall ($292,700). After 248 games in the brown and gold, Birchall has followed good mate Luke Hodge’s trend, and headed north to play under Chris Fagan. Birchall was long a mainstay in the Hawks defence, however only managed 8 games since 2017, meaning that he played a whopping 240 games in 11 seasons. Although Birchall has barely played in the past three years, if he can find some fitness, he will have no issue finding the Sherrin. Birchall’s has averaged 94.7 way back in 2012, and averaged in the 80’s from 2014 to 2016. If he can find this form again, his price tag is a bargain.
Another handy addition to the Lions’ defensive stocks is Callum Ah Chee ($311,700). Yet another high draft pick that has left the Gold Coast Suns, and he could be one they rue. Ah Chee averaged 14 disposals in the under – 18 championships, is renowned for his blistering pace, aerial presence and ability to kick on both sides. Ah Chee only played 1 game last year, scoring 82.
The Blues are set to regain a plethora of talented defenders, helping them form quite a formidable back 6. Skipper Sam Docherty ($436,100) is on top of every Supercoach’s watch list for the Marsh Series. Before suffering dual ACL setbacks, Docherty was the AFL’s premier Supercoach defender, averaging 114.7 in 2017 and 108.7 in 2016. If he can regain an average of around 100, he will be a bargain at this price. However, caution is recommended, as it may take the ‘Doc’ some time to regain his confidence playing again. Although not quite on the same level in terms of Supercoach averages, Matt Suckling has had a similar past with ACL injures, and provides a handy comparison to Docherty. Suckling did his ACL in 2013 whilst he was still playing for Hawthorn, and since crossing to the Dogs, has had further issues with his knees and Achilles. Since crossing to the Dogs in 2016, Suckling has played 15, 22, 11 and 18 games – providing a real mixed bag of consistency. His Supercoach numbers were just as inconsistent, with a low average of 76 from 15 games in 2016, and a high of 91.5 in 11 games in 2018.
Other defenders of note for the Baggers include Liam Jones, Caleb Marchbank and of most interest in Supercoach 2020, Tom Williamson (146,300). After struggling with injuries since arriving at IKON park, by all reports, Williamson is flying, and was an absolute standout in their practice match versus the Pies. Given the unknown nature of rookies in Supercoach this year, although he carries an inflated rookie price tag, Williamson could be one to watch.
The Pies present some more POD options in Supercoach this year, and although some naughty behaviour saw two young Pies miss a lengthy amount of football in 2019, Supercoaches could be set to reap the rewards for their mistakes in season 2020. Jaidyn Stephenson (436,200) was last year banned for 10 matches due to a highly-publicised gambling infringement. However, the popular cash cow from 2018, average 80.3 from 12 games in 2019, and the raw talent he oozes is surely set to see him net more midfield minutes, which should increase his points. Given that he is in debt to the club for his gambling incident last year, Stephenson could be one to watch in 2020.
Brayden Sier (242,700) is set to ‘Phil Inn’ a much-needed contested bull role in the midfield for the Pies in 2020. At this price, and with a solid role on the cards for him, Sier presents a very interesting case. Sier averaged 80.1 points from 8 games in 2018, and was a member of their losing Grand Final side. He is a player that would complement the star-studded Collingwood midfield group, and his teasing price could haunt Supercoaches in the year of 2020. He is certainly one to throw on the watch list for the 2020 Marsh series.
Darcy Cameron (123,900) presents an interesting case in the Collingwood line up for Season 2020. After being recruited from the Swans, after only managing one game, will Cameron be a part of Nathan Buckley’s game plan in 2020? Or is he simply insurance, just like Brayden Preuss at the Dees. Mason Cox coming back from an eye injury is a concern for Cameron’s job security, as both players play similar roles. Cameron is a certainly listed on most coaches watch list in the pre-season, because if he plays he could generate some handy cash (similar to ROB last year), or he could just be a loop-hole option, because let’s face it, does Brodie Grundy really need an understudy?
Devon Smith (335,800) is one of the more highly publicised players coming back from injury in season 2020. After being the dominant Supercoach forward in season 2018, averaging 97.9, Smith let coaches down in season 2019, only managing 7 games for an average of 68.7. However, as so often is the case in Supercoach, a players’ unfortunate injury is often a coach’s gain. Smith is at a seriously discounted price, and it is no surprise that he currently features in 48% of supercoach teams. Something that makes Smith even more appealing, is the fact that Essendon have a ridiculous amount of pre-season injuries, meaning he should return to the tackling midfield role that saw him dominate the 2018 season. Some buyer caution is noted here, as Smith last year had surgery on his PCL and trochlear (which sits underneath the knee cap). Essendon opted to let Smith go under the knife during the season last year, in order for him to be primed for this year and beyond. However, a PCL injury in the AFL has the highest recurrence rate, with half the players who suffered a PCL injury setback in 2017, relapsing later that year. Players included Jack Riewoldt, Tom Lynch, Shane Mumford, Daniel Wells and Grant Birchall. Certainly, of that list, once upon a time supercoach high flyers Daniel Wells and Grant Birchall were never the same footballers post their PCL injuries. From all reports, Smith is firing, and at his price, is almost too good to ignore. Right ?
Sam Draper (123,900) certainly caused a stir when the Saints tried to poach the injured ruckman. However, the Dons were very keen to keep him, as the 21-year old seems like he could be a star of the future. After tearing his ACL in May 2019, Draper may not feature early, but he is third in line in the Essendon ruck stocks, and could play at some stage during season 2020. After all, who doesn’t love a mid-year downgrade target?
Luke Ryan (520,400) is certainly tempting some coaches for season 2020. After only managing 18 games last year, he averaged 95.8, which is very, very handy. However, Ryan has never managed to string together a full season, only playing 11 games in 2017, and 20 games in 2018. Last year, Ryan missed with hamstring injuries, however if he can manage to play for most of the season, his intercept game has all the ingredients to make him a top 6 A.
Luke Valente (123,900) is yet another young talented midfielder on the Dockers’ list. Yet to make his senior debut, Valente was a highly talented junior, and was drafted at pick 32 in the 20018 draft. Valente is certainly a promising rookie, and isn’t generating as much attention as other players in his price bracket for season 2020. Valente was held back by a groin injury in season 2019 (which was sustained prior to his arrival at the Dockers). Groin injuries are certainly familiar to young midfielders in the AFL, other case studies include Chris Judd and Luke Ball. However, Valente played 7 league games in the WAFL last year, averaging 14 disposals and a whopping 5.6 tackles.
Sam Sturt (123,900) is another young Fremantle player who could push for senior selection in 2020. Being a forward, he presents value if he can gain selection. Sturt struggled with concussion issues in season 2019, and only managed 12 games in the WAFL. Sturt was pick 17 in the 2018 draft, and was also a standout junior.
Jack Steven (361,700) is another tempting mid-priced forward. His struggles off the field have been very well publicised, however if he can manage to get everything back on track, he will be one of the steals of the 2020 season. Last year, Steven averaged 74 points from 7 games, which is far from setting the world on fire, but it is his previous work that have coaches interested. In 2019, he averaged 94.6 from 22 games, and in 2017 he averaged 90.7 from 20 games. However, his ceiling is even more impressive, averaging 103 from 22 games in 2016 and 104.3 from 22 games in 2015. His best ever year came in 2013, where he averaged a whopping 110 points from 22 games. It’s hard to compare Steven with other players, but if he can find a way to get back to his average in the 90s, he will be an absolute bargain at that price, but you’ve been warned.
Nakia Cockatoo (148,200) has been a tease for Geelong fan for many years. The NT Thunder product was taken at pick 10 in the 2014 draft, and has shown glimpses of promise, but is yet to find any form of consistency. His Supercoach numbers are largely sub-par, with a career high average of 63.2 coming in 2016 (10 games). However, a talented player who has been on an AFL for 6 years at a slightly inflated rookie price could be a gamble worth taking and as a result, he’s currently in 26% of teams. Is this all too good to be true ? Cockatoo has already suffered a hamstring set-back in Geelong’s pre-season, is this a warning sign, or will it make him a POD for season 2020.
Will Brodie (435,800) is this finally the year? The highly-touted Scotch College product, was taken at pick 9 in the 2016 draft. Last year, Brodie averaged 80.2 from 8 games, whereas he only averaged 68.1 from the same games the year before. Brodie has struggled for opportunity, and has also had his injury troubles, most notably a hamstring injury last year. If Brodie reaches his potential, he threatens to take precious midfield minutes off young cash cows such as Anderson, Rowell and Flanders (maybe even Greenwood). However, Brodie presents a mid-priced POD proposition in the midfield.
Izak Rankine (123,900) is another popular pre-season rookie selection. After being taken pick 3 in the highly touted 2018 draft, Rankine failed to play a game in the 2019 season due to a horrendous run of hamstring injuries. However, champion data rated Rankine as the best player available in his draft year. During the national carnival, he averaged 16 disposals and lead all comers for goals, assists and score involvements. Rankine was ranked ahead of Walsh, Bailey Smith, Connor Rozee and Tarryn Thomas, all who had handy supercoach debut years. So if champion data is anything to go by, and Rankine can be fit for round 1, why wouldn’t you start with him.
The Giants were cruelled by injury throughout the 2019 season. But as they have such a highly talented list, the big big sound still managed to march into the Grand Final, and it’s amazing they did so without some of their very best players.
Stephen Coniglio (549,500) was believed to be leaving GWS at the end of 2019, but shocked insiders by signing a monster long term deal. Coniglio was having a bumper 2019 campaign, averaging 101.2 (which included a 0 against Richmond in round 17), producing huge scores of 154, 207 and 158. However, ‘Cogs’ suffered an ultimately season ending knee injury, which forced him to go under the knife. Although Stephen avoided damage to his ACL, although he sustained a cartilage tear to his left knee. Cogs was named captain of the Giants in the off-season, and if he can get back to full fitness, he will be a tremendous addition to the Giants line-up. However, Cogs is set for a slight role change in 2020, with Leon Cameron stating that, “Coniglio’s more your 50-50 or 60-40 (midfield-forward) because when he plays forward, we love what we see with him”. This tactic may be so the Giants can fit in their abundance of on-ballers, so there is buyer caution. Maybe Cogs will earn forward eligibility for season 2021?
Callan Ward (511,400) only posted 4 supercoach points last year, after suffering a season ending ACL injury against Geelong in round 4. Ward was once a supercoach high-flyer, and since losing the captaincy over the off-season, he could present a handy mid-season downgrade option. However, it will all depend on his recovery from his ACL injury (much like Sam Docherty). Ward averaged 104.6 in 2018, 105.6 in 2016, 106.4 in 2015 and 112.8 in 2014. The numbers are there, but will Ward’s knee be up to it?
The Hawks narrowly missed out on a finals berth last year, however that could be set to change in season 2020, with a sizeable brigade of reinforcements returning from injury.
Tom Mitchell (630,900) was arguably the biggest shock of the 2019 pre-season. The star Hawk is on record saying he has had nightmares following his horrific broken leg injury, which saw him miss all of the 2019 season. Titch snapped the tibia and fibula in his left leg, in a gruesome and unfortunate training accident. Mitchell suffered similar injuries to Brisbane Lions hero, Michael Voss, and once upon a time SuperCoach stud, Michael Barlow. Michael Voss suffered his leg injury in 1998 against the Dockers, and it also took him a full year before he was fit and training again. However, Voss would return and have a stellar career (which included 3 premierships). In 1999, he played 21 games and had 393 disposals (which was well below his usual output). However, in the years after, he returned 550 in 2000, and 603 in 2001. Michael Barlow broke his leg in round 14 2010, in a horrific incident against the Power. Barlow didn’t return until round 13 2011, and averaged 83.7 from 9 games in that season. Barlow would soon return to playing most games in the season, averaging 95.2 in 2012, 110 in 2013 and a 111.7 in 2014 (despite only playing 17 games).
Tom Mitchell certainly provides a tempting case for coaches in 2020. He has reintegrated nicely during the 2020 pre-season, having a decent outing in the Hawthorn intra-club, and in the first Marsh series match, he collected a team high 21 disposals despite having limited game time. Having averaged 129.1 in 2018 and 118.9 in 2017, the temptation is certainly there. However, Voss and Barlow took a while to regain their best form, so will Tommy follow suit? Or will he return to his Brownlow medal best.
Jon Patton (337,000) has had a pre-season full of promise, and is a tempting POD option for coaches in 2020. The former number 1 draft pick has had a horrendous run with injuries, having 3 ACL reconstructions. However, the Hawks are bullish on his progress, and Patton is leaving no stone un-turned as he desperately endeavours to return to the top level (this includes turning vegan). Patton played 89 games for the Giants, boasting a best ever average of 80.6 from 19 games in 2017.
Chad Wingard (412,300) is also a tempting prospect for coaches, and it’s not hard to see why. The Chad averaged 98.6 in 2013, 97.8 in 2015 and 93 in 2017. He’s yet to fully flourish in the brown and gold, however after finally stringing together a full pre-season, this year could be his year (and it may be due to a role change). Wingard attended 20 centre bounces against the Saints in their Marsh match, and if this continues, he is a very tempting proposition.
Harry Jones (123,900) could be set to play some games in the Hawks midfield this year. After having a booming 2019 pre-season, and being close to senior selection, his year sadly ended in round 15 after sustaining a knee injury in the VFL in round 15.
Steven May (384,200) is an interesting proposition. A clearly talented footballer, who is yet to fire for the Dees. However, May has never played 22 games in a season, and only presents a best season of 86.8. However, if he finds some consistency in his body, the addition of Jake Lever could make his supercoach numbers rise.
Tom McDonald (387,000) was a genuine surprise packet of the 2018 season, where he averaged 97.6 from 17 games after being swung forward for the Dees. Last year, McDonald was on 139 points before he tore his meniscus. Another forward who did this was Jarryd Roughead in 2009, which also ended his season. Roughy returned to average 77.7 in 2010, and 101.5 in 2011 (before he ruptured his Achilles that year). Make of this what you will.
Harley Bennell (123,900) has been thrown a third chance at AFL, and maybe this will be the year that the penny drops. Bennell was once a SuperCoach high flyer, and was considered by some to be more damaging than Gary Ablett when the pair formed a formidable midfield partnership at the Suns. Bennell has only played 22 games in a season once, back in 2012 where he averaged 97.5. His best season was 2015, whereas he averaged 101.7, however he only played 15 games. Could this last chance, and reunion with close friend Steven May be the time that Bennell finally gets it together? If so, his price-tag could be a genuine bargain for coaches this year. A good mid-year down grade option?
Ben Jacobs isn’t in this article for his points output, but for the affect that he may have on opposition midfielders. Jacobs is widely regarded as one of the best taggers in the game, however he hasn’t been sited at the top level since 2018. Jacobs has been battling with career threatening concussion issues, however if he can return to the field, expect to see Matt De Boer like articles written about Jacobs. North Melbourne stated in December that Jacobs has been on a modified schedule, he has been improving but not yet to the level where he can train consistently. It is hoped he will be back playing in 2020.
Jack Watts (307,900) sustained a nasty leg injury (dislocated ankle) against Carlton in March last year, which ended his season. However, Watts has had a superb pre-season, and returned early with the first to fourth year players. Watts has never been a prolific supercoach scorer, but he looks set to play all over the ground for the power this year. He could be a decent POD option, as his superb kicking efficiency could be useful if he manages to get his hands on the ball.
Brad Ebert (415,200) only managed 11 games last year, after he suffered a bout of concussion issues, and then knee issues. Ebert is only listed as a forward this year, however if he can manage to attract some midfield minutes, he could return to his averages in the 90/100s (100.7 in 2017, 97 in 2015 and 100 in 2012). It’s concerning that he played as a “key” forward in the first Marsh game, but keep an eye on him. Concussion and PCL injuries are hard to overcome, but if Ebert can, he presents a case for a spot in your forward line.
Jack Higgins (358,800) missed a large chunk of the 2019 season due to a scary chain of issues with his brain (brain bleeding). However, Higgins averaged 72.3 in 2018 from 18 games and 66.1 from 13 games last year, and these numbers could grow as he continues to fly within the Richmond system. Higgins returning to the field will be one of the feel good stories of the season, regardless of his output.
Sydney Stack (435,100) was a revelation for the Tigers last year, and was one of the hard luck stories of their premiership success. Stack averaged 80.1 from 17 outings, and made the champion data ‘elite’ player team, for 2019. Stack sustained a calf injury at tigers training in August, and struggled to find continuity with his form as a result. Stack is a POD option in defence this year, but does it warrant the price tag? Champion data would suggest so.
Dylan Roberton (260,400) has missed most of the last two seasons due to an ongoing heart condition. Roberton famously collapsed against the Cats in 2018, and more recently in a pre-season game in 2019, meaning he has been absent. However, Roberton is by all reports flying and as a result of this, he features in 25.3% of sides. Much like Higgins, it will be a celebration if Roberton can return to the field in season 2020.
Jack Bytel (123,900) was pick 41 in the 2018 draft, however failed to play much football last year due to back injuries that he had before he was drafted (bulging disk). Tim Watson is a massive fan of Bytel, stating that he was an absolute steal at pick 41 in his draft year. Watson stated that Bytel would have been a first-round pick if it wasn’t for his back injury, and compared Jack to a cross between Luke Power and Nick Dal Santo. These are huge comparisons, meaning that Bytel could be a handy bench selection.
Max King (123,900) has had huge wraps on him ever since he was drafted to St Kilda. It was well documented that he would be missing most of his first year in the AFL system, due to a knee injury he had when he was picked up. King also injured his knee in a VFL clash last year, meaning he wouldn’t debut at all. However, King has been a popular pre-season selection, currently in 48.5% of sides. King won’t post huge numbers, and has a history of knee injuries.
Lance Franklin (394,200) is one of the best players we’ve ever seen, but sadly, his last two years have been ruined with injury. Franklin was once a SuperCoach must-have, boasting an average of 110.8 in 2011 and 115.5 in 2012. Franklin has only played 22 games twice, once in 2008 and the second in 2017. In the past two years, he has posted 28 games, averaging 100.1 in 2018 and 72.6 in 2019. Buddy has had set-backs this pre-season, however if he can manage to get his body right, and honour that monster 9-year contract, could he be a handy forward line option for 2020? Franklin sustained a knee injury this pre-season, in what is yet another set-back for the big bud. Risky / desperate mid-year option, anyone?
Sam Naismith (251,500) R3 option? Maybe. Expensive? Yes. Worth it if the risk pays off? Yes. Naismith hasn’t played football since 2017, where he averaged 66.2 from 13 games. An ACL rupture and a long list of injuries cruelled Naismith of any football in the 2018/19 seasons. The Swans are confident that Naismith will play football this year, so, is he worth the risk?
All football fans will be hoping that Nic Naitanui (457,800) can stay out on the park this year. Natinui is known for his ability to collect a huge amount of points per minute, however this has always been challenged by his managed time on ground. Natinui has played on managed time ever since he did his ACL against the Pies in 2018, and last year faced a race against the clock top play finals after he suffered an ankle injury. However, if Nic Nat can stay out on the park, could be provide a handy F2 option at a huge discount? How brave are you?
Jarrod Brander (133,000) is an incredibly exciting prospect for the Eagles. After being selected at pick 13 in the 2017 draft, Brander has so far only managed 3 games, but industry sources believe this is finally his year. Brander last year suffered a season ending hamstring injury, and the Eagles used this opportunity to get him ready for a new role for season 2020. Brander played on the wing in the Eagles’ intra club match, playing as a big bodied midfielder. Skipper Luke Shuey endorsed the youngster to have a big year through the middle, even though he was drafted as a forward.
Tom Liberatore (447,500) managed 15 games last year, for an average of 82.4. Libba had a prolific start to the year, posting 128, 150 and 106 in consecutive rounds. However, the famous bulldog underwent arthroscopic surgery for a knee injury he sustained in round in June and wasn’t sited since. How does Liberatore fit into the Dog’s set up for season 2020? The side is flush with midfield talent (Bont, Dunkley, Smith, Wallis and Lipinski), however if he gets time in the middle, he is bound to generate points.
Caleb Daniel (537,900) had a breakout year (in supercoach terms) in season 2019. The helmeted warrior averaged 99.1 in 17 matches, which was largely due to a switch to defence. Daniel only managed the 17 games due to a hamstring injury which reoccurred just as he was about to return. However, with Matt Suckling’s move up the ground, Daniel is set to be one of the top defenders for the season.
Mitch Wallis (454,500) has had an injury ravaged career. He suffered a horrific leg injury (much similar to Tom Mitchell, in 2016), and last year only managed 10 games at AFL level (averaging 83.7). Wallis suffered a bone stress injury in his ankle, which meant he was out for a much longer than expected period. Wallis averaged 91.9 in 2018 and 98.5 in 2015, and his DPP could prove to be handy if he secures midfield minutes (which will be tough). Pod F3, anyone?
Plenty of injured players potentially up for big roles at their respective clubs this year! It goes without saying that there is “buyer beware” attached to all of their names, but who is worth taking the risk on, community?
– Nick Carabine