2022 Pocket Profile: Essendon Bombers

Published by Patch on

Community – footy is back, and fantasy with it. The AFLW season opener has the blood once again pumping, but gosh I miss seeing the red and black running around. 

So, I’m looking longingly ahead, to 2023 when the Dons suit up in the AFLW and to the AFLM 2022 season where Zach Merrett and the gang hit the ground running and finally. win. a. final. I will not be taking questions on the matter, nor responding to cheap shots in the comments. 

LOCK

Jordan Ridley ($537,100 DEF)

The Riddler had an injury… riddled (ay? Ayyyy?) 2021 thanks to a few concussions knocking his price and scoring around, while injuries across the Essendon backline and forward line meant he often had to play the third tall, in a lockdown role. 

That doesn’t suit our Jordan Ridley, but fortunately the acquisition of Jake Kelly ($372,900 DEF) means it’s likely either he or Aaron Francis ($306,800 DEF) will play as that third tall, leaving Ridley free to gallop across the defensive 50 with gay abandon, plucking intercept marks like daisies and gathering points as if they were Easter eggs. The role is there, and if he does well in the preseason games he’ll be hard to dislodge from my starting side.

BREAKOUT

Sammy Draper ($396,400 RUC)

The Mullet is primed. He’s set. He’s ready. Here he GOES! Sort of. Big Sammy Drapes is set to boost his average by 20 to 25 points, and this is purely going off vibe. With another preseason under his belt, more muscle and strength on his girthy frame and some more fitness, natural progression will begin to kick in this season. I feel it in my bones. I think it leads to more tackles and a slight bump in contested marking numbers, but crucially lets him win more hitouts, which is where a lot of his points come from.

That said, Draper averaged 72 last season, although that included an injury-affected 23. A 20-point boost takes that to 92. He’s still giving away too many free kicks and kicking really, really badly, so I don’t see him cracking the 100-point average barrier. While he’ll do it, are you picking a 400k ruckman who’ll average 90 and be inconsistent while doing it? No sir.

SMOKEY

Dyson Heppell ($541,000 DEF)

I’ll admit this isn’t the strongest of smokeys, but after I ruled out the entirety of the midfield and Kyle Langford ($472,300 MID) lost FWD status there’s not a lot else on offer to consider as a smokey. That said, Heppell averaged 99 last season when he was mid only, yet playing in the Bombers’ backline. Traditionally more suited to the AFL Fantasy format, but Heppell turned into a – dare I say it – Corey Enright player in 2021. His lowest score was just 80, with a top score of 134. He had six scores in the 80s as well as five scores between 100 and 110. His injury history is a knock, and at $540,000-odd you are paying full price. Do I advocate picking him? Not at this stage. Will I be keeping a sneaky eye on him to see if I can pick him up under 500k? You betcha. 

ROOKIE(S)

Kaine Baldwin ($123,900 FWD) & Garrett McDonough ($117,300 DEF)

It’s Kaine Baldwin SZN everyone. It’s happening. Billeted as a top five draft pick two years out from his draft, but two knees in two seasons wiped him out. Taken as a low-risk, high reward punt by the Bombers and now they, and we, are about to be rewarded. Well, maybe. Baldwin’s been turning heads at preseason training, and not just for his Ollie Wines-like quads, but if he lines up in round one for the AFL side remains to be seen. I wouldn’t be shocked if they give him six weeks in the VFL before calling him up, but keep your eyes out on the Jack Gunston-style bullocking forward. I suspect it’ll either be him or Alec Waterman ($298,100 FWD) lining up as the third tall (well, tall-ish) target behind Peter Wright ($447,700 RUC/FWD) and Harry Jones ($264,000 FWD)

One for round one though, is someone I nearly popped in the smokey category in Garrett McDonough. As has been said around the traps, you don’t draft a 25-year-old to develop them in the VFL, and McDonough will aim to bring one of the best names in the VFL to AFL level early on. With a lovely long kick, good skills and a mature body, he could be lining up on a half-back flank alongside Mason Redman ($410,800 DEF) and Nick Hind ($506,200 DEF) or on a wing opposite Nik Cox ($308,900 MID)

Ben Hobbs ($153,300 MID) has also been touted as a strong chance to break in early, so keep an eye on him, and Nick Bryan ($166,600 RUC) in the ruck is just 166k. If Draper or Two Metre Peter are sidelined, I think Bryan will be first cab off the rank to slot into the side.

AVOID

The entire midfield

I never thought in a million years I’d be advocating not selecting my dearly beloved Zachary Merrett ($625,700 MID), but over the last two years all of our souls have collectively been crushed by some stupid virus and this is the result. Don’t start Merrett in Supercoach in 2022. Or, for that matter, Darcy Parish ($621,300 MID). Or Andy McGrath ($464,600 MID), Dylan Shiel ($361,100 DEF), Jye Caldwell ($266,700 MID) or Jake Stringer ($506,800 MID/FWD)

I won’t be touching that red and black midfield until I see empirical evidence the player I want is guaranteed game time, and this early into the preseason not one of them is guaranteed diddly squat. I suspect Merrett’s output will be similar to what it has been of the past few years with dips from a few others, so I may well start him, preseason games pending, but the smart play is to sit and wait and spend your cash elsewhere. Rookie Ben Hobbs may be the only exception. 

Well, there we go. For a side I said didn’t have a lot of relevance, I sure have written a lot of words. I’ve also just remembered I’ve officially recommended people avoid Zach Merrett for their opening teams and need to go have a lie down in a dark room. Goodness me. Let me know what you think, community!


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demonsdelight

would have been easier to just use KEV’s TIGER report with your tag Irrelevant with the exception of ridley .As with the Tiges the Rookies are the key MCDONAGH and Hobbs are huge chances Merrett is so annoying like Dusty nearly an uber but not quite NDD

derek

agree, Merrett has been in my team more than not over the last 4 years, been quite frustrating. has games where he just doesn’t get in the guts. he will be around the top 10 mids again, but i’d prefer Mills or neale at M5

dontblushbaby

A fair report, good work, Hobbs is the only one I have currently somewhere

Russty

Good to see you writing words again Patchy, didn’t see much of you last year, hope you’ll be around a bit more this year and that your bombadiers do well 🙂

JohnDJ59.Black Flag

I like Ridley, he will be my D3 or D4, depending on structure. I was looking at Merrett as my M5, but that will be going to either Petracca or Neale. McDonagh and Baldwin are currently on my bench in the back and fwd lines.

Last edited 3 months ago by JohnDJ59
Foodie

Ridley the only SC relevant player at this club all are the others are like big boobs in a nightclub. They look great at a glance but when you unwrap them you find out that it’s just fat or silicon