Welcome to another edition of SCHQ’s 40 in 40!
There’s just 35 days to go until the 2019 season kicks off, so let’s take a look at the best premium defence options this season.
With the AFL’s new rule changes, our defences are a little bit tough to get a grasp on.
Do we pick less premiums due to the uncertainty around the new rule changes or do we look to exploit the new scoring system and load up? Hopefully this article helps with your planning a little bit!
Jake Lloyd ($608,200)
He’s the most expensive priced defender in the game, but it’s for good reason.
I selected Lloyd as a breakout POD in defence at the beginning of last year and it was probably the best decision of my season, as he soared to an average of 112.
Whilst many coaches may prefer to load up with the big guns in the middle, there is huge upside to Lloyd who scored the 7th most points in the competition last year.
In just his fifth season, Lloyd boosted his average by almost 25 points, a massive difference to put him in the ‘ultra-premo’ bracket. Lloyd could take the next step again though, with the new rule changes potentially working in his favour.
He took the most kick-ins of any player in 2018 (151) and of those he kicked-in to self just 29.1% of the time, meaning that with the new rules, he could receive a massive boost when he suddenly starts scoring points for the other 71.9% of his kick-ins.
It’s also worth noting that from round eight onwards last season, Lloyd’s lowest score was 90 and he averaged a remarkable 122.5 points.
Does this mean he could be a 120+ player through the whole year? It’s a very real possibility.
Rory Laird ($587,600)
Rory Laird has been one of the best choices in defence for a while now and I expect this trend to continue.
His the ability to rack up sheer numbers (he averaged 32 disposals, equal 3rd in competition), holds him in good stead as this generally translates to a decent SuperCoach output.
Laird dropped below just 84 once last season in a sub-par year for the Adelaide Crows, averaging 108.2, second to only Lloyd.
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Many pundits are predicting a rise up the ladder in 2019 for Adelaide and this could mean an even better year for Laird in 2019.
But one word of caution. Brodie Smith should be fully fit come Round 1 after a knee reco and with the highly publicised rise of Wayne Milera in the backline, will his role change?
It is likely that Smith and Milera may take points off him, but if anyone can be relied upon to score well for your side, its Mr Consistent Rory Laird! I’ll be picking him this year.
James Sicily ($570,400)
Ok, bear with me here.
As a mad Hawks supporter, I may be more inclined to select Sis than other coaches but I believe there is some legitimate reasoning to back this up.
Yes, Sicily missed games last year through suspension, but in doing so he announced himself as one of the most promising young players in the competition.
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A move to defence saw his intercept marking becoming a trademark of his game, a trait that SuperCoach loves to reward.
With the Hawks still yet to announce their captain for 2019 after Jarryd Roughead stood down last year, some believe Sicily is a left-field candidate to take over the reins. Whilst I doubt this will happen, the fact that he is a name being thrown around internally suggests that he has moved past the point of silly, pointless suspensions and is ready to be a true leader at the club.
Prior to last year, Sicily had been a fringe player who was never really SC relevant but boy has that changed. An average of 105.1 was the third highest of all defenders last season but his ability to go big is just as appealing.
In 14 games, Sis hit the ton in eight of them, going on to reach 110 in all of those games capped off by a massive 145 against the Bombers in Round 7. Word out of the Hawks is that he’s been training the house down and is ready to elevate himself as one of the best defenders in the game in 2019. Don’t miss out!
Lachie Whitfield ($542,100)
After being played off the half-backline at times throughout the season, Whitfield has been switched from MID to DEF in SuperCoach for 2019! With a 2018 average of 99.9, which would have placed him fifth for defenders last year, the No.1 draft pick must now be considered in your team.
Whitfield scored 105+ in 50% of his games so his ceiling is not an issue. If he can tie up his loose ends where he pulls out the odd score in the 60-80 range, then he could well be one of the best defenders this year.
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He’s coming off the back of his first All-Australian guernsey and with the departures of key players in Dylan Shiel, Tom Scully and Ryan Griffen, Whitfield could win even more of the ball this time around.
Whitfield ranked fifth in the league for metres gained and because he also only kicked-in to self 29.1% of the time, meaning there’s more points to be had there. He’s coming off a career-best season, which is always good news on the SuperCoach front.
Alex Witherden ($455,000)
Obviously you cannot fit all of these gun premiums in without totally ruining the structure of your side.
Want to fit two or three of them in but are about $100k short any of the others? Alex Witherden is your man.
Witherden was Connor Blakely in my side up until about two weeks, yet a hamstring tear which has Blakely missing 10-12 weeks meant that he had to go.
Enter Witherden: A second-year player last year, and he tonned up in almost a third of the games he played. Whilst these numbers don’t demand selection, it’s Witherden’s potential that has me keen.
A lot seemed to go through Witherden at the Lions, with now-Pie Dayne Beams (29.1) the only man to get his hands on the pill more often last year. Like Lloyd, Witherden could be one of the main benefactors of the kick-in rule changes. He took just over 50% of the Lions kick-ins in 2018 and 41.27% of the time he chose to play on.
This means that rather than requiring huge stats to reach the 100, a game where he has 23-27 touches could bring him close to that figure because of the added points through kick-ins. Will you be considering Witherden as a ‘breakout contender’ in 2019?
Good luck folks! I’ll take a look at the best premium midfielders on February 20th, so stay tuned!
36 days to go: The Floating Donut Explained
37 days to go: The Burn List – Michael Walters
38 days to go: Todd Goldstein Player Radar
39 days to go: How the new rules will impact SuperCoach
40 days to go: SuperCoach positional analysis