Expert verdict on big SuperCoach AFL calls
STUCK on those final SuperCoach AFL calls?
You're not alone. As the first lockout of the season looms those 50-50 calls seem tougher than ever.
Our experts are here to help - although they don't always agree. Scroll down to see their final word on key players including Brodie Grundy, Dom Sheed, Tom Liberatore, Brad Crouch and Darcy Moore.
The Phantom: I'm picking him, and so should you. This is the man who can break the Dean Cox curse and go back-to-back as the top-scoring SuperCoach ruckman.
Al Paton: I would have liked to see a bit more in the JLT Series but Grundy got through both games, which is enough to start him as my No.1 ruck. Effectively an extra midfielder.
Gilbert Gardiner: Trust the process. Gawn plus Goldstein = Gilbert's Guidance domination. Feel like a bit of a broken record but happy to risk Grundy until his price drops.
Ben Higgins: I was never worried about his "toe injury", Jordan Roughead's just a clumsy big fella and stood on his foot. While his JLT scores haven't been anywhere near his 2018 production, Collingwood is undoubtedly keeping its powder dry for Round 1. Must-have.
Dan Begala: Grundy hasn't set the world on fire during the JLT, but he's ticked the boxes and secured himself a spot at The Begala Brigade. He's pricey, but if you're chasing rankings success, Grundy is a non-negotiable.
Tim Michell: Has been locked in since SuperCoach opened. I went without him last year and it cost me dearly in both leagues and overall rankings. He might not hit an average of 130 again, but I can't see him dropping below 120 points per game.
Paul Dunn: Grundy didn't have a huge JLT Series in terms of points scoring, but the important thing was that he played both games after a couple of weeks of light training with a toe issue. Don't panic about the lack of a massive pre-season score. Still a must-have for all SuperCoach teams.
Dan Batten: Had a quiet JLT, but I can't see Grundy flopping in 2019. The Pies star didn't fall below 95 points last year, and his ceiling was enormous - eclipsing 150 points on seven occasions. These facets of his game make him worth forking out the big bucks. Last year was just the beginning of his scoring prowess, and he has another star midfielder to hit to in Dayne Beams in 2019.
Phantom: Looks fit, focused and he's back in the centre square, where he belongs. I'll be tempted right up until lockout but I just can't squeeze him in at the minute.
Paton: Has been in and out of my team and I still haven't made a final call. Definitely offers value at $300,400, just not sure if he'll average 100 and be a keeper or 90 and force an awkward trade.
Gardiner: He's in the team at the moment but can't guarantee Libba is going to stay there.
Higgins: Showed he's back to his old ways in the JLT Series, hunting the pill and dishing it out to the Dogs delivery men. My biggest concern was never with Libba's ability but with Luke Beveridge's willingness to play him as a full-time inside midfielder. He seems to be getting his wish and if that's the case, he's the perfect stepping stone to an early premium trade.
Begala: The Libba of old has been on show throughout the JLT Series, but I don't expect him to recreate the lofty heights of season 2014 when he averaged 110. He will be a role player (M6) in The Bigala Brigade who looms as the perfect stepping stone for a fallen star.
Michell: Not for me. I'd rather bank the extra money and back Sam Walsh to score similar numbers or find extra cash and turn him into a premium. Brad Crouch is a better prospect for an extra $118,000 if you really want to pick a mid-pricer.
Dunn: Libba showed us plenty in the two JLT games. His average of 99 tells us that he could be a great value pick this year. He is underpriced given his injury from last year and is one of the very few mid-priced players that could pay off this year.
Batten: His upside is promising but as we have seen in recent years, Luke Beveridge can't be trusted to play his troops in their best position. Plenty of competition in the coalface - Macrae, Bont, Dunkley and Wallis, just to name a few - leaves me unsure.
Phantom: Nah. The previous bloke and the next one have much more upside at around the same price.
Paton: Former Tiger was in my side for most of summer but I've put the line through him after a poor JLT Series. Hope he proves me wrong.
Gardiner: Libba in a the box seat right now and can't justify having both mid-priced midfielders in the starting line-up.
Higgins: Was really hoping Miles would be the great white hope as a SuperCoach mid-pricer. However, his JLT scores have left me a little nervous. Hasn't played full games and hasn't produced anything noteworthy. A 50-50 chance I swap to Liberatore before Round 1.
Begala: He's never really been on my radar, but Miles' move up north was expected to yield opportunity, midfield minutes and plenty of SuperCoach points. This, however, has failed to materialise throughout the JLT and I prefer alternatives such as Tom Liberatore, Tom Rockliff and Dom Sheed.
Michell: I was red-hot on Miles before the JLT Series but I'm not as convinced after seeing his two pre-season games. I'd prefer to watch him for two games early in the season then jump on if he dominates before prices rise.
Dunn: Miles was a disappointment in the JLT. He hasn't shown us anything that is telling us that he is worth picking in our starting squads. Steer clear.
Batten: I was very excited to see what the inside beast could produce in the JLT after dominating at VFL level, and he failed to deliver. Appears one-dimensional at the next level, with his game against the Swans epitomising this - 14 touches (11 contested), six clearances for just 35 SuperCoach points. Pass.
Phantom: He's won. Crouch has ticked every box in his comeback with three dominant pre-season hitouts. Sure, there's no guarantees over his body, but he couldn't have done much more. Might even outscore brother Matt if he can stay on the park.
Paton: I love this guy. Has had "SuperCoach gun" stamped on him since he averaged 87 in his debut season. He has had some issues staying on the park since then but I'm willing to take a chance.
Gardiner: All power to Brad Crouch, he deserves all the luck in the world, but I just can't get on board. If it burns me then so be it.
Higgins: Happy for him, but $418,000 is somewhat annoying priced. He's not in the same price bracket as Anthony Miles and Tom Liberatore and he's not in the same calibre as Dylan Shiel. I'll be taking Matt, thank you very much.
Begala: There's risk. There's reward. Then there's Brad Crouch. He's a tantalising prospect, but I consider Crouch one of the riskiest prospects in SuperCoach. I will instead be sourcing an additional $130k to acquire the services of his brother, lil' Matty, who I suspect will take the AFL disposal crown in Tom Mitchell's absence.
Michell: The injury history rules a line through him for me. I understand why he's in 25 per cent of teams based on potential, but I'm not convinced he can manage the premium numbers to justify his starting price.
Dunn: Brad should be one of the most selected players in the competition come the start of Round 1. He played not only the two JLT games but also in an Under-23 practice game the week before against the Power youngsters. The fact he has managed to get through three games without flaring up any of his existing injuries tells me that he is good to go. An average of 121 across the two JLT games shows us that he still has a big ceiling and that price makes him impossible to pass up. Locked in my side.
Batten: I was adamant from the moment SuperCoach opened that I wouldn't pick Brad Crouch, but sure enough he is now sitting at M5. Can see plenty of similarities from Stephen Coniglio last year (besides the injury history) - a ball-winner in a talented midfield who still manages to score well. His body has held together in three matches so far and he is dominated all of them. Will ensure I have a back-up plan if he succumbs to injury.
Phantom: If I'm going with another top-price premium at F3, I prefer Josh Dunkley, despite the Luke Beveridge-related risks. This means Kelly's an upgrade target if he gets going.
Paton: A chance to start at F3 in my side, along with about a dozen other players. Amazing debut season and likely to improve in year two.
Gardiner: Were we too quick to write him off as yesterday's man? Maybe.
Higgins: Has been part of the revolving door at F3. He's certainly the cheaper of my options, which I like and should see more midfield minutes with Gary Ablett reportedly taking a bigger role up forward. Proven gun who is a top-six contender in the forward line.
Begala: Kelly is currently entrenched at F3 in my forward line with Jack Billings, Toby McLean and Josh Dunkley vying closely for the role on the eve of Round 1. He's a bona fide midfielder who should revel in the spoils of Ablett's slated transition to the forward line.
Michell: No player has been in and out of my side as much in the past two weeks. I was convinced he was the perfect F3 but I wonder whether the saga surrounding his efforts to return home to Western Australia might have an impact.
Dunn: Kelly has backed up his great form from last season in JLT2. He put aside any concerns anyone had after JLT1's poor score and showed what he can do given plenty of time in the midfield. Likely to finish as a top-six forward. The way he played that JLT2 game means he is now in my side up forward and is unlikely to leave it before the season starts.
Batten: One of roughly 10 names I am considering at F3. As a mature-ager, second year blues shouldn't apply to the former WAFL star. His JLT2 was superb, but what concerns me is his potential to produce sub-70 scores - as he did in JLT1. Kelly fell below 70 points on four occasions in 2018, twice posting totals in the 40s. Has all the tools in his game to succeed in SuperCoach, but is he in the Cats first choice centre-square brigade?
Phantom: Didn't set the world on fire during the JLT Series but I'm still expecting big things from the Brisbane ball magnet in 2019. A top-eight defender for mine.
Paton: One of the hot players of the summer has gone stone cold. Highly talented but has slipped out of the backline conversation for me.
Gardiner: Nice price given potential upside. Not in the team just yet but not out of it either.
Higgins: Had been in my SuperCoach team all pre-season but failed to impress in the JLT. I thought he might take advantage of the new kick-in rules but scores of 66 (63 per cent game time) and 76 (88 per cent) simply don't cut the mustard. Happy to upgrade to him when he inevitably proves me wrong.
Begala: There's been plenty of hype surrounding Witherden, but I don't expect the young gun to join the top echelon of defenders just yet. Witherden is the quarterback of the Brisbane Lions, but I'd prefer Jayden Short ($466K, DEF) given his penchant for goals.
Michell: Nope. I haven't seen enough evidence to suggest he can post the numbers to be a top-10 defender worth spending more than $450,000 on.
Dunn: Witherden had a couple of good pre-season games but they didn't produce spectacular scores. To make it worth spending up on him we probably needed to see a bit more. However, it is just JLT and if you are keen to have him in your side his scores weren't bad enough to say you must drop him out. At this point he isn't in my side.
Batten: The Lions young gun was the talk of the SuperCoach town when the kick-in rules were changed, but it didn't result in favourable scores across the JLT. I am willing to wait and see on Witherden before committing to him. Relies too much on uncontested ball and kick-ins for his scoring for my liking. Potential upgrade target.
Phantom: Huge numbers during the pre-season - and in last year's finals series - but it's unlikely I'm picking him over a Crouch or Liberatore.
Paton: If you're picking purely on form, you can't go past a 139 average from the JLT Series. But I haven't forgotten Heretier Lumumba averaging 120 in the 2015 pre-season comp then 63.5 for the year. Could be a trap.
Gardiner: That kick and a strong JLT Series has everyone frothing over the premiership Eagle, but he hasn't entered into Guidance calculations just yet.
Higgins: A no from me. We've been sucked in by big JLT performances before and Sheed has all the hallmarks of a trap. Arguably, he wouldn't have even been in that Grand Final if not for Andrew Gaff's ban and the star midfielder returns from his ban in Round 3, at which time Sheed will be shuffled down the midfield pecking order.
Begala: What's more impressive: Sheed's heroic Grand Final performance or his seamless JLT Series? As a SuperCoach pundit, I'd have to say the latter. Sheed came of age during last year's finals series, when he averaged a whopping 117 SuperCoach points per game. The trajectory is definitely up, but to warrant his selection, I think he needs to average 100-103 points.
Michell: The pre-season numbers were enticing, but I'd rather just pay extra for a proven premium. As a Blues fan, he'll always be a favourite though after that Grand Final goal.
Dunn: Dom certainly put his hand up for selection in the JLT series. He had a game-high 144 in JLT1 and then had another game-high 134 from a handy 80 per cent time on ground in JLT2. He presents some great value for your team and would be a very handy point of difference. Everyone is talking about players like Brad Crouch, but Sheed scored more in these two games. Not in my team at the moment but I am going to look to find a way to get him in if I can.
Batten: POD HQ was telling Adam Simpson to sub him out at halftime in JLT2. His second game-high total saw him fall out of the unique category, currently owned by 12 per cent of teams. This on the back of his dominant finals series sees him as a definite breakout contender. Can he break out enough to be a keeper?
Phantom: I said he was a top-eight defender after the first week of the JLT and, let me tell you, the punters let me know about it after Newman's game against the Magpies. Let's see what happens next Thursday night. I'm still picking him.
Paton: See Witherden. I'm expecting an average around 85 which isn't enough at his price.
Gardiner: It boils down to team balance and just having too many Bluebaggers already locked in. Not for me, thanks.
Higgins: Has never been in my team and certainly won't be come Round 1 after his JLT2 fail. As good as the "He'll replace Sam Docherty at half-back" argument sounded, he's not Sam Docherty, and Kade Simpson is more likely to once again pick up the slack.
Begala: He looks an astute recruit by the Blues, but I don't expect Newman to feature among the top eight defenders this season. The main sticking point for me remains his price, $394,100, which is no man's land should his selection become a bust. I prefer the likes of Brodie Smith ($333k) and Zac Williams ($408k).
Michell: The rookies in defence have shown enough during pre-season for me to start three on field. That structure means Newman can't fit in.
Dunn: Newman didn't do enough to warrant his selection. He scored just the 29 points from 76 per cent time on ground against the Pies in JLT2. His role doesn't seem to be what we had hoped and this low score certainly gives me some concerns going forward. He won't be starting in my side.
Batten: One of the big hype players following an impressive JLT1, appearing to take the reins from kick-in gatekeeper Kade Simpson. Roles reversed when he managed just 10 disposals at Morwell against the Pies. There are a host of better mid-price defenders on offer.
Phantom: In SuperCoach? Really? Actually, yeah, maybe. He took the most kick-ins of any player in the JLT Series and had 10 intercept possessions against the Blues.
Paton: What shaped as a mad SuperCoach punt is shaping as a real possibility after an impressive JLT Series playing as an intercept defender. Durability is a massive worry but we only need to get six good games to see him spike in price and trade him up to a star. Currently in my forward line.
Gardiner: Tempting price. Can he be trusted to play out the season? Happy to go without as his scoring history and reliability doesn't exactly jump off the page.
Higgins: I've really liked his pre-season but I've already got several expensive rookies and sadly, simply can't afford him. I fear it could come back to bite me, especially in the forward line where rookies look a little harder to come by.
Begala: He's only registered two SuperCoach tons in his short career (54 games) and spends more time in the stands than he does on the park! Undoubtedly a prodigious talent, but I suspect he's going to thwart the rankings pursuit of many SuperCoaches across the land.
Michell: He's in - for now. The intercept points from his marking ability have won me over, but I still have concerns that, like Crouch, his injury problems might strike again. If you're going to pick him you've got to have Chris Burgess at the opposite end for a DEF-FWD swing.
Dunn: Two really solid games from Darcy in the JLT and at his price he is hard to look past. The key for him is that he has good job security and has scored well above his price level in these two games. He would be a solid POD for your defence if you think that his role and scoring will continue into the regular season.
Batten: Haven't allowed myself to look too closely at Moore, as I know he will tempt me. Admittedly, he has been rather impressive as an intercepting defender who takes the kick-ins. Injury-prone and with most of the rookies available being pricey, I can't justify the extra cash. It's either Moore or Collins, and I'm going with Collins.