AFL Dream Team Defender Analysis


Check out our AFL Dream Team Midfield Analysis for the players you should own and avoid in the competition’s most exciting position!

Also, check out our AFL Dream Team Forward Analysis for the players you should own and avoid in 2013!

Finally, check out our AFL Dream Team Ruck Analysis for the big men you should own and avoid in 2013!

Without a doubt, defence is the biggest challenge facing Dream Team coaches in 2013. Whilst there are two outstanding options in Bryce Gibbs and Brendon Goddard, very few others in the AFL Dream Team Defender category have put their hands up to be ‘must select’ players. A tier down, we have 10 or so players who are in the running to be a standout in their position before another 5-10 defenders in a lower price bracket present coaches with plenty of bargains. As you’ll see though, the options on offer in 2013 lend themselves to pursuing a combination whereby you select 4 premium players and 4 rookies as players who occupy the middle ground are far from sure bets.

Rookies are also abundant down back, which means that coaches are electing to use vastly different tactics when selecting their 8 defenders. Whilst in our other three analysis’ we recommended and critiqued with relative certainty, we’re down to educated guessing in what could be a make-or-break position in 2013. What we will do is try to separate the true guns from the pretenders, giving you a head start this season.


AFL Dream Team – ‘Elite’ Defenders to Watch ($400,000+)




Jack Grimes Grant Birchall Heath Scotland (MID)
Beau Waters Corey Enright Greg Broughton (FWD)
Paul Duffield Pearce Hanley Heath Shaw
Hamish Hartlett (MID) Dyson Heppell (MID) Jed Adcock


Jack Grimes (MEL – $474,000) and Hamish Hartlett (PTA – $421,400)

It’s been four years since Jack Grimes emerged as a prospective fantasy superstar, but since then, injury has prevented him from realizing his full potential. Last season though, he managed 21 games and scored at an average of 104.5 in his last 8 games. With trades less valuable this year than in any previous season, 2013 might just be the year to take a punt on the Melbourne star.

Hartlett is in the same category as Grimes; he plays for a terrible side, has been plagued by injuries but demonstrates great Dream Team potential as he looks to be injected into an under-manned midfield. If anything, his fitness is of greater concern as he has managed to play just 31 games over the past 2 seasons. Another player with a tremendous ceiling and despite consistency issues, presents a greater prospect for 2013 than some of the players we’ll look at a little later.

Dyson Heppell (ESS – $439,000)

One of the most promising players in the AFL, Heppell is one of the more reliable options as far as defenders go in 2013. Scoring below 70 just twice last season, you know what you’re going to get from the third-year Bomber. On the flip side, he broke the century mark just twice compared to five times in 2011. Heppell may be drawing more attention from opposition taggers but he’s only getting better each and every season. The addition of Goddard will relieve some pressure and despite only averaging 71.65 against his opposition for the opening month, he should finish the season as somewhere between the 7th and 10th best defender this season.

Heath Shaw (COL – $422,800), Paul Duffield (FRE – $426,800) and Greg Broughton (GCS – $408,000)

From the most consistent to three of the most irregular, if you’re looking for players with enormous Dream Team ceilings and are prepared to be stressed out of your mind for the next 6 months then look no further.

Shaw has averaged over 80 since 2006, however after a career-high 91.7 in 2011, fell back to earth and scored just 82 a contest last year. Having not played a full season since 2007, his erratic scoring isn’t your only worry either. With 5 centuries, 3 scored under 60 and a further 3 under 70, the Collingwood defender is a gamble only the most ambitious coaches should take.

Greg Broughton falls into roughly the same category as his Collingwood counterpart. Whilst Shaw’s scored are generally compromised by his attracting a forward tag, whilst at Fremantle, Broughton’s were affected by playing a lockdown role. When floating across half back, he’s as good as Dream Team players get, however with his role at Gold Coast still relatively unknown, owners could find themselves on a rollercoaster. The only positive is that it appears like Karmichael Hunt will be the primary tagger for the Suns. Will this free Broughton up? Time will tell.

Paul Duffield is the most promising of the three and should find himself in the top 6 defenders in Dream Team come September. Missing just 5 games in the past 4 seasons, Duffield experienced a scoring slump in 2011 and the first half of 2012 but ended last season in brilliant touch. The most impressive thing is that Duffield didn’t average 101.86 in his last 8 games whilst running free. He was tagged, had defensive roles and still managed to excel. Broughton’s departure should only help him get back to the form he experienced late last year.

Grant Birchall (HAW – $455,400)

Hawthorn are renowned for high possession, high scoring play through their halfback line and as such, had two Dream Team stars heading into 2013. Injury to Matt Sucking changes the equation though and has Birchall in our ‘consider’ category because his production could either rocket or collapse. Averaging just shy of 90 over the past two seasons, Birchall has the potential to become a top 5 Dream Team defender if he continues to accumulate cheap possessions off half-back without drawing extra attention from forward taggers. His opening month of fixtures don’t really help or hinder his stock as he faces teams against which he averaged 87.67 in 2012.

Jed Adcock (BRI $418,000), Mitchell Golby (BRI – $379,700) – and Pearce Hanley (BRI – $425,300)

Brisbane have emerged from this pre-season as Dream Team specialists. Whilst their chances of making the finals still appear slim, several fantasy studs have emerged in their ranks. Adcock’s career has been inconsistent and whilst at his best he is a terrific rebound defender, at his worst he is an injury-plagued liability. Our uncertainty surrounding both himself and Pearce Hanley doesn’t stem from these issues, instead we’re just concerned that there isn’t enough ball to go around at the Lions. With Golby, Adcock and Hanley all vying for time in a midfield consisting of Moloney, Redden, Rockliff, Karnezis, Black and Rich, someone has to miss out. At this stage, we think Hanley will be the most prolific of the Lions defenders with Adcock a distant 2nd and just ahead of Golby in 3rd. That is exactly the order these players are priced in, however of the three, Hanley should be the only one you target.


AFL Dream Team – ‘Value’ Defenders to Watch ($185,000 to $399,999)




Shaun Atley Brian Lake Jack Watts (FWD)
Michael Hibberd Mitchell Golby Nick Maxwell
Sam Fisher Sam Gilbert
Richard Tambling Chris Newman


Shaun Atley (NM – $311,200)

Promised more time in the midfield this season, Atley showed glimpses in the NAB Cup of hat his production could be like if given the chance. Having not performed on the Dream Team stage so far in his young career, Atley could be a great point of difference for anyone willing to take a rick on a point-of-difference down back. Whilst a few clubs are promising an increased role for some of their young players, the Kangaroos lack the midfield depth that could mitigate midfield time being converted into points. Atley by no means starts 2013 with an easy draw but with a few stars likely to attract all of the opposition’s attention, he could enjoy himself.

Richard Tambling (ADE – $208,100)

He’s trained brilliantly over the summer, looked impressive in the NAB Cup and has been promised a chance to prove his worth when he returns from injury. For someone priced so cheaply, Tambling is definitely worth the risk if he continues to drift across halfback. The trick is to pick him up when he returns from injury as he won’t be starting the season for the Crows.

Chris Newman (RIC – $365,300)

Offered a new lease on life in 2013, Newman also looks poised to spend more time in the midfield, however unlike Atley, age and an already stacked roster could hinder his production on the wing. The Tiger turns 35 this season and has steadily declined in Dream Team production since 2010. His reliability and durability is his main upside having missed only 7 games in the past 6 seasons. In saying that though, the fact that he has scored 33% fewer centuries every season since 2010 doesn’t bode well, even if he is due for a role change this year.

Sam Fisher (STK – $370,900) and Sam Gilbert (STK – $339,100)

With the departure of Goddard, many will be wondering who will pick up the slack for St Kilda. Everything seems to be indicating that Arryn Siposs will replace the polarizing figure of Goddard with his disposal off halfback considered of elite standard. Siposs unfortunately is only available as a forward and as such, Fisher looks set to play a more defensive role in 2013 (the same role which saw his average drop to 72 last season) and Gilbert looks set to continue aimlessly running around and messing things up at a pitiful average of somewhere below 70. What ever happened to the Dream Team gun we saw in 2009 and 2010?

Blindside’s AFL editor James Michelle has Sam Gilbert as a ‘consider’ in his rankings after the 26-year-old spent more time in the midfield throughout the preseason. His ball-finding skills have allegedly improved and with his tackling as elite as ever and disposal efficiency not a consideration in Dream Team, he might be worth the risk.

Nick Maxwell (COL – $329,200)

Collingwood’s specialist captain may be the most of the more talented Dream Team coaches going around but he sure isn’t anything special as a player. If you could get points for leadership then he would be in the mix but unfortunately, Dream Team is base don nothing but statistics and as Maxwell would be the first to tell you, he simply doesn’t churn out the stats that are needed. Why did we bring him up then? Well, this will be the only time he is mentioned in this capacity by anyone in 2013 and for someone who appreciates the way-of-life that is AFL Dream Team like he does, it’s deserved.

Don’t forget to comment below with your thoughts and join Blindside’s Dream Team group to compete for ultimate glory!


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On twitter @rombarbera. Australian sports by day, international sports by night. Co-founder of Blindside Sport. Fantasy sport addict.

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