AFL Dream Team Ruck Analysis

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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 Defender Analysis for the backs you should own and avoid in the most challenging position of 2013!

The strategy with which Dream Team coaches select their rucks has changed dramatically over recent years. Before the addition of the Gold Coast Suns and GWS Giants to the AFL, Dean Cox and Aaron Sandilands created a near invincible duo. Whilst expensive, if you started the year with these two, you could effectively not worry about an entire position for the rest of the year, knowing that no matter what other combinations opposing coaches put on the park, you would invariably score more points. AFL Dream Team Ruck selections are undoubtedly some of the toughest you’ll make this season.

Throughout the 2011 and 2012 seasons, the introduction of the Gold Coast and GWS meant that many coaches elected to go with one of these elites and one of the ridiculously underpriced ruckmen from one of these developing teams. Zac Smith and Jonathan Giles became staples in Dream Team formats and thanks to Sandiland’s injury woes, a new strategy in the ruck emerged.

Now we’re into 2013 and with no new teams entering the competition, the strategy will have to change all over again. So which tactic is best? Should you splurge and try to secure two elite ruckmen? Should you select cheaper players and wait for bargains to emerge? At first glance, there aren’t many options out there. Ruck selections are all about the combination though and if you get it right from the start, you’re well on your way to ultimate glory. Here is all you need to know to make your decision!

Over the coming weeks, we’ll examine options across all positions, from all teams and within two key price brackets; Elite and Value. Our rookie evaluation will follow but in the meantime, these are the players we know in detail and who have proven themselves in the AFL prior to this season.

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

Target

Consider

Avoid

Dean Cox (FWD) Jarryd Roughead (FWD) Aaron Sandilands
Todd Goldstein Ivan Maric Ben McEvoy
Shane Mumford Matthew Kreuzer
Sam Jacobs Hamish McIntosh

 

Dean Cox (WCE – $512,400) 

Without a doubt the most prolific scorer in the ruck since 2005, Cox should lead the way once again in 2013. With Natanui poised to either miss the opening round of the season or be seriously deprived of match fitness, Cox will take on an extremely high workload. The Eagle scores prolifically even when resting up forward and is the most skilled big-man in the competition. Cox is also eligible as a forward in 2013 so for more analysis on his opening match-ups, check out our AFL Dream Team Forward analysis.

Ivan Maric (RIC – $505,400)

Bear with me! We’re expecting Maric to be one of the three most prolific Dream Team rucks in 2013, however with his schedule at the start of this coming season looking as it does, we’re tempted to wait a few rounds for his price to dip… hopefully. The break-out star of last season, Maric’s hit-out dominance is matched only by his ability to rack up possessions and cover the ground. Averaging 89.67 in 2012 against his opposition for the first 7 rounds of competition, Maric will score well, but possibly not as well as his price tag indicates. A mediocre conclusion to last season also has us hoping he dips a little in price before we pick him up after Richmond’s Round 11 bye.

Todd Goldstein (NTH – $407,300) and Shane Mumford (SYD – $425,400)

Once you leave the upper echelon of ruckmen, you’re left with a second-tier of inconsistent yet potentially brilliant players. Goldstein and Mumford have both shown glimpses of their ability with the former having received  a boost from the departure of Hamish McIntosh from North. Following the NAB Cup, Brad Scott indicated that his team would shift from a committee ruck system and would rely on a solitary big man in the middle. With promising talents Currie and Daw not ready for that responsibility, expect Goldstein to see a dramatic rise in reliability. When McIntosh was injured from round 8 onwards in the 2012 season, Goldstein saw his average rise from 60.2 to 85.4. Similarly, without McIntosh playing in 2011, Goldstein shared ruck duties with Drew Petrie and managed to average 99.3 for the season. A tough draw that will see him play Collingwood, Geelong and Sydney in the opening 3 weeks is the only deterrent.

Mumford meanwhile has held a position as Sydney’s primary ruck without hassle. His greatest barrier to Dream Team greatness has been his inability to stay fit. Having not played a full season throughout the duration his 5-year career, there are no assurances the Swans big man won’t burn you. Nevertheless, having averaged 102.5 over the past 2 seasons against his first four opposition for 2012, Mumford could be a great pick up whilst waiting for the other more reliable premiums to either drop in price or prove they can be prolific yet again.

Matthew Kreuzer (CAR – $403,700) and Ben McEvoy (STK – $457,900)

A battle between two big men who are unlikely to reach the heights you might be hoping in 2013, Kreuzer and McEvoy are best to avoid as they fall in category of player who won’t earn money and won’t core prolifically.

With one brilliant performance against Sydney back in 2011 aside, Kreuzer has broken the century barrier just twice in the last two season, never surpassing 105 points. With Malthouse now at Carlton, things may have changed, but if we look at Darren Jolly’s role at Collingwood under Mick, ‘Kreuz’ becomes an even less attractive prospec

McEvoy on the other hand has an incredibly favourable start to the season lined up and having broken the century barrier 4 times last season, represents better value than his Blues counterpart. Competition in the ruck hasn’t exactly been notable in the past and with the introduction of Hickey, McEvoy may see his usually prolific time-on-ground depreciate. When you take into account that for less than $50,000 you can get Ivan Maric, Big Ben hardly seems value for money.

Sam Jacobs (ADE – $449,900)

Regarded by our own James Michelle as the best ruck in the league, Jacobs doesn’t just have a great history (consecutive seasons averaging 87) but he looks poised to explode in 2013. With Tippett leaving the Crows and only Josh Jenkins there as a replacement, Jacobs’ time on ground should increase as he’ll rest up forward more frequently. A durable player who contributes regularly through the midfield, Jacobs didn’t score below 80 points of have less than double-digit possessions in his last 9 home and away games in 2012, averaging 95.44 in the process.

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

Target

Consider

Avoid

Matthew Leuenberger Jonathon Griffin Zach Smith
Billy Longer David Hale (FWD)
Josh Jenkins (FWD)

 

Matthew Leuenberger (BRI – $233,600) 

Set to become possibly the most-owned Dream Team player in 2013 who isn’t a rookie, ‘to Leuenberger or not to Leuenberger’ will probably be one of the biggest choices you’ll make this preseason. If he returns to his 2011 best in which he averaged 92.8, he is a steal, however if injury continues to affect him and his ceiling falls, you may get a giant head start in not selecting him from the outset. After just 1 performance in NAB Cup, Leuenberger was put back under an injury cloud for Round 1. On Sunday, he participated in a practice match without issue and at this stage, will play Brisbane’s season opener against the Bulldogs. In 2011, Leuenberger averaged 100 against the sides he’ll play in the opening 5 weeks of 2013.

Jonathon Griffin (FRE – $397,100)

When you’re relying on injury for your rucks to be prolific, you’re going to finish the season off the pace. Whilst Jonathon Griffin is more than deserving of consideration, the fact that the ruck division at Fremantle is so strong leads him to significantly depreciate in value. As the Dockers look to keep Sandilands fit all season, they should monitor his workload and Griffin should see more involvement in 2013, however this involvement (when in conjunction with the 211cm giant) won’t be substantial enough to justify selection. The latest news is that Sandilands should return towards the end of April, too soon for anyone looking to Griffin as a long-term selection.

Josh Jenkins (ADE – $316,100)

Whilst Roughhead is the most obvious player who doesn’t ruck but is available at the position in Dream Team, Josh Jenkins could be a revelation in Adelaide this year. Taking Kurt Tippett’s spot in the forward line, he’ll benefit from Adelaide’s high octane attack even before he does anything good on the park. Even better, Tex Walker looks poised to draw the positions best, second best and third best tall defenders. We’re not expecting an average of 90 but considering Jenkins was subbed twice last year and had a season-high of 99 against West Coast, an average of 75 is both attainable and passable for someone at his price. With dual-position eligibility, he also makes for a terrific combination with Dean Cox this season.

Let us know what you’re planning to do with your rucks this season! Are you going to ‘Set and forget’ of look for the bargains?

Don’t forget to comment below with your thoughts and join Blindside’s AFL.com 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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