With the Bulldogs performing average last week and the Dees coming off a win against the Tigers this shaped up to be a great contest. Melbourne looked to go long consistently from kick in to a pack situation when Gawn or another tall would try and knock it to advantage and get it forward quickly. This enabled the Dees to score multiple goals early in the piece and is a tactic which could benefit the big men's scoring output. The Dogs on the other hand looked to follow the more common trend we've seen this weekend of players using the handball receive and looking to go short inside to open up the middle of the ground. This play style looks to result in high fantasy scoring showcased by multiple bulldogs going big.
Western Bulldogs Takeaways
Jackson Macrae: Having been disregarded all pre-season as someone who looks to lose his spot inside when Treloar comes in, Jackson may be a blessing in disguise with the new rules. Macrae was superb all game and played an inside role which saw him attend the most CBA's for the dogs. I think his spot as an inside midfielder is safe regardless of Treloar coming back into the side. Even if Macrae spends time on the wing it shouldn't hinder his scoring as much as it has in the past with the state of the open play. Macrae looks to be the perfect type for this years brand of footy with an elite mix of inside and outside ability. I expect Macrae to get back to his best this year which could see him average 120. You can argue he is slightly under priced at 113 and I don't mind him as a starting option having seen what I've seen this weekend.
Josh Dunkley: Went bang like a lot of the dogs did posting a big score of 130 off 74% TOG. There are a couple of reasons why I don't like Dunkley as a starting option this year. The first being that Dunkley looks to be the 4th man in the midfield mix with Macrae, Bont and Libba all being prioritised over him. When Treloar comes into the mix I can see this coming at Dunkleys detriment which will inhibit his scoring to some extent. Yes Bont will spend time forward and Macrae might spent time outside but with Dunkley's history and what the Bulldogs have done with him in the past I'm not expecting him to get suitable scoring conditions for him. Whilst he managed to pump a big score he did so off the back of 11 tackles which in a game which seems to be open and more free flowing doesn't look to be the most reliable indicator this year. I think players who can get into space and take more marks are better suited this year. My third knock is that with midfielders going forward to rest we could potentially have some good players get dual position that become safer options. I'm not to hot on Dunkley to start and I won't be selecting him until I see him in the side with the full midfield mix.
Marcus Bontempelli: This man is one of the best in the business. Absolute superstar and best on ground for mine. Comes in this year priced at a career high 104 points. This is usually a no go for me but at age 25 I think the Bont has another level to go to yet. My worry is that he could spend time forward but with the Dogs recruiting another ruck it looks like they plan to play English, Naughton and Bruce forward which makes it more likely they use him in the midfield. He's not one I'm willing to start with but if he looks to be playing on ball or with limited stints up forward I can see Bont improving this year and potentially finishing close if not in the top 8 midfielders.
Caleb Daniel: The game style looks like it's been built around benefiting these types of players. Daniel has one of the best kicks in the game and the Dogs will look to utilise that whenever they can. As a trade off he may receive opposition attention as teams look to try shut these guys out of the game. You can't plan for these sorts of things and just have to take it on face value. While the risk is there so is the reward so I can justify paying for Daniel at his starting price.
Lachie Hunter: Actually spent a lot of time on a half forward flank which is interesting but not unexpected. With Bailey Smith going from an inside position onto a wing it looks like Hunter could find himself at half forward a lot this year. He's way to overpriced to even consider in classic but maybe there's a cheeky chance for DPP later on.
Anthony Scott: Looked pretty good as a small forward for the dogs. Looked to be reading the ball nicely off the packs and some of his roving work was great, one piece especially resulting in a nice finish and a goal. With MID/FWD status he could be an option at $170k but the Dogs will be a competitive side this year so I'm not sure how great his Job Security will be.
Lachlan McNeil: Exact same comment as Anthony Scott. Both look to be very similar types.
I've chosen to leave a few players out such as Bailey Smith, Patrick Lipinski, Tim English etc... Just because I think they'll be around the mark again in 2021 but probably won't improve much or enough to warrant selection.
Max Gawn: Arguably one of the biggest talking points this season so I'm going to give my two cents on him. Is he worth paying up for? The answer in my opinion is no. I won't be starting with Max Gawn this season and this is why. Firstly he's priced at 124 which is ridiculous. His previous best average prior to last season was 111. This puts him 13 points above that. Secondly, the game looks different this year. Teams are getting the ball further up the ground from kick ins meaning rucks aren't be used as much from a kick in situation. The ball is moving much more freely around the ground so there is less kicking to a contest on a wing. The tackle numbers are down meaning less contests around the ground. All these factors point to less hit outs and less marks for the big men. I predict we may see a regression in ruck output across the board in 2021. With Gawn being 13 points overs based off his previous best accompanied with these statements I think Gawn will average around 110 this year. You can find players elsewhere in other area's ie Walsh, Taranto... who potentially average 110 and cost 200k less. I think there are better way to spend your funds this year then investing into Gawn priced at $944k.
James Harmes: Looked to certainly attend his fair share of centre bounces but wasn't able to show much. Like last week he was just "ok". He seems okay in the contest and shows enough intent but he's not great on the outside and the fact he has a defensive background may lead Melbourne to use him in a negating role at times. I was hot on Harmes early but after seeing him play a couple times I think there are a lot better options out there.
Jayden Hunt: Was ear marked for a move back to half back this season and that's certainly what looks to have unfolded. There was hope we could see Hunt get back to a 70 average which would see him provide enough value priced at 49 to be considered. The way in which Melbourne looked to move the ball suggested to me that Hunt won't be utilised enough to put up numbers good enough to score this well. Not an option for mine.
James Jordon: Didn't like his game very much in all honesty. Gave away 2 shots on goal due to poor tackling technique resulting in frees against. This wouldn't have pleased the coach very much. He also made some decision making errors which resulted in turn over. He did do some nice things in the second half but at that point I had kind of made my mind up on him. He's $170k as a midfielder and has been ear marked to debut so he probably gets a game come round 1. His scoring potential doesn't look super and Brayshaw, Viney and Oliver need to get back into the side at someone's expense. I don't think his job security looks great off the back of what I saw of him.
Oskar Baker: Looked super as a wingman in the first practice match I saw of Melbourne. Having seen a lot of footy before this game it was clear that fast players with good foot skills were being heavily utilised so I had high hopes for Oskar. Unfortunately Baker was pretty poor and didn't really have much influence on the game. He does some good things at time and can be exciting but he's more of an impact player at this point in his career. Can't be considered now.
Trent Rivers: Seemed to take almost all of the Melbourne kick ins. He's not an option in fantasy but the fact he looks to be the designated kick in taker is a point to note which may effect the output of other Melbourne players. I'd assume Christian Salem would resume these responsibilities once he makes his way back into the side.
Outside of Max Gawn and maybe Clayton Oliver (who didn't play here) there doesn't seem to be much going on at the Dees. I would maybe consider Jordon as a $170k bench option if he's named round 1. The Bulldogs look to have plenty of big names and judging by the way they look to play the game the new rules are only going to help them excel further. I do like the look of some of the more premium options at the Bulldogs however there isn't really anyone from either of these teams I would class as a must have this year. Thanks for reading this article, I hope it's helped you get a better understanding at who you should be looking at this pre-season. Good luck mate with selecting your starting squad.