Wow, bloody hell was it a good feeling to watch some footy this weekend. It's officially business time gentleman and sourcing information to help put together that crucial starting squad has never been more important than now. Having watched a majority of the games myself I have put together some important takeaways to help guide you in building your pre-season knowledge.
Sam Walsh: The kid can play and could have been mistaken for having brought his own footy to the game. Attended 19 of the 27 centre bounces (70%) so it certainly looks like we could be seeing Walsh play more inside in 2021. After managing an average of 97 last season Walsh managed to come home with a last 5 game average of 118 after being used at CBA's (31%). More inside time looks on the cards and with natural improvement in his 3rd season Walsh looks primed to take his game to a 110+ level.
Zac Williams: As expected after being hyped up to play midfield all pre-season Williams spent a large portion of the match playing inside. Attending 14 of the 27 CBA's (52%) the 3rd highest for the Blues it looks like Williams should see this be his consistent role in 2021 and there is no reason he can't boost his average 10-15 points. Watch going forward but looks a lock in most sides at this stage.
Paddy Dow: Dow "Wowed" as he starred in what was close if not a best on ground performance. Having heard news this pre-season that Paddy had really put his foot down to prove himself at the price of $323k he had me interested. The high rated draft talent showed for the first time what he is capable of at AFL level and while it's only 1 game it does look exciting for what's to come this year. Dow looked to be that 4th man in the midfield rotation attending 9 of the 27 centre bounces (33%). If he keeps this role going forward he could push a 70 average in 2021 making him a great pick.
Patrick Cripps: Crippa looked like Crippa. The bloke was in and under winning the hard ball as expected but looks to play a split role between midfield and forward this season. Having attended 19 of 27 CBA's (70%) it looks like Cripps will spend time around the ball and push forward after stoppages. With the development and inclusions Carlton have it should support the Blues and give them the option to play Cripps deep more often. Although Cripps will play forward at times he's a beast and can score heavily in the midfield and kick a goal or two up forward. Priced at 94, with full length quarters and reduced interchange I can see this suiting Cripps and he is every possibility to have a career best season this year.
Will Setterfield: One I was bullish on in my Carton Pre-season Preview but by the looks of it doesn't seem to be in the main midfield rotation at Carlton. All signs looked positive for Setters to have a big year and whilst I still think he will improve Carlton look likely to use Walsh, Cripps and Williams as there starting midfielders. Setterfield might not get enough inside time in 2021 to take his average to that 100 mark.
Adam Saad: Very damaging with his run and carry from half-back and no doubt a great acquisition for Carlton. Saad has always been an impact player and so I don't expect too much improvement this year. One for draft, note likely in classic.
Lachy Fogarty: Only attended the 1 CBA and looks well and truly out of the midfield mix. Carlton had 12 guys go through the midfield so it looks like Fogarty is at the bottom of the ranks. Playing in a small forward role you have to avoid until further indication of a better role.
Key Players Missing: McGovern, De Koning, Marchbank and Newman
Zach Merrett: A regular in the midfield rotation. Looked like the little piglet he can be and I expect big things from Merrett in 2021. Attended 19 of 27 CBA's (70%) figures similar to his CBA numbers in the back stretch of last season where he averaged 127. If you're paying the big bucks for Merrett I think he will be the number 1 midfielder this season and at the price is still a starting option.
Jye Caldwell: Looks like the midfield move is genuine after attending 22 of 27 CBA's (81%) and racking up plenty of the pill. Priced at 66 with FWD status these are the types of blokes you look to select in fantasy classic. Looks like Caldwell could fit into the Brayshaw, Petracca, Greenwood category of last year and is certainly raising his hand high for selection of the base of that performance.
Darcy Parish: Having mentioned in my Essendon Preview I thought with a new coach a fulltime move to the midfield was eminent for Parish. Attending 17 of 27 CBA's (63%) we could finally see Parish take that leap and establish his name in the fantasy realm for good reasons. Priced at $625k (82) he's certainly awkward but this could be the year for Darcy and an average around 100 isn't out of the question.
Nik Cox: Played a bit everywhere throughout the game. The big man spent time on the wing while drifting both forward and back but for a man of his size (200cm) he looked clean and agile. With defender rookie options looking thin Cox is one to note going forward.
Harry Jones: The departure of Daniher has left a huge hole in the Bombers forward line with has Harry's name all over it. The bloke kicked 2 goals and did enough to suggest he'll certainly be there round 1 and should have good job security. A key forward does mean he'll be a slow burn cash generator but he's perfect for a FWD bench spot.
Sam Draper: If you're set on looking for a mid price option in your ruck department Draper could be one to look at. Having played as a solo ruck Draper attended all but 2 CBA's in the first half before being subbed out of the game. It looks like the Dons have given Draper the opportunity to take the top spot and progress this season but in being the future of the club and having a long list of past injuries he may see lower TOG and rest periods throughout the year. Scoring potential is there but could cause to be problematic later down the track.
Dyson Heppell: Left out of the midfield rotations completely and looked to play a half back role as the quarterback general. Essendon looked to get the ball in his hands often and Heppell has shown he can score as a defender in the past. Looking ahead if he does continue in this role he should receive DPP come round 6. All things considered priced at 75 is hard to know how much upside Heppell has playing outside of the midfield so I think I would rather select someone similar priced who will be at the coalface.
Archie Perkins: Looked to do some nice things at times but having not played the game for an extended period he might take some time to adjust to AFL level so he's a watch for now with the possibility he plays round 1 but definitely no certainty.
Kyle Langford: Spent a lot of time on the wing in the first half before being utilised as an inside midfielder in the second half attending 10 out of 15 CBA's. Despite the price tag of $655k, with FWD eligibility I do see upside in him and he could be someone who potentially pushes for a top 6 forward spot this year.
Key Players Missing: McGrath, Zaharakis, Stringer, Phillips and Hurley
*McGrath missing may cause slight changes in role to those who saw plenty of midfield time. Wait to see on the likes of Parish and Langford who have slightly more risk due to a higher price tag to whether they are possible starting options.
If any of you guys managed to watch the game let me know your thoughts and opinions on the players that look most likely to start for you. Personally I am highly interested in Caldwell and Walsh and potentially others.