Premium Content, Season 2020

Injury Creates Opportunity, but for who?

Monday held confirmation of plenty of bad news for fantasy football coaches. Rory Sloane, Josh Kennedy and Isaac Heeney will all miss significant chunks (or in Heeney’s case all) of the 2020 season. Injuries suck, no matter what format or style of the fantasy football games you play. However, there is always one positive that can come from it. With every injury, it creates new opportunities for others within their team. For astute fantasy coaches, it can open up some great new scoring options than just last week weren’t even possible.

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Replacing Kennedy and Heeney | Sydney Swans

The loss of these two stars is enormous for a team already with a bunch of injuries, even if it is to predominantly to the talls brigade. Oddly enough, the club should find it easier to replace the role of stalwart Josh Kennedy than that of young star Isaac Heeney. The reason is quite simple. With JPK, the Swans just need to look to bring in (or move the positional magnets around) for someone to play as a ball-winning midfielder. The replacement of Heeney is much more intricate. Not only does he role through the midfield for 40% of the game, but he also is a valuable target inside their forward 50. Without Lance Franklin, Sam Reid or Tom McCartin as tall targets the club have been relying heavily on Heeney to support young Nick Blakely and lead up forward Will Hayward. Additionally, the club used Luke Parker up forward before Kennedy’s injury. How Sydney look to replace Heeney especially will have arguably the most significant impact on what the makeup of the squads looks like.

Oli Florent and Luke Parker continue to be staples for the Swans at centre bounces, and with no Heeney or JPK, I expect that trend to continue. Before last week Parker had been exceptional for most parts of the season and has a been a reason the Swans have won two matches. Similarly, with Florent, his development from an exclusive wingman to now and in and under midfielder is doing wonders not just for his fantasy scoring but his development of the Squad. I genuinely believe over the next two years he’ll be seen as a topline midfielder in the competition.

From a fantasy footy perspective, I think the most significant scoring bump will be to James Rowbottom and George Hewett. The aptly nicknamed ‘PaddleBum’ has been getting reasonable midfield minutes anyway and especially over the last month has some scoring consistency. An extra rotation or two is warranted for the developing Swans. Equally, Hewett is often assigned negating midfield roles, but if the coaching staff were to free him up, then he could boom in scoring. Last year especially when allowed to hunt the ball and not just the man his scoring took a dramatic spike in numbers.

Another movement that could transpire is the settling down of role for Jordan Dawson. Throughout the year he played roles across the wings, up forward and even down back. Last week he got a few centre bounces, and his elite kicking skills would be a handy addition to a young swans midfield group. If he got some more time through the middle owners in draft formats and daily fantasy might see some of his scoring increase.

Dylan Stephens had an excellent debut and had it not been for Izak Rankine’s electrifying debut. Then we could be talking about his as a rising star nomination. Regardless, he played his role as an outside player brilliantly linking up across the ground and being a helpful second touch player. These injuries have just further entrenched him into the Swans side.

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Replacing Rory | Adelaide Crows

Replacing Rory Sloane is going to be a difficult task for the Adelaide Crows. The skipper of the footy club will miss the next four to six weeks with a hand injury. And while he hasn’t been as prolific or a dominant through the midfield he’s brought leadership and experience to a very young side. The team do still have some experienced midfielders in Matt Crouch and Brad Crouch but as seen over the past few weekends, the club are clearly looking towards the future of the club.

With that in mind, some players already in the side should continue to get some further opportunities. High draft picks like Chayce Jones and Ned McHenry need as much time and opportunity through the middle of the ground to develop as quickly as possible. Regardless of who else comes in, expect an increase (all be it marginal) in their fantasy footy outputs. I’m sure the club would also love to trial exciting young forwards Tyson Stengle and Shane McAdam with the odd centre bounce as well. Even recent debutant Andy McPerson has shown in the SANFL he’s a capable midfielder who’s strong over the footy in the contest as well as an elite user of the ball by foot.

Moving the magnets around of existing players might create a vacancy in another area of the ground that the club might like to explore. Link up forward Ben Davis has shown plenty and can add another tall presence as well as some defensive efforts over the ground, while Ben Crocker could also be considered. I believe if Adelaide looks to this approach then expect Lachie Murphy to come straight back into the side (which he might anyway) after serving his one-match ban. Murphy is a versatile small who can play at either end of the ground.

If the club chooses to go for the experienced path, they aren’t short of options. Bryce Gibbs continues to bide his time outside the team, and while he doesn’t appear to be playing to the high standards he once did at very least a could be given a few weeks to prove himself once more. Paul Seedsman was left out of the side a few weeks to rebuild his fitness base. Suppose he’s done that, while more of an outside player it could enable Brodie Smith to attend more stoppages. The other older name that could be considered is Patrick Wilson. He’s been a dominant presence for much of the past few seasons in the SANFL. Since his time on the Crows list (2018) he has been picked for the odd game but at the top level hasn’t shown much. Is he given a four-week stint to show he belongs at this level? If not given time to prove himself soon, at 25, I fear his time on an AFL list might come to an end. Equally, Myles Poholke whole having limited opportunities hasn’t yet shown he belongs at AFL level.

The final option the Crows is to continue to look to the future and blood another young midfielder. Adelaide fans in the know are excited at the prospect of homegrown talent Harry Schoenberg. At pick 24 last year the club were stocked to pick up Harry. In the Under 18 championships last year he was a prolific ball-winning midfielder and used his strength at the stoppages to set up teammates. Schoenberg averaged 27 disposals, 12 contested possessions, almost six clearances and five tackles per game at the carnival. Other new draftees Ronin O’Connor and Lachie Gollant are still some time away in my mind from getting a crack at a debut.

As an unasahmed Crows fan I’d love Harry Schoenberg to get a few weeks at it to see what he can do, however, the club are young enough around the ground already. The big losses they have will likely only be further exploited if they cannot compete through the midfield by adding another kid. Therefore, I expect a more experienced head to get a game.

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