Ever since his move to defence, Caleb Daniel has shown himself to be a consistent premium. In 2021, the trend looks set to continue, and it’s easy to see why.
Name: Caleb Daniel
Club: Western Bulldogs
2020 Highest Score:
128 Vs Hawthorn (AFLFantasy)
154 Vs St Kilda (SuperCoach)
Career Highest Score:
135 Vs Collingwood | AFLFantasy (2019)
154 Vs St Kilda | SuperCoach (2020)
70.9 (AFLFantasy) | 88.6 (Adjusted Average)
SuperCoach Price: $545,500
AFLFantasy Price: $676,000
AFLDreamTeam Price: $655,000
WHY IS HE RELEVANT?
Over the past few seasons, Caleb Daniel has developed a reputation in the league for being one of the most deadly users of the ball by foot. 2020 was no exception, averaging 20 disposals a game and at 82% efficiency. He capped off a brilliant season winning his first club best and fairest as swell as being recognised as the clubs most courageous player.
Last season he was ranked 19th for total rebound ’50s, 16th for kicks and 11th for total effective disposals across the league. It’s a stats line like this that makes him especially damaging in SuperCoach. In that format, he scored nine tons with three of them over 120.
While his ceiling might not be as high as other premium defenders, his scoring variations are considerably less. Last year he had just one score below 81 all season. At the conclusion of last year, he ended the year ranked 6th for total points and 8th by the average for all defenders.
AFLFantasy/DreamTeam he averaged 71 (adjusted 88) and had just one score of 128 (adjusted 160) across the season. Those scores might not feel as impressive as previous seasons, yet it’s still a solid return. He ended the season ranked 8th for total points and 15th for averages among all defenders.
In 2019 from his 17 matches, he averaged 99 in SuperCoach and had ten scores of 100 or more and dipped below 80 in just four games. AFLFantasy/DreamTeam he averaged 93, had six scores over 100 including two over 120. He had just four scores below 80 throughout the season.
One of the potential benefits coaches in DT/AF can be hopeful of is that with the return to full length quarters we also see a return to teams ‘icing’ quarters late with possession footy especially in the defensive half. Should that eventuate, Caleb Daniel will see that ceiling reached more frequently.Embed from Getty Images
During the past two seasons, Caleb Daniel couldn’t have done much more to put himself into the preseason selection mix. He rarely misses games, having missed just five games in the previous three seasons and none in 2020.
With the arrival of Adam Treloar into the Bulldogs midfield mix, fantasy footy coaches are quick to write off all dogs players from their side. I understand some hesitancy in starting a midfielder, but Ads arrival both directly and indirectly will have zero impact on his scoring potential.
For the better part of two and a half seasons, Luke Beveridge has shown that he’s the ball’s preferred user by foot when coming out of defensive 50. Even should another midfielder be forced into taking additional time off the ball, nobody in that Bulldogs unit is as daring and precise by foot as Caleb. His role and subsequently scoring potential should be secure.
Despite not missing much much footy and consistently average high 80’s low 90’s in AFLFantasy and 99-101 in SuperCoach the past few seasons the selection love for Caleb Daniel is scarily low.
One of the reasons for this is that he is not a ceiling pick while he is a consistently good scoring option. By that I mean he’s not the player that will go on a tear of scores like Luke McDonald, Rory Laird or even a Lachie Whitfield who within a six game stretch can average 120-130 and deliver multiple 150+ scores.
Scoring variance (ceiling) and scoring predictably (consistency) will always continue to be a debate that rages across the community. The benefit for coaches is that both are needed to succeed, and sometimes the less glamorous pick can return you the best performance.
It might be early in January, but a look across the teams it appears we have some very common trends across teams. Many are starting a combination of two of Jake Lloyd, Rory Laird and Lachie Whitfield then sprinkling in a mix of value defenders like Zac Williams and Wayne Milera before kicking into the rookies. Yet, I’ve barely sighted a team with Caleb Daniel in it.
Selecting a player just because they have low ownership is always filled with danger. However, should his numbers continue to be as low across the formats as they are right now then he’s a genuine, safe point of difference in your side.
With his low scoring variance, he can enable you to build a solid scoring base across the season. This can then allow you the freedom to pursue the ceiling players when they are on a hot streak eg Luke McDonald of 2020 and not feel that your entire backline scoring is on a knife edge weekly.
Going off what he’s delivered over the previous two years across all formats of the game Caleb Daniel is a D1 for your draft side. Anywhere from a late third-fifth round selection is a strong space to select him.
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