What happens in the ruck division this year determines our season’s success. Is Tim English the key to unlocking your ruck structure?
Name: Tim English
Club: Western Bulldogs
2022 Highest Score:
138 Vs Sydney (AFLFantasy)
160 Vs West Coast (SuperCoach)
Career Highest Score:
138 Vs Sydney | AFLFantasy (2022)
204 Vs Essendon | SuperCoach (2020)
SuperCoach Price: $581,000
AFLFantasy Price: $901,000
AFLDreamTeam Price: $924,100
WHY IS HE RELEVANT?
The emergence of Tim English finally happened! Western Bulldogs fans and the fantasy football community have been waiting for it all to click for him, and in 2022 it did. He averaged a career-high in possessions, marks & hitouts.
Last year in AFLFantasy/DreamTeam, he averaged 101.8, which consisted of ten tons, five over 110 and two monsters above 130. Alongside this, he had two scores between 95-99 and dropped his score to under 80 in just two matches. He’s ranked second in the ruck division by averages, with only Max Gawn higher.
For SuperCoach, he scored seven tons from his fifteen games, five of them over 120! They were 122, 123, 138, 152 & 160. He had three additional scores over 90, and his scoring dipped under 80 just twice. His seasonal average of 105.5 ranked him third in the rucks behind Max Gawn and Jarrod Witts.
No player in any format created as much separation and started as hot as Tim in the opening five weeks. While coaches were farting around trading into Braydon Preuss or out of Brodie Grundy, owners of English were watching the points divide widen. Between rounds 1-5, he averaged 11 in AFLFantasy/DreamTeam, scoring between 101-138. For SuperCoach, he scored an average of 121 and scored between 96 and 152.
We’ve seen glimpses of his fantasy potential before. In 2020 in SuperCoach, he averaged 103 and scored nine tons, including 143, 145 & 204. He had a five-game stretch where he averaged 139.8. Similarly, in AFLFantasy/DreamTeam, he averaged 73, but in adjusted averages, due to shortened quarters, that’s 91.25. He scored two pure tons plus six additional scores over 80. In 2020, 80 was the equivalent of a ton.
As we depart 2022 and head into 2023, it does appear that, finally, his potential has been realised. Coaches can be optimistic that he’s only starting to hit his peak.Embed from Getty Images
How you answer these questions will determine your likelihood of starting with Tim English. Which ‘split’ of scores from 2022 do you believe is a true reflection of what he’ll do this year? Is there a clear and supreme premium two rucks this year? And is Tim one of them?
Late last year, we saw that the coaching staff added some additional ruck support to help him through the back of the season. That meant he ruck-shared in a game with Stefan Martin and two with Jordan Sweet. The impact of his scoring with Sweet was minimal, but with Stefan, who can only play ruck, his scoring nosedived. Thankfully in 2023, this ruck experiment won’t be a concern. That’s because the club secured Rory Lobb in a trade from Fremantle in the off-season.
The best role for Lobb has been as a key position forward who can also play a reliving ruck role for his team. Alongside Lobb in the forward line will be tall forwards Aaron Naughton and Jamarra Ugle-Hagan. Positionally, there’s no room for another tall forward. As handy as Lobb is through the ruck, English is supreme to him in ability, without any potential upside or development from Tim.
As great as English’s scoring was, especially over the front half of the season, the injury narrative around him wasn’t diminished. After dominating the first five weeks, he missed the next month with a hamstring injury. Then, he’d miss another match after recovering from the hammy with flu-like symptoms. And then, towards the end of the season, he missed two matches under the AFL’s concussion protocols.
For the optimist, you’ll see that none of these is related, and some are just bad luck rather than anything to be overly concerned about. While the pessimist will see that he keeps finding ways to miss footy. If you are worried about injuries, my simple advice is this.
A player’s injury history must always be factored in, but it should never be the sole reason you choose not to select a player. If anything, a player’s injury history is a reason to consider him in your starting squad and not as an upgrade target.
The reason is that if you start with them, you can bank all the scores they deliver. And with every passing game, the likelihood of injury will only increase. However, suppose you trade into an injury ‘risk’. In that case, you run the gauntlet of not just missing his good scores that attracted you to make them an upgrade, but rather your likelihood of trading into that injury is higher with every game past.
Starting these ‘injury-prone’ players is the best way to offset the risk. If an injury does occur, you have banked every good score available but also spent just one trade, not multiple, on removing him from your side.
Have you listened to this accompanying podcast? MiniMonk raised a brilliant ‘flag’ around English that’s worth discussing. Over the opening six weeks, English has one of the tougher ruck runs imaginable. He opens up against Brodie Grundy & Max Gawn; in round two, it’s Rowan Marshall, then Oscar McInerney, Toby Nankervis, Scott Lycett and lastly, the pairing of Sean Darcy and Luke Jackson. Do you believe English will come out of the run significantly cheaper? Or hold his average and price around what he’s currently at?
I haven’t seen any side to not starting with at least one premium ruck this year. So if you’re considering one or two premiums this year, English needs to be someone you seriously consider. If you choose not to start him, he’ll need to stay 100% on your upgrade radar. On the other hand, if you’re starting two ruck premiums and English isn’t one of them, you’re running a gauntlet that I wouldn’t want to be in.
Tim English will be the first ruck taken on draft day, but where he goes will see some variation. You’ll have some coaches who believe he’s the clear best ruckman and will want to snag him in the first or second draft rounds. In contrast, others will happily take him but want to avoid investing in a selection in the opening three rounds. That’s not because English isn’t a good pick, but rather a strategic reflection of what they think the rucks will do. So, for example, they’d rather pick Josh Kelly in the third round and a Braydon Preuss as a late-round ruck flyer than get Tim English in the third and field a Josh Daicos type. It’s more about the player combination than anything else.
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