Field of DreamTeams – time to improve the format

Dane Swan
Dane Swan – From the Herald Sun – http://www.heraldsun.com.au/afl/more-news/collingwood-coach-nathan-buckley-says-dane-swan-has-lost-trust/story-e6frf9jf-1226445931872

I managed to sneak into the final eight of my DreamTeam* league by beating a Swedish girl who has only been in the country for four years by the handsome margin of 27 points.

That said, I will fully admit I’m not that great at DreamTeam, largely because I still, even at a sub-conscious level, pick players that are good at footy rather than those who are better for DreamTeam purposes. It is just that I have managed to get myself to try and pick players who are both.

Dane Swan’s decision to enjoy a weekend drink will not only cost him the next two games, but throw the plans of thousands of DreamTeam coaches into disarray. This is widely recognised.

Swan is wildly popular in DreamTeam because he scores exceptionally well. This is because he’s also an excellent footballer. The two go hand in hand. But the ridiculous nature of Dreamteam scoring was highlighted recently in a game in which Swan was involved and racked up 150+ points.

Hawthorn did Collingwood by ten odd goals and were clearly the dominant side on the day. Yet a number of Collingwood players racked up DreamTeam scores over 100, including the midfield trio of Swan, Pendlebury and Beams.

Going by the DreamTeam scores alone, you’d assume that it was Collingwood that had pumped the Hawks, not the other way around. But no, such is the way modern footy is played that it is possible for multiple players to rack up 30 plus touches but still be part of a team that is comprehensively outplayed.

But in that game Swan was immense. Where Pendlebury and Beams racked up more than a few DreamTeam points handballing and passing around in a vain attempt to break the Hawthorn defensive set up, Swan kicked goals, took marks and won contested ball. Without Swan’s herculean efforts, Hawthorn would have won by even more.

This is why Swan is not just a DreamTeam gun, but a true champion on-field too.

Which brings me to the next point. The player that routinely scores well in DreamTeam but doesn’t really have a huge on-field impact. Step up Matty Boyd.

This is not to criticise Boyd. He’s a gutsy clearance machine. Who is playing in a team not traveling that well. He puts his head over the ball, he works his guts out and he rarely has truly poor game.

But how much does he really affect the outcome of a match? I’d argue not that often. Blue collar players are blue collar for a reason – they don’t do the flashy stuff. But Boyd seems the most blue collar of them all. Yet he is Dreamteam royalty. I’ve got him in my team for that very reason. Even if the Dogs are getting flogged, Boyd is normally good for a ton or close enough. But how much does that really reflect the game that was played onfield?

Then there’s those players who impact a game heavily but DreamTeam cannot quantify. The hard bullocking work that goes largely unnoticed, the blocks, the zoning off, the tagger who sacrifices his game to negate a star. We can all name players from our teams who fit that particular bill.

That stuff is, I suppose, part and parcel of a stats based game like DreamTeam. But one area in which is falls down badly is the introduction of the sub rule. In this regard, the rules of the game have snuck ahead of DreamTeam and the challenge for the framers of the competition – I’m seeing the nerds from Homer Goes To College Simpsons episode here – to meet.

I’m not sure how they could do it, but surely the obvious answer is some version of naming one of your players to be a sub and then their score being scaled up to reflect a four quarter effort. Even then, that doesn’t reflect the real impact a sub can have.

Teams are becoming more adroit at using the sub. You can be sure this off-season, players will be trained specifically in sub roles. Just as the NBA has an award for the best sixth man, we will soon be formally recognising the best sub. It will become a bespoke position.

I hope the DreamTeam nerds tweak their game over the off season. You can be sure that everyone else involved – from the rules committee flogs to coaches and their strategists – will be too.

Then next season, I will leave that Swedish girl in my dust. Possibly.

*For DreamTeam substitute SuperCoach at will.

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