WILL’S WEAK OWNERSHIP

Every Supercoacher loves to have a Point Of Difference player (POD) in their team to separate them from the pack. Finding one that sends you in the right direction can be a big gamble, and can make or break your season. Sacrificing a big name proven player for another who you think can breakout almost never works, but every year for one reason or another, there are some genuine premiums who don’t get any love before the season starts. Every Sunday leading up to the start of the 2019 season, I’ll be uncovering one of those players in an attempt to break up the stock standard teams we’re seeing all over social media!

TOM McDONALD
Price: $529,800
Position: Forward
2018 Avg: 97.6
Ownership: 2%

 

Here’s a pick that has potential to go either way, but I don’t think Tom McDonald is going to leave you disappointed. Currently at 2% ownership, he’s around the price range of players such as Isaac Heeney, Devon Smith and Robbie Gray so it makes sense that he’s getting overlooked as an F2 or F3 option.
My intrigue around Tom has a lot to do with Melbourne’s 2019 forward line. In October’s trade period, somewhere between Damian Barrett going off air to check “missed calls regarding big trade news” every 5 minutes and the Kane Cornes/Matthew Lloyd combo putting us to sleep on our commute to work or school, the big trade finally happened sending Jesse Hogan to Fremantle and therefore elevating McDonald to the position of number 1 forward for the Dees. He handled most of the challenges well last season including getting the biggest defender in the few games that Hogan didn’t play, and also in games when the two of them would switch between staying deep forward and moving up the ground. He’s a great mark, averaging 6.7 per game with 3 inside-50, and is smart in using his body and making space for himself, which makes him a difficult match up. He also has elite endurance which makes it hard for his opponents to stay with him all day.
Staying on the subject of Melbourne’s forward line, Sam Weideman has now demanded some attention with his performance in the 2018 finals, so teams won’t be able to just double team one Melbourne key-forward like they have in the past. There is also the addition of Preuss, but at this stage I can’t really factor that in with so much unknown. You would have to assume that if he’s playing, he’s lining up forward until Gawn needs to rest. This could mean further headaches for opposition trying to cover McDonald, but also creates the risk of having 3 talls sharing the load.

TMac kicked 53 goals last year, after missing the first 5 rounds. If he’d played a full season, adding his average to those games would mean a 65-70 goal season, and a potential Coleman medal. That doesn’t mean much to us now but we love goal scorers, and in 2018 he was one of the league’s best. His Scoring efficiency of 68.8% is second only to Mitch Wallis (69%) for players who kicked more than 10 goals for the season.

Hogan and TMac worked well together in 2018, with one often staying deep forward while the other moved up the ground and provided an avenue into the forward 50. With Tom’s elite endurance, I see him continuing this role throughout the season, but it remains to be seen how it will work without Hogan. Supercoachers don’t usually like to pick the stay-at-home key forwards, and for Tom to lose that part of his game would be disappointing to say the least. It’s something to watch during JLT matches, but I think the Demons coaching team will back in Weideman to hold his own so TMac can continue playing the role he excelled at.

On the eve on the 2018 season McDonald was ruled out until round 6 with a persistent toe injury (thanks AFLX). In 2019 however, he’s had a set-back free, full pre-season and should benefit from a clean run going in to round 1, touch wood. He was surprisingly consistent last season with only two scores below 80. One of those was 74, and the other was 39 in a horrible day for the entire team, losing to St. Kilda.
He did however only manage 8 scores above 100, which is one or two lower than most forwards of a similar price. I think he can build on this, but would understand people’s reservations.
Melbourne were the highest scoring team in the competition last year and they’ll be keen to continue that trend which is further good news for McDonald.


VERDICT:

At this stage, I like the pick. Fitting him in though is difficult. Danger is the obvious F1 and in my eyes, Heeney is an obvious F2 which means pushing McDonald to F3 and having three forwards above $529,000. A possible way around this though is to have Heeney as a fifth midfielder to utilise his FWD/MID swing. It’s something I’m only just starting to consider, but it could be a good way to get a high scoring POD into my forward line. Wingard is currently on my radar in a big way, and I prefer the look of having my F3 under $500,000. There are numerous midfield-type forward options this year which makes it hard to pick a genuine forward ahead of them, but if you think he can go one better this year and break into the top 6 forwards (literally only one better, he has the 7th highest average of forwards minus Sam Reid who only played one game), he could be worth a look in as a POD.
Not a lock, but you could do much worse and if TMac fires he could help you on your way to some early wins before your mates catch on. I’m predicting a 95-100 average. Best case 103, worst case 85 which would be frustrating but not season ruined.


 

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