Hey there, gang. Now my journalistic integrity prohibits me from taking credit for the premise of this article – that has to go to the honourable Steven Fizzworth III (is his name just Steven Fizz? @ me on Twitter if you know, because I still don’t). 

These days, a lot of AFL teams like to have a primo-dimo big man doing the majority of the rucking around the ground, coupled with a forward-capable tall who is able to offer some relief in the ruck when necessary. Think historical ruck/forward tandems such as Lycett/Ladhams, McInerney/Daniher, Grundy/Cox and so on. Today, I’ll be exploring these types of duos, with a focus on ruck/forward listed players who could go BOOM if we were to see their first-choice ruckmen go down with injury. 

2022 Draft Kit: https://bit.ly/34RJ8qs

Mock Draft Simulator: https://bit.ly/34OYsE6

ROWAN MARSHALL

St Kilda to regain Marshall, Membrey and Ross for Richmond clash
Big things are in store.

Eligibility: Ruck (AF/SC), Ruck/forward (UF)

Team No. 1 Ruck: Paddy Ryder

Predicted Avg W/ Ryder: 80-85/100 (AF/SC)

Predicted Avg W/O Ryder: 105/115+ (AF/SC)

Let’s get the most obvious candidate out of the way first, and I say he is the most obvious candidate for 2 main reasons. The first is Marshall’s sheer scoring capability. He builds a score in exactly the way we fantasy coaches want ruckman to; hit-outs in the 30-40 range, 20 odd disposals, marks around the ground and a solid tackle count to ice the cake. With that said, those robust stat counts occur when his compatriot, Paddy Ryder, is sidelined. This leads me to my second pointthe age/injury profile of Paddy Ryder. With Paddy now 34, and a recent history of getting hurt (11 missed games in 2021), I see 2 outcomes for Marshall here. The first is Ryder getting hurt and Marshall going bananas in his absence, establishing himself as a top 4 fantasy ruckman if Ryder misses bulk time. I should mention here that Tom Campbell was recruited to the Saints from the Kangaroos, but I believe this was merely to add to ruck-depth in case of an emergency. The second outcome is St Kilda giving more rest time to Ryder, whether it be playing him more as a forward or simply resting him some weeks with a ‘general soreness’ tag. This is another green-light-means-go scenario for Marshall. 

To summarise, do not hesitate in drafting Marshall this season (unless there’s an injury scare, of course). The adept drafter should be bullish on Marshall this season, and with the added forward status in UF, he will assuredly go in the early rounds of competitive leagues. 

PETER LADHAMS 

Sydney Swans welcome Peter Ladhams
Steve’s guy could be on the up in 2022!

Eligibility: Ruck/Forward (AF/SC/UF)

Team No. 1 Ruck: Tom Hickey

Predicted Avg W/ Hickey: 70-75/80-90 (AF/SC)

Predicted Avg W/O Hickey: 92/105 (AF/SC)

Ladhams was highly sought after by the Swans and it took them 2 years to nab their guy, so you can assume they want to get the big fella rolling ASAP. We caught a sneak-peak of Ladhams’ scoring potential last season when he played the primary ruck role for Port while Lycett was sidelined for 4 weeks due to suspension. In those 4 Lycett-less games, Ladhams went 98, 95, 103 and 78 (AF) – so yeah, he can score. In addition, he has just turned 24, AKA a typical ripening age for developing big men in the league. Marry this to the fact that the Swans are currently blooding a young team of future stars and the fit seems ostensibly perfect… aside from one HICK-up.

Yes, in Ladhams’ way towers the more than capable Tom Tickey, who had a banner year in 2021, playing 20 games and averaging a career high 82/103 (AF/SC). Currently, there is a dearth of information on how the Swans’ rucks will structure up this year, but in my mind, a situation where Ladhams gradually assumes the primary ruck-role is highly possible in 2021; Hickey does turn 31 after all and is clearly not in Sydney’s long term plans (and neither is Callum Sinclair, for that matter). In any case, draft Ladhams as your F4/5 and if the usurping of Hickey is to for whatever reason eventuate, you’ll have yourself an F1/2 at great draft-day value!

LUKE JACKSON

Melbourne Demons' WA recruit Luke Jackson apologises to his mum after  knocking front teeth out | PerthNow
He certainly ain’t missing any talent.

Eligibility: Ruck/Forward (AF/SC/UF)

Team No. 1 Ruck: Max Gawn

Predicted Avg W/ Gawn: 65-70/75-80 (AF/SC)

Predicted Avg W/O Gawn: 80-85/90 (AF/SC)

Jonny Crockett is a little more bullish than I am on LJ, classing him as an F4 type for 2022 (but you’d know that if you’d already bought the draft kit. Do that if you haven’t). I like him as an F5/bench guy with the possible opportunity to step up his scoring if something were to happen to/shift with Max Gawn. From all of his 2021 games (finals included), LJ went above 80 (AF) 7 times and did so by seeing more time in the ruck as Max played a little more forward; these are encouraging signs. Jackson turns 21 this year and in keepers, he should be considered one of the hottest commodities in the game. As for redraft leagues, Jackson is still a little green for me, and his output and fantasy relevance hinges upon the status of Max Gawn.

Speaking of, Max played every game last year and looked as fit as ever. He also brained it late-season, averaging 130 from his last 4 games (AF – finals included). Why are salary cappers going cold on him again? Anyway, draft Jackson in your F5/bench cover range and see how it plays out, after all, Max just turned 30 and Jackson is the future big-man in the middle for the Dees. 

TIM ENGLISH

Is Tim English the most improved player in the competition?
How big can he go in 2022?

Eligibility: Ruck/Forward (AF/SC/UF)

Team No. 1 Ruck: Stef Martin

Predicted Avg W/ Martin: 80-85/90-95 (AF/SC)

Predicted Avg W/O MArtin: 95+/105+ (AF/SC)

Now this case isn’t as clear-cut as the previous ones we have looked at because English doesn’t necessarily score higher when Martin is out (as evidenced by the 2021 data). With that said, there was a nice run of scores from English as the lead ruckmen last season, going 95, 54, 127, 87, 86, 105 and 83 in rounds 15-21. These are great numbers for a young ruckman and I think English has untapped upside when it comes to his rucking craft (surely he improves his H/O numbers!). English comes into 2022 as a 24 year old (the prime ripening age for developing bigs) and with Martin turning 36 this year and only managing 7 games in the one previous, the dogs will want to start the handover in the ruck department. They have another 24 year old ruck in the form of Jordan Sweet, but I am almost certain he is simply a depth piece, and someone to be used to chop out Martin or English if either were to miss extended time.

Draft English as your F2 and if Martin is to miss time, the changing of guard could occur and with another preseason under his belt, I believe English could really step up his scoring as the main big-man in the middle for the Dogs. 

CALLUM COLEMAN-JONES and/or TRISTAN XERRI

CCJ

Coleman-Jones, Tarrant swap clubs after Roos, Tigers strike deal

Eligibility: Ruck/Forward (AF/SC/UF)

Team No. 1 Ruck: Todd Goldstein

Predicted Avg W/ Goldstein: 60/70 (AF/SC)

Predicted Avg W/O Goldstein: 80/90 (AF/SC)

I didn’t think that Goldy was going to stick around at Arden Street until he was 34, but here we are. Obviously, he isn’t a part of the Roos’ future and a succession plan seems to be in place with CCJ being recruited from the Tigers in the off-season. At 22 years of age, CCJ looked comfortable at the AFL level last year, as in his first 3 games, he went for 112, 86 and 81 (SC). I’m intrigued to see how the ruck situation at the North plays out and if age finally catches up to Goldy, CCJ could be thrust into a fruitful ruck-role. 

The draft kit says to draft CCJ (really) late and perhaps handcuff him with Goldy and I like that advice. The path to CCJ’s relevance is long and twisted, but at least keep him on your radar. 

XERRI

Xerri gets physical
This is what Tristan Xerri looks like.

Eligibility: Forward (AF/SC/UF)

Team No. 1 Ruck: Todd Goldstein

Predicted Avg W/ Goldstein: 50/60 (AF/SC)

Predicted Avg W/O Goldstein: 75/80 (AF/SC)

The X man. The marked spot. The only player in the AFL whose surname starts with X. He’s turning 23 and played 8 games last for the Kangas last season. His past scoring isn’t worth remarking upon but an injury to Goldy (or a general shift to the overall youth plan) could see Xerri in a scoring role. He’s not worth drafting, but he’s at an age where the Roos will consider blooding him for the future. 

As the Draft Doctor’s headmaster likes to say, “you don’t win your league on draft day”. A lot of change occurs throughout an AFL season, and having an idea of a player’s’ range of outcomes is paramount in getting the edge on your league-mates. That is what this article is about and who knows? The guy you drafted at the value of a 70 forward may transform into a league winner if the circumstances change in your favour.

As always, I’d love to converse about this stuff, so leave a comment or get me @lionelhutz4prez on Twitter. 

Draft SZN is well underway now! Rejoice!