North Melbourne had an eventful but altogether disappointing 2013 which saw them lose many close games and narrowly miss out on a finals berth. However, season 2014 is full of promise for the royal blue and white, having signed free agent Nick Dal Santo and revamped their coaching panel over the off-season.
Amongs North’s new coaches is martial arts expert John Donehue, who has been hired on specifically to help the Roos develop their tackling skills. Tackles are a great way for players to rack up fantasy points, so don’t be surprised if North players improve their fantasy numbers across the board in 2014.
No one on North’s list managed to average 100 or better in 2013, meaning you’re not likely to take any of them off the board in the first few rounds of fantasy drafts. However, they have a number of valuable and consistent players at a variety of positions, and several younger players who may rise to elite status in 2014.
The Kangaroos were the most miserly team in the league in 2013 in terms of fantasy points given up, conceding over 100 fewer fantasy points on average than the rest of the competition. They hassled the opposition’s ball carriers, conceding the fewest marks, kicks and handballs to opposition sides. Despite not having a recognised tagger, this team approach to pressure made them the toughest unit to score against in fantasy.
Dynamite small forward/midfielder Brent Harvey continues to be North’s most damaging player. He has consistently produced elite fantasy numbers and should continue to do so in 2014. Young inside midfielder Jack Ziebell stepped up to elite status in 2013, putting up an average of 94 points. His best work was done late in the year, suggesting further improvement in 2014. Free agency acquisition Nick Dal Santo had average fantasy form at St Kilda in 2013, but we expect him to improve rapidly at his new club where he will be less likely to cop a hard tag. He played a little of half-back for the Saints and is a sneaky chance to gain back eligibility in 2014.
North’s big man Todd Goldstein is perhaps the AFL’s most reliable fantasy ruckman. He averaged 89 points in 2013, the third highest of any ruck, and played all 22 games. Another Roo known for reliability is key forward Drew Petrie. His scores fluctuate from week to week depending on his form in front of goal, but they always even out to a respectable total. Discounting his injury-affected 2010, he has averaged 80 or better every year from 2008 onwards.
Newly-drafted Father-Son selection Luke McDonald has already had the benefit of a year at VFL level and two pre-season altitude camps in Utah as he heads into his debut season. He should make his mark early off the half-back line. Also keep an eye on talented speedster Shaun Atley, who is likely to move from defence into the midfield in 2014. His fantasy scoring will take a huge leap forward if he does.
North Melbourne were easily the best team outside the 8 in 2013, so a successful season looms. They’ll have to do much of the work without their captain, however. Tackle-happy midfielder Andrew Swallow is North’s best fantasy player when fit, but he injured his Achilles tendon late in 2013 and could miss as much as half of the 2014 season. He should put up some decent numbers late in the season, but it may not be worth carrying him through his injury over the first part of the year.