The pre season is upon us! In the lead up to round one i'll be covering one player from each team that you may have otherwise not given a second thought to for your squad in 2017. Any fantasy coach can pick an established elite, but it's 'the other guys' that will inevitably decide your team's fate. Today we focus our fantasy thoughts on...
Third club, third time lucky? The career of new Carlton recruit Rhys Palmer has been an intriguing one to say the least, will season 2017 be the one where he returns to fantasy consideration for coaches?
Most know about his first year in the system, picked up at number seven in the draft by Fremantle and going onto win the Rising Star award for best first year player. He averaged 87 that year in what is still his best output in his seven year career, that was 2008. Since then it's been tough going for the midfielder/forward/tagger, with 2016 his most disappointing year to date at an average of 59.2.
Despite the steady decline of Palmer, I've always still held onto a glimmer of hope that he may one day return to his debut year and consequently fulfill his potential. He was initially recruited as a ball winning midfielder with an elite engine, he can run all day. That debut year he was played as a pure midfielder, since 2008 however, his role has changed every week he goes out to play. Fremantle lost faith in him, giving him a reputation of not having enough skills (in particular his kick) to mix it with the best mids on his way out the door in 2011. The Giants then snapped him up, taking him with the thought of getting an established player who could help their young brigade of talent laden kids. Those same talented kids inevitably pushed Palmer to the side, where he once again found himself on the outer, out of position and consequently out of the team. He played the majority of his time in the NEAFL during his five years with GWS, racking up ridiculous numbers playing as a pure midfielder - especially in 2016, check this out:
Round 11 (vs. Sydney Swans): 39 disposals, seven marks, five tackles, seven inside 50s, 2.0
Round 12 (vs. Canberra): 52 disposals, seven marks, nine tackles, 11 inside 50s, 4.1
Round 19 (vs. Gold Coast): 23 disposals, six marks, four tackles, six inside 50s, 2.1
Round 20 (vs. Redland): 40 disposals, five marks, four tackles, 12 inside 50s, 1.2
Round 21 (vs. Brisbane Lions): 36 disposals, six marks, eight tackles, 11 inside 50s, 6.1
Round 22: (vs. Sydney Uni): 35 disposals, eight marks, 12 tackles, 11 inside 50s, 4.3
Now pick your jaw back up off the ground. The point here is Palmer hasn't played in the right position since 2008, he's been a forward tagger, a midfield tagger, an off the bench midfielder and full time gap filler for the majority of his career. Now, the only reason you would be looking at Palmer as an option in 2017 is if he's named as a forward - no one in their right mind would take him as a mid. So the question here is, what role does Brendan Bolton see fit for the 2008 Rising Star?
The Blues have their mainstay midfielders of Gibbs, Murphy and Cripps, after that it's Curnow and Kerridge then daylight. Can Palmer wriggle his way back into a full time midfield position? Matt Wright is covering the high half forward role that Palmer played at the Giants, while Kerridge has been used in shut down roles in the midfield. Does this mean Palmer gets a free run at it? Or is he simply there for midfield depth and compensation...
The other knock on Palmer is his ability to play out a full season, his last five year game totals read 15,11,17,14 and 13. That's five years with the Giants, the decline of those numbers coincide with lack of senior opportunity due to a rising talent list rather than injury. Palmer is durable enough to play out a full year.
For me it's the pre season games that will decide if Palmer comes into consideration, given the right role he has the potential to go an 85 average which is nothing to sneeze at as a forward or stepping stone. His price at a 59 average will be DIRT CHEAP for what he can produce. At his best he's comfortably in the Blues best dozen players and has flexibility on his side to play a variety of roles which Bolton seems to like in his players.
Is it time to give the fallen star a chance?