It is the last mega 5-Game Saturday slate before the Byes kick in the AFL. With some key outs from both the GWS and Demons sides, there are multiple of viable options for your Draftstars teams. ‘Tbetta’ is back with another mega ‘Stargazing’ article, taking in all 220 options!
$75,000 Main ($15 entry, 125 max)
$10,000 High Roller ($150 entry, 3 max)
$5,000 Fiver ($5 entry, 50 max)
$3,000 Mini ($2 entry, 15 max)
$2,500 Buck Hunter ($1 entry, 100 max)
$2,000 Micro ($0.50 entry, 100 max)
STK vs HAW – Marvel Stadium: Under the roof.
MEL vs FREM – MCG: Fine.
GEEL vs GWS – GMHBA Stadium: Fine.
GCS vs WBD – TIO Stadium: Fine.
WCE vs ESS – Optus Stadium: Fine.
We’re blessed with a swathe of options in the midrange, which is where I’ll be focusing most of my attention in the FWD slots this Saturday. With Clayton Oliver and Lachie Hunter suddenly out of the side, James Harmes ($8,120 MID/FWD) makes his return to the AFL squad. His 2023 demise was due to a shocker in Round 2 with 19, and he backed that up with scores of just 15 and 24 in his two games as the starting tactical sub since. He has all the makings of a potential 10X play here.
Nat Fyfe ($8,220 FWD/MID) is another option at an almost identical price having “pulled up well” and confirmed by coach Justin Longmuir as being on unrestricted minutes this weekend. I would exhibit some caution however, as it looks like he’ll be spending more time up forward given the disturbed team balance of the midfielder Matt Johnson coming in for injured forward Michael Walters at selection.
Rounding out the mid-priced madness is a couple of forwards who’ll be looking at extra CBA’s due to injury. I’ll cover Callan Ward ($9,260 FWD) in more detail below, but that price is simply way too low if he’s going to play a full game with midfield minutes in Josh Kelly’s absence. Likewise, Jake Stringer ($10,220 FWD/MID) has been pumped full of centre bounce action with mainstays in Darcy Parish and Will Setterfield out, and then he gets to feast on the tired West Coast defense when “resting” up forward.
The aforementioned Matthew Johnson ($6,000 MID) is weirdly basement-priced given that he’s played 6 games this year, but I’m not complaining. He’s averaged 53 in his three full games for Fremantle this year, so a slight upswing could easily result in the 11X value we’re after with our cheapies. Andrew Gaff ($9,840 MID) is a left-field option, but he simply has to bounce back at some point. He’s been criticised for being a bit of a seagull over his career, so West Coast regaining some troops in Elliot Yeo, Shannon Hurn and Tom Barrass can only help him find a few extra scraps.
I expect there will be a lot of focus on Essendon midfielders with the dream West Coast match-up, exacerbated by some injured teammates and the generous salaries of Ben Hobbs ($11,110 MID), Jye Caldwell ($12,530 MID) and Dylan Shiel ($13,320 MID). If you want to hedge your bets a little in the same price range, Harry Perryman ($11,730 MID) will be looking at all the midfield minutes he can handle in honour of Josh Kelly’s hamstring.
Without mentioning a very obvious Premium pick too soon, I like Bailey Smith ($14,330 MID) since getting back into Bevo’s good book. He’s averaged a hefty 81% CBAs and 112 fantasy points over the past fortnight, and enjoys that natural discount due to his lukewarm early-season form. I also have a bit of interest in Andrew Brayshaw ($16,650 MID) despite the exorbitant price-tag, but the Demons have been a green match-up for MIDs all year and have now lost their best ball-winner in Oliver for the short term.
Oisin Mullin ($6,000 DEF) is a Gaelic superstar, but the Geelong rookie isn’t much of a scorer in Aussie Rules just yet, producing middling scores of 53, 39, 51 at VFL level this year. I’m comfortable taking a couple of potshots, but it’s difficult to see much of a ceiling for someone who’s only played a handful of official matches in the sport in his entire life.
Once again, we’re going hunting in the midrange. Elliot Yeo ($10,360 DEF/MID) piqued my interest based solely on price and name-brand value, but surely he’s heavily managed once again? Christian Salem ($10,840 DEF) is also nicely priced – potentially the lowest salary we’ve seen him on Draftstars for years – but he probably has similar management issues with that chronic thyroid issue flaring up in early 2023.
Now that the Maybes are out of the way, I can talk about the Definites. I’ll cover Angus Brayshaw ($11,550 DEF/MID) in more detail below, but I’m very interested in his services at this price with inside midfield clock highly likely. Lachie Ash ($12,930 DEF) was disappointing last week but I’m backing in the logic of extra responsibility with all of Isaac Cumming, Nick Haynes and Harry Himmelberg out injured. Of course, Mason Redman ($12,960 DEF) has to be respected with the West Coast match-up after what fellow distributor James Sicily (125) did against them in Round 10.
With Andrew Phillips finally dropped, it’s officially Sam Draper ($10,720 RUC) season – and he gets the juiciest possible match-up in the league with a West Coast pampering. The numbers here are crazy; ruckmen against the Eagles have surpassed their average 88% of the time this season, with an average boost of a massive 24 points. Lock.
Jarrod Witts ($13,820 RUC) is an alternative with the Tim English match-up, which is much less scary than it sounds. In fact, the Bulldogs are up to the 3rd-best ruck match-up this year, conceding the 2nd-most hitouts of all teams – and we know just how heavily the 209cm Sun scales on hitouts.
Gold Coast MIDs.
The Bulldogs have been putting the clamps on their opponents of late, conceding terminally low numbers in the middle third of the ground over the past 5 weeks. Meanwhile, Gold Coast are the clear worst-ranked team for uncontested footy over the past 18 months. With the Bulldogs now flexing the muscles of their high-salary midfield, I’m not expecting a heap of triple-digit scores from the Suns this weekend and I’m happy to fade across the board.
Jack Sinclair ($14,480 DEF/MID)
St Kilda’s Teamsheets throws up an interesting quandary on Saturday afternoon, replacing their forward/ruck hybrid Mitch Owens with last week’s starting substitute in Ben Paton, a career defender. Given that Sinclair has been a part-time member of the Saints’ midfield, it’s reasonable to assume he could be pushed back into more minutes up the ground.
While this is normally a huge positive for our DFS prospects, Sinclair has actually averaged 107 fantasy points when getting less than 30% CBA action, compared to just 87 when he’s a bigger part of that rotation.
Tom Green ($16,410 MID)
Geelong have once again named a defender-heavy squad, which has historically been a reliable indicator of a midfield move for Mark O’Connor. Of course, the big concern is that the Irishman is tasked with a lockdown role, with the red-hot Green at the top of taggable candidates for GWS with the classy Josh Kelly absent through injury.
While we were right about Angus Brayshaw ($11,550 DEF/MID) earning more midfield time with the return of Christian Salem for the first time this year, it wasn’t the full-time inside bull usage that made him a DFS darling to end 2022. But with Clayton Oliver and his 91% CBA action picking up a hamstring niggle, Brayshaw’s 36% could easily double overnight. With a 110-point average as a midfielder over the final five Home & Away games last year, The Helmet has to be on your shortlist this Saturday.
Flogging A Dead Horse
Zach Merrett ($16,810 MID) smacking out a season-high 158 during a fresh injury crisis at Essendon hasn’t escaped the notice of anyone in the fantasy and DFS communities, so expect him to be hot property against the Eagles.
Try as I might, I can’t find any reason to go away from conventional wisdom with Zach this Saturday evening. Xavier O’Neill getting dropped means one lesser potential tagger to deal with, he has a sparkling record against West Coast with 133, 132 and 118 in his last three, and gets the juicy Darcy Parish-free boost. Merrett now averages a monstrous 126 in the 8 games without Parish alongside him in the past two seasons.
It’s been an interesting season for the veteran Callan Ward ($9,260 FWD). Not only was he slowly phased out of the midfield group with a forward-line role, he then progressed to being phased out of the side with a new role as the tactical sub over the past fortnight. Just like that, his 80-point average from the first 5 games dwindled to just 35 points per game over the next month.
Of course, it’s the injury to Josh Kelly that thrusts Ward back into DFS consideration. It appears that GWS realised that their former skipper was a pretty shithouse forward, opting to use him as midfield fodder instead with 21% and 28% CBAs despite starting as the sub. With the Giants bringing in three players this week and not one of them being a midfielder, I’m liking the outlook for Ward and some renewed midfield clock in Round 11.
Hawthorn – DEF Stack
Welcome to our weekly St Kilda defender stack paragraph! Until the Saints name a forward line with an average height over 5’4”, I’ll keep recommending their opponents. As per usual, we’re looking for the players that scale with marks, given that St Kilda concedes more than any other side this year. James Sicily ($14,980 DEF) is the obvious candidate given his lofty mark-powered ceiling, but he has to play kick-to-kick with someone. I can see any of Blake Hardwick, Seamus Mitchell, Lachlan Bramble and Josh Weddle invited to the skills session, so keep them in mind.
Essendon – Full Stack
There’s not much to say here that the media haven’t said all week – West Coast are deplorable and it’s Essendon’s turn to sink the boot in. The Hawks had 10 players score over 90 fantasy points last week, so feel free to stack anyone with a red sash and a heartbeat this Saturday evening.
St Kilda – Full Stack
It’s the highest scoring fantasy team this year against the team that concedes the 4th-most, which is usually a great stacking indicator. The guaranteed slick and dry deck under the Marvel mat is another (undervalued) green flag. MIDs and FWDs have been the happiest hunting grounds against the Hawks this year, so look out for ceiling games from Jack Steele and Brad Crouch, while Jake Gresham and Max King are attractive picks in attack.
In a parallel universe:
- The Giants are low on defenders with all of Sam Taylor, Nick Haynes, Isaac Cumming and even Harry Himmelberg out injured, so is there a chance James Peatling gets swung back? He was drafted mid-season by GWS in 2021 after plying his trade across half-back in the VFL…
- Could famed swingman Josh Battle flip forward for the Saints to replace makeshift forward/ruck Mitch Owens? If so, Jack Sinclair could continue to roam across half-back, where he scored a season-high 141 fantasy points last weekend…
- Joel Jeffery has kicked a goal in all four games he’s played for Gold Coast this year, but could that streak end this week? He’s been lining up in defense in the VFL of late, averaging 81 in the past month at the lower level…
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