The AFL Draftstars Saturday preview from Tbetta is here! Check it out for the hottest insights to give your lineups an extra edge…
$60,000 Main ($15 entry, 100 max)
$10,000 High Roller ($150 entry, 3 max)
$3,000 Mini ($2 entry, 15 max)
$2,000 Fiver ($5 entry, 20 max)
$2,000 Buck Hunter ($1 entry, 100 max)
$2,000 Micro ($0.50 entry, 100 max)
GEEL vs FREM – GMHBA Stadium: Fine.
WBD vs GWS – Mars Stadium: Low chance of a shower.
GCS vs BRIS – Heritage Bank Stadium: Fine.
ESS vs SYD – Marvel Stadium: Under the roof.
ADE vs PORT – Adelaide Oval: Fine.
We have a strong candidate for the Double Ruck strategy with Dante Visentini ($6,000 RUC/FWD) available as a forward, and he’ll actually have a chance to warm up this time around. The young ruckman scored 132 and 84 in the SANFL before sharing duties with Brynn Teakle and Sam Hayes last week, proving he can exhibit a fantasy game. Dante is a strong candidate to be subbed out with the Power comfortable leaning on Jeremey Finlayson and Charlie Dixon for a quarter, which means he has three quarters to make himself invaluable to Ken.
The Lions have midfield minutes available and a few forwards that can fill the void. Callum Ah Chee ($8,600 FWD/MID) was excellent for his first career ton last week pushing up the ground, but it felt like he was running hot rather than the start of a new phase of his career. Cam Rayner ($8,930 FWD) missed out on the bonus CBAs last time around, but with Zac Bailey still on the sidelines, he should be the next Pez in the dispenser. Of course, the veteran Dayne Zorko ($11,230 MID/FWD) is another candidate as he builds match fitness – his 37% CBA share last week with his second-most of the year. I maintain that a big score is coming; could it be against his bitter rivals from the infamous Handshakegate?
Then we have the man who scans in Gryan Miers ($11,830 FWD), who loves the slopes of GMHBA Stadium like no other. He averages 64 points versus Top 8 sides compared to 81 points against those outside of finals seeding, and Fremantle certainly falls into the latter category. I love him as an upswing pick this week. Ben Keays ($13,100 FWD/MID) though? Not so much. His midfield time was already in dire straits with just 26% centre bounce presence last week, and now we’re adding club champion Rory Laird to that mix? Hard pass.
Of course, my same misgivings about Keays can be applied to Harry Schoenberg ($9,120 MID) after a slate-winning 10.8X value last weekend. He was ahead of Rory Sloane & Keays for CBAs with 42% last week, but he’ll drift even further back with Rory Laird returning and I’m not sure the $1.2k price bump helps his case either. A pivot to Neil Erasmus ($9,440 MID) could be the go; he has a clearer role with James Aish back on a wing and Matthew Johnson managed, making him the clear 4th midfielder. I’m not expecting the 10 tackles and 115 he racked up against the Pies a fortnight ago, but 90 is definitely within reach here.
The Giants are in form and finding ways to push forward without Tom Green steering the inside midfield ship. Callan Ward ($10,560 MID) is underpriced if he’s going to replicate last week’s 77% CBA share, which resulted in a solid 81 points last week but was also responsible for that monster 134 against Richmond back in Round 12. Josh Kelly ($14,880 MID) has also been back in the guts with Green out, also hitting 77% last week. Sentiment towards him in fantasy circles have been bitter recently due to that 30-point failure a few weeks ago, but he’s averaging an untagged 107 this year and has to be respected at this price.
The salaries of our midfield premiums as a whole are starting to get out of hand, so I’m once again hunting for value in this bracket. Lachie Neale ($16,010 MID) is $900 cheaper than his teammate Josh Dunkley and has continuity on his side. Zach Merrett ($16,370 MID) has one of the loftiest ceilings on this slate and his 120-point velocity at Marvel is sparkling this year, spoiled only by last week’s 88-point misfire.
The return of Irishman and former Pie Mark Keane ($6,980 DEF) is a great story, but it shouldn’t feature in your DFS anthology this week. He’s destined for a key defensive role in Nick Murray’s stead, averaging just 55 points in the SANFL. Better options elsewhere.
One of those could be Miles Bergman ($8,170 DEF) who surely has a wing role this week with Dylan Williams returning? I’ve been chasing this DFS unicorn all season, but no joy so far. Somewhat surprisingly, key defender Sam Taylor ($9,110 DEF) is another option in the same price range. He’s averaging 8 marks and 9 Coaches Votes over the last 3 weeks, and the friendly Bulldogs match-up could tip him over the edge.
Another Steven King success story is Rory Atkins ($12,260 DEF), who is finally repaying some of his burgeoning contract to the Suns. He has clearly leapfrogged Darcy Macpherson in the distribution game for Gold Coast, averaging 108 over the last three weeks in a one-two punch with teammate Wil Powell. If we accept the premise that the Bulldogs leak to deep defenders, then you have to take a long, hard look at Harry Himmelberg ($12,580 DEF). Not only is he a beautiful specimen, but he’s got the perfect skillset to capitalise on such a structural quirk, underlined by his season-highs of 12 marks and 112 points against the Suns last week.
If you’re trying to save money in the ruck department, Andrew Phillips ($9,970 FWD/RUC) is your man. Nick Bryan is likely to be subbed out – as has been Brad Scott’s preference with the back-up ruckman all year – so I’m not as worried about the dual ruck situation as usual. Of course, only having a Hayden McLean & Joel Amartey combination to contend with goes a long way towards alleviating those fears.
Paying up might be the way to go though. Reilly O’Brien ($13,600 RUC) is a famous schoolyard bully, and Port naming a fresh Visentini is a soft kill for the large Crow to feast on. Then we have Luke Jackson ($13,970 RUC), who surprisingly only scored 88 despite the elevated 43 hitouts last week. The Dockers are persisting with him as the solo man, so I’m happy to go back to the well again and back in his KPIs and enviable scoring profile.
Jack Macrae ($13,270 FWD/MID)
The last time Macrae scored fewer than last week’s 69 from a full game, he was still a pimple-faced teenager halfway through his first season in the AFL. A big reason for his steep decline over the past few weeks has been the rubber-stamped half forward role, with the 3-time All-Australian allowed just 10% CBA action over the past three weeks.
With a fully-fit midfield for Bevo to choose from and GWS ranking as the third-hardest team for MIDs, I’m not pushing in line to ride this expensive rollercoaster.
Touk Miller ($14,850 MID)
It’s usually his namesake that’s responsible for the horror quotes, but Gold Coast caretaker coach Steven King’s presser where he talked up Touk’s flexibility was enough to scare me right off. He flagged that the versatility allows them to play Miller across half-forward or on a wing while they “evaluate their midfield depth”, which murders his fantasy ceiling – and my passing interest in the Suns’ skipper at a modest price-tag.
Callum Mills ($13,410 MID)
In the same vein as Touk Miller is his opposite number from Sydney, with a sore Callum Mills attending a paltry 3% of centre bounces against the Dockers last week. It was the exact same plot-line too; Horse Longmire admitted post-game that he was able to manage him in-game due to his flexibility and experience playing multiple roles in the past. Thanks, but no thanks.
Super Sexy Flanders
Nobody in fantasy is unaware of Sam Flanders ($13,600 MID) and his blistering form, but that doesn’t make him a bad DFS selection. The high draft pick has averaged 98 over the last five weeks, including 120 & 110 in the fortnight since Dew got the axe. Who would have thought that playing him in the guts – which is where he was situated whilst pumping out an insane 139 points at VFL level this year – was the key to unlocking his prodigious talent?
Flanders was granted 69% a CBA share last week, which was not only a team-high for Suns midfielders, but also a personal career-high. Some stars shine brightly but briefly, but Sam’s looks set to stay ablaze for the rest of season 2023.
It’s been a turbulent year for Bailey Smith ($13,050 FWD/MID), which would have made his return to form all the sweeter for the young Pup. Bazlenka was back to his best against the Bombers, posting his 2nd-highest score for the year with 114 as a full-time high half forward.
The most encouraging aspect of his game was that he was able to rediscover his ability to contribute in all the key fantasy categories (25 touches, 7 marks and 6 tackles) without upswinging with a few lucky goals or relying on unsustainable midfield time (just 9% CBA action). Can he continue to build out west in the ‘Rat, where he’s scored 118, 92 and 118 in his last three appearances?
In somewhat of a surprise, the Lions have resisted the urge to bring in midfield relief for the unlucky Will Ashcroft, instead choosing to promote from within. This is super positive news for Hugh McCluggage ($14,450 MID) for all the reasons I had him as a “fade” in this article last week, headlined by the midfield market share.
Ashcroft has been involved for 44% of Brisbane’s centre bounce attendances this year to McCluggage’s 39%, which is way down from his 55% last season before the Lions drafted the son-of-a-gun and recruited Josh Dunkley. Expect those numbers to correct themselves against the Suns this week, along with The Suitcase’s ceiling – which he flashed in the QClash earlier this year with a season-high 128.
GWS – DEF Stack
Jordan Ridley (128 before getting injured), Mason Redman (100), Andrew McGrath (106), Jayden Laverde (138), Jake Kelly (113), Dyson Heppell (92) and even Brandon Zerk-Thatcher (84) – these are the insane defensive numbers the Bulldogs conceded last week. In fact, the top four “value” players in the $60,000+ Bombers vs Bulldogs slate last week were Essendon backmen.
Now, GWS’s game style is not as fruitful as Essendon’s. But that’s still a lot of groceries for a backline full of chefs like Harry Himmelberg, Lachie Ash, Lachie Whitfield and Harry Perryman, so I’d be very surprised if they didn’t cook something up. Don’t forget the sous chefs, either.
Sydney – DEF Targets
It’s a tough slate for our regular highly-bankable trends, so I’m going to dig a bit deeper into Essendon and what they’re allowing on the flipside of their ball-retentive playstyle. They’ve conceded the 2nd-most points to their opposition’s top 3 defenders this year, as well as the 3rd-most to wings/attacking defenders over the last 10 weeks. Unsurprisingly, slow play and numbers behind the ball also allows the other side to set up perfectly in defence, which results in a lot of extra turnovers inside 50. Turnovers that then turn into fantasy points for that side’s best half-back distributors.
I’m not so keen on going the full “top to bottom” stack here, but I do like targeting playmakers like Jake Lloyd, Oliver Florent and Nick Blakey in defence, who should link up with wingmen such as Braeden Campbell and Justin McInerney more than usual.
Geelong – Full Stack
Big wins equal big scores for the Cats at home with their last two perfectly summing up their dominance at Alphabet Stadium:
- 62-point win vs North, with 13 players scoring over 85, including three scores of 120+.
- 77-point win vs Bombers, with 16 players scoring over 72, winning the fantasy battle by 239 fantasy points.
Fremantle are sitting 15th on the ladder, boasting one of the youngest lists versus the most experienced, on the road to the Stadium with the biggest home ground advantage in the league… This could get messy.
In a parallel universe…
- After the rousing success of Willem Drew’s assault on Nick Daicos last week – where he was also able to punish the Pies going the other way with 16 tackles and 117 fantasy points – does he get the same nod from Ken Hinkley for a potential Jordan Dawson tag after he won the medal in the last Showdown?
- Tom Atkins’ ($12,280 MID) last two scores at GMHBA against weak opposition reads 126 and 122… Just saying.
- If Ben Keays finds himself deep enough in the Adelaide midfield depth chart, does he flip back to a forward tagging role? Dan Houston is paying short odds for an All-Australian blazer and could be worth the sacrifice…
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