DFS Fantasy

Draftstars AFL 23 Saturday Round 23 Tips

It is a mega preview for a mega 5-game AFL Draftstars slate on this Saturday. ‘Tbetta’ tried to keep it concise and small, but we’ve ended up with a 2400-word masterpiece. 2nd last mega slate of the year, so lets get stuck into it!

$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)


RICH vs NTH – MCG: Chance of showers.
GCS vs CAR – Heritage Bank Stadium: Fine.
GWS vs ESS – GIANTS Stadium: Fine.
STK vs GEEL – Marvel Stadium: Under the roof.
ADE vs SYD – Adelaide Oval: Chance of showers.



If you trust Geelong’s Teamsheets, then Shannon Neale ($7,010 FWD/RUC) would be the ruckman for the day and should outperform this price-tag easily if so. The 203cm forward plied his trade in the ruck as a junior so the role isn’t unfamiliar to him, he just hasn’t done it for years or against actual men. For the record, I’m still unconvinced; I think Chris Scott has other options in Sam De Koning and Esava Ratugolea, and he’s brought in another defender at selection to perhaps catalyse that.

Retiring Richmond champion Jack Riewoldt ($8,940 FWD) should be targeted for his final game, as the competition trends towards sending out their stalwarts in style. I’m long enough in the teeth to remember what he can achieve in his final games of the season when finals aren’t on the line and he’s being spoonfed all day – I’m of course referring to Round 21 of 2010 where Mr Brightside bagged 7 goals for 135 fantasy points against the Saints as Richmond searched for any silverware they could get their paws on. North Melbourne is the perfect opponent if the Tigers want him to fill up his boots before he hangs them up.

An alternative in the same price-range is Josh Rachele ($9,290 FWD), which is admittedly speculative but he did collect 54 fantasy points in just 34% TOG last week as the tactical sub. His best is much better than the four-straight sub-60 scores and maybe that cameo performance unlocks peak Rach again. Ultimately, I think I’d prefer to pay up slightly for a couple of Essendon young guns instead. Archie Perkins ($10,810 FWD/MID) scored 87 from 62% CBA share and Ben Hobbs ($11,920 FWD/MID) topped that with 108 from 41% CBA action, and the Bombers have made some big calls to retain their midfield mix by leaving out Caldwell, Shiel and Setterfield.

Meanwhile, Toby Greene ($13,890 MID/FWD) has given us plenty to think about with the Giants shaking up their previously consistent midfield recipe by blessing him with a season-high 62% CBA share for his 110 against the Power. I found this particularly interesting given that GWS were already down a couple of small forwards in Brent Daniels and Toby Bedford through suspension, so perhaps this one is here to stay?

Josh Fahey ($7,170 MID) is again available at a great price, has a great match-up and fills a clear wing role with Nick Haynes out. This is his best chance in a while to replicate some of that dynamic VFL form that saw him average 108 over multiple roles at the secondary level. I much prefer him over last week’s salary-saving studs in Thomson Dow ($8,410 MID) and Dylan Stephens ($8,470 MID), who’ve had players return to muddy their roles.

As with his key forward teammate, Trent Cotchin ($9,090 MID) is cheap and must be considered in his retirement game. I think the Tigers will unleash him in the midfield after consistently holding him back with soft tissue fears over the past couple of seasons – after all, what is he saving himself for now? Don’t forget that he had a brief midfield renaissance earlier this year when Damian Hardwick was tools down, averaging 64% CBA action and 82 points over the month that followed.

It’s important to put Jy Simpkin’s ($12,880 MID) middling score of 87 last week into proper context. He copped a badly corked arm early in the clash and elected to play on, but was moved to a wing (reducing him to 28% CBA share) to help ease the load. A score in the 80’s looks like a huge win when you look at it through that lens, and $12.9k is still cheap for someone with his ceiling. North Melbourne bringing all of Hugh Greenwood, Will Phillips, Tom Powell and Daniel Howe into the squad is a slight concern, however. Maybe you’d prefer to risk it with a Callum Mills ($13,010 MID) type instead, whose worst-case scenario is pretty bad, but whose ceiling is slate-winning?

Speaking of ceiling, the Bombers finally gave themselves an uppercut for messing with his role mid-year and plonked Nic Martin ($13,820 MID) back onto a wing. The result was pure domination of the first half of footy with 20 touches and a pair of sausage rolls, ultimately finishing with a season-high 129. While we’re looking at Bombers, you can pair him up with Darcy Parish ($16,160 MID) for the correlation boost, which would be even more potent if Zach Merrett cops some attention and Parish has to assume more midfield responsibility.

Pound-for-pound though, my favourite midfield pick this Saturday is a discounted Josh Kelly ($14,750 MID). He was tagged last week for 73 and only had 71 the week prior, so he’ll be overlooked by most casual players. What they won’t realise is that he has that juicy “outside players vs Essendon” match-up, or that he has a lowest score of 91 against the Bombers since 2016.

It’s that time of the year where teams outside of the Finals race want to see what they’ve got, and Gold Coast’s selection of Lloyd Johnston ($6,000 DEF) over Darcy Macpherson fits that mould. He’s hardly been bashing down the selection door with an average of just 51 at VFL level this year, so I’m happy to pass here.

He may have managed just the 63 points last week, but I’m still a Zac Fisher ($10,160 DEF/MID) truther. I’ll back in the shiny new half-back role and the 24 touches over variance with his mark (0) and tackle (1) columns against the Demons.

I’m also interested in a couple of his direct opponents this week. The with/without numbers in respect to the unlucky Wil Powell absolutely stacked up for Brandon Ellis ($12,510 DEF/MID) last week, resulting in a season-high 115 points. The aforementioned axeing of Darcy MacPherson and a soft Blues match-up means I’ll be back for seconds, and we can throw Rory Atkins ($12,300 DEF) into the same mix.

Continuing the theme of targeting outgoing club stalwarts is Jack Ziebell ($13,690 DEF), who I’d be considering very closely for a retirement game bump. We’ve already seen how outrageous his ceiling is when he’s in the eye of the perfect storm this year, pumping out scores of 138 (12 marks) and 168 (18 marks) along the journey, and that’s the upside you should be shooting for on Saturday.

The Swans are the second-best ruck match-up in the land, so despite some muted form lately, you have to consider Reilly O’Brien ($12,920 RUC) on a horses-for-courses basis. The 51 hitouts and 104 fantasy points up against Hickey last year is a hugely encouraging sign that a slump break-out is on the cards.

Tom Hickey ($10,200 RUC) himself is a left-field option, with the Crows sneaking into the top three for points conceded to ruckmen over the last 10 rounds. The journeyman churned out a 90 against West Coast (the #1 ranked side for RUCs) a month ago, suggesting that Hickey has the potential to be the best bang-for-your-buck ruck option on the slate.


Patrick Cripps ($13,840 MID)

The Carlton skipper might have picked an unlucky time to hit form – the 120 points last round was his biggest score since Round 6 – with his opposite number at the Gold Coast in Touk Miller currently in the midst of an unexpected tagging storyline in his career arc. To add insult to injury, Cripps starred with 27 touches and 3 goals in his last journey around the Sun(s), so you can be sure he’s on the agenda for the Gold Coast opposition analysis team. In my opinion, there’s no need to take the risk here with plenty of alternative options on a 5-game slate.

Jordan Dawson ($17,100 MID)

Dawson no longer forms half of the total capable ball-winners (alongside Rory Laird) for the Crows, and while he’s still playing solid footy, the deeper midfield is killing his ceiling. With Matt Crouch languishing in the reserves, Dawson tonned-up a huge 82% of the time – but that’s dropped to an alarming 25% over what has been an extended trade showcase for Crouch from Adelaide’s list management team. North of $17k, you simply can’t cop the scores of 91, 98, and 97 that he’s produced over the past month.

Harry Sheezel ($14,230 DEF)

This is more a gut call than a statistically-reinforced red flag, but there’s a couple of worrying omens for the Rising Star favourite this weekend. Firstly, the Jack Ziebell swansong is a huge concern, which is a scenario we saw play out a fortnight ago when he outscored Sheezel by a monstrous 85 points. North have already tipped their hand as to how they treat retiring club legends by rolling out the midfield red carpet for Ben Cunnington last weekend, and I expect to see something similar manifest in defence this Saturday for the Z-Bull.

Secondly, the Roos have lost a small forward in Jaidyn Stepheson to injury but have opted to bring in four midfielders at team selection, rather than a like-for-like replacement. I can see a switch to the forward role that Sheezel was drafted on the strength of, which we’ve already seen happen multiple times this season – often with lukewarm fantasy results.



Sebastian Ross ($11,420 MID)

It was straight back into the midfield for Ross in his return from a soft tissue injury, logging the highest centre bounce attendance rate (62%) since way back in Round 9. A hefty 122 points from a well-rounded stat line was the result, and while I’m not naive enough to believe he’ll replicate this against the Cats on Saturday night, triple figures are still well and truly in play. At just $11.4k, the price is right for Seb here, so come on down.

Rowan Marshall ($17,020 RUC)

Geelong hasn’t been able to select a recognised ruckman after copping a swathe of injuries to their first-choice ruckmen in Rhys Stanley, Jon Ceglar and Mark Blicavs, which is basically handing Marshall 50 free hitouts before he even gets started.

He’s nudged that figure twice already this year and scored accordingly with 129 against a ruckless Sydney and 116 in a dominant performance over O’Brien, and this is a guy that’s already in possession of an insanely potent baseline, averaging 123 points over the last 7 weeks. Marshall notched a 118 versus the Cats last year, and that was with Stanley – what will he be able to do against relative midgets this Saturday?

Nic Newman ($15,250 DEF)

Gold Coast has quietly emerged as a big leaker of points to half-back distributors. Check it out:

  • Lloyd (105), Blakey (95) vs Swans
  • Hinge (124), B Smith (99) vs Crows
  • Lester (105) vs Lions
  • Himmelberg (112), Whitfield (106) vs Giants

Nic Newman is probably the in-form backman of the competition, coming off monster scores of 123, 139, and 138 – a purple patch that hasn’t escaped the attention of the coaching fraternity, generating at least 5 AFLCA votes in each of those showings. Add his current form to strong historical form against the Suns (average of 102 in the last three) and Gold Coast’s newfound weakness for rebounding defenders, and this is a rare occasion where I’m all for jumping aboard the hype train. Toot toot.

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St Kilda – Full Stack

As we know, Marvel Stadium is the home of high-scoring fantasy footy and is always a great starting point when considering team stacking. St Kilda are by far the highest-scoring club at an average of 1657 per game – daylight is second, with third the Blues at 1601 – so it makes sense to target them ahead of the 13th-ranked Cats at a clean 1500 per game.

After 22 rounds of this fantasy dominance, many of the St Kilda players are fully-priced, but you can still find a few diamonds in the rough. Seb Ross ($11,420 MID), Jade Gresham ($11,560 FWD/MID) and Mason Wood ($13,270 MID) all have ceilings way above their price-tags, while Jack Steele’s ($14,840 MID) persistent stumbles have ensured he remains affordable.

Geelong – DEF Stack

While I’m concerned that finally having an actual contingent of key forwards to choose from has eroded some of the value we’ve enjoyed in 2023, St Kilda’s leakiness to opposition defenders is still worth hunting.

I actually like some of the cheaper Cats on offer, with Jed Bews ($6,000 DEF), Jake Kolodjashnij ($6,030 DEF) the exact types of players that could spike with some cheap +6’s available. Jack Bowes ($9,070 DEF) and Zach Guthrie ($10,660 DEF) have triple-digit upside if you’re looking for underpriced offensive types, while Mitch Duncan ($14,160 DEF/MID) is the clear pay-up target in the hoops.

Richmond – Full Stack

You can’t have a North Melbourne slate without at least dipping your toes into the stacking pool, so despite Richmond being a statistically lean side overall, I’ll be looking at them for a one-week greasing of the numbers. On top of the retirees covered above, I like the discounted Jacob Hopper ($12,260 MID), while Jayden Short ($14,440 DEF) is probably the best blend of value and ceiling that Richmond has to offer. Blend them in with the cheap forwards for instant (Sydney) stacks.



In a parallel universe…

  • Tagging is all the rage in the AFL at the moment, so following the success of Callan Ward’s hit job on The Bont a fortnight ago, will the Giants look to pull off another heist by locking down the influential Zach Merrett?
  • Meanwhile, Adelaide’s coaching staff will have plenty to mull over after the Suns proved that Errol Gulden can, in fact, be stopped. Could Ben Keays move up the ground to tag him? A structural reshuffle with an extra forward in at the expense of a defender – which would be covered by sliding Brodie Smith back from a wing – suggests they are brewing up something spicy in the midfield…
  • Ross Lyon has strongly hinted that Tom Stewart is deserving of the James Sicily treatment from a couple of rounds ago, and despite being a known liar, this makes a lot of sense. Buyer beware…


Ready to go? Draftstars multi game Saturday slate will close at 1.45pm AEST. ENTER NOW!

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For free and confidential support call 1800 858 858 or visit