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Roody’s Final(s) Straw: 2018 Grand Final

Posted Fri 28 September by roody

The 2018 Grand Final – Collingwood vs West Coast

So here we are, the big dan…. Please. As if I would start my last article of the year like that!

The game that none of us can wait for is also the game that none of us predicted. In the space 23 rounds and a crazy finals series, narratives have been turned on their heads. Two teams that were largely written off at the beginning of the year, two teams that have endured significant injuries to important players, two teams that play contrasting styles of football, will face off in this intriguing Grand Final.

West Coast

After losing Priddis and Mitchell over the off-season, many pundits thought that the Eagles would come back to the pack this year. While their forward and back lines have been solid over the last few years, people wondered whether their midfield could mix it with the best in the league. Career-best years from Andrew Gaff and Elliot Yeo, as well as the reemergence of Jack Redden’s beast mode, have helped silence those criticisms. The impact of moving from the fortress that was Subiaco to Optus Stadium was also a pre-season unknown. However, the Eagles quickly proved that their spectacular new stadium would also provide headaches for visiting teams (and that’s just from the noise of the booing). To win a game of footy, all the Eagles mids really need to do is break even. The key to their success lies at either end of the ground.

The Eagles are 12-0 this season when Kennedy and Darling have played together. Granted, the majority of these games have been at Optus Stadium. However, JJK and Darling remain one of football’s best forward line double acts. Throw in a seriously underrated Jamie Cripps, a rejuvenated Mark LeCras and energetic small forwards Liam Ryan and Willie Rioli and you’ve got one damn fine forward line. Not to be outdone are the defensive pillars named McGovern and Hurn. As Melbourne discovered last week, you just can’t keep sending long balls into the West Coast defensive 50. If Collingwood does the same and allow Hurn, McGovern and Tom ‘McGovern Jnr’ Barrass control the air, the game is as good as over. That said, the West Coast backline isn’t particularly fast – an aspect that Collingwood could easily exploit.

Collingwood

There are 22 Collingwood players in this game and about 1000s stories about their respective journeys to this point. None more impressive perhaps, than the story of their coach, Nathan Buckley. Such was the strength of Eddie Maguire’s guy-love for Buckley that he effectively sacked Mick Malthouse, one of the most successful coaches of the AFL era, just to give Buckley a job. After several years of mixed results and a list that included a plethora of midfielders and half-back flankers, the knives would have been out of Buckley if the Pies had not shown something before the bye. But then something happened: Buckley grew a beard. This proved to be the turning point on the Pies’ season. Players started to think, “shit, if Bucks can grow a beard, maybe I can implement a game plan?” And the rest is history. Collingwood has shown one of the hallmarks of successful teams over the first years – team football. If Adams doesn’t kill you through the corridor, Treloar will. If Sidebottom doesn’t kill you on the wing, Sidebottom will. If De Goey doesn’t kick a bag from the square, Stephenson/Thomas/WHE will. Late season additions Brody Mihocek and Brayden Sier have also replicated the 2016 Bulldogs philosophy of ‘one soldier out, another soldier in’. Both players have been critical to team balance have allowed other players to stay in their preferred positions. When Collingwood are on (as they were last week against Richmond) it’s team football at its absolute best. And I haven’t even mentioned Brodie Grundy!

Ins and Outs

Both teams have named unchanged line-ups for the Grand Final. It’s been a sore couple of days for the Jeremy’s, McGovern and Howe. Both players are carrying injuries but are both likely to play today. Keep your eye on the final teams though. If either of these players misses, there will be significant real and DFS implications.

Introduction

For the Grand Final slate, I’ve discussed the fantasy potential of all 44 players. I’ve been purposefully brief and tried to take each players’ likely game-day role into account. I’ve also included each player’s 2018 average against the other team as well as their projection from Fantasy Insider (standard setting projection). If you’re new to Fantasy Insider, our projections and lineup crunchers are fantastic team-building tools.

Rucks

Brodie Grundy – $17,220

If you’ve never sat down and focused on Grundy, then do yourself a favour and do just that. Grundy has elite endurance but more impressive is the intelligence he shows in his running. It’s this combination of endurance, skill and footy IQ that makes Grundy such a gun. In DFS, we always have the same dilemma with Grundy. We know that he’s odds-on to score 110+ but at $17K, he takes a sizeable chunk out of your salary. It’s been a mixed bag for Grundy against the Eagles this season. After struggling in Round 17 (despite Nic Nat going down early), Grundy comprehensively beat Vardy and Lycett in the elimination final.

Against WC in 2018: 68, 100.

FI Projection: 119.5

Mason Cox – $9,510

Cox is quickly becoming one of my favourite players in the competition. From his quality Twitter banter to his game-breaking ability and his honest humility, I challenge anyone to not like this bloke. Collingwood used Cox perfectly against Richmond but in doing so, gave West Coast time to watch and learn. The Victorian footy media has ignored the quality of West Coast’s backline (ranked 5th in the league) and just last week they held the competition highest scoring team goalless til half time. Cox is still good value, but it will be tough for him to repeat his prelim heroics.

Against WC: DNP, 18

FI Projection: 62.3

Scott Lycett – $10,410

If trade rumours are to be believed, this will be Lycett’s last game for the Eagles. Lycett has answered the call after the Eagles lost Nic Nat to another knee injury and his fantasy output has been solid since then as well. Lycett’s pre-Nic Nat injury average was 69 and his post-injury average is 75 (note: this includes three consecutive sub 50 scores in Lycett’s last three games). I can’t see Lycett winning the ruck battle today and his recent fantasy form doesn’t inspire me. Still, if my choice is $17K for Grundy or $7K for Vardy, Lycett suddenly doesn’t look completely horrible.

Against Coll: 54, 47.

FI Projection: 71.9

Nathan Vardy – $7,750

I played Vardy against Melbourne as I expected his height to provide a real problem for Melbourne’s defenders. It turned out that Darling and JJK were so prolific that Vardy wasn’t needed. As a time-sharing ruck/forward, Vardy’s ceiling is limited. If I got 50-60 out of Vardy today, I’d be very happy.

Against Coll: DNP, 57.

FI projection: 59

Defenders

Will Schofield – $5,000

I’ll save you some time – Schofield is not someone you pick in your fantasy team. He’s a role-playing key defender with a limited floor and ceiling. I’d only expect to see Schofield in an ultimate studs and scrubs lineup.

Against Coll: 36, DNP.

FI projection: 35.8

Tyson Goldsack – $5,000

There will be more than a few coaches who choose to go for a Goldsack/Schofield. This strategy basically allows you to play Grundy and 3 x midfield studs. It’s not a ridiculous idea but the risks are clear. I can’t see any other reason to play Goldsack.

Against WC: DNP, 18

FI Projection: 48.2

Tom Cole – $7,020

Tom Cole is something who I think about using to save salary and then I change my mind and keep scrolling up. I’m going to do the same thing today. Cole is likely to spend the day minding Collingwood’s dangerous small-medium forwards so he won’t get much of a chance to rack up any cheap backline touches.

Against Coll: 41, 15

FI projection: 48.1

Travis Varcoe – $7,350

The argument for playing Varcoe today is twofold. First, you know what you’re going to get. You’re going to a 40-60 output. Second, Varcoe has a knack of being a big game player. In terms of fantasy scoring, don’t expect a big score – in fact, I don’t think we can even expect a value score. However, out of all the player around $7K, Varcoe probably has the safest floor.

Against WC: 52,59

FI projection: 53.9

Tom Barrass – $8,750

Whoever gets the third man up role will flourish today. The only difficulty is predicting whether it’s going to be Hurn, McGovern or Barrass. The most likely outcome is that all three West Coast tall defenders play as a unit. That’s not me sitting on the fence but I think that’s the best way to shut down the potential influence of Mason Cox. If Barrass can take 6-8 marks then he’s a great chance to reach value.

Against WC: DNP, 32

FI projection:  58.8

Brody Mihocek – $9,220

If you had have told me at the beginning of the year that Brody Mihocek was going to play in a Grand Final, I would have asked you if you meant Brodie Grundy. And if you had have told me that Brody Mihocek was going to finish the season as one of the best swingmen in the competition, I would have asked you if you were ok. But that’s exactly what he is. Mihocek played second fiddle to the Mason Cox show last week but he still played an important role. With all the attention on Cox, Mihocek could slip under Adam Simpson’s radar and the radars of many fantasy coaches.

Against WC: 93, 76

FI projection:  63.3

Jeremy McGovern – $9,590

I could be lazy and just copy and paste what I wrote for Tom Barrass. McGovern’s output will be completely determined by how much freedom he’s given. McGovern played on Mihocek during the two games these teams have already played this year. His fantasy scores were excellent in these clashes and I’m always tempted to play McGovern. I am, however, I little concerned that he’s not fully fit.

Against Coll: 107, 89

FI projection:  68.9

Liam Duggan – $9,920

So good has Liam Duggan been during the final series West Coast has barely missed Brad Sheppard. That’s no disrespect to Sheppard but merely a sign of just how important Duggan has been. Duggan loves to kick the ball and I think you can get Duggan at relatively low ownership.

Against Coll: 73, 76

FI projection:  68.7

Lewis Jetta – $10,130

Whenever Lewis Jetta plays on a wide ground, my interest is officially piqued. Really, I just wanted to write the word, piqued. At his best, Jetta will get you a 9 mark/15+ kick/100+ game. But at his worst, Jetta can go completely missing. If you’ve played Jetta in your lineups before, you’ll know that it can make for a stressful game. Jetta’s price is still good and he’ll definitely be in my player pool.

Against Coll: 83, 90

FI projection:  66.1

Jeremy Howe – $10,290

Against a team with a smaller forward line, I give Jeremy Howe more consideration. But with a forward line boasting JJK, Darling and a resting ruck, Howe will have to be more accountable today. I’m also concerned that his injury is more significant than is being reported. Now go watch Howe play completely unmarked and score 100+!

Against WC: 96, 68

FI projection:  81.2

Brayden Maynard – $10,470

As much as I hate to say it, I think Maynard will line up on my man Jamie Cripps today. Cripps plays a similar role to Toby Greene, who Maynard famously smashed during the semi-final. Maynard has some solid scores behind him this season as well as one ridiculous anomaly score of 144 against Fremantle.

Against WC: 73, 53

FI Projection: 72.7

James Aish – $10,480

Aish is likely to have the lowest ownership of Collingwood’s group of $10K defenders (although his DPP status could push this up a little). Aish is likely to be moved around the ground in a variety of different roles. If West Coast’s runners start getting on top, he could be sent to Masten or Jetta in a defensive wing role. Conversely, Buckley could use Aish as a bit of wildcard and give him more creative license than he’s had previously.

Against WC: DNP, 71

FI Projection: 70.9

Tom Langdon – $10,610

Langdon is Collingwood’s form fantasy player with 89 and 108 in his last two games. However, go back a little further and you’ll see some sub 50 scores (including a 40 in the Perth qualifying final). Langdon seems to have had a minor role change and it’s him who’s become the Pies’ spare defender. Langdon’s snaffled 23 marks over the last two games. If Collingwood wins, I expect to see a big score next to Langdon’s name.

Against WC: 66,40

FI projection: 74.5

Jack Crisp – $11,530

I mentioned last week that Jack Crisp’s ceiling separated him from other defenders on that slate. The same is true this week. Apart from the expensive Elliot Yeo, there aren’t any other defenders who have the ability to go seriously large. Similar to Langdon, Crisp’s role is critical to Collingwood’s success. If you’re playing a “Collingwood Wins” scenario team then you have to play Crisp.

Against WC: 78,76

FI projection: 86

Shannon Hurn – $12,160

And if you’re playing a “West Coast Wins” scenario team, then you have to play Hurn. If Hurn is roaming around the backline, racking up 6+s with ease, then it’s a clear sign that West Coast is going to win (Hurn is +7 fantasy points in career wins vs losses). Similar to Barrass and McGovern, Hurn output will ultimately be determined by game flow. You can expect low ownership with Hurn as coaches are often scared off by his mid-priced salary.

Against WC: 109, 76

FI projection: 85.5

Elliot Yeo – $16,910

Despite the presence of Levi Greenwood, Collingwood still rarely run a hard tag on opposition mids. This means the prolific Elliot Yeo is in play today. Yeo has recorded some huge scores this season and at a tick under $17K, you’d want him to have another one today. I always prefer players with positional flexibility and Yeo has that in spades.

Against Coll: 76, 144

FI projection: 109.4

Forwards

Daniel Venables – $6,600

When you think of West Coast’s forward line you jump straight to the dynamic duo. Then you might turn to Cripps and Lecras, then to Ryan and only then do you think about Venables. The Luke Shuey is a midfielder trapped in the forward line. Eventually, I think Venables will become a pure mid but like many youngsters, he’s been made to pay his dues as a half-forward. Venables doesn’t shirk a contest and at $6,600, he’s actually a good chance of making value.

Against Coll: 41, 43.

FI projection: 47.9

Liam Ryan – $8,290

Wouldn’t you just love to be a small forward living at the feet of JJK and Darling? The mature-aged Ryan has been an important addition to the West Coast forward line this year. His pressure is fantastic but also poses a constant aerial threat as well. Ryan doesn’t have a massive ceiling and to be honest, a value game might be a little out of his reach as well.

Against Coll: DNP, 57

FI projection: 58.9

Will Hoskin-Elliott – $8,370

Over 60% of the field chased WHE’s 100 from two weeks ago. Given his $8K price tag, this wasn’t necessarily a bad play, just a chalky one. WHE’s last up bomb will have an impact on ownership and it has become difficult to predict his role. Still, at his best, WHE does have one of the best ceilings of the $8K crew.

Against WCE: 24, 78

FI projection: 65.5

Willie Rioli – $8,480

I saw a tweet the other day which said that every team that has drafted a Rioli has won a flag within three years. This is irrefutable evidence that West Coast will win today. Originally, I had pigeon-holed Rioli as an impact player only. However, I’ve been impressed with his recent efforts. I’m not in love with his ceiling, but he has a more consistent floor than some of the other $8K forward options. Collingwood doesn’t have great matchups of Rioli or Ryan and this could be an exploitable position.

Against Coll: 73, 75

FI projection: 56.3

Jaidyn Stephenson – $9,040

It’s a good thing that Stephenson has already won the Rising Star. His form hasn’t been anything spectacular over recent weeks and the long season may have caught up with the kid. A likely score of 60-70 for a $9K player doesn’t excite me either. You can, however, expect low ownership if you’re going for a Collingwood stack.

Against WCE: 48, 67

FI projection: 64

Mark LeCras – $9,090

Low-owned access to a West Coast stack would be the only reason I’d consider veteran forward Mark LeCras. While LeCras has been solid this year and has proved many doubters wrong. With only 2 100s this year, I wouldn’t expect too much out of LeCras if you do choose to give him a spot.

Against Coll: 83,53

FI projection: 68.8

Levi Greenwood – $9,230

We’ve known Greenwood as a traditional tagger in seasons past but this year, his role has been a little more varied. Recently, Greenwood has played off halfback – a move that I was initially surprised by. Collingwood lack not for flankers and Greenwood’s kicking efficiency of 67% doesn’t exactly scream ‘give the ball to me’. Greenwood scored nearly half his 97 last week through tackles – a statistic that I find both attractive in this game and concerning.

Against WCE: 83, 42

FI projection: 65.6

Josh Kennedy – $9,560

When West Coast win, Kennedy scores well. It’s just that simple. Kennedy’s fantasy average is an insane +20.1 in career wins. Kennedy faced the Pies in his first game back a few weeks ago. I keep reading how impressive Tyson Goldsack was on JJK in that game. In reality, JJK was getting his hands to every contest, he just didn’t hold any marks. This changed in the second half and he ended up being the difference.

Against Coll: 78 (3.1), 76 (2.4)

FI projection: 73.1

Josh Thomas – $9,720

Thomas was my sneaky P.O.D play last week (10% owned) but unfortunately, my punt play didn’t work out. His price has fallen a little since last week and his ownership will stay around the same mark. My rationale for playing him last week hasn’t changed and I’ll probably give him another run today but only in a Collingwood stack.

Against WCE: 76, 76

FI projection: 68.8

Mark Hutchings – $9,990

I’ve never played or considered Hutchings in any form of fantasy football and I don’t see that changing now. You could make a tackle-floor argument but I think Hutchings will have his work cut out for him today. Treloar, Adams, Pendlebury, Sidebottom and Phillips all have elite endurance so whoever Hutchings is sent to, he’ll be running around like a headless chook all day.

Against Coll: 77, 35

FI projection: 66.7

Jack Darling – $10,030

Darling had a sensational start to the season before missing a chunk of time through injury. While he’s posted some remarkable stat lines at home, he’s struggled on the road (2018 averages – 108 home, 62 away). It’s this factor and 20-30% ownership that makes Darling a fade for me.

Against Coll: 66, 70

FI projection: 81

Chris Mayne$10,640

Say what you will about Chris Mayne but this bloke finds his way into an inordinate number of optimal DFS lineups. A forward line of Mayne and Greenwood would have netted you 200+ points last week. His price is a little high for my liking but Mayne has that random ceiling which can lead you to glory.

Against WCE: 50, 72

FI projection: 77.7

Jordan de Goey – $11,270

De Goey is a game breaker. He is the kind of player who can swing a game in a matter of moments. De Goey also has the fantasy scoring ability to do the same to your lineup. What I find interesting (frustrating) with De Goey’s fantasy scoring is that bags of goals do not always end in monster scores. This is further evidence of the way he impacts the game in bursts. Also, some of his higher scoring games occurred when Treloar was out, which gave De Goey more midfield minutes.

Against WCE: 73 (4.1), 50

FI projection: 77.7

Jamie Cripps – $13,200

Regular readers of my articles will know that I’ve been talking up Cripps for months now. Cripps has added some more strings to his bow in 2018, spending time running through the midfield and even in defence this season. $13K is a lot to spend, but if Yeo gets a Greenwood tag the Eagles will need more of Cripps. I’m very keen on his chances of another 100 today.

Against Coll: 30, 62

FI projection: 85.2

Midfielders

Brayden Sier -$10,310

I’m a big fan of this kid. Right from his debut, it was clear to see exactly the kind of player Sier is – a contested bull who has the endurance to hit packs all day long. Seeing number 36 burst out of a pack with a give-n-go handball fills me with fantasy nostalgia as well. I’m predicting an old-fashioned head-to-head matchup with Luke Shuey today and I can’t wait for it. If you don’t have much salary cap left by this stage, Sier is a great value addition to your midfield.

Against WCE: 54 (injured for second half), 69

FI projection: 76.3

Chris Masten – $10,990

I feel dirty whenever I enter a lineup with Masten in it. In 2018, Masten has recorded 12 games with 1 or fewer tackles. I know the contested game is not his MO but come on! A head to head clash with Phillips on a wing beckons for Masten and if they run off each other, they could both score well. In his last 5 games at the MCG, Masten has recorded 3 x 90+ scores.

Against Coll: 67, 41

FI projection: 73.3

Dom Sheed – $11,370

Yes, he’ll be highly owned but there’s a reason for that. Since Gaff’s suspension in Round 20, Sheed has averaged 94 points. His price tag is still good so just pick him and move on.

Against Coll: DNP, 97

FI projection: 80.2

Tom Phillips – $12,820

Running man Phillips is back to his old self and has enjoyed the freedom that Treloar’s return has provided him. I don’t always take notice of three-game averages, but Phillips’ 97 average is legitimate. He’s now returned to his preferred position on the wing and his scoring as clearly benefited from that move. While today’s game will be hot and heavy in the middle, it will be free and breezy on the wings of the MCG.

Against WCE: 100, 100

FI projection: 93.5

Luke Shuey – $13,130

It’s been a while since we’ve seen Shuey absolutely destroy a game of football. As recently as last year, Shuey was a mid with serious 30+ disposal, 2+ goal upside. We just haven’t seen that output out of Shuey recently and I’m not sure that we’re going to see it today either. I’d rather same some cash elsewhere and spend up for Redden.

Against Coll: 116, 74

FI projection: 91.6

Scott Pendlebury – $13,250

The Collingwood captain remains one of my favourite players to watch. Pendlebury’s vision around stoppages is the stuff of legends, as is his ability to get his hands free. In 2018, we’ve seen the modern game catch up with Pendles just a little bit and I wouldn’t be surprised if his recent injury niggles are more serious than we’re being told. $13K for a player of this calibre in a Grand Final seems unders but his recent form hasn’t been amazing.

Against WCE: 75, 72

FI projection: 97

Adam Treloar $14,250

Out of all the expensive midfielders, I think Treloar will have the lowest ownership. However, it’s worth noting that earlier in the year, it was Treloar who was Collingwood’s highest scoring midfielder. Mark Hutchings can’t tag everyone and I think Treloar could slip under everyone’s radar.

Against WCE: DNP, 61

FI projection: 99.8

Steele Sidebottom – $15,220

Fresh from a near upset Brownlow victory, Sidebottom will be keen to continue his remarkable September form. Sidebottom would be close to be Finals MVP right now, but he’s likely to find the going a little tougher today. Hutchings has spent time on Sidebottom during the past two clashes between these teams and I can’t see why Simpson would change this plan now.

Against WCE: 48, 98

FI projection: 106.6

Jack Redden – $15,570

If you’re new to fantasy football then you might be surprised by Jack Redden’s ceiling. But fantasy veterans will be quick to remind you about his piggish tendencies when he donned Brisbane colours. Redden vies with Yeo for the highest midfield ceiling on the slate and I just have to make room for him in my lineups today. Redden’s endurance allows him to rack up some huge mark tallies for a mid, as shown over his past two games (25 marks!).

Against Coll: 135, 141

FI projection: 107.3

Taylor Adams – $15,650

After his indifferent early season form ruined by keeper league, Adams has annoyingly come good over the second half of the year (too late for A Few Rood Men). Don’t be fooled into thinking that Adams is an outside runner. He likes it rough and his drive through the corridor is a critical part of Collingwood’s game plan.

Against WCE: 83, 118

FI projection: 106

Final thoughts…

Everytime I think about this game I change my mind. I can completely see Collingwood doing to West Coast exactly what it did to Richmond last week. And I can completely see West Coast doing to Collingwood exactly what it did to Melbourne last week. This makes picking a final lineup quite difficult. As it’s the last time we get to play AFL DFS for six months, I’ll probably throw a few more teams in than normal and plan for a few different outcomes. As there will be a lot more entries than normal today, I will consider ownerships closely as I pick my teams.

Thank you to everyone who has read my articles and listened to the Fantasy Insider podcast this year. I hope you’ve found my content useful and that you’ve had a successful year playing AFL DFS. I’m excited to see what 2019 has in store for us, particularly whether the Australian launch of Draftkings will go one step further and add AFL to the bevy of sports it has on offer.

roody

Blessed with blinding mediocrity across all sports, Roody quickly discovered the only joy he'd find on the sporting field was through fantasy football. An AFL specialist with 27 years of experience in Dreamteam, Supercoach, Ultimate Footy, Footyrocks and DFS, Roody loves finding value in crowded slates.

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