I’d love to have heard Perth sports radio this week. “10 reasons why Melbourne can’t win,” “Glen Jakovich/Tim Gossage/Matthew Pavlich/Insert random Perth AFL journo on how the Eagles are going to win by 10+ goals”. I love this and I think it will give my Demons the perfect opportunity to cause an upset at Optus Stadium this afternoon. This is the venue where Melbourne began its assault on September and I’m hoping it’s where it will continue. That said, we need to acknowledge that is was a somewhat different looking Eagles team that Melbourne faced that day. JJK was still injured and Darling was concussed within the first ten minutes of the game. The presence of a fit Kennedy and Darling is significant, especially against a team which has had its issues with key forwards in the past.
I really hope Melbourne win today. And not just because I’m a long-suffering Melbourne supporter. I hope we win because West Coast will get absolutely obliterated by Collingwood if they make it to the Grand Final. Collingwood were phenomenal last night and I just can’t see West Coast coping with that kind of pressure for four quarters.
The most relevant DFS trend to point out here is the effect of Optus Stadium on the output of Eagles players. Almost every player on their list gets a positive bump at home. Luke Shuey, Dom Sheed and Jack Redden all have modest Optus bumps but the most significant bumps belong to JJK (+7) and Jack Darling (a massive +21). When you combine this stat with Melbourne’s historical weakness with controlling key forwards, a Darling/JJK stack becomes tempting. However, Melbourne have actually tightened their defence over the last month and have become difficult to score against. The other good spot here is targeting mids against Melbourne. This strategy has paid dividends this season and is made easier today by the soft pricing of West Coast mids. Again, be warned that the Demons have clamped down on this weakness over recent games.
Ins and Outs
Brad Sheppard misses with a bad hamstring and in comes fantasy dud Will Schofield. For the Demons, first-year gun Bayley Fritsch has been dropped for 9 game veteran Joel Smith. This move was a shock as Fritsch has been a revelation in his first year of footy. Beginning the year as a forward, Fritsch has slowly moved from the wing and then to a back flank. Despite his excellent hands and smooth kicking, the Demons brains trust identified a weakness in his one-on-one defending. Although he’s only played 9 games, this is Joel Smith’s main strength. Smith was an emergency last week and would have played more this year if not for injury.
There’s enough value on this slate to fit Max Gawn into your lineups. Gawn won’t be phased by going up against two ruckmen (Lycett and Vardy) and he’ll easily have a 100-120 afternoon. Not only has Gawn been a dominant fantasy scorer this year, but he’s also been ruck kryptonite to the opposition. This means that Scott Lycett will have a tough time reaching value. Sam Weideman didn’t get close to his amazing 118 against Geelong, but he still hit a very respectable 74. Weideman is now averaging a value score (89) over his last three games.
My takes: Weideman, Gawn.
The defenders you choose tonight will depend on your perspective of game flow. If you believe that Melbourne will be exposed by their poor disposal inside forward 50 (which has been a recurring theme throughout the year), then you should load up on West Coast defenders. In particular, Jeremy McGovern and Shannon Hurn should feast if this occurs. You could take this pairing one step further and add Lewis Jetta in your midfield. Once McGovern and Hurn snaffle those intercept marks, they’ll be looking to Jetta for his run and carry through off half-back and through the corridor. Liam Duggan has some solid form at home and could be a great low-owned play.
For Melbourne, I really like Michael Hibberd who is still below $10K. Salem, Hibberd and Fritsch have been Melbourne’s prime defensive distributors recently. With Fritsch out of the picture, Hibberd will have an increased role. Joel Smith will be a popular price on the basis of his salary and solid scoring potential. However, I think Smith’s presence will actually allow Hibberd to float across half-back, driving Melbourne’s defensive rebounds. Tom McDonald again has DPP status (although he probably shouldn’t anymore) but despite this, you should be able to get McDonald below 15% ownership.
Top end options Angus Brayshaw and Elliot Yeo are very much in play, however, there is a chance that Melbourne sends in form tagger, James Harmes to nullify Yeo.
My takes: McGovern, Smith (could be popular) Hibberd, Duggan (P.O.D play).
There are a few viable cheap options in the forward line this week. Willie Rioli impressed me last week, especially with his ability to get up the ground. While Liam Ryan may the scoreboard more frequently, I prefer Rioli’s pressure game and value-hitting potential. Mitch Hannan could have easily kicked a few more goals last week, which would have led to a value game. Hannan would be a great part of a Melbourne stack - he’ll kick 2-3 goals if they win and you’ll get him under 10% ownership as well.
It was a tale of two halves for Josh Kennedy against Collingwood. In the first half, JJK just couldn’t clunk a mark. He had no problems getting to the contest but the ball just wasn’t sticking. In the second half, however, things started to click for Kennedy. JJK’s second-half form was ominous and he is still priced very well at $9,560. Jack Darling also got better as the game went on. At his peak this year, Darling was priced at $14K. He’s now $10K at home against a team that has had some struggles against quality forwards.
I said it last week and I’ll say it again, Christian Petracca is about to break a game right open. I still don’t think we’ve seen a game where Petracca has put all his attributes together across four quarters. While he has been impressive over the last month, he has butchered the ball at times and often overthinks his decisions. I really think Petracca can be an ace in the hole today and he’ll probably go through a little under-owned. Tom McDonald’s flexibility and consistency always warranted attention. If you think Melbourne are going to win, then I think McDonald has to be in your side.
My takes: Rioli, JJK, Darling, Petracca.
Both teams provide us with some decent midfield value plays. Jake Melksham is someone who I’ve rostered the last few weeks without much success. In fact, Melksham’s last weeks have provided some of his worst fantasy scores of the year. I just know what will happen if I jump of Melksham now and a Melksham/McDonald pairing is something I’m strongly considering. Maybe it’s just the amount of NFL DFS I’ve been playing over the last few weeks but I see this pairing as similar to a quarterback/wide receiver combination. If McDonald kicks a bag, chances are that he’s getting silver service from Melksham.
Dom Tyson is lucky to be in the side in my opinion. I’d have dropped Tyson for Smith and maintained the flexibility provided by Fritsch. Irrespective of my opinion, Tyson could easily reach value today as he’s got the outside game to suit Optus Stadium. Fellow outside specialists, Lewis Jetta and Chris Masten are also well priced and could thrive on the wings.
Dom Sheed will be one of the most popular plays on the slate. He’s still priced around $11K and he’s thrived since rejoining the Eagles lineup. Sheed gets a little home bump and he’s unlikely to face the same kind of attention as Shuey and Yeo. I’m unsure whether Harmes will be sent to Yeo or Shuey. My gut says Yeo as he’s the superior runner. This will leave Jack Viney to go head-to-head with Shuey while Mark Hutchings will go to Oliver. This leaves to expensive mids unmarked - Jack Redden and Angus Brayshaw. In studying the tapes, Adam Simpson surely would have seen Brayshaw run amok on the wings but I’m not sure that he’s willing to sacrifice a player to lock Brayshaw down. Trying to predict these kinds of coaching moves is always tricky but I think these two are worth playing up for.
My takes: Melksham, Jetta, Sheed, studs.
I’m going to enter three teams today. One balanced team to hedge my bets; one Eagles stack so I’ll still win money if Melbourne loses; and one Dees stack to pay for my Grand Final ticket. In all seriousness, there is actually enough value to attack this game creatively. Unlike other finals, you don’t need to make sacrifices to fit in high ceiling plays and I think a balanced spend will take your team a long way.