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Roody's Final(s) Straw: Preliminary Final One: Richmond vs Collingwood

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Richmond vs Collingwood

They say imitation is the most sincere form of flattery. With his back up against the wall at the end of the 2017 season, Nathan Buckley went searching for a game plan. Buckley gazed across Swan St toward Punt Rd Oval and wondered. He wondered if Richmond’s manic pressure and superfast ball movement would suit his list. Lucky for Buckley, it does. In fact, not only does it suit Collingwood’s list, I believe that Collingwood has the potential to execute this game plan even better than Richmond does.

I could discuss past meetings between these two teams but recent history stands for little in preliminary finals. That said, there is an important part of these teams’ most recent meeting that should be pointed out. Richmond have beaten Collingwood twice already this year (Rounds 6 and 19). However, missing for the Round 19 game were Jordan de Goey and Adam Treloar. Collingwood were also down on rotations from early on in this game, losing Jeremy Howe in the first quarter and Matt Scharenberg in the third. Brody Mihocek was also on one leg for most of the game.

Both the execution of Collingwood’s game plan and their defence against Richmond’s was severely impaired by these injuries. I’m not saying that these injuries and personnel changes are the reason why Collingwood lost that game, but what I am saying is that Collingwood now has what Richmond has been blessed with for two years - a new perfect bill of health.

DFS Relevance

There aren’t too many good spots to point out here. Collingwood have been a healthy source of fantasy points all year whereas Richmond is where fantasy points go to die. Playing defenders against Collingwood has proved a good strategy this year - that is, until last week! Richmond has given away some big scores to opposition midfielders and considering the depth of Collingwood’s midfield, this is an excellent spot to attack.

Finally, although Toby Nankervis has scored well throughout the season, he has leaked points against opposition rucks in recent games: McEvoy/Ceglar (57/55 - 34 hitouts/21 hitouts in a ruck timeshare), Trengove (111 - with only 15 hitouts), Bellchambers (94 - 39 hitouts), Grundy (147 - 48 hitouts).

Ins and Outs

Both sides are going into this game unchanged. Thanks for saving me about 15 minutes of writing time!

Rucks

Every time Brodie Grundy (average vs Richmond this year - 131) is on a slate, you find yourself with a similar dilemma - to pay up or to fade. Yet again, there is little doubt that Grundy will be the highest scoring ruckman in this game. Although Toby Nankervis (av v Collingwood this year -  112) can go HAM, Grundy does it far more consistently. However, with great consistency comes an even greater price tag. Fitting Grundy into your team will have significant lineup consequences, especially on a slate which offers relatively little value.

If Mason Cox received fantasy points for his tweets, I’d play him every week. The big man has had a solid season and has also scored relatively well against the Tigers this year (av 69). At $8,640 it isn’t crazy to consider Cox as your ruck (or even in your forward line) and he certainly does give you salary relief.

My takes: Cox (value), Grundy.

Defenders

I really like the idea of saving some cash in my backline tonight. There are a few high ceiling defenders on the slate but none of them is consistent enough to warrant automatic selection. In fact, Jack Crisp is the only defender from both teams to have scored a 100 since the beginning of August.

You can tell that it’s been a long season by the fact that I’m about to recommend Kamdyn McIntosh. The Tigers spare parts man had one of the best games of his career against Hawthorn, kicking three important goals. With a three-game average of 70, McIntosh could make McIntosh one of the value plays of the slate. Be warned though, his ceiling isn’t great and neither is his floor. However, playing both Cox and McIntosh does provide fantastic flexibility.

Tom Langdon benefited from some atrocious inside 50 delivery from the Giants last week. Langdon reeled in a season-high 10 marks, a feat that he’ll struggle to replicate against Richmond’s small forward line. If Langdon can run off his opponent and make them more accountable, then he could have a decent night out.

Nick Vlastuin plays an important role that doesn’t always translate to a good fantasy score. A half-back ‘cleaner’ Vlastuin will attempt to control the corridor through intercept marking and, if successful, he could score well. However, Collingwood prefers to run the ball through the middle of the ground and there may not be enough opportunities for Vlastuin to get his intercept firing.

Jack Crisp caught fire in the month of May and since then, I’ve been waiting patiently for another huge score. Crisp did hit consecutive 100s against Sydney and Brisbane but he’s also had a few fantasy bombs throughout the year. If you’re looking at pure ceiling plays, then, of course, Crisp should on your shopping list. His price is excellent and if was any cheaper he’d almost be a must play.

Forwards

Last week a 62 percent owned Will Hoskin-Elliott pulled in a season-high 105. WHE split his time between the wing and half-forward - his second role change in as many weeks. It’s tempting to give WHE another guernsey this week on the back of his last two games. However, WHE’s price has only increased by $500 and so he’s still a great value play at $8,480. This price and his recent good form will make WHE the chalk tonight.

Rising star winner Jaidyn Stephenson has only had one 100+ score this season. With a season average of 65, playing Stephenson is certainly a risk tonight. However, if you believe Collingwood are going to win then I think Stephenson could be a good, albeit high risk,  low-owned play.

In a high-pressure prelim final, it’s tough for me to ignore Daniel Rioli. Equipt with the perfect skill set for a high like this, I think Rioli will have a solid 70 - 85 score. While this is a little short of value, I think Rioli is one of the more reliable sub $10 forwards on offer tonight.

I really like Josh Thomas tonight. Thomas has hovered around his season average of 72 for most of the year. He rarely has complete scoring disasters and his pressure forward will be important tonight. Out of all the small forwards on offer tonight (and there are a lot of them), Thomas has three 100s this year which more than similarly priced players including Edwards and Mayne.

If you’re playing a Collingwood forward combo then I’d definitely include Jordan de Goey. Put simply, de Goey is a game breaker. He has the ability to kick multiple goals and his speed off the mark will challenge the Richmond backline.

Josh Caddy and Kane Lambert are normally popular choices on single Richmond slates as both players have dual position status. Just a reminder that Caddy’s big scores are goal dependent. Caddy has 8 scores over 90 this season and 7 of these scores included multiple goals.

Doubt over his fitness and a $14K price tag may reduce Dustin Martin’s ownership. We know he’s a big game player, but $14K seems a lot to pay to me. Another price tag that may scare some coaches away is Jack Riewoldt. Also around the $14K mark, Riewoldt has averaged 90 in his two games against Collingwood this year but I’ll be staggered if he’s more than 12% owned tonight.

My takes: WHE (chalk), Rioli, Thomas.

Midfielders

After double checking DPP players, the first midfielder that I’m considering is Jack Graham. My opinions on Graham have changed considerably this year. While his tackling floor is still very high (averages 6 tackles a high), Graham hasn’t been able to improve his disposal count this season. In a midfield that isn’t particularly deep, this is a concern for his fantasy potential. Still, I’ve you have paid up in other positions, then I don’t mind using Graham as a cheaper midfield option.

I’ll always consider Trent Cotchin when he’s around the $10-$11K mark. The Richmond captain has had his worst fantasy season for 8 years but I’m ignoring this statistic for finals. I’d be happy with an 80-90 at this price but I think he’ll surpass that mark. If you’re a midfield P.O.D then you could take a punt on a random Shaun Grigg day or hope that people have forgotten about Reece Conca’s excellent form before his mid-year ankle injury. Dion Prestia’s consistency is always tempting. He has a solid season average of 86 but that only includes one 100+ score.

Finally, Tom Phillips seems to have rediscovered his scoring ability and Scott Pendlebury is ridiculously underpriced coming off a 25 possession/11 tackle game.

My takes: Cotchin, Phillips, Pendlebury.

Final thoughts…

Either way, we’re all losers here. I’m not sure what will be worse - Richmond supporters bragging about going back-to-back or Collingwood supporters harping on about how they’ve triumphed against adversity. Personally, I think a Collingwood upset is on the card tonight and I’ll be picking my team with that in mind.