Richmond vs Hawthorn
The 2018 Finals series starts with an intriguing clash between Richmond and Hawthorn. There was no sign of a premiership hangover for the Tigers this year as they continued to their dominance over the competition. Assisted by a remarkable run of injuries (or lack thereof) and an MCG dominance that has broken records, Richmond remains the team to beat. In my preseason report, I wrote that in 2018 Hawthorn would attempt to replace the tyres of their car while travelling at 80km an hour. Little did I know that Alastair Clarkson had found a way to do this successfully! If any coach has the strategy to beat Richmond’s pressure game, it’s Clarkson. Love him or hate him, Clarkson is a master strategist and no doubt he’ll try to use the Hawks' high possession game to starve Richmond of the ball. Draftstars have put up a tasty $50K contest for tonight, so let’s get straight into it!
In terms of DFS relevance, Richmond have been somewhat of an anomaly in fantasy output this year. As they rely on an even performance across their entire team, Richmond rarely produces high fantasy scores (ranked 3rd last in total fantasy point and average points per game). For this reason, I’ve largely ignored Richmond players on multi-game slates this year. Hawthorn’s fantasy stats are skewed by Tom Mitchell. With Titch included, Hawthorn rank 3rd in total points and average points per game. But take the pig out and the Hawks plummet to 2nd last in both. Now you could probably do the same with most team’s best fantasy performer, but it does indicate how important Titch is to Hawthorn fantasy dominance. The last time these two time two teams played (Round 3), there were only three 100s scored (Titch 148, Cotchin 103 and Houli 102). It’s also worth noting that Hawthorn conceded the least amount of 100s this season.
Ins and Outs
The Clarkson mind games began on Wednesday night when the Little Master brought in Sicily, Frawley and Ceglar. Sicily and Frawley are logical inclusions but it’s the naming of Ceglar in the ruck (forcing McEvoy to full forward) which grabbed my attention. Going tall against Richmond is a risk that could easily backfire. However, making Alex Rance more accountable and removing his intercept marking ability is an excellent coaching move. The only thing that could stand in the way of Clarkson’s ruck move is the weather. Rain is forecast throughout the evening and I wouldn’t be surprised to see a late change made. Ceglar’s inclusion makes me like McEvoy even more (see below).
Richmond have brought in Kane Lambert, despite some injury concerns, at the expensive of an unlucky Brandon Ellis. I was a little surprised to see Ellis omitted and this move should lift the ceilings of Bachar Houli and Jayden Short.
If you look at the season data, Richmond have given up a considerable amount of points (on average) to opposition rucks. However, this is a case where averages can be a little misleading. Toby Nankervis (FI cruncher projection: 88.4) has only given away three 100s over the past 10 games (although there are a few 90s in that period). Despite Ben McEvoy (86.7) missing several games through the middle of the year, Hawthorn have managed to be strict against opposition rucks. The Hawks have only given away three 100s to ruckman all year (Gawn, Nic Nat and Bellchambers).
Ceglar’s (67.9) inclusion only make me like McEvoy more. You might think this is strange so let me explain. First, some coaches will be drawn to Ceglar as a salary saver. At $8,970 and playing as a second ruck/forward, I can’t see Ceglar getting anywhere near value. Second, Ceglar’s inclusion will make some coaches fancy Nankervis more as the only solo ruck. Hopefully, this will draw some ownership away from McEvoy.
My take: McEvoy.
I don’t love the idea of paying down for defenders tonight. There aren’t many cheap, good ceiling options and you won’t gain enough from saving salary cap in your backline. What we do have is an excellent collection of mid pricers who can easily hit 100s. Richmond defensive quartet Nick Vlastuin (72.4), Bachar Houli (85.8) and Reece Conca (79.1) are all priced between $10-11K mark and are all reasonable plays. I like Houli more now that Ellis is out and Conca could play more a defensive role tonight as well. Season data all us that the Hawks are tight against opposition defenders so be wary if you’re considering a Richmond defensive stack tonight.
Show me someone who doesn’t love watching Shaun Burgoyne (85.8) play footy and I’ll show you someone who’s dead inside. The Hawthorn veteran just keeps producing and his silky skills will be needed in spades if the Hawks play keepings off all night.
James Sicily (91.9) comes straight back into the Hawks back six, despite missing a significant amount of footy. Sicily is the only defender on the slate who has a seriously high ceiling and because of this, I’ll be strongly considering him tonight. I also think that Sicily will need to have a big night if Hawthorn are to win.
My takes: Sicily, Houli, Burgoyne.
It’s finals time and that means there won’t be any free square $5K rookies to help you squeeze studs into your lineups. Instead, you may need to rely on taking a chance on someone like Ryan Schoenmakers (50.3). The Hawks journeyman is an unreliable fantasy scorer but his positional flexibility can sometimes lead to moderate to high scores. His floor is disgusting but a value game from Schoenmakers is not impossible tonight.
Another inconsistent cheaper option tonight is Jason Castagna (49.4). The Tigers small forward has gone cold a little too often for my liking this year (7 games 40 or under). However, the pressure that this game should produce is likely to relate in lots of goal scoring opportunities for small forwards and hopefully, Castagna will be able to take his chances. Fellow small forward Daniel Rioli (63.5) has put some decent scores together recently but he can go missing for significant chunks of the game.
Josh Caddy’s (79.9) big scores are almost always bumped up bags of goals. Caddy has 6 scores above 90 this year and only one of those scores did not involve at least 3 or more goals. Jack Gunston (89.9) could cause some problems if he drags Rance/Astbury up the ground. This could also allow Jarryd Roughead (78.8) some more freedom in the forward line. I can’t imagine that Roughead will be more than 8-10% owned and he could a real P.O.D forward line play.
My takes: Schoenmakers (ugly salary saving play), Rioli, Caddy.
I have had James Worpel (72.4) shares for the past month, so I can’t see why I’d sell now. Worpel’s contested ball work has been excellent and I’m backing the kid in to have another decent night.
Trent Cotchin (82.8) may not be in the best fantasy form of his career, but players like Cotchin lift at this time of year and at $10K, he’s just too cheap for me. Dion Prestia’s (89) solid floor gives me confidence and I still hold to the hope that we’ll see a massive Prestia score sometime soon.
Liam Shiels (97.3) won’t take a backward step and is tackling and contested work will feature prominently, especially if the weather turns. Finally, Dustin Martin’s (95.3) fantasy form is peaking at the right time. Dusty has scored 100+ 7 times this year and three of those scores have been in his last four games.
My takes: Worpel, Cotchin, Prestia, Martin.
For me, this game is as much about Clarkson vs Hardwick as it is Hawthorn vs Richmond. This game promises to be a fascinating encounter from all perspectives and I just hope that it lives up the hype. It’s not that hard to build a Tom Mitchell team tonight and if he does go HAM you won’t be able to win a GPP without him.