Pies vs Giants
I’m a lucky man at the moment. My team is in a prelim and is looking like they could be a real contender. But my luck doesn’t stop there and no, I’m not talking about how hot my wife is. I’m talking about the fact that Collingwood could be bundled out of the finals in straight sets! In reality, I think Collingwood were unlucky to lose last week. West Coast were wasteful with their delivery inside 50 and the Pies did miss a few chances. GWS were shaky in the first quarter but then hit their straps to send a sluggish Sydney outfit packing. Tonight will be won and lost by one factor - speed. If the Pies can get their run and gun game working, they should win comfortably. The Giants aren’t slow, but they aren’t in the same game speed category as Collingwood.
The importance of playing frequently at the MCG is always discussed at this time of year for obvious reasons. Since their inception, the Giants have a 2-12 record at the home of football. Now you could argue that this statistic is misleading. The Giants only play a couple games at the MCG per year and they were easy beats for the first few years of the club’s existence. However, the Giants were exposed at the ‘G last September (by the eventual premier, Richmond) and two weeks ago, they were completely shown up by Melbourne (this year's eventual premier), losing by 45 points. However, they did win at the ‘G back in Round 2 against who? Yep - Collingwood. The Pies play a lot of footy at the ‘G and have won 9 out of their last 10 games at the venue. It is interesting to note that Collingwood have only beaten one other finals team this year.
This should be a game rich in fantasy points, especially when it opens up in the second half. Specifically, it will the runners of both teams who will flourish today. Both teams are built around running games, although Collingwood’s ball movement is somewhat faster than the Giants. Playing defenders against Collingwood has been a great move all season and I see no reason to jump off this strategy tonight - especially because people also love playing Collingwood defenders. This means you could get some ownership bargains with a GWS defensive stack. Apart from this spot, there aren’t many other glaring edges. Both teams have been miserly against opposition mids and obviously, Grundy should take Lobb to the cleaners (just have fun trying to fit him into your team!).
Ins and Outs
Collingwood has named an unchanged lineup while the Giants have brought in Ryan Griffin and Lachie Keefe. Bringing in Keefe is epic trolling by the Giants (Keefe is an ex-Collingwood player) and it appears as though he’s been brought in to help defend Mason Cox and provide some ruck support. Veteran midfielder Griffin will provide some experience to cover the loss of Josh Kelly but it’s hardly a like for like replacement.
It’s a simple dilemma. Can you fit Brodie Grundy into your lineup? There is no doubt that Grundy will be the highest scoring ruckman today - potentially by 60 - 70 points. However, rostering Grundy will mean that you need to make sacrifices in some other high ceiling spots. Rory Lobb will spend most of his time in the ruck and he does have the mobility to run with Grundy. However, I think that his 131 against Adelaide a few weeks back was an anomaly score.
Finally, the incoming Lachie Keefe could actually be the chalk play of the night. Keefe is only $5,450 but that’s for good reason. He’s averaging 40 this year and only 29 across his last three games. I suspect the majority of coaches will just cop his low score and try to make sure they nail their other selections.
My takes: Keefe (chalk/salary saver), Lobb (value play), Grundy (elite play if you can afford him)
As I mentioned earlier, I really like targetting GWS defenders tonight. Not only do I think they’re all in a great spot but I think we can get some sneaky ownership too. I’ll admit that last week was the first time I really took notice of Matt Buntine. As the Swans struggled to hit a target inside 50, Buntine had a solid day and had a few intercept marks to go with his 14 touches. Buntine is not a high ceiling play, but he’s a strong value play and a great pivot off Tyson Goldsack. Speaking of Goldsack, a shocking score of 18 reminded us of the dangers of player cheap key defenders in DFS. Goldsack will have his hands full again (he’ll get Cameron or the emerging Himmelberg today) and both his floor and ceiling are incredibly low.
Phil Davis was one of the Giants' best and most important players last week. Davis towelled up Buddy Franklin and today, his matchup against Brody Mihocek (and maybe some time on Cox) looks a lot softer. That said, I actually don’t mind Mihocek as a play today either.
Giants trio Zac Williams, Nick Haynes and Adam Tomlinson are all in play tonight. Williams was fantastic in his first game back and his skills and team role suit the MCG. I’m really hoping that Tomlinson slips under the radar tonight. Tomlinson may just be one of the most versatile players in the game right now. He’s been named in almost every position (not that team namings mean that much anymore) and has incredible endurance for a big man. Since Rory Lobb has taken over the ruck, Tomlinson has provided ruck support although this may change with Lachie Keefe coming into the side this week.
Finally, Jack Crisp has had some big scores at the ‘G this year. Although he’s not in the best form, a big Crisp day will put your team in good stead. Lachie Whitfield is the clear elite play for this group and I’ve got no doubt that he’ll have a very big night.
My takes: Buntine, Williams, Tomlinson, Crisp.
Will Hoskin-Elliott appeared to have a complete role change last week in Perth. WHE collected 83% of his possessions in the back half - a dramatic change from his season average of 67% in the forward half. It’s often hard to predict coaching moves like this but if WHE plays back again, he’s a great chance for another 70-80 score. WHE also has midfield DPP status.
Jeremy Cameron hasn’t quite been able to make things click since earlier this year. His stats are actually up in most categories but he hasn't had the impact on games which he know he can have. His fantasy scores have also been quite inconsistent. Collingwood has been reasonable against key forwards, but if Cameron can get on his bike, I think he could expose the poor endurance of Collingwood’s key defenders. You’ll also get Cameron at low ownership.
Toby Greene had 27 touches, 9 marks and 6 shots on goal last week. With a sensational stat line like that, he’ll be chalky today but at $10K, I think it’s chalk of the edible variety. Harry Himmelberg has been impressive late in the season and Brett Deledio has the class and experience that you need in big finals like this. Finally, Tim Taranto has scored well in games this year in which Josh Kelly has missed.
My takes: WHE, Greene, Deledio, Taranto.
I’m going to mention James Aish even though my confidence in his scoring ability is not great. Aish seems like he’s trapped in positional purgatory at the moment. In a time that overflows with running defenders who moonlight as midfielders, Aish’s fantasy production has taken a hit. He won’t be heavily owned at all tonight and he does have the ability to hit value.
Jacob Hopper has had an underrated season. As we’ve seen most recently with Devon Smith, the quality of the Giants’ midfield is so strong that it can be difficult for second-tier mids to flourish. Hopper is further evidence of this - both in fantasy and real footy terms. Hopper is a bull although he’s priced a little high today, he could be a good way to save that extra bit of cash that you might need on a slate like this.
Tom Phillips’ fantasy production has been down recently but as I mentioned earlier, I’m targeting runners tonight and Phillips is one of the best on the slate. His price is also reasonable for someone of his ceiling. Scott Pendlebury and Steele Sidebottom are also too cheap for their ceilings, although both players have also been a little consistent with their recent scoring.
Callan Ward struggled to get a touch in the first quarter last week but still finished with an 81. Ward can score quickly and he’s contested ball work will be critical as always. Finally, Taylor Adams seemed to be unphased by Adam Treloar’s return and again, his endurance appeals to me today.
My takes; WHE (DPP play), Phillips, $14K+s.
We’ve woken to a wet and windy day in Melbourne but hopefully, the worst of the weather will pass before the first bounce (also remember that the MCG drains better than a six pack of beer when your wife is out of dinner, so it shouldn’t be too much of a problem). A Keefe/Goldsack/Buntine lineup pretty much allows you to take whoever else you want tonight. However, I’ve noticed that winning GPP scores have been low in the final series so far, so perhaps it could be a good idea to lower your eyes.