Bulldogs vs Magpies
This is an important game in the context of both team’s season. Collingwood are only a game and percentage away from third spot but the Pies are one of many finals aspirants and need to bank every win they can get. 2016 must seem like a lifetime ago from the Bulldogs players and coaches. Their premiership hangover has manifested into a certified funk which they desperately need to rectify. A win tonight would do wonders for the young Dog’s confidence and would keep their mathematical finals chances alive. From a DFS perspective, tonight will be an interesting contest. Not only do we have a single slate record of 12 players priced over $14K but we also have only 1 player priced $7K or under. This will make it a challenge to fill your lineups with multiple studs (and it will also make that one player quite chalky!).
I could make you read 150 words on rucks or I could just remind you that one of the league’s most dominant ruckman is playing the Bulldogs. Brodie Grundy should absolutely feast on the Dogs but at $17K on a tight slate, you’ll need at least 130+ from Grundy to make his price tag worth your while. It’s also worth mentioning that Grundy has scored over 110 in his last 8 games.
My takes: Grundy, Trengove (value play).
I expect that the majority of coaches tonight will pay down in their defence and forward line in order to afford Grundy and some midfield stars. This means two things. First, we desperately need some value. Second, the contrarian play would be to stack your backline.
If you are looking to save cash, then my first stop is Flynn Appleby. After an inauspicious debut, Appleby has averaged 11 kicks a game. What I really like about those kicks is that most of them are dinky little things that barely travel 15 metres. Appleby is only $7,750 and I think he easily chalks up another 60 - 70 points.
Luckless Bulldog Roarke Smith comes back for just his third senior games since 2015. Every time Smith seems to be on the cusp of breaking through, he has suffered a major injury. Smith hasn’t exactly been starring in the VFL but the Dogs rate him and will fancy his run and carry across half-back and half-forward. At $6,450 Smith is a good chance to get close to value.
Of the other cheaper defenders, Ed Richards is the other player I like. Richards is a runner and with the roof closed, he should get a much better opportunity to use this skill than he did last week. It’s a weak narrative but Collingwood ignored the Richards (grandson of Ron and grand-nephew of Lou) on draft day and the kid might want to prove a point tonight.
Sam Murray’s golden start to his AFL career has hit a snag with the Collingwood half-back dropped this week. This should open up some scoring opportunities for the aforementioned Appleby but also Tom Langdon and Matt Scharenberg. There is also a chance that Taylor Adams (midfield only) play mainly as a half-back tonight.
Finally, Jack Crisp has reached 30+ disposals in his last two games and while he’s not a value play, he may go overlooked as people focus on midfield stacks.
My takes: Appleby, Smith (value plays) Crisp (contrarian).
Usually, it’s the ruck selections that make me grimace in agony but tonight it’s the forwards. Am I really that desperate for midfield stars that I’m going to have a Mason Cox/Jackson Trengove forward line? You bet I am. Well, it might not be actually this combination but if you have your eyes on the bevvy of midfield stars on offer tonight, then it’s going to have to be something similar. On closer inspection, neither of these plays are as bad as they might first appear. The Bulldogs have been poor against key forwards and if Cox plays out of the goal square, then he could snag a few goals. On the flip side, besides Cox, the Pies play a small forward line which could allow Trengove to stuff the stat sheet with intercept marks.
There is no way I have another lineup with Travis Varcoe. Knowing my luck, this means that Varcoe will exceed value today! The other cheap option to consider is Callum Brown. The young link man had a down week against the Saints after a month spent averaging 70 points. That’s about 8 x value which is nothing to sneeze at on a slate like this.
From here on in, we have a long jam of mid/forwards from both teams. In fact, you could even fill your forward line and midfield with dual position players if you wanted to. I think this will be a fast and open game, similar in style to Collingwood’s game here at Etihad last Saturday night. This makes me consider quicker running players like Jaidyn Stephenson and Jordan De Goey. I’m not sure how to treat De Goey actually. Clearly he’s in form but have a closer look at last three weeks and you’ll see the source of my confusion. Three weeks ago, De Goey stuffs the stat sheet, kicks 5 goals and brings in a 113. Then he scores only one goal but still manages to score 91. Last week however, De Goey kicked six goals but again scored 91. De Goey gets a lot of goals out the back and although he can kick a bag, he doesn’t benefit from the 12 point (mark+kick+goal) that someone like Jack Darling gets.
Finally, Toby McLean is one of the key targets tonight. While McLean can score 130+ he probably doesn’t have the same ceiling as some of the other options around the $14K mark. However, his a little bit cheaper than those options and he’s also developed a fantastic floor this season.
My takes: Cox, Trengove (cheap plays); McLean.
I usually select my team in the same order as I write these articles - rucks, defenders, forwards and mids. However tonight I have started with my midfield and then tried to build a team around it. So let me start with the pig in the room - Jack Macrae. Over the past month, Macrae has gone absolutely nuts, averaging 149 over his last four games. While it’s worth noting that this stretch of games includes games against Carlton, Gold Coast and Brisbane. As bad as these teams might be, they still all tried to tag him and failed! Macrae is doing it all at the moment as evidenced by his average of 7 tackles per game. A Macrae/Grundy team is possible tonight but you’ll have to make some big sacrifices around the ground. The inclusion of tagger Levi Greenwood will lower Macrae ownership as well.
Interestingly, Collingwood gives up the 3rd most points to opposition midfielders while Dogs have been quite frugal in the same statistic (4th least). As I always say, read into this data what you will. There is only a 14 point difference between the teams and this should be a very open encounter. Because of this fact, my key targets are running midfielders like Tom Phillips, Lachie Hunter and Steele Sidebottom.
Single game slates each have their own nuances and challenges and tonight is no different. Greenwood’s inclusion makes it easier to fade Macrae but I’m not sure anything can make me fade Grundy. The only way I see Grundy not being in a winning lineup is if he gets injured. I expect there will be some cheap chalk tonight and then it all comes down to nailing your stud picks.