Queens Birthday Special
In case you’re not a regular Value Hunter reader, I need to disclose that I am indeed a Melbourne supporter. I turn down my Melbourne bias when I write these articles but I’m finding it very hard to do so today. The Demon lid has been threatening to burst right off for a few weeks now and today, I think we’ll send that lid into the stratosphere. That said, I will attempt to remove my red and blue bias from the rest of the article….
There have been two $100K Draftstars contests this year and they’ve been two bloody tough games of DFS! Collingwood and Melbourne are two teams that DFS coaches love to target and with good reason: they are the first and second ranked teams for highest team fantasy averages. What makes this contest particularly tricky is that there are between 10 - 15 players today who have a legitimate 100+ ceiling. Don’t believe me? Just check the 15 most expensive players for this game. The other issue with this contest is the game script. Will it be the open, free-flowing shootout that we all want or will we see a tighter, more contested game? I can’t see why either coach will change game plans that have been working for their respective teams, so my lineups will assume an open game.
Bang! Straight from the first position we see why today is such a tough contest. Much has been written about the Gawn vs Grundy matchup, so I won’t bore you with more obvious commentary. What I will say is that I think Grundy is a bad play today. Checking in at a season-high $17,690, Grundy needs to score around 140+ to hit value. It’s not that I don’t think he has the potential to score that high, it’s more that on a slate like this it’s risky to spend that much on one player. The other factor to consider is that Max Gawn is rucking kryptonite at the moment. After 11 games, no opposition ruck has scored a 100 against Melbourne. Granted, no opposition ruck is like Grundy but this is still a compelling statistic. Just as a point of reference, Collingwood has allowed three scores over 100 to opposition rucks (all above 120 points as well).
Taking the above into consideration, if you’re going to pay up for a ruck today, then for me it has to be Max Gawn. Just when you thought he couldn’t possibly get any better, statistically, Gawn is having a career-best year. He is averaging 16 disposals a game and an incredible 48.5 hitouts a game. The hitout stat is just plain ridiculous and he is on track to break the season hitout record by some margin. Clearly, Gawn hasn’t battled against someone like Grundy this season and this will be a tough matchup.
So what does that leave us with then? Well, it ain’t pretty but we do have two other options. Cam Pederson was Melbourne’s White Knight last year when Max Gawn went down injured. After a few value-smashing games, Pederson also became the darling of many DFS coaches. Today we get Pederson at the reasonable price of $8,270 and I suspect he’ll be a very popular selection. Playing as a backup ruck/third forward, Pederson does have the ability to smash out a 10 x value game. However, he also has a pretty low floor, especially when he’s playing the support role.
Mason Cox will also be a popular choice and that absolutely kills me. I know that he gets double and triple teamed in defence, but how someone as big as Cox can be so bad at using his body in a contest is beyond me. But on a slate devoid of value, we’re forced to consider spuds like Cox if it means sneaky one more high ceiling play into our lineups.
My takes: Gawn, Pederson.
Joel Smith’s price alone will make him a popular selection. Even if he only grabs 8 x value, he’s still worth a spot if it the rest of team scores well. It’s tough to predict Smith’s fantasy output and we can’t read too much into the three games well played previously. With some intercept marks, transferring kicks and backline tackles, you can make a case for a 35-55 score but beyond that is a bit of mystery. It’s worth noting that Smith is available as a midfielder as well.
Neville Jetta is one of my favourite Melbourne players and he’s having a good run of form. Whether he plays on talls or smalls, Jetta is rarely beaten one-on-one and he’ll be far too smart for Collingwood’s array of medium forwards today. He’s a little more expensive than I’d prefer and I don’t think he’ll have a 10 x value day. However, he could be someone who benefits from Jake Lever’s absence.
I’ll be honest, I thought Bernie Vince was gone at the start of the year. I just couldn’t see how he fit into Melbourne’s best 22. Yet Vince has reinvented himself as almost a lockdown defender and along with Jordan Lewis, plays a big part in controlling Melbourne’s back six. Sometimes fantasy coaches are guilty of placing too much importance on the absence of important players (my overcompensation for Dusty Martin missing on Friday night is a good example). However, Vince usually reads that ball well and could have more intercept marks/clearing kicks than usual.
From here on in, it’s a lottery of $12-$13K defenders who all have the ability to score 100+. I’d love to tell who to play out of this bunch but it’s almost impossible to predict just who will score well, particularly out of Maynard, Langdon, Howe and Crisp. I don’t mind the idea of an all Collingwood backline. If the Pies are going to win today, then they’ll need to starve Melbourne off the ball. This means an endless amount of backline switching, aka fantasy gold.
My takes: Smith (either here or in your midfield), Jetta, Pie stack.
Similar to Friday night, there are some cheaper forward line options which may go overlooked as coaches lock in Joel Smith, Pederson and Cox. The speed of Collingwood’s mid-sized forwards could challenge Melbourne’s defenders who aren’t particularly quick (just watch some highlights of the Hawthorn/Melbourne match earlier in the year for a reminder). This matchup could be exploited by the types of Jaidyn Stephenson, Jordan De Goey and Josh Thomas. Of these three players, I prefer the floor of Thomas.
Daniel Wells hasn’t exactly set the world on fire since his return to the Collingwood side but it’s worth remembering that the bloke didn’t really have a pre-season. You can see this fact in either a positive or negative way. Positive: his scores so far have been ok and the only way is up. Negative: this will be a fast-paced game and he won’t be able to keep up. Wells has an excellent historical ceiling and I think he’s a viable mid-priced punt.
I don’t usually go to the footy when my team isn’t playing but I did go to the Pies/Bulldogs match a few weeks ago (thanks boss!). It’s actually quite refreshing to watch a game of football live without being emotionally invested and this allows you to view the game through an unbiased lens. What struck me most about that game (apart from how woeful Mason Cox was) was the new role that Chris Mayne has been playing. After his much-debated recruitment as a pressure forward, the ex-Docker has Maynely been playing off a wing. This may change now that Collingwood has it’s preferred backline setup for one of the first times this year. However, Mayne could be the low-owned p.o.d that takes you to victory.
From here, we change focus to Melbourne’s mid-forwards who are similarly as dangerous. Bailey Fritsch has been a revelation and has many Dees supporters saying “Jack Who?’ (Fritsch was drafted with pick 31, the pick that Melbourne gained in the Jack Watts trade). A huge 126 has bumped Fritsch’s salary up a little too high for me but it’s worth noting that he’s played a lot of time on the half-back flank in recent weeks.
Alex Neal-Bullen has turned his form around after a lean patch. If this game does turn into a free-flowing shootout, then ANB’s endurance will be a huge advantage.
Finally, I’m kinda hoping that people will forget about Jesse Hogan today. Matty Scharenberg will be given the first crack at Hogan but I’m expecting Hogan to rise to the big game occasion and have an absolute day out.
My takes: Pederson, Cox (value), ANB, Hogan.
I’m not going to waste too much time dissecting the midfield options today. I suspect that most coaches will attempt to save cash around the ground so that they can afford as many midfield studs as possible. That’s perfectly understandable but if you want to bring home the ultimate prize today, I think you need to think a little outside the box. I’m building around a couple of midfielders who, regardless of game script, should still walk away with 110+ scores.
The first of these players is Scott Pendlebury. Besides Buddy Franklin, Pendles is my favourite opposition player to watch. He’s one of those generational players who seems to make time stand still when he has the ball. The media have been talking about Grundy vs Gawn like it’s the only show in town today, but I really hope that Pendles and Clayton Oliver go head to head. And I mean really go head to head, not a tagging role for either player but an old-fashioned game of skill against skill. They are two of the most amazing ground ball players going around and would be first and second for the quickest handball award. Please, footy gods, please - let us see this contest!
I suspect Jack Viney will be highly owned and his price certainly is attractive. I’m probably going to steer clear of Viney as I don’t think it will be the contested ball affair that suits his game. I also don’t think he is 100% yet either. I do, however, think that this could another Christian Salem breakout game. Salem was cooking earlier this year but as taken a bit of a backseat to the Angus Brayshaw show. Michael Hibberd will have to be a more accountable defender with Jake Lever out and this could allow Salem to have more of a run and carry role.
My takes: Smith, Salem, Pendles, Clarry.
As addicted to fantasy football as I am, I think I’m going to enter some teams and then turn off my phone and enjoy what should be an amazing game of footy!