It’s our first five gamer for quite a while, so let’s have a quick look at the games on offer. The Swans make a rare trip to the MCG taking on Essendon in today’s first game. This will be the Swan’s first game at the G this year and only their third game at the home of football since the start of last year. This game will have a little added spice to it, thanks that Dane Rampe’s antics back in Round 8. The Tigers got the band back together last week and immediately sent shudders down the collective spine of every premiership contender. Today they get a soft matchup against the Suns and should win easily.
I’m not sure what number Showdown we’re up to but today’s edition is a twilight affair. This game should be a cracker and we’ll get an excellent measure of where both teams are really at. The Bulldogs also face a tough test in what has been an inconsistent year so far. As a side note, I love the fact that they’ve scheduled a match between the Cats and Dogs on the same day as we have the Showdown and Western Derby. Speaking of the Derby, that’s our late game today and one that West Coast will be hoping to bank, as they looks to solidify a top four finish.
Can I start by saying thank goodness that Zac Clarke has been priced up to $9,880. At least now I don’t feel obligated to play Clarke today at all. That may sound harsh but had Clarke been around $7-8K, it would have made it hard to ignore him - he is going against Sam Reid and Aliir Aliir after all. As it is now, there are a bunch of other rucks around the same price that I consider to be more playable than Clarke.
Ivan Soldo struggled in his first game back but was facing an in-form Rowan Marshall. Soldo has a tough matchup today against Jarrod Witts, so I’m not going anywhere near the Tigers ruck today. Sam Reid will share the ruck responsibilities with Aliir Aliir isn’t a bad choice today. Shaun McKernan was running hot even before Tom Bellchambers left the game last week. McKernan will provide some ruck relief again tonight and he may provide the Swans backline with a difficult matchup, especially if he plays forward while Aliir is in the ruck.
Aaron Sandilands returns for his first match this year. The fact that we’ll have Nic Nat vs Sandi today is remarkable but I’m not going near either of them nor their respective support acts in Tom Hickey and Rory Lobb.
The Rhys Stanley / Tim English matchup is intriguing and it’s one that I want some exposure to. Stanley could easily get on right on top of English and smash him in the contests (like most opposition rucks do). The two rucks however, matchup well against each other around the game and this is where English could score some handy points. The other interesting component of this matchup is whether Blicavs will return to the ruck again. Blicavs was moved into the ruck last week after ROB absolutely smashed Stanley in the first half.
Another same-game matchup is Scott Lycett vs Reilly O’Brien. Both rucks have gone seriously nuts over the last few weeks but it’s worth taking a couple of steps back and analysing their previous matchups: Lycett (as solo) 128 vs Stanley, 146 vs Bulldogs; ROB 154 vs Balta and Chol, 128 vs Stanley and Blicavs. Neither of these guys have scored that well against quality opponents this year, so I’m happy passing on both.
Finally, Jarrod Witts is in a smash spot and should easily get 40+ hitouts today. I just wrote 400 words on ruckmen. I need a shower. Seriously though, there are a few legitimate ruck options today and I won’t be surprised to see a multiple ruck lineup feature in the winning lineups today.
There are quite a few cheaper defensive options to consider, starting with debutante Derek Eggmolesse-Smith. DES is a running half-back who has been Richmond’s list for a couple of years now. DES’s VFL numbers are solid this year and against the Suns, I don’t think it’s too much to ask for a value game here. Jacob Heron comes in for his first game of the season. Heron played 8 games last year and failed to reach value in all but one of those games. Martin Gleeson didn’t get anywhere near as much of the ball as I thought he would last week. Gleeson failed to reach value but I’m not opposed to giving him another chance, especially considering they’ll be some recency bias.
We were all hoping for a value game from Jed Bews last week and what we got was one of his best ever career scores! Bews gets a decent matchup today against the Dogs at home, so if you don’t want to pay all the way down for a defender, you could hope for another 70-5 score from Bews. And while I’m not going to play him, can I just give a little shout out to Charlie Ballard? The kid took 11 marks, had 12 kicks and 0 handballs. I freaking love that stat line.
I jumped off Jordan Clark at the wrong time with the young Cat scoring a career-high 96 fps. Clark was everywhere last week including spending some time running through the midfield again. I’m more than happy to swallow my pride and jump back on the Clark train. Aliir Aliir will spend some time in the ruck and will therefore get a small scoring bump. Mark Blicavs may also return to the ruck for parts of the game, a role that he’s played in the past but not for a long time until last week.
Jayden Short is a fine play again and, to use a cliche, will be better from the run last week. There will be some defensive points up for grabs in the Bulldogs backline and Hayden Crozier is the first beneficiary to consider. Crozier is not a consistently high scorer, but has been known to score well when the opportunity arises. Jason Johannisen is the other obvious beneficiary. Paul Seedsman is enjoying a return to form and should be included in any Adelaide stacks. Speaking stacks, the Sydney variety could not have had a better game than his 15 disposal, 4 goal effort against the Saints last week, but still failed to raise the bat. This is something to take note of today and in the future when considering the impressive youngster.
What happened the last time Nick Vlastuin played against a team that can’t deliver the ball inside 50? Oh, that’s right, he scored 124 against Melbourne! Vlastuin is a little too expensive for my likely but the game script just screams his name.
The first forward that I’m stopping to look at is James Rowbottom. After teases us for a while in the NEAFL, Rowbottom finally began to transfer his talent to the next level. Rowbottom smashed through value and interestingly, had 5 clearances amongst his 21 possessions. You may have missed this positional change, but Jack Lukosius moved into defence last week. This role is not completely unfamiliar to the number 2 pick in last year’s draft and it definitely helped his fantasy numbers.
Mabior Chol was seriously impressive last week and looked like he’d already played 100 games of senior footy. It would be a brave move to point-chase Chol this week but he does have an excellent matchup against the Suns.
There are a heap of reasonable options in the $9-11K group. Apart from using one of the ruck/forward options, my favourite play here is Hugh Greenwood. Cam Ellis-Yolmen is still missing and Bryce Gibbs has been dropped again. This means that there will be some extra midfield minutes up for grabs and Greenwood will be a major beneficiary of this. It’s also interesting to note that Wayne Milera (not a forward) has been named on the ball. Namings mean little in AFL these days, but it is something to consider.
I’m not entirely convinced that West Coast is back to peak form but we’ll get an excellent indication of where they stand today. A big Derby win will send a clear message to the rest of the competition and if this win does eventuate then Jack Darling and Jamie Cripps will score well.
From the top priced group, Josh Dunkley just keeps on pumping out big scores and Dustin Martin has gone full beast mode over the last six weeks. Regular readers will know that I rarely play Dusty and selecting him at his highest ever price ($16K) does sound like an odd time to start. But he does have the best matchup for midfielders in the Gold Coast Suns.
Mitch Crowden returns to the Fremantle side for the first time this year. Crowden is an undersized inside midfielder who does have the ability to find the footy. Crowden is in good WAFL form and has been pushing for selection for a number of weeks. His AFL fantasy scores from last year were poor so it will be interesting to see if half a year of good WAFL form can translate to the big stage.
Darcy Tucker has had the most productive fortnight of fantasy football career. He’ll be hard pressed to continue this form but the fact that he laid 10 tackles last week is a positive sign. Karl Amon was building some nice value games before he was dropped and now returns for a contested Showdown game.
Connor Blakely will the other player I jumped off at the wrong time last week. Interestingly, Blakely spent much time in the midfield last week than he normally has. This worked wonders for his fantasy scoring so I’m keen to see what role he plays today. Similarly, Joel Selwood featured prominently in Geelong’s midfield for the first time in a long time. It’s hard to know whether these moves will be permanent but guess what - if everyone else is thinking about that same question, then you’ll have an edge over the field if you take a risk on these guys.
Kane Lambert will be low percentage option to access Richmond’s midfield points this afternoon. Lambert hasn’t shown the same consistency he did last year but his ceiling hasn’t moved much. I also don’t mind David Swallow or Anthony Miles in the same game. Gold Coast games are more congested that you might first think, providing a lot of points to contested ball midfielders. Brayden Fiorini is also back on my hit list with Will Brodie surprisingly dropped.
I promise I’m not fence-sitting here, but there are legitimate reasons to play a heap of the expensive mids today. So many that I’m going to mention them all. What I will say is this: think about what you think is going to happen in each game and pick your studs accordingly. For example, if you think that Adelaide win a fiercely contested Showdown, the Rory Sloane simply has to be part of your lineup. Like I said, there a ton of expensive mids on offer and there’s also a lot of bottom priced value as well, so could luck with your studs and scrubs lineups.