This could well be the best Saturday slate of the year. We have four games, all of which are excellent propositions for high fantasy scores. To start us off, we have Carlton travelling to the Gabba to take on Brisbane. While the Lions have been competitive at home, there are some Carlton players in amazing spots here, including the in-form Patty Cripps. Over in Adelaide, Port hosts a buoyant St Kilda outfit. Port are in a good vein of form and will see this game as a terrific opportunity to increase their gap on the finals peloton. The Hawks and Bulldogs battle it out under the roof at Etihad – a venue which saw an incredible 19 fantasy hundreds scored just last weekend. And finally, we have a Fyfeless, Sandiless Fremantle facing Melbourne in Alice Springs. The Dockers are 1-5 on the road this year and come up against a Melbourne team which has no other choice but to win if it wants to play finals in 2018. So buckle in folks, it’s going to be an exciting ride.
Max Gawn was everywhere against St Kilda in an incredible best-on-ground performance. Gawn had 25 touches, 11 marks and 39 hitouts. Gawn is clearly in another smash spot and I think he’ll easily be the top scoring ruckman again today. Coming up against Gawn is last year’s rookie ruck sensation Sean Darcy. The hulking 111kg ruck burst onto the scene last year with a string of sensational value exceeding scores. Somehow Darcy checks in at $5,000 today. Now Gawn has been ruck kryptonite this year but I think Darcy can still easily wrestle his way to value.
Justin Westhoff is another top-line ruck who I’m considering today. I can’t see how St Kilda could throw at Westhoff, especially considering Jake Carlisle will have his hands full containing Charlie Dixon. My only concern with Westhoff is that he hasn’t had many huge scores this year and from a player who costs $14K, you want huge.
Jonathon Ceglar is worth consideration against the Bulldogs. Though they’ve tightened their defence against key forwards in recent weeks, this remains a good spot to target, especially if you’re keen on saving money in this position.
My takes: Darcy, Gawn, Ceglar.
There are a few cheap defenders who have a good chance to hit value today but with the Sean Darcy free square, we can afford to raise our eyes a little. Brad Lynch was impressive on debut for the Dogs and Caleb Marchbank returns for a long injury layoff. Joel Smith is a cheap way to get exposure to Melbourne’s backline. Fremantle concedes the most points to opposition defenders and Melbourne is in a great spot today. There’ll be plenty of backline switching and some decent junk time as well.
Shane Biggs gets a chance at redemption after absolutely butchering the footy in his last game. With Bailey Williams missing this week, the Bulldogs will need another defensive outlet. Biggs is the most likely to take this role but his last outing was less than inspiring.
Port Adelaide’s back six has been a little unsettled over the last few weeks. Both big men and runners have come in and out of the team and spots are still up for grabs. It came as little surprise that Jack Trengove was able to smash value last week and he’s in another great spot today. Unfortunately, he gets an overzealous price hike today and that’s my only hesitation in playing him again. For a little more you can get Darcy Byrne-Jones whose scores at home this year have been excellent.
Christian Salem has been in horrible form and if he can’t score well today, then I may have to put his name on my never again list. Jimmy Webster returns from injury and will have a busy first day back at work. Port should win this game comfortably and Webster will have plenty of rebound work to do.
I don’t think I’ve written him up at all this year but I don’t mind Luke Hodge’s chances of repeating his dominant last game at home. Hodge should be able to do whatever he likes against Carlton’s backline and his price is pretty good today as well. Tom Cutler has quickly become my new favourite swingman. Cutler has terrific hands and is having multiple shots on goal each game.
Jack Silvagni had a few reasonable games before losing form again. With Paddy Dow being rested, Silvagni may find himself with more midfield minutes. He’ll be low owned and could be a nice little value p.o.d.
If you want to take season-long patterns to the extreme, then you could consider Oscar McInerney or Eric Hipwood against the Blues. Despite having fullback of the century Liam Jones* in their team, the Blues continue to leak points against key forwards. Hipwood has kicked multiple goals in his last three games while McInerney’s ruck role and forward threat make him a good target as well.
Jack Watts earns a recall to the seniors and should enjoy himself against a short Saints backline. I’d love Watts to be a little cheaper but I don’t think he’ll be a popular play (as most coaches will target other Port players with better form). One of those players is Charlie Dixon who is in an absolute smash spot. Dixon won’t get many easier matchups this year and if can’t score well today then he probably deserves a rest both from my lineups and from Port Adelaide’s team.
Jesse Hogan was heading for another quiet day before he exploded in the last quarter. Hogan scored his points playing more as a stay-at-home forward, a role that Simon Goodwin hopefully lets him play again today.
Charlie Curnow is in amazing form having taken 19 marks and kicked 7 goals over the last two weeks. His matchup is excellent again today and he should have another high scoring day.
Port’s ‘Volatile Three’ (Wingard, Rockliff and Gray) are all in great spots and should also benefit from not having to time share their forward forays with the injured Sam Gray.
Finally, Ed Langdon and Toby McLean are still both well-priced considering their increased team roles.
*If you don’t know that was sarcasm then we can’t be friends.
Matthew Kennedy should be able to use his big body to good effect against Brisbane’s young midfield. Kennedy is yet to have a breakout game but I haven’t lost faith in the kid. Jake Melksham loves playing at TIO stadium and could be in for another big score, especially if Melbourne runs away with this one.
With Nat Fyfe missing, there’ll midfield minutes up for grabs. The only trouble is that there are a few contenders for this responsibility. The logical choice is to move veteran David Mundy back into a full-time on-ball role. Mundy’s big body and smooth hands will be useful against a good contested side in Melbourne. Youngsters Adam Cerra and Andrew Brayshaw would also be in the frame.
Brisbane’s young midfield is going in with confidence. Hugh McCluggage was touted as the classiest player of his draft year and we’re beginning to see why. If you discount his injury affected 28 against North Melbourne, McCluggage is averaging 89 points over his last 5 games. With Beams and Zorko attracting the majority of opposition attention, McCluggage has been able to quietly build his game and scoring potential. He’s also a sneaky forward/midfield option.
Hawthorn have rarely employed a tagger this season so targeting top-tier Bulldogs midfielders is tempting. Marcus Bontempelli, Lachie Hunter and Toby McLean should all be considered. Hunter and McLean have better ceilings than Bont although both have struggled since teammate Jack Macrae’s injury.
My takes: After using mid-priced players around the ground, I’m spending up a little for my mids today.
There’s value galore today, even if you don’t play Sean Darcy. I’m looking forward to an even day of ownership (now that we can see them again) and a great DFS contest.