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The Value Hunter: Round 20 - Saturday Special

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Saturday Special

Welcome to Moving Day! The results of every game today can influence the composition of the final eight. A loss against Hawthorn today would make it virtually impossible for Essendon to make finals (they still have to play Richmond and Port - in Adelaide). The two clubs have a famous rivalry and this game could be a modern classic. North Melbourne travels to the Gabba to take on the Lions - who have proven difficult to beat at home. Of all the remaining finals aspirants, the Roos have the softest draw. However, they’ll still want to bank another W while they can. While Adelaide said goodbye to their finals chances last week, helping knock cross-rivals Port Adelaide out of the top four would be a nice consolation prize. Finally, Sydney could slip further down the ladder if they fail to arrest their alarming form slump at home (whereas a win for Collingwood virtually assures them of a top-four finish). It will be a fascinating day from start to finish, so let’s get started with the value hunting!

Rucks

There are plenty of sneaky value rucks plays on Super Saturday! Perhaps the sneakiest of them all is Mason Cox. It may surprise you to learn that Sydney gives up the 4th most points to key forwards, including allowing an average of 101 points over the last five games (Riewoldt, Hawkins, Ben Brown, Wright, Mitch Brown). If the trends continues, Cox could easily exceed value today.

If the Bulldogs have been poor against opposing rucks, then the Saints haven’t been much better! The only problem is predicting whether Jackson Trengove or Jordan Roughead will be the number one ruck for the Dogs. After last week’s excellent performance, you’d say that Trengove gets first crack and if he does, I think he’ll be able to expose Hickey around the ground. (Note: Trengove has been named in the ruck and Roughead back pocket. However, this is the Bulldogs so this might not mean anything!).

Jono Ceglar will solo ruck yet again and comes up against the beatable Tom Bellchambers. Ceglar will only set you back $8,680 and I think it’s fair to expect a score of 80-90.

My takes: Cox, Ceglar, Trengove (I may play multiple rucks today as many have DPP status).

Defenders

We start off with three $5K options in this busy slate. Kane Farrell remains at $5K despite falling just short of a debut 10x; Collingwood key defender Jack Madgen debuts at the minimum amount and the feel-good story of the year, Alex Johnson returns for his first game since the 2012 Grand Final aka, when I had hair. I don’t love any of these options to be honest, especially the two key defenders. Farrell is probably the best chance of snagging value but I’d prefer to look elsewhere to save money.

Aaron Francis got better as the game went on and if I was an Essendon supporter, I’d just want to the club to play him as much as possible. He’s gone up a little in price but a value game is still very possible for Francis.

Brodie Smith comes for his first game after recovering from an ACL. Smith has played two games in the SANFL and will hit the ground running. Even without AFL form, I expect Smith to get pretty close to value today.

Since Jarrod Lienert debuted a few weeks ago, I’ve been trying to think of who he reminds me of as a player. The closest I’ve got is Dustin Fletcher. Lienert is flanker trapped inside a key defender’s body - his 193cm, 90kg frame makes you think he’s gonna to stay at home and mind gorillas but he loves to run and averages 14.5 kicks in his first two games. Lienert’s price isn’t too high but he may have to spend more time in one-on-ones against the tall Adelaide forward line.

I talked up Mason Cox on the basis of Sydney’s poor performances against key forwards and Brody Mihocek could be considered for the same reason. Mihocek has had 10 shots on goal in three games (including last week when he was injured).

The great form of Teia Miles has seen his salary double in a month. Miles had a breakout game last week with his first 100. It’s late in the season but are we about to see a run of form similar to Burton of 2017?

Hayden Crozier started with a bang last week but struggled to keep his scoring ticking along. Crozier will find the going a lot easier under the roof tonight and with Marcus Adams out, Crozier will, yet again, be the key distributor off half back.

Ryan Clarke is coming off two big scores in a row and Jimmy Webster finally returns in a good matchup against the Dogs under the roof.

My takes: Smith, Francis, Mihocek, Crozier, Clarke.

Forwards

First, we have to add Brandon Starcevich’s name to the list of minimum priced players. Starcevich looks like a real smooth mover and is a terrific kick off both feet. I’m always a little cautious of rookies around this time of year. Especially with teams who are out of finals contention, we’re really getting into “we better see if this kid can play” territory. Also, Brisbane are not exactly short on midfield-forwards, so perhaps Starcevich is relegated to a forward pocket on debut.

Unsurprisingly, Jordan Dawson didn’t get anywhere near his monstrous NEAFL score of 219 but he did reach 11 x value. Dawson is still under $6K, so there is a decent chance he’ll get value again tonight.

Jarrad Waite’s return means that Majak Daw is likely to play exclusively as a third defender. Majak is arguably in the form of his career and with Thompson and Tarrant taking care of Brisbane’s tall forwards, Majak will be given significant freedom today.

Whether he’s in your forward line or midfield, Paul Ahern is an absolute lock for me today. Ahern has been named on ball and will be the main beneficiary of Shaun Higgins’ unexpected injury absence. Ahern will be a popular choice after his breakout game last week and considering that his price is still excellent.

If Lance Franklin doesn’t destroy Darcy Moore and first-gamer Jack Madgen, then Sydney should rest him for the remainder of the season and focus on 2019. The Buddy of old would be odds-on to kick 5+ goals tonight but over the last few weeks, he’s looked far from 100% fitness.

Robbie GrayJack Billings and Blake Acres are all well priced and Gray has an outstanding record in Showdowns. Josh Dunkley and Toby McLean are also good targets and benefit from a soft matchup and closed roof.

My takes: Ahern, Trengove (DPP), Billings.

Midfielders

It’s always difficult to predict what role debutantes will play. Last week, I expected Will Walker to spend the majority of his time in the forward line (as is often the case with young midfielders). To my surprise, Walker appeared several stoppages around the ground and you could clearly see that his teammates trusted him with the footy. Like many rookies, Walker did go missing for a while (it took him 15 minutes to register a fantasy point and he had a stat-less second quarter). Despite these lapses, Walker still exceeded value. With Higgins out, Walker is likely to attend more stoppages and I don’t mind taking a chance on him today.

I’m not sure how Draftstars came up with Nathan Freeman’s salary of $7K. Freeman was drafted over 1700 days ago and is yet to play a senior game. I expected Freeman to start at $5K and it will be harder for him to hit value at this price. However, I like targeting Etihad today and Freeman is still a solid (albeit chalky) value play.

Ryan Bastinac is a sneaky, sure to be low-owned, value play. Bastinac hasn’t been able to break into the Lions midfield as Chris Fagan has focused largely on youth this year. Bastinac averaged 78 last year and seems a good chance to reach value at only $6,600.

Seeing as though there is some much value around the ground, you can afford to look a little higher up the list for your midfielders today. That’s a good thing too as there aren’t many $8-$10K mids who I like today (apart from the aforementioned free square - Paul Ahern). Adelaide have given away some huge scores to opposition midfielders which puts Port Adelaide’s mids right into consideration. Brad Ebert scored his first 100 in months last week and is a mid-priced option if you want to target this spot. Every other Port mid is worth a thought but no one has the ceiling of Tom Rockliff.

David Armitage had an exceptional run of form in July and as I’ve mentioned a few times, this game is a great one to target today. Rory Sloane is only $12K in a Showdown and Josh Dunkley is still well priced considering his sensational month of footy that he’s had.

My takes: Walker, Freeman, Ahern, Port mids.

Final thoughts…

There is so much value on this slate that actually makes lineup construction a little confusing. I’m just as happy with my Mitchell team as I am with one that leaves $1,050 in the bank! Apart from a few chalky lower priced players, this is should be another fun Saturday slate.