Bombers vs Saints
We’re officially into the ‘still a mathematical chance of making finals’ part of the season. Essendon’s loss against Hawthorn last week changed their finals likelihood from possible to improbable. While the Bombers should easily account for St Kilda tonight, they then have to beat Richmond at the MCG and Port in Adelaide. The Bombers also have a relatively low percentage so if they’re going to be any chance, they need to win big tonight. One of the biggest disappointments of the year, St Kilda will be out to salvage something from season 2018 and hopefully, they can build some momentum heading into next year.
Based on season trends, Tom Bellchambers is the best ruck option tonight. St Kilda have given up the 3rd most points to ruckman this season and although he’s no world beater, Bellchambers has had a solid season. St Kilda have given away slightly fewer points to rucks over the last few weeks but they haven’t exactly faced difficult matchups (Trengove, Simpson, Nankervis, Kreuzerless Carlton).
Adding some intrigue to our ruck decision tonight is the selection of youngster Lewis Pierce. Clocking in at $5K, Pierce is likely to be a popular salary saving option. Pierce has averaged 13 touches, 4 marks, 3 tackles and a massive 41 hitouts in the VFL this season - this equates to an amazing average of 104 fantasy points per game. This is an impressive season but I’m a little concerned that Pierce gives away 20kgs to Bellchambers and that he will be job-sharing with Rowan Marshall.
My takes: Pierce (value), Bellchambers (contrarian).
Mitch Brown has served his team well in the absence of a bona fide key forward. Brown has been the Bombers main forward target for the last few weeks and he’s produced some good fantasy scores. These scores have driven Brown’s price up so he’ll have to kick a bag to hit value but against the Saints, this might not be too much of a problem (last three key forwards: Schache 3.1, Himmelberg 4, Riewoldt 4.1).
Jarryn Geary is in the fantasy form of his life. I incorrectly assumed that Jimmy Webster’s return would end Geary’s golden run. Yet as Webster continues to rediscover some touch, it’s been Geary who has assumed the mantle of St Kilda main distributor. Now Webster had a loosener last week so he could be able to resume his role but Geary still represents decent value. One concern with Geary is that he may need to play more defensively tonight.
Aaron Francis’ poor score last week was due to that fact that he was asked to actually play a defensive role (on Gunston) rather than free-wheel across the backline. If Francis is granted more freedom today then he is someone who can easily reach value. Ben McNiece hasn’t shown too much fantasy form just yet but a soft matchup under the roof could be the stage he needs for a breakout performance.
My takes: Brown, Francis, Webster.
A late inclusion last week, Travis Colyer was only 1% owned on the Saturday slate. Colyer rewarded that 1% with a value smashing hundred. Colyer was particularly lively across half-forward - a position which has proven a happy hunting ground against the Saints. With the bottom price options on offer tonight, Colyer may slip under the radar despite his excellent performance last week.
Based on his last three weeks, Jack Lonie appears to be an excellent value option tonight. Lonie has put together some excellent scores in recent weeks yet as avoided a significant price rise. He might be starved of opportunities tonight but he remains a decent low-owned value play.
Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti is putting together some consistent performances, highlighted by his three-game average of 80.3. That’s not quite enough of a ceiling for a $10K player but he definitely has the ability to break this game open. Orazio Fantasia has also been busy recently. I love this half-forward spot against the Saints and Fantasia’s ability to hit the scoreboard adds to his appeal.
A fair degree of Luke Beveridge about Alan Richardson at the moment. We’re never quite sure what roles players like Blake Acres and Jack Billings will play on any given night. It’s frustrating for us fantasy coaches as both of these players have excellent ceilings for their respective prices.
My takes: Colyer, Fantasia, Billings.
Luke Dunstan hasn’t been a big fantasy player this year but his absence does open up midfield minutes to the remaining St Kilda players. Ben Paton could see some of this action but the Saints will also be keen to see what Nathan Freeman can really do. Similar to Colyer, coaches may overlook Freeman if they have already selected Pierce and Paton. This fact alone makes him an interesting option. David Armitage also averages 85 in games without Dunstan this year.
There is a small group of Essendon midfielders around $10K who could also have good scoring nights. Parish, McGrath and the enigmatic Jake Stringer are all worth a thought but my P.O.D play tonight is Kyle Langford. I’ve enjoyed watching Langford’s second half of the year and although he hasn’t had many big scoring nights (2 x 100s this year), I think he’ll have one tonight. Langford is a big-bodied mid and he could prove a difficult matchup for the Saints.
Jacks Steele and Steven are both in play - Steele will play his regular tagging role, most likely on Merrett. Unlike some other taggers in the league, Steele has the ability to score well despite playing a lockdown role. This is helped by his excellent tackle count and gut running. Speaking of running, that’s what Jack Steven will have to do if the Saints are any chance tonight. Steven also has excellent form against the Dons.
My takes: Freeman, Langford, Studs.
Tonight is one of those should games. Essendon should smash. Essendon forwards should score well. Pierce and Paton should get value. I should cash.