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The Value Hunter: Round 21 - Saturday Special

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Saturday Special

Rob Gell, Mike Larkin, Livinia Nixon. None of these weather presentations could ever hold a candle to the doyen of Australian meteorologists, the ABC’s Edwin Maher. Irrespective of your preferences in weather reports, the forecast for Saturday could have a big impact on fantasy scores. Rain is forecast in Adelaide, Melbourne and Canberra. Whether the weather weathers AFL fantasy scores is a frequently debated topic. Some coaches rush to contested midfield specialists and tacklers when there’s rain on the away, while others fade wet games altogether. While there’s no hard and fast rule for wet weather games, I will say this - be careful targeting those tackling machines. Weather can be fickle, especially in Melbourne. What looks like a 100-year flood or easily turn into a sun shower, throwing your predictions and lineups into disarray.

Rucks

The long AFL season has finally caught up with Toby Nankervis and that gives Ivan Soldo a chance to go grab us some value. I’d only consider a solo Soldo and that’s exactly what we have today with the Tigers understudy taking centre stage. At $5K, Soldo will be a popular play and he is averaging 77 points in the VFL this year (mainly propped up by his solid hitout average of 36). However, Soldo doesn’t impact the game around the ground yet and he gives up a little height and weight to Jarrod Witts. If Witts wasn’t so expensive ($15K) he’d be my favourite ruck selection today. Witts is averaging 52 hitouts over his last three games - including 40 against the in-form Max Gawn. Expect another 50 today from Witts.

Oscar McInerney could be an excellent low-owned play today. The mature-age recruit has played 14 games this year playing largely forward but also providing ruck relief to Stef Martin. The size of McInerney (and also Eric Hipwood) could present some problems for Collingwood’s undersized backline. At a tick under $8K, I don’t think a value game is out of the question for Oscar.

Jono Ceglar has gone up to $9K but that’s still underpriced for a mature solo ruck. Speaking of solo rucks, Rory Lobb will take over the ruck responsibilities and has the athleticism to trouble an increasingly immobile Sam Jacobs. Scott Lycett continues to thrive without Nic Nat and you could use the wet weather = more contests theory to justify his selection.

My takes: Soldo (low ceiling but should get value), McInerney, Lycett.

Defenders

There are a couple of viable $5K defensive plays on the slate today. Adam Oxley is almost a free square today at this price. While Collingwood’s injury list is shocking, the one position they have in surplus is running defenders. For this reason, Oxley has struggled to break into the senior team but gets his chance in a great matchup under the roof tonight. Oxley shouldn’t have any problems getting value today and averages 81 points in 14 VFL games this year.

The Hawks obviously trust Irish rookie Conor Nash as they’re bringing him in for one of the biggest games of their season. Nash is a talented multi-sportsman, excelling not only at Gaelic football but also rugby. This familiarity with an oval ball has helped Nash come to terms with footy but he is still quite raw. At 197cm, Nash is a unique player who played a number of roles in the VFL. I’m cautious of his ceiling but as we know by now, these $5K players are always popular. Geelong have seen this bold Irish selection decision and raised Hawthorn by picking Mark O’Connor for his second game. Fingers crossed that we see them line up against each other.

If you played Brodie Smith at $8,600 last week, then I can’t see why you wouldn’t play him at $6,600 this week. Smith was always going to struggle to hit value in his first game back from a knee but his fantasy output will increase as time goes on. The same could be said for Pearce Hanley who is also a great value play at $6,800 (Hanley is also available as a midfielder).

Cameron Guthrie had the game I’d been waiting about 5 weeks and thankfully I still played him. The Cats have made a few changes to their backline so I think Guthrie still has a big role to play in this game.

I never thought I’d write this bloke up but Josh Walker is career-best form. Walker is marking everything in a 4km radius and his safe hands are a welcome sight for Brisbane’s young defenders as they look for an outlet option.

A fit Adam Kennedy has started to put some consistent performances together and he’s just at the upper limit of value today. My concern with Kennedy tonight is the impact of the Giants' ‘ins’ - Taranto, Shiel and Griffen.

The Suns do have some strong inclusions this week but Richmond does as well. This quality of Richmond's ‘ins’ shows just how serious they are about recording a big win today. The Suns didn’t look good heading into attack last week so I don’t mind the strategy of targeting Richmond’s rebounding defenders. Brandon Ellis and Nick Vlastuin are both in great spots and reasonably priced.

Another defensive unit to target is Brisbane. Last week’s loss to Sydney saw Collingwood fall back to the pack and they’ll need to respond well today to keep up. Collingwood gives up a decent amount of points to opposition defenders (3rd in the league, 1st in the league for key defenders). My concern here is that my favourite Lions to target are a little expensive - Tom Cutler ($13,010) and Alex Witherden ($13,510). Harris Andrews however, has had a few games back now and will fly under the radar at $10,510.

My takes: Oxley, Hanley, Kennedy, Andrews.

Forwards

I don’t love many of the sub $10K forward options today. Apart from Oscar McInerney (who I discussed earlier), you could make a case for Eric Hipwood. The young forward has been quiet since his breakout month in July but he gets an exploitable matchup today - if the Lions are able to get the ball to him!

Ben Ainsworth is one of my favourite young players. Ainsworth had a solid run of form in the middle of the year before missing through injury. At $9K, he’s just a little too high for his ceiling but if he gets some midfield minutes, then I think a value game is there for the taking.

There should be plenty of scoring opportunities for Richmond forwards. A lean run of form has seen Josh Caddy’s price drop to $10K. Will Caddy be keen to rub salt into the Gold Coast wound by kicking a bag? Probably not but that doesn’t mean he won’t enjoy doing it.

Jamie Cripps has been in some kind of form. Cripps has played a little higher up the ground in recent times and this linking role has had a huge impact on his fantasy output. If Cripps played in Victoria, the football world would be talking about him a lot more. I don’t love his matchup today and the weather doesn’t look good either, but Cripps is on a tear and he might even get a little Gaff bump as well.

Jack Riewoldt and Kane Lambert are both tempting in a likely blowout and Gary Ablett’s form against Hawthorn is nothing short of remarkable.

My takes: McInerney, Ainsworth, Cripps.

Midfielders

Our first task is to consider any cheap dual position players who couldn’t find their ways into our backline or forward line. For me, this is the perfect spot to throw a dart at Pearce Hanley. $8K options like Aidan Bonar and James Worpel could fly under the ownership radar. Both players have value earning upside although Bonar might regress a little due to the Giants’ inclusions. Jack Graham could be a sneaky way to access the mountain of points that will be on offer to Richmond midfielders. The Suns continue to leak points in this position so this is always a good spot to target.

David Swallow could well be one of the best value selections I’ve seen in a long time. Swallow start the year off with a bang but then struggled to maintain his excellent fantasy form. Some injury affected scores have resulted in his salary dropping down to $10K. Swallow’s excellent ceiling is bolstered by the leading role he’ll need to play in guiding the Suns' midfield. Fingers crossed that people playing the studs and scrubs strategy will totally overlook this play.

I’m probably not going to play Rory Atkins and this means that you all should! I haven’t been able to catch an Atkins day all year and think I’ve given up. The ground at Canberra can be a very fast track, so if the rain stays away, Atkins could be in for another big day. Rory Sloane is still only $12K and although Sam Reid has been brought in by the Giants, I don’t expect they’ll play a hard tag.

I’m going to wait to see who gets the best Gaff usage bump because a trip to Adelaide in poor weather won’t really show us much. The most logical players are Chris Masten, Luke Shuey and Jarrod Redden, however, I’d hold off before targeting this spot.

Collingwood’s running mids are all in play as is Callan Ward. If you’re looking to spend some serious cash in your midfield than Josh KellyDayne Zorko and Matt Crouch are your men. If you’ve saved some cash along the way, you can even piece together a decent Tom Mitchell team.

My takes: Hanley, Swallow, Atkins, Sloane.