Here we go sports fans, the last 5 game Saturday slate of the year! None of the games on today’s slate will shape the order of the top 8 that much. Geelong will easily account for the Suns at home and finish 8th, while all that the Pies need to do to finish in the top 4 is beat the pitiful Dockers. The Tigers/Bulldogs and Blues/Crows are effectively dead rubbers but could be a great source of some value DFS plays. Strange things can happen in the last round of the season. With some players out to prove their worth for finals and other players just out to prove their worth on a 2019 list at all, be ready for some unexpected big scores.
Some awkward prices make ruck selection a bit more challenging than usual today. Recent cash cows Matthew Lobbe and Ryan Abbott are now expensive enough that a dud score can really hurt your chances. Lobbe is $12K this week and while a score like last weeks 82 isn’t terrible, it is short of what you’d hope for from a $12K player. As impressive as Abbott’s first two games have been, it’s similarly difficult to expect a value game at $11K, especially considering he’s going up against Jarrod Witts.
I like Jackson Trengove’s chances of another decent score against Toby Nankervis. The Richmond ruck has been giving away some big scores recently and Trengove has the athleticism to trouble Nankervis. Josh Jenkins is also in play if you follow one of my favourite trends for 2018 - key forwards against Carlton (even Josh Schache took 8 marks against them last week!).
Without Ceglar or Pittonet around, Ben McEvoy becomes a much better proposition. McEvoy looked fit and impressed around the ground last week and he also gets a positive matchup on the Callum Sinclair. Although his price is a little bit high for his ceiling, I think McEvoy is a very good ruck option today.
My takes: Trengove, Jenkins, McEvoy.
Nathan Murphy had a solid debut, just missing 10 x value. Murphy is bottom priced again and gets a soft matchup against Fremantle. I think there’s enough value again today to leave the $5K Brigade alone but if you need to save a heap of cash, I think Murphy is a great option.
The thing that really impresses me about Connor Nash is how he moves so well for a bloke who’s 6ft 6! Nash’s story is fantastic and the Hawks have been grooming him for AFL for several years now. I’m not worried about Nash’s price rise to $7,500 and I think he’s still an excellent chance to snag a value game.
Geelong are trying to develop Jack Henry has a key forward and although that move has had mixed results, I like Henry’s ceiling today. The Suns should offer more resistance than Fremantle did last week but the Cats should still win by 60+ points.
James Aish has had two games back now and will feel more settled with his role and Collingwood’s game plan. Just about every Collingwood player is in a smash spot this week but not many people will be on Aish. Flankers/Wingers have been racking up big scores at Optus Stadium week after week and hopefully, Aish can take advantage of the space. Jack Crisp is the other clear target here, but his ownership will be 20% higher than Aish.
Tigers pair Brandon Ellis and Nick Vlastuin are still well priced and while this game will be closer than some people think, Ellis and Vlastuin will control the back flank with ease.
At the expensive end of the list, Kade Simpson will see a lot of the ball today and I love Rory Laird on the fast track of Etihad (averages 114 in his last three games at Etihad and 99 in his last 5 games against Carlton).
My takes: Murphy, Nash, Aish.
There are a host of low ceiling bottom priced forwards today. Second-gamer Sam Switkowski, Crows debutante Elliot Himmelberg, Jason Castagna and Harry Taylor are all on offer if you want to save some cash. Harry Taylor had a nightmare last week, even in the midst of the Dockers massacre. The Suns forward line will present no concerns for Geelong and Taylor could easily have a 8-10+ intercept mark day.
Tom Hawkins needs a big final game bag of goals to steal the Coleman Medal from Ben Brown. And against the Suns at Kardinia Park in a game that Geelong must win - I think he’s a great chance to do just that. Hawkins has kicked an insane 20.2 in his last three games at home and I can’t see a reason why he won’t go seriously large again.
The other Geelong player who I absolutely love today is Brandon Parfitt. The silky outside mid eats games like this for breakfast and will stuff the stat sheet in this ugly blowout.
Key forwards have troubled Collingwood in recent weeks and this opens the door for Matt Taberner and Brennan Cox. To say that this pair will be low owned would be the understatement of the year. The Pies will be desperate to secure a second chance and the Dockers only kicked three goals last week (including none after quarter time). But sometimes you trust your gut and sometimes you trust the stats. The stats say that over the past three weeks the Pies have given up: 4.0 - Ryder/Westhoff, 5.2 Hipwood/McStay, 6.4 - Buddy, 3.2 - Riewoldt and 5.3 - Brown and Daw. So even before Howe and Scharenberg went down, the Pies were not as good against key forwards and you’d think.
Speaking of the Pies, Chris Mayne returns to Perth for the first time since being traded to Collingwood from the Dockers. Mayne is a risky GPP play but one his random big scores could lead you to glory. Unlike the NBA, clubs rarely ‘sit’ players even in blowouts like this game should be. However, if the Pies rest their top tier midfielders forward or back, Mayne could see increased usage throughout the game.
Josh Caddy is hitting form at the right time of the year and will have plenty of scoring opportunities in a fast-paced game at the MCG. Tom Lynch has had a lean fantasy year but is in a great spot on a fast deck against Carlton. Mitch Wallis keeps pumping out his 80-90s and Ed Langdon returns to his beloved Optus Stadium.
Caleb Daniel has adapted well to his new defensive role and although he didn’t hit the heights of his career-best 40 possessions, he still pulled in 23 touches. Targeting defenders against Richmond has been solid move all year and I’m happy to take another chance on my brother in height.
Finally, high ceiling trio Marcus Bontempelli, Buddy Franklin and Jack Riewoldt are all reasonably priced today.
Somehow I don’t think Michael Barlow will be 80% again today. His output last week was far from what we all expected and this will scare a lot of people away. However, if you were tempted by his price and ceiling last week then logically, there should be little reason to avoid him today.
Keep your eye on the late changes for the Cats/Suns game. I expected that the Cats will pull some late changes - most likely their big name midfielders. If this does happen then I’ll be very keen on Cam Guthrie. Your typical spare parts player, Guthrie will get a bump should one or more of these mids get scratched at the last minute. Teammate Jordan Murdoch is the perfect example of what I mentioned in my intro - a depth player who’d be keen to cement his place in the best 22 before finals. Murdoch will get a similar boost if there’s a late midfield change.
James Worpel is finishing the year with a bang and I like the spot he finds himself in this week in what should be a hard-fought contest at the SCG. The Wordep...no, I’m sorry I can’t use that terrible nickname. Worpel keeps producing despite being surrounded by Mitchell, O’Meara and Shiels.
Another young mid who’s performed well amongst a star-studded midfield is Brayden Sier. An excellent tackling floor and strong contested work has enabled Sier to consistently hit 70-95 scores. If Sier could take some more marks around the ground, he’d be pumping out 100s without a care in the world.
I promise I’m not just recycling last week’s article (which also mentioned Worpel, Sier and my next recommendation) but Nic Newman is in a good spot again and is still well priced. Newman has averaged 97 is his last two games at the SCG and 96 over his last three games.
Apart from a dud against the Giants, Hugh Greenwood has had an excellent run of scores. Greenwood has spent more time forward in recent weeks hitting the scoreboard in 4 of his last 5 games. Did someone say forwards against Carlton?
Ed Curnow and Brayden Fiorini are both still well priced and have high ceilings. Tim Kelly and Mitch Duncan are probably a little underpriced for their matchup. Taylor Adams’ salary has caught up with his production but he is my favourite Pie to target in this soft as butter game in Perth. Finally, Matt Crouch’s last 4 out 5 games have been over 120. That’s second only to Tom Mitchell and Crouch is under the dome tonight.
I’m a little torn here. If you go cheap in your backline, you can basically take your pick of forwards and mids. However, you avoid the cheapies, you can still build a strong team of second-tier players.