This week’s Sunday slate should give us one great matchup and two games that could go either way. Melbourne begins a challenging fortnight with the evergreen Hawks followed by the Anzac Day Eve clash against Richmond. This is a huge mental test for the Demons who have been found lacking in that area in recent years. Across town, Essendon take on Port Adelaide who rarely play at Etihad Stadium. The Bombers were awful for most of last week’s game and their supporters will be looking for a big improvement. With injuries mounting, Geelong gets to retreat to the comfort of whatever we’re calling Kardinia Park these days!
St Kilda’s sink or swim policy with Rowan Marshall seemed to work last week, well at least from a fantasy value perspective! Marshall returned great value and is definitely worth rostering again (his value might depend on how Geelong handle their own ruck situation). Team selection update - With Tom Hickey named, Marshall’s value drops significantly. It’s difficult to play him now.
Rhys Stanley comes back for Geelong and gets another crack at the solo ruck gig. He should beat Hickey easily around the ground and could sneak forward to snag a goal or two as well.
Max Gawn hasn’t faced Ben McEvoy too often since becoming one of the premier rucks in the competition. However, the last time these two met (Round 20, 2016) Gawn absolutely smashed him into the ground. Gawn has started the season in great form and is still somehow below $14K.
My takes: Gawn (I’ll just continue to play him when he’s under $14K)
VFL journeyman David Mirra finally gets his chance to play AFL football. The 26 year old defender has played over 100 games for Hawthorn’s VFL side will be welcome addition to the Hawks back six. With his kind of experience, Mirra is an excellent play at $5,800.
Geelong have been hit hard by injuries and Cam Guthrie’s absence opens up some possible usage increases in their backline. Brother Zac, Jed Bews and Kade Kolodjashnij are all likely beneficiaries. Of these three, I’d take Bews and KK. Bews seems to have given more creative freedom this season and has been released from his regular lock down rolls. KK appears to be building nicely to and a soft homeground matchup against the Saints is the perfect stage for breakout performance I keep waiting for.
Nick Coffield was excellent on debut and had many people wondering just how he was left out the Saints team for the first two rounds. Coffield contested strongly, marked well and had a team high 88 percent disposal efficient. Yes, TEAM high on debut.
Christian Salem was the perfect value play last week and with only a small price increase, I’m happy to play him again this week. Salem’s silky kicking skills are well known but what I liked about his game against North Melbourne was an aggressive streak that I’d not seen before.
On a day when many of his senior teammates went missing, young Bomber Andrew McGrath kept battling and trying to spark his team into action. The loss of speedster takes a bite out of the Essendon backline but McGarth should step up to fill this need.
Michael Hibberd’s price is dropping just as quickly as his form. Melbourne just don’t seem to be relying on Hibberd’s rebounding drive as they did last year. Still, out of all the Melbourne defenders, Hibberd still has the highest ceiling.
Dylan Roberton and Shane Savage could benefit from Jimmy Webster missing with injury.
My takes: Mirra, Bews, Coffield, McGrath.
Matt Guelfi is another rookie with state league experience who gets his AFL debut today. After being overlooked in two drafts, Guelfi turned to the WAFL to ply his trade. A versatile player, I expect Guelfi to play largely in defence today. Another bargain at $5,850.
I’m keen to see how Geelong approach their ruck situation. Believe it or not, Zac Smith is healthy! It appears that the Cats just seem unwilling to deal with Smith’s limitations around the ground. If Geelong start without Stanley and Smith again then I’m more than happy to play Esava Ratugolea. This kid is something special. He finds the ball and has a game sense that belies his inexperience. Team selection update - Stanley being named makes me cool on Esava, specially when there are two playable $5,800 rookies available.
Hawthorn defenders had their hands full with Richmond’s mosquito fleet last week and this week they may find Jeff Garlett to be a difficult customer. Unfortunately, I think Garlett may be just a little too expensive to roster today. He’s definitely on my initial shortlist though. So to is Brandon Parfitt who gets a big boost for me with Nakia Cockatoo succumbing to injury yet again.
Blah blah blah… Melbourne’s half-forwards - all of who scored 80+ last week, returning between 8 - 10 x value. While none of these players have done so yet, the potential for any one of them to smash through their respective ceiling is always there.
St Kilda pair Blake Acres and Jack Billings have been down on their tremendous starts to the season and as such, so are their salaries. Upside is the name of the game here though and these two have it in spades. It’s always a tough trip down to Kardinia Park but this is not the same Geelong teams have feared in the past. Remember that if it wasn’t for a shocker from Maxy, Geelong would be 0 - 3.
Jesse Hogan is averaging 25 touches and 8 marks and 3 goals over his last two games. When all the elements of Hogan’s game come together he can still return great value even at $12,300.
Finally, Sam Menegola will be extremely popular in the absence of GAJ and after his 120 against the Eagles. Like every good understudy, Menegola is always ready to go at a moment’s notice.
My takes: Guelfi, Parfitt, Acres, Menegola.
To be honest, I’m not keen on many sub $12K mids at all today (apart from those DPP’s I’ve mentioned earlier). I think today is definitely a slate in which you can find value in your back and forward lines, leaving you some cash to play with in your midfield.
Dan Howe was a victim of circumstance last week. The Hawks just could not break Richmond’s forward press and because of this, Howe was stuck in the backline for most of the game. Melbourne have been allowing teams to waltz out defense this year so Howe will have much greater freedom today. In fact, this bring link men Ricky Henderson and Isaac Smith (much more expensive) into the equation as well.
Fallen premiums have tempted me every round this year and now we’re faced with the biggest tease of all - Zac Merrett at $13,600. There have been some passionate Twitter debates this week about Merrett and the reasons behind his dramatic form slump. Is it injury, is it a tag, where there signs of this late last year (Merrett has scored only one 100 in his last 9 games)? These are all questions that remain unanswered. One thing remains - we have a player with clear 140+ potential priced at $13,600.
Geelong have struggled a little against opposition midfielders, particularly those who like to run and spread. Seb Ross then comes into the frame at $14K.
I’m going to find it very hard to resist playing both mature age rookies today. I usually hate playing debutantes but these two are no ordinary first gamers, especially Mirra. The flexibility that two $5,800 players provide you is just too good for me to refuse.