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The Value Hunter: Round 6 - Anzac Eve – Melbourne v Richmond

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Richmond vs Melbourne

From a fantasy football perspective, this is a fascinating contest in a real car-crash kind of way. These two teams are hemorrhaging fantasy points to their respective opponents so far this season. Richmond and Melbourne are first and second for average total points against and for 100+ scores conceded. Richmond is first for points against defenders; second for points against forwards; and third for points against mids. Melbourne is just bad, ranking second for points against mids and first for points against forwards. The Demons are however, still managing to keep opposition rucks at bay. The complicating factor is that Richmond and Melbourne also rank 17th and 18th for total average fantasy points scored. So even if these teams managed to exploit the other’s fantasy weaknesses, their scoring potential may still be limited. This is especially the case with Richmond who have managed only 10 scores above 100 this season, with 5 of those scores coming in Round 1 against Carlton!

Rucks

This might just be me being cautious but I can’t trust many rucks at the moment. The ceilings of Gawn and, to a lesser extent, Nankervis still exist but we’re just not seeing them as consistently as we did last year. Gawn’s most dominant performance was against a one-legged Sinclair but he gets the benefit of flying solo tonight. Interestingly, the two rucks have only met once as solo big men. This meeting was last year when Gawn absolutely destroyed Nankervis, scoring as many points just in hitouts as Nankervis did in total.

My takes: Gawn

Defenders

As I mentioned earlier, Richmond have leaked points to defenders all season. But can we trust Melbourne to keep this trend going? This will be a common theme throughout this article. Team’s number one rebounding defenders have gone nuts against Richmond, so of course Christian Salem is in play. Salem has been one of Melbourne’s most consistent fantasy scorers this season and his ceiling is excellent. I’m hoping Salem’s price scares away some coaches but I think that he'll still be a popular play.

Marty Hore keeps impressing in both fantasy and in real life. Hore’s price jumped $2 k after successive 90s but with the number of repeat entries Richmond are likely to have tonight, I think he still has a great chance of hitting value.

Melbourne’s delivery inside 50 has been abysmal this season. This means intercept marks galore will be available for Richmond defenders. Enter, Nick Vlastuin. Coming off a season-high 9 mark effort against Sydney (who have a similar inside 50 problem), Vlastuin will have every opportunity to exceed value again tonight. Richmond’s rebounding defenders, Bachar Houli and Brandon Ellis, are also firmly in play.

Given the value options available in the midfield and forward line, I’m not paying down in my backline any further than Vlastuin (I also think Sam Frost’s score 90 last week was an anomaly).

My takes: Hore, Vlastuin, Salem

Forwards

Again, I’m passing over the cheap options on this slate. You could make a case for a Noah Bolta breakout game (remember that Melbourne are horrible against big forwards), or a value-ish game from Jason Castagna. I’m not convinced that you need to go all the way down on tonight’s slate.

Either Tom Lynch or Jack Riewoldt is going to tear Melbourne apart. St Kilda’s key forwards kicked a total of 7 goals against the Demons and arguably, their backline today is even worse than it was last week. My only hesitation in selecting either of these two players today is that there are a lot of well-priced mid/fwds available. Having a moderately priced key forward kick a big bag of goals and do wonders for your chances of a decent cash, but if they go cold or if the thrashing you predicted doesn’t eventuate, then you're effectively sunk.

Richmond’s Josh Caddy, Jack HigginsShane Edwards and Melbourne’s Alex Neal-Bullen and Christian Petracca are examples of the mid/fwds who I mentioned above. Granted, the Richmond players listed all spend significantly more time in the midfield than ANB or Petracca. Caddy and Higgins are my preferred targets from this group. I feel like Caddy is exactly the kind of player who will score well against the Melbourne difference. Like Tippa and even Kent before him, Caddy is a fast mid-sized forward who can easily outsmart this slow Melbourne defence.

The top priced trio of Kane Lambert, James Harmes and Dustin Martin are all very playable and I can easily see Dusty having another 25+/3 goal game.

My takes: Balta (salary saver punt only), Lynch, Caddy, Higgins

Midfielders

As Melbourne supporter, I was really impressed by what I say from Jay Lockhart. The mature-aged rookie presented well and unlike many of his more seasoned teammates, he at least makes a contest and creates some pressure. I’m a little uncertain of where Lockhart will play today. He’ll most likely play as a small forward but he has played a lot of senior footy on a half-back and wing. Sydney Stack has looked at home from the moment he debuted. A seriously smooth mover, Stack has added some silk to a Richmond backline which can be suspect with its disposal at times. Richmond could use Stack to exploit Melbourne’s lack of speed.

Jack Ross couldn’t quite back up his excellent debut score of 86, scoring just 63 last week. Ross will continue to spend a significant amount of time on ball, I’m willing to give him another chance this week. In my opinion, Bailey Fritsch is being criminally underutilised at the moment. Fritsch has the kicking skills that Melbourne desperately needs across their half-forward line, so I’m hoping that Goodwin mixes things around tonight and gets Fritsch more involved.

I don’t think Melbourne can match Richmond for speed or ball movement, so if they are going to win, then they’ll have to somehow turn the game into a contest slug-fest. If this does eventuate, then Jack Viney and the more expensive Clayton Oliver will be front and centre.

My takes: Stack, Ross, mid/forwards, Oliver

Final thoughts…

As horrible as Richmond are as fantasy scorers, they’re actually playing some good football, even in the absence of their injured stars. The Richmond game plan is exactly what troubles Melbourne the most, so it’s easy to see how this game could quickly get out of control. It will also be interesting to see how whether the fantasy trends I’ve identified above are actually reflected in this game.