Saturday has been renamed Rookie Day with four debutantes named across the slate (14 if you included extended benches!). There are few big-name absentees and that means there will be lots of value to be had today. There could be some one-sided affairs today so I don’t mind targeting GWS and Adelaide in particular.
Thank you very much, Brisbane and GWS, for throwing a grenade into today’s ruck selection. Just when I thought I had it sorted out, Brisbane picks mature-aged rookie Oscar McInerney and the Giants opt to solo ruck with Jonathan Patton. McInerney is a 23-year-old ruck who played with Casey before being drafted by the Lions (I wanted Melbourne to draft him as a Gawn back up). He’s 204cm, has a reach higher than Ben Brown and is the owner of one of the most awkward kicking styles in Australia. I’m assuming that he plays deep forward in an attempt to stretch the smallest GWS side we’ve seen in a while. On the other side of the game, Patton will attempt to ruck all day against two actual ruckmen.
If you’re looking for a cheap ruck today then sadly I don’t have many options for you. I don’t mind Esava Ratugolea at $8,250. He’s shown amazing promise and his time spent in the ruck provides a reasonable floor.
Old mate Tom Hickey looks to be St Kilda’s best ruck option at the moment. Hickey plays like a poor man’s Max Gawn. His height and strength allows him to compete well in the ruck and he’s better than most around the ground. I rate Ben McEvoy that highly and think that Hickey should win this contest.
Ben Brown is in terrific form and also a great option today. My only concern is that Port Adelaide is probably the best defensive lineup that North Melbourne has faced this year. Speaking of Port Adelaide, today they take on Todd Goldstein with no recognised ruckman. Good luck.
My takes: McInerney (value play), Hickey, Goldstein. It’s definitely a day for a multiple ruck stack.
In previous slates, I’ve complained that the ruck choices have been so bad that I didn’t want to play any of them. I’ve gotta say that I’m similarly uninspired by this collection of defenders. There are some expensive players who I think will play well, but there is a distinct lack of sub $10K defensive value today.
Ryan Burton is in some kind of form slump. Averaging a shocking 36.5 fantasy points over four games, Burton seems nothing like the Hodge-in-waiting replacement that we thought he was last year. As consistent as his form was last year, he still only managed one 100+ score. That said, he was super consisent and at $8,500, I’m tempted to give him a chance, form slump and all. Around the same price as David Mirra. I get the feeling that we’ll see Mirra’s output continue to increase as he becomes more comfortable at AFL level.
If you’re stacking the Crows, then I’d consider Tom Doedee again. Jake Lever 2.0 impressed with 11 marks last week but it was his 18 kicks that really boosted his score. Not only am I banking on a Crow's thrashing, but I think it will also include some backline junk time.
Nick Coffield has been super consistent and had an impressive 11 marks last week. His price is getting high but he’s still a good option with a distinct lack of defensive value today. The same can be said for Jimmy Webster who gets a bump in the absence of Dylan Roberton.
Finally, I think that the expensive Paul Seedsman and Rory Laird are both in absolute smash spots.
My takes: Mirra, Coffield, anyone in a Crows jumper.
Another game and another rookie. This time it’s Swans mid rookie Ben Ronke. Watching Ronke’s video packages he appears to be a younger, faster Tom Papley. He’s small forward who can push into the midfield. It’s a tough ask for a rookie to debut at the Cattery but Ronke’s NEAFL form has been impressive.
There is a logjam of cheap forward options tonight and amongst those players, I’m sure they’ll be some unexpected high scores. Adelaide midfield youngsters Jordan Galluci and Myles Poholke did enough to get another run and could be unleashed if this game blows out. While Wayne Milera loves bruise free footy.
Chad Wingard’s salary is at a season low $10,000. Wingard only have 5 100+ games last year. But in each one of those games, he went over 120. His form is a worry though, as is the surprisingly miserly North Melbourne defense.
There could be some massive scores today and one of them might just belong to the amazing disappearing man, Josh Jenkins. The Suns matchup is exactly the kind of game in which Jenkins could go large. If it’s not him, then it could be his captain Taylor Walker. The Suns backline has performed well so far but is yet to have faced a forward line with any real potency (North - in the rain, Carlton, Freo, West Coast - got smashed, Brisbane).
With Dan Hannebery missing and Luke Parker a chance to move forward, perhaps we’ll see a throwback game from Kieran Jack. Early last season it looked like Jack was a long off his best footy, both in real life and in the fantasy realm. Jack managed to wind back the clock a few times last year and I think he’s a real chance to do the same again today.
Jeremy Cameron has been humming along very nicely with an average of 91. Now Brisbane has surprisingly performed quite well against key forwards this year but struggled to contain the roaming Jesse Hogan. If Cameron gets his running game going, he could have a big day against the Lions as well.
My takes: Ronke (punt play), Wingard, Walker.
With the rookies on offer today, you can build yourself the ultimate studs and rookies lineup. If you’re leaning that way, then you have to consider James Worpel and Nick Shipley. Worpel is a medium sized medium with a strong body and fierce appetite for the ball. Liam Shiels is out today so there will be midfield minutes up for grabs. With a softish matchup against St Kilda, perhaps Clarko takes a sink or swim approach with Worpel. Shipley is a GWS academy pick who also gets a dream first game matchup against Brisbane. While these two rookies have talent, neither has played a great deal of senior footy - so beware the 4th quarter rookie fade out.
The man they call Silk is back for the Hawks today. Shaun Burgoyne’s class and composure has been sorely missed by the Hawks. I love Burgoyne’s price of $8,000 but I would have loved the play even more if he was available as a defender.
There’s a bunch of $11-$13K mids on offer today, starting with yet another Hawk - Daniel Howe. I’ve played Howe a few times this year and it is yet to really pay off. But with a vacant spot in the Hawks midfield today, Howe is a chance to get closer to value today. Dylan Shiel has been great in patches but is yet to string a consistent four-quarter effort together. Perhaps he’s able to do so at home against the Lions.
Rory Atkins’ outside game will be on full display against the Suns who must be counting down the days until this brutal travel schedule winds to end. Underperforming Brisbane pair Danyes Beams and Zorko are priced well due to their poor form. Both players are stinking it up at the moment but it’s worth remembering that both amazing upsides.
Speaking of upside, Patrick Dangerfield has now played three consecutive games and returns to one of his most productive grounds at Kardinia Park.
Oh, and Matt Crouch is $12,000 against the Suns, so there’s that too.
My takes: Burgoyne, Shipley, Atkins, Crouch (likely to have sky high ownership).
On a day that offers four viable rookie plays and an $8,000 Shaun Burgoyne, there is a strong temptation to run with a rookie/stud lineup. I don't see a problem leaving some salary aside today, so don’t feel like you HAVE to have those expensive players if you think there are others who you’d rather play.