Put simply, this is an excellent slate. We've got a huge six games to choose from, there are plenty of value options and there are some studs in absolute smash spots. There are stacking options, under-priced players with great ceilings and so many rookies that you'll need to name tags just to know who's who. The range of available options will allow coaches to be extremely creative in their lineups today. My advice is to follow that creativity and take some risks when you are building your teams.
There are some tantalising options to consider today ranging from value rucks to big men in smash spots. I usually avoid time-sharing rucks but I think Stef Martin will be the highest scoring ruck of the day. Despite their ruck deficiencies, the Dogs are about middle of the table when it comes to points given to opposition rucks (8th with 90 points). However, they haven’t really played any of the better rucks in the competition. The best ruck the Dogs have faced was Jarrod Witts last week and he walloped them to the tune of 131. Tom Boyd will handle most of the contests and I expect Martin will run riot.
Tom Bellchambers won’t be a popular option but I think he’s in a great spot as well. The wet Melbourne weather should result in an increased number of stoppages. Matthew Kreuzer is not 100% fit and will tire as the game goes on. As he does so, Bellchambers should be able to increase his influence on the game.
Another mid-priced option is Scott Lycett. The West Coast ruckman has had an underrated start to the season. He’s provided great support to Nic Nat in the ruck and has provided a viable target when playing forward. Although Fraser McInness has been brought in to timeshare, I think Lycett will handle the bulk of ruck contests. Oh, and I did I mention that West Coast are playing GWS?
At the budget end of the scale, we have Oscar McInerney playing deep forward against the Bulldogs. The Dogs’ struggles against key forwards have been well documented in these articles and even man-mountain rookie Brayden Crossley scored a value-exceeding 69.
My takes: Martin (highest scorer), Lycett (Value) McInerney (Punt and salary relief).
The only budget defender who jumps out at me today is Isaac Cummings. I mentioned the GWS defender in my season preview as someone who may benefit from the absences of Zac Williams and Nathan Wilson. With the success of Jeremy Finlayson in the half-back role, Cummings has been made to wait patiently in the wings for his chance. That chance comes today as the $5,700 defender makes his debut. Drafted in 2016, Cummings played NEAFL last year across half-back where he impressed with his speed and kicking skills. He’s fresh from a 100+ performance in the NEAFL last weekend as well.
The lack of other cheaper defensive options has led me to lift my eyes a little and focus on the often neglected $10K-$12K group of players. If last week’s match against Collingwood is any indication, the Bulldogs v Brisbane contest should be fast and free, with good runners benefiting the most. This puts Bailey Williams into the picture for me. Williams has only had the one big score, but he’s one of the Dogs’ main distributors and he can run all day.
Although he absolutely killed me last week, I’m giving Stephen Hill another chance, this time in my backline. After crumbling under Richmond’s relentless pressure, the Dockers get a much softer matchup as they take on St Kilda at Optus Stadium. The Saints aren’t great at the moment and Hill should be able to get his game up and running (literally). Luke Ryan and Connor Blakely could also have great scoring days for the same reason. Just quietly, Blakely averages 107 at home this year and Ryan averages 86.
Nick Haynes did his best impersonation of a brick wall last week and I mean that in a good way. Haynes loves to push up the ground and help the Giants keep the ball within their forward half. His great marking ability and his potential for junk-time stats increase Haynes’ ceiling significantly.
Finally, with Dylan Roberton out for the rest of the year and Shane Savage down on form, Jimmy Webster has become the Saints main distributor.
My takes: Cummings, Blakely, Ryan.
There are so many forward options today that this section could go on for ages. Cheapies, mid-pricers and premiums, whatever your forward flavour, you’re sure to find something you like today.
Ben Ainsworth has finally unleashed in the midfield and look what happened - a very pleasing score of 90. There’s no doubt that Ainsworth will eventually become a midfielder so it would be great if Stuart Dew could just leave the kid in there for a bit longer.
Josh Kennedy is the cheapest I can remember him being for a long time ($9,000). Kennedy takes on the Giants at Spotless who, on the surface, appear to have been good against opposition key forwards (ranked 3rd lowest average against key forwards - 71). But as is often the case with statistics, delve a little deeper and you’ll see a different picture. The Giants have played the Dogs, Pies, Swans, Freo, Saints, Brisbane and Geelong. Of these teams, Buddy and Hawkins are the only top line forwards they’ve faced. And what did they both score I hear you ask? 2 goals and 102 points for Buddy and 4 goals and 92 points for Hawkins.
James Stewart will become a bigger part of Essendon’s forward line with Daniher out. However, you might want to keep an eye on Melbourne’s weather before selecting any key forwards playing that MCG today.
Brad Sheer exceeded value as he played a variety of roles across the ground. The Suns are a little bare down back so Sheer could move to a half-back role today. I think he’s still great value at $7,000.
Many thought that Fremantle veteran Danyle Pearce had retired but the old man returns to take on St Kilda at home this week. Pearce last scored 100+ in 2016 but is capable of some huge scores (mainly courtesy of marks and kicks across half-back).
I’m going to mention Brendon Ah Chee mainly because I love watching his ‘long handball’ highlights on YouTube. The ex-Port midfielder left Alberton in search of more midfield time. He gets his first chance to impress his new team today. Speaking of new clubs, Darcy Lang will don the navy blue for the first time. Similar to Ah Chee, Lang was a second tier midfielder/half-forward at Geelong and joined Carlton with the promise of midfield rotations. At $10,000, Lang is a little more expensive than other viable forward options, so I might wait and watch.
Taylor Walker dominated in both Showdowns last year (115 and 110). Walker hasn’t had a great start to the year but usually saves his best for the old enemy in Port Adelaide.
Finally, Jack Darling is in career best form and Jack Martin could get off the chain against a loose-checking Melbourne.
My takes: JJK, Sheer, Pearce.
Just in case you needed more rookie value, Ed Phillips makes his debut for St Kilda. Like his brother Tom (Collingwood), Phillips is a running machine. He’s a neat kick and can play inside and out. Phillips has a year of VFL behind him and is in excellent VFL form in 2018 as well.
Still hungry for rookies? Then consider Brayden Ainsworth. The West Coast midfielder spent last year playing WAFL reserves (averaged 18 disposals) and is averaging 24 touches and 5 marks in the seniors this year. With the Eagles done on midfield rotations, I think that Ainsworth could be thrown straight into the deep end today.
Sam Powell-Pepper returns this week and will be keen to atone for his indifferent form and poor off-field behaviour. Showdowns are known for the fierce and contested footy, something that SPP will right in the middle of.
Gold Coast give up a whopping 130 points to opposing front-line midfielders, so targeting Melbourne mids is a great idea today. Running midfielders have been the big winners against the Suns with Macrae, Curnow and even Masten all recording 135+ games. Touk Miller has been given run-with roles over recent weeks, so that is something to keep in mind. Picking which Melbourne midfield will benefit the most is often challenging but I like the prices and form of Christian Salem and Angus Brayshaw.
In the same game, Aaron Hall rejoins the Suns at $11,950. As long as he remains at this price, Hall will always be someone I consider. Hall’s upside is amazing but his poor work rate often affects his scoring.
Mark Hutchings could be a low-owned way to gain some exposure to the West Coast midfield while Jack Redden could attract more attention for the masses.
Finally, it would be remiss of me to not mention Dayne Zorko’s amazing 176 point bounce back game. This incredible score was 110 points more than his 2018 average.
My takes: Phillips, Brayden Ainsworth, Redden, Angus Brayshaw.
This is potentially my favourite slate of the season so far. The 6 games on offer are packed with value and players in fantastic spots. I can’t wait to see the way that people chose to attack this dynamic AFLDFS contest.