Today’s slate has perhaps the most anticipated match of the season so far - West Coast vs Richmond. West Coast have perhaps been a bit of a surprise packet in 2018. They are in sensational form and have proven they can win at home and on the road. Not much needs to be said about the Tigers. Perhaps the scariest thing about there 2018 form is that Dustin Martin hasn’t been nearly as influential as he was in 2017 - and the Tigers are still on top of the ladder. The Melbourne/Carlton clash could be a spiteful one. There is certainly no love lost between the two teams - just ask Paddy Cripps and his doctor. Finally, Brisbane welcomes Box Hill, I mean Hawthorn to the Gabba. The Hawks have made an incredible six changes after their unexpected loss to Sydney last week.
I was hoping that today would be Solo Soldo Sunday but Nankervis has been named to start so it looks like we’ll have to wait for that alliteration. I still believe Nank will be a late out but unfortunately, this is the late game so we won’t know for certain until it’s too late.
And I’ve got to be honest, I don’t really like many of today’s rucks at all. I don’t believe any of the $10K-$12K options are reliable chances of reaching value. Nic Nat and Lycett are still time sharing and while Roughead and McEvoy will have decent outings, I don’t want them in my lineups. So instead, I’m going to choose between two rucks in the same game - Matthew Kreuzer and Max Gawn. These two dynamic big men have had some great battles in the past and with Kreuzer proving his fitness last week, we could be in for another classic showdown.
My takes: Kreuzer, Gawn.
Sometimes statistics prove your theories to be correct and other times they prove them wrong. When I looked at the teams in the Brisbane/Hawthorn match, my initial thoughts were that Hawthorn key defenders should score well (on account of the horrible Brisbane forward line). But according to 2018 fantasy statistics, Brisbane give up the 3rd least amount of points to key defenders. Which team gives up the most points? Yep. You guessed it, Hawthorn. Now you can take or leave those stats but I know it’s made me second guess my idea of taking Ben Stratton as my value defender. But perhaps it means that it’s Harris Andrew’s time in the spotlight?
As with previous Sunday slate, there aren’t many cheaper defenders who I like today. Harry Morrison could see an increased role around the wing and even through the midfield today. The young Hawk is a great runner and also has the flexibility to play a number of different roles.
Watching Nick Vlastuin have a career day was like bumping into an ex-girlfriend with her new fella. I must have played Vlastuin on a dozen slates last year but for some reason had no exposure to him last week. I doubt he’ll have another 130 this week though.
Tom McDonald is definitely in my player pool today. As we know, Carlton has been poor against key forwards and McDonald has been excellent since his return. Christian Salem is the other Melbourne player who I like in this game. Sure, he’s not the awesome $8K play he was a few months ago but Salem really seems to have found his groove.
Half-back flankers seem to love the new Perth stadium so it will be interesting to see how Bachar Houli goes today. I think he’ll be low-owned on this slate so that makes him even more appealing.
My takes: McDonald, Morrison, Salem, Houli.
Two years ago, Melbourne drafted mature-age key forward Tim Smith onto their rookie list. Nicknamed ‘Bull’, Smith was a popular clubman and made his debut in Round 3 last year. For there, things turned sour quickly for Smith and he spent most of the year injured. Smith returns to the Melbourne lineup at the bargain price of $5,500. If you played Sam Weideman a few weeks back at a similar price, there’s no reason why you wouldn’t play Smith today.
I just know that Josh Kennedy is going to have a value shattering day soon but I don’t think it’s going to be today. His price is very attractive but everything else about the matchup says to avoid.
Small forwards have a good record against Brisbane so Hawthorn’s Jarmen Impey, the returning Paul Puopolo and the in-form Luke Breust should all be considered.
Remember when you couldn’t decide which Melbourne mid-forward to play? Well, now there are even more choices to consider. From Spargo to Hogan, the Demons are in a great spot today and you could be forgiven for having a Melbourne heavy team.
Finally, Mitchell Lewis gets his chance to prove that Hawthorn wasn’t just trolling us all by drafting him in the year that they traded away Mitchell and Lewis.
My takes: Tim Smith (punt play), ANB, Fritsch, Breust.
Clarko went WHACK at the selection table and the result that we’ve got some Hawthorn value in the midfield today. Youngsters James Worpel and James Cousins will be given their fair share of midfield time today. Cheap value is hard to come by on today’s slate and if you want to fit some more expensive players in, you need to make some sacrifices. These two could get close to value if things go to plan.
I don’t like to say I told you so but… hang on, who am I kidding? I love to say I told you! Cam Rayner has struggled to make an immediate impact this year. Rayner clearly has the talent but we’re yet to see a four-quarter performance from the kid. His price is as low as it’s ever been and gets to face a slightly weaker Hawthorn midfield. Perhaps today is the day we stand up and take notice.
Zac Bailey is another young Brisbane mid that I don’t mind taking a little punt on today. Bailey’s last few games have been solid (65 last 3 game average) and although his disposal isn’t pretty, he knows how to find the ball.
Nick Graham has slowly become accustomed to AFL footy after struggling in his few games back. With Ed Curnow missing, Graham could have an increased midfield role to play today. Sure you could use the same theory to roll with Paddy Dow or SPS but I like Graham’s experience over the raw talent of these kids.
Shaun Burgoyne is another veteran who’s taken a bit of time to get used to the pace of the game. Burgoyne has been named in the midfield although I think he’ll be asked to play a number of roles today. At $10K, he’s a great chance for 9-10 x value.
The Melbourne coaching staff are going to have a hard time containing Jack Viney’s energy. Viney returns from an extended absence and will be like the proverbial bull at the gate. Viney is such a competitive beast that he could easily have 10 tackles by quarter time. That’s clearly an exaggeration but you get my point.
Dale Thomas was a member of my very first podcast team this year. So horrible was his performance that I haven’t considered him since. However, his form is becoming difficult to ignore. Thomas loves outside games and Melbourne aren’t exactly the closest checking team in the comp. $13K is a lot to spend for Daisy and that’s the only thing holding me back here.
Last week we saw Ben Cunnington and Trent Cotchin have a contested ball competition. This week perhaps it will be Jack Redden and Cotchin who go head to head. Redden has enjoyed an excellent few weeks and should thrive again if this game features higher than average stoppages.
My takes: Bailey, Burgoyne, Viney, Redden.
Reliable value is hard to come by today. Combined with the lack of cheaper ruck options this is actually a pretty tough slate. Some calculated risks will give you more creativity but it will tricky to fit multiple studs in your lineups today.