This article is part of our DraftKings AFL series.
The final week of byes means that nearly half of the league won't be seen in Round 14 and only three games are available on the main Saturday slate. After Geelong beat the Western Bulldogs after the siren to open the round, can anyone else top that classic match? Maybe not, but fortunately, the best fantasy defenders are all available and most curiously come from North Melbourne on the bottom of the ladder. There are a few others with excellent point averages as well, and they'll play heavily into how picks are made this week.
If this is your first time checking out Aussie Rules Football, welcome to a sport that combines the physicality of rugby, the stamina of soccer players and the impressive verticality seen in the American code of football. To make sure you know exactly what each stat looks like, check out this helpful video.
On the pitch, there are 18 players fielded by each team with four interchange options that can rotate up to 75 times per match. In DK competitions, lineups are permitted just nine players: two forwards, four midfielders, two defenders and one ruck. To earn points, players can add to the score (+6 for a goal, +1 for a behind), keep the footy under control (+3 for a kick, +3 for a mark, +2 for a handball) or stop the other team from advancing (+4 for a tackle, +1 for a free kick, +1 for a hitout). On the other side, conceding a free kick is a deduction of three points.
It's worth noting that AFL fantasy is heavily weighted to those who can touch the footy the most times, which is why there are extra midfielders available as they are usually capable of scoring the most points without ever needing to enter the 50-meter line. And with that, here are some potential picks to give you an idea of who to watch out for on Saturday.
Port Adelaide Power (5th) vs Gold Coast Suns (15th)
Brisbane Lions (4th) vs North Melbourne Kangaroos (18th)
Carlton Blues (14th) vs Greater Western Sydney Giants (10th)
This Week's Picks:
Always remember to check your lineups! The initial team sheet will come out well in advance of the match, but teams only finalize their selection an hour before first bounce.
Toby Greene, GWS ($6,400): He can't be stopped forever, can he? Greene is now two rounds out after recovering from a broken shoulder and still managed to score 89 points in his return against North Melbourne while scoring four behinds. If he does that much against the 'Roos, it's worth seeing what else he can do against a Carlton club with less impressive defenders at their disposal. Additionally, Greene tops available forwards in fantasy points per game while teammate Jesse Hogan is still out with a calf injury. The return of Harry McKay, who leads in the Coleman Medal race to be the top scorer, is a good alternative to Greene as a top-end forward, though there aren't many this week, even as two-way players, who can put up huge numbers from this position.
Deven Robertson, Brisbane ($4,100): Robertson can easily be tossed to the side because he nearly always starts on the interchange list, but he's been in good form from that spot with 72, 79 and 81 fantasy points over the past three rounds. On the back of decent numbers against better opponents like Richmond and Melbourne, Robertson should be able to do even more against North Melbourne as the 'Roos still haven't managed to climb off the bottom rung on the ladder. Two cheaper alternatives with plenty of talent to boot are Eddie Betts with six goals over the last three weeks and Matthew de Boer in his second game back from a long-term hamstring injury.
Hugh McCluggage, Brisbane ($6,900): This week's lineup may seem peculiar to put McCluggage as the top midfielder, but he ranks inside the top-25 in fantasy points per game with 103.7 and is starting to look lively after a tough run of opponents in the last three weeks. Facing North Melbourne could be the perfect chance for McCluggage to top 100 fantasy points scored for the first time in four games. If this takes place, his value would fit in more with anyone above $7,000 in cost than those below. The rising cost of top-end midfielders could feel a little restrictive while building out a lineup with only three games on the slate, so Brandon Ellis and Sam Walsh are both worth considering as alternatives to Touk Miller or Tim Taranto at the top. Elsewhere, Lachie Neale still sits at a cost of $7,100 and could be worth the cost with a signature performance.
Ben Cunnington, North Melbourne ($6,300): There are a few Kangaroos in good shape even if they can't seem to win a game and Cunnington is one to put his name in that category. This has come about with a run of over 100 fantasy points scored in four of his last six games, some of which ave come against Melbourne and GWS. With his best work coming against better opponents, facing off with a Brisbane club that seems to climb higher on the ladder with each passing week could bring out the best in Cunnington's game. Around his price point, David Swallow is someone who tends to score at his best when Gold Coast's stars are shut out. Additionally, Jack Lukosius has scored over 100 points in two of his last three games and could rebound against the Power.
Callan Ward, GWS ($5,500): Ward's name comes up fairly often on this page and for good reason given his price and recent production with at least 100 points scored in four of the last five games. With captain Stephen Coniglio nearing his return but still out, Ward shouldn't have much standing in his way of another decent effort. One thing to be careful with is the presence of Lachie Whitfield given his listing in the center for Round 14 as well as Josh Kelly, but there could easily be enough to go around if Ward and his teammates gain an early edge against Carlton. An easy altternative to Ward is Port star Robbie Gray, who has scored five goals over the last three games.
Kane Farrell, Port Adelaide ($3,300): The nature of this week's lineup makes for a couple low targets not likely to produce much, though they may not need to put up a huge game to make the difference. That's the category Farrell falls into as an interchange against Gold Coast, seeing as he only scored 24 points in Round 13 against Geelong. Aside from that, Farrell did score 61 and 81 points over the previous two rounds so his chances to get involved aren't entirely impossible. In order to escape the dredges of the barrel where Farrell lies, more changes will need to be made elsewhere in the lineup.
Aaron Hall, North Melbourne ($8,300): Picking Hall is just as good as picking a top-end midfielder as he's surpassed teammate Jack Ziebell with the most fantasy points per game as a defender. What makes this interesting is that Hall isn't leading all defenders in many stats, though he does lead in disposals and ranks third in kicks. This sets Hall up for routinely massive games if North are pinned back enough that Hall should have no problems racking up plenty of time with the ball in his hands. Given his best statistical comparisons right now are the best midfielders instead of defenders, matching production will require other changes in a given lineup. With this in mind, consider teammate Luke McDonald with a $7,500 cost for his season debut after logging 20.2 disposals per game in 2020. If the 'Roos aren't your thing, Nic Newman is returning from a concussion in his game against GWS and could provide enough value to free up room for expensive midfielders.
Phil Davis, GWS ($3,300): Davis is making his return after over two months out with a calf injury and his cost is perfect to allow for Aaron Hall's inclusion in this week's lineup. With a 77-point effort in Round 2 against Fremantle and a spot at the center of the back line for Giants, Davis could be considered the pivot man at the back now that Lachie Whitfield has been fully pushed into the midfield. Someone in a similar position to Davis is Sam Collins, who passed his fitness tests in time for a game against Port Adelaide but has topped 20 disposals just once this season.
Peter Ladhams, Port Adelaide ($5,300): The biggest question of the week could be this: Ladhams or Scott Lycett? Lycett is the first starter at ruck for Port, but Ladhams played fairly well with over 90 points scored in three of the four games as the number one in his position. The problem now is that both Ladhams and Lycett are listed in the lineup, with the former as a half-forward and the latter at follower. This suggests that Lycett will be the top ruck while Ladhams fills the gap left by Todd Marshall in the lineup. With Charlie Dixon also around, there will be three different players likely to record hitouts against Gold Coast. Getting back to the point, Ladhams is primarily picked this week for cost concerns, but his numbers are more than enough to make up the difference and even surpass Lycett despite the postential disadvantages of his positioning. Another ruck to consider is Matt Flynn, who has scored 75-or-less points over the past three rounds but could improve with help from a strong Giants midfield.