This article is part of our DraftKings AFL series.
A full slate of matches, every team playing, and a lobby open Thursday instead of Friday are the treats to start this week and this doesn't even talk about the teams yet. On that front, Melbourne is back and they'll have a tough test against an Essendon club fighting to sneak into the finals and both teams are loaded with good options in the midfield. Gold Coast will also get their chance against North Melbourne and this offers better odds for both a win and safer expectations about their fantasy value. Where this week's picks will heavily rely on is Fremantle and Port Adelaide, though for reasons of price just as much as the form of their players.
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.
Gold Coast Suns (16th) vs North Melbourne Kangaroos (18th)
Fremantle Dockers (11th) vs Collingwood Magpies (15th)
Sydney Swans (6th) vs Port Adelaide Power (5th)
Melbourne Demons (1st) vs Essendon Bombers (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.
Errol Gulden, Sydney ($4,900): Gulden returns for a big-time clash with the Power after missing over a month with a shin injury. Though this matchup may not look as good on paper, it makes some sense given Gulden's early-season production with three straight games of at least 93 fantasy points. If he's the kind of player that does best after a long break, then Gulden could still have a solid day even against a strong Power team. Another forward to monitor is Jaidyn Stephenson, who also started the season well but has since fallen into a solid rhythm with at least 80 fantasy points scored in six of the last eight rounds.
Trent Bianco, Collingwood ($3,700): Bianco is set for a third consecutive start after making his season debut at the end of May. In those games, he's scored at least 71 points and no more than 77 in two of the three appearances. For a cut-price forward, there isn't much more to ask for than what Bianco has done consistently. Plus, this week's lineup will test a different kind of tactic to get as much out of the midfield as possible, so both the forwards and defenders may not look as attractive in the present setup. Two alternatives to Bianco are Mason Cox in his official return to the AFL lineup following a throat injury and Mitch Georgiades, who has scored 20 goals in 12 games this season.
Touk Miller, Gold Coast ($8,500): Counting on Miller to put up huge numbers is one of the few safe things to expect in a rough Suns team, and facing North Melbourne is a good way to make a star midfielder even more expensive in fantasy. Still, he should be able to balance out the lighter contributions from elsewhere in this lineup with something around or over 120 points, which has happened in six of the last seven games. Unlike on previous occasions, Miller has now firmly separated himself from the midfield prices on his own team and there are only a few others this week who can compare in expected value. Those include Ollie Wines of Port Adelaide if he comes close to his ridiculous 43-disposal effort from Round 14 and Darcy Parish, who was on fire until he scored just 84 points last week against Hawthorn.
Karl Amon, Port Adelaide ($6,300): Picking players from Port has seldom occurred in this article each week, but that begins to change with Amon and the next pick. With at least 94 points and as many as 117 over the past three rounds, Amon has made a solid contribution to his team and in fantasy that wasn't always an assurance even in the early weeks of the season. Given the drop in price between Miller and Amon, as well as Amon's opponent in Sydney, all he needs to do is string together a reliable performance to do his job this week. A decline in his production can be expected between games against Gold Coast and now the Swans, but still give Amon some attention in the midst of good form. Other options for a first or second midfielder are Taylor Adams in his return from a knee injury and Ben Cunnington, whose strong two months have helped prove the Kangaroos still have fantasy while wins are harder to come by.
Kyle Langford, Essendon ($6,100): Langford didn't play as well last week against Hawthorn as he had in previous games, but neither did other important players on the Bombers like Darcy Parish. This makes him a reasonable pickup as he's still firmly a starter at center instead of as an interchange -- not a surprising result when he recorded over 20 disposals from Rounds 11,12 and 14. There have also been occasions when Langford outscores other weapons on his team like Parish and Zach Merrett, so coming at a substantially cheaper price could make a big difference if the Bombers get hot, even against a dominant Melbourne club. On the subject of Essendon, it would be hard not to mention what Jake Stringer did against Hawthorn last week by scoring four goals and recording 29 marks. This kind of performance in a low-$6,000 price is more than enough to make a difference in fantasy especially after so many disappointing performances until now.
Willem Drew, Port Adelaide ($5,300): Drew is the other Power player to be picked this week after recording 94 points against Gold Coast in Round 14. In a squad that tends to distribute possession numbers fairly evenly among the entire team, Drew is in the perfect spot to match or surpass his most recent performance given his listing as a follower in the starting lineup. Whereas he's only recorded over 20 disposals on three occasions all season, lining up at follower should put Drew near the sherrin with more frequency and this should make a difference in his fantasy value. There aren't many players with production similar to Drew at his price, so spending up for Luke Davies-Uniacke after he scored over 94 points in two of his last three games would be a reasonable decision.
Nathan Wilson, Fremantle ($4,600): Wilson is returning from suspension after missing one game for striking. In his last appearance during Round 12 against the Western Bulldogs, Wilson recorded 80 fantasy points on 20 disposals and six marks made. With a potential motivational boost after a forced absence, Wilson could have a decent shout for another solid effort against a similarly-inconsistent team in Collingwood. Additionally, without the ability to spend up on defenders this week, finding anyone who has scored over 80 points should be enough to balance out the team, though the Dockers have played well enough that Wilson's value shouldn't be seen as a complete loss just yet.
Griffin Logue, Fremantle ($3,600): Logue on the other hand is an effort to take advantage of what's left at the bottom after his return from a concussion. He joins Nathan Wilson in starting during their first games back, though Logue has yet to surpass 20 disposals in a game this season. Still, Logue is listed as a center-half and this should put him right in the thick of things against a Collingwood team also gaining plenty of fresh legs as well. In terms of finding players in the $3,000 price range who are still starting, another Docker in Alex Pearce is about all that's left to find in this position.
Sean Darcy, Fremantle ($7,000): Darcy's back one more time after scoring 132 points in his last game against Gold Coast. Even with Brodie Grundy returning on the other side, Darcy's form has been exceptional since early-May and only Port Adelaide were able to keep him under 90 points scored for the lone time since Round 8. With Nat Fyfe back as well, Darcy may not have as much work to do in possession but it's not like that's where he made his money, as he's only surpassed 20 disposals in one game all season. Since the top rucks tend to speak for themselves with Max Gawn and Grundy, someone else to consider is Scott Lycett, who has managed to push Peter Ladhams out of the lineup altogether and could be quite productive in his high-profile matchup against Melbourne.