This article is part of our DraftKings AFL series.
There are only a couple of weeks left in the home-and-away season and there's still plenty to play for with multiple teams in touching distance of byes in the finals or in sneaking in at the last minute. This means that aside from Sydney and North Melbourne and to a lesser extent Brisbane and Collingwood, all other games in Round 22 could have major implications in how the final standings end up.
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.
Western Bulldogs (2nd) vs Hawthorn Hawks (15th)
St Kilda Saints (11th) vs Geelong Cats (3rd)
Carlton Blues (13th) vs Port Adelaide Power (4th)
Collingwood Magpies (16th) vs Brisbane Lions (5th)
Sydney Swans (6th) vs North Melbourne Kangaroos (18th)
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 ($4,600): Approaching the final weeks of the season seems to have brought a little extra out of Gulden, who has scored three goals and one behind over his last two games. Should he also take advantage of Lance Franklin's absence and get a few extra touches, this could be a quality week for one of the more solid rookies to join the AFL this season. Another solid option worth a few extra dollars is Jack Higgins, who scored four goals in his last game against Sydney but does meet a tough Geelong defense.
Max King, St Kilda ($3,900): King returns to the fray after missing one round with a groin strain to meet Collingwood this weekend. With 12 goals scored over his last three appearances and some time off to recovery from any knocks, he could be on track for another solid day, even when facing a strong opponent. There are other reasonably priced options like Cody Weightman and Aaron Naughton of Western, and though neither have comparable scoring records to King in their recent performances, they get a softer matchup against an injury-filled Hawthorn club.
Adam Treloar, Western ($6,700): Of all of this week's picks, Treloar is likely the riskiest one to take as his return in Round 21 was his first game played since May. As he's still in reachable territory as the feature to a balanced midfield, snagging him before his price joins that of Jack Macrae and Marcus Bontempelli makes for smart management late in the season. Additionally, a good result against Hawthorn would help the Bulldogs secure their spot on the ladder and this suggests Treloar should get plenty of touches even at full forward. To add further reasons why Treloar is worth the risk, he's logged less than 20 disposals just twice all season and went on a stretch of scoring over 100 fantasy points in six straight games between April and May. Among the upper-end midfielders, the best value comes from Lachie Neale and Jarryd Lyons of Brisbane, who both cost substantially less than the most expensive players and have a solid matchup against Collingwood.
Travis Boak, Port Adelaide ($6,300): Though less of a guarantee to reach 100 fantasy points than some of the other picks this week, Boak has scored 97 and 96 fantasy points over his last two games and has yet to log less than 24 disposals in a single game all season. Carrying into this week's matchup against Carlton, he'll face a team that's alternated wins and loses over its last five games and may not have enough to overcome Boak and his teammates. Nearby in price to Boak are Joel Selwood and Brandan Parfitt of Geelong, though picking either would come with plenty of downsides given their recent low fantasy scores.
Isaac Smith, Geelong ($6,200): Speaking of Cats, Smith is also exceptionally close to Travis Boak in price but offers more in potential based on his recent performances. Following a week taken off for rest, Smith returns to the lineup at center and on the back of steadily rising fantasy scores over his last three games. If he can match his most recent effort, a 111-point performance against North Melbourne, than Smith will certainly be worth his price as long as the rest of the midfield plays to their strengths.
Chad Wingard, Hawthorn ($5,900): The steal of the week could easily be Wingard, who may just have more upside than any other player picked this week based on his recent efforts. At an exceptionally manageable price and with 250 fantasy points scored over his last two games, Wingard is making himself a perfect fantasy target by only recently raising his numbers. Should he manage to log a third consecutive 30-disposal game against the Western Bulldogs, he isn't likely to remain cheap, even with only one week left in the season for Wingard and his teammates. A realistic alternative to Wingard is Luke Davies-Uniacke, who has improved his fantasy scored in each of the past four weeks before culminating with 38 disposals in his last start against Richmond.
Blake Hardwick, Hawthorn ($5,300): Coming off a solid 112-point performance against Collingwood, Hardwick may be able to overcome his inconsistencies by pushing through the final two weeks of the season, though he may not be nearly as reliable with his average of 20.7 disposals per game, Hardwick certainly has the potential to keep up the pace if things go his way early into this week's match against the Western Bulldogs. One low-cost target capable of lighting up the scoreboard is Zach Guthrie, who put up 128 fantasy points against North Melbourne to finish July but isn't often selected to play.
Dan Houston, Port Adelaide ($5,100): Once one of the more expensive defenders in DK, Houston's price shouldn't scare anyone off after he failed to score over 75 fantasy points between Rounds 15 and 21. Back to the present, Houston could be back on track after putting up 105 points on Adelaide thanks to 24 disposals and seven tackles made. With a matchup against Carlton and a move into the center line, there's even more reasons to like Houston as effectively a low-priced midfielder instead of a high-cost defender. If you have a few more dollars to spend, another value target is Jack Scrimshaw, who has logged 51 disposals over his last two games and will look to drive Hawthorn to a third straight win.
Rhys Stanley, Geelong ($5,900): Despite the permanent advice that the most expensive ruckmen are often a safe bet for good production, Brodie Grundy's cost this week could be too prohibitive and Rowan Marshall hasn't shown himself to score in big bunches until recently. This leaves us with the rest of the league and Stanley, who's coming off one of his best games of the season against GWS and will try to carry his form into the finals with a spot high on the ladder. Should Stanley at least get 20 touches if he can't beat Marshall in hitouts, there's still plenty to gain from picking this Cat against the Saints. In order to guarantee good value from the ruck in this week's lineup, try to fit in Tim English or Todd Goldstein, who aren't certain to put up huge scores but will do their part against any opponent.