This article is part of our DraftKings AFL series.
Schedule changes and venue swaps are never what we want to see before a round gets going, but that's what has happened this weekend and now there are three games to pick from in this Saturday slate. Fortunately, three of the league's best teams are still available to pick from and some other fantasy stars, so we aren't as limited in our options as has been the case in past weeks. While one may expect Melbourne to dominate the picks, it's actually Western and the value-filled St Kilda that get the most attention for games against Gold Coast and Port Adelaide.
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 St Kilda Saints (10th)
Western Bulldogs (3rd) vs Gold Coast Suns (14th)
Hawthorn Hawks (17th) vs Melbourne Demons (2nd)
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.
Aaron Naughton, Western ($5,200): Naughton returns to the lineup after missing Round 17 with a concussion and brings an important presence in the Bulldogs forward line. With at least 93 points scored in alternating games over his past six appearances, a matchup with a Gold Coast team dealing with even more injuries presents a good opportunity for Naughton to maintain this streak. Picking players from the Bulldogs can come at a high cost, but Naughton is capable of producing just as much value as a high-end midfielder while costing substantially less. When also seeing how much more Josh Dunkley costs, Naughton's value doesn't seem so bad if he's able to put up a solid score. Tim Membrey of St Kilda is also worth giving some attention to, as he's scored 12 goals in his last seven games and scored at least 89 points in three of his last four games.
Max King, St Kilda ($3,700): This week's value team is definitely the Saints with King squarely among them. He's scored at least twice in each of his last four games, with his recent effort of three goals scored and 10 marks made against Brisbane resulting in a season-high for points in a game. Even if there's some worry that King wouldn't be able to produce much against Port Adelaide, the three-game winning streak for St Kilda should provide some reassurance they won't totally lose their stride this weekend. A couple of other low-cost targets include Josh Bruce and his ridiculous 10-goal performance from earlier in the season and Jamarra Ugle-Hagan, who performed poorly in his professional debut and could be motivated to change that story.
Jack Steele, St Kilda ($8,500): When seeing that Steele isn't the most expensive player after scoring 138 and 157 fantasy points in back-to-back weeks, anything else is somewhat superfluous to what else he can do. Seeing as the matchup with Port Adelaide has suppressed his value from where it could be even though Touk Miller is in a similar position against the Western Bulldogs, Steele can generate even more value despite his placement in the $8,000 and up tier of players. On the back of three straight wins and no less than 118 points scored by Steele in six straight weeks, the odds of a good performance appear much higher than a bad one. Though he may not lead a fantasy lineup this week, Marcus Bontempelli is another player who's value could be considered on the low end of his potential after maxing out at 104 points scored in his last two games.
Karl Amon, Port Adelaide ($6,700): Without even costing as much as Ollie Wines or Travis Boak, Amon could end up being the highest scoring player on the Power based on his recent performances. With at least 100 points scored in three of his last four games and 136 put up against Melbourne in his last start, Amon offers good potential without creating extraordinary restrictions on a lineup. Much like Travis Boak, Amon logged his first high score of the season back in Round 6 against the Saints, so his solid personal form in recent games is enough to give him a chance. Another player worth considering at a higher price is Luke Dunstan, who has played in only seven games this season but scored at least 99 points in four of his last six starts.
Zak Jones, St Kilda ($5,000): More value is to be found with Zak Jones, who missed two months with a ruptured quad but already logged 26 disposals in his return against Brisbane in Round 17. With massive 151 and 123-point games before picking up his injury, Jones has exactly the potential to look for in low-cost midfielders. After all, it's seldom one can find someone who's played as well as he has, even in a small sample size, and still be this cheap. If in need of someone outside the Saints, consider James Harmes, who has scored at least 82 points in all but two of his last six games.
Bailey Smith, Western ($4,800): If this Dog can play to his recent potential, there won't be many to sand in his way after he scored over 100 points in two of his last three games. It has recently helped that both Jack Macrae and Marcus Bontempelli didn't have the best performances of their otherwise stellar season, but Smith is still in enough of a run of form to produce no matter what the others do. To avoid further Saints bias by suggestion Ryan Byrnes in this spot as an alternate, Angus Brayshaw could be worth the pick if he's able to log over 20 disposals against Hawthorn this week.
Jack Bowes, Gold Coast ($6,000): Coincidentally, taking so many players who fall below the potential high points in their price allows for better picks elsewhere, like one of the better fantasy defenders in Jack Bowes. He's scored at least 93 points in his last two starts while taking 20 kicks in each game, and facing a Western team likely to apply plenty of pressure could give him even more time with the footy. If this lineup is followed by these selections so far, there's also room to take Caleb Daniel, who has more total fantasy points than Bowes this season. However, his best games have come against tougher opponents that can match talent across the board. That won't be the case between the Suns and Bulldogs, though there's still the potential for plenty of fireworks.
Bailey Williams, Western ($4,600): Taking Williams is effectively the only pick of the week where it doesn't necessarily matter who you take, as long as you're comfortable with a lower score when taking from the bottom of the barrel, since maximizing the salary isn't a guarantee for success each time. With at least 77 points scored in two of his last four games, Williams still isn't the worst available option, as Sam Collins of Gold Coast hasn't even scored 50 in his last two games. Another option is to look for high-profile names or debutants, so then Denver Grainger-Barras and Shaun Burgoyne are worth inclusion by this standard
Tim English, Western ($5,400): After putting up his best performance of the season, English slots in as the best ruck available with what salary is left to spend. Seeing as he was able to dominate Sydney to the tune of eight marks, six tackles and 21 hitouts, a similar performance against a worst Gold Coast team. When looking at this week's options, Max Gawn is certainly the best available and Scott Lycett is always consistent, but after that things get more murky. That results in English offering more value than someone like Rowan Marshall and his partnership with Paddy Ryder or Ben McEvoy, who has the unfortunate pleasure to match up with Max Gawn this weekend.