AFL Picks: St. Kilda v. Richmond

AFL picks round 18
Last week’s wild results saw another major reshuffle of the top 8, with 6 of those positions changing. Say what you will about the AFL, that it’s just seagulls chasing a chip, that it’s like watching 8-year-old’s play soccer, that it is a bunch of glorified marathon runners who kick the ball as hard as they can, but when Aussie Rules is at its most desperate and frantic, it is one of the most exciting sports in the world and even the most vocal of opposition can’t deny it.

Friday night’s game sees a surprisingly in-form St. Kilda side host the red hot Tigers at the Etihad, with the Saints looking to all but end any hopes of them finishing in the bottom 3 let alone the wooden spoon. Richmond are interested in the complete opposite.

As previously mentioned, St. Kilda have enjoyed an impressive month or so of footy, winning three of their last four games. Granted, those games were against fellow cellar-dwellers, but nonetheless it has given the struggling club a semblance of hope for next season and perhaps giving them a platform they can build upon.

Richmond were outclassed and outmuscled by a relentless Giants side last week missing their two key forwards, bringing the premiers crashing back down to earth after a breathless period that saw them tear through some of their biggest rivals. Their grip on first place has now weakened, with West Coast joining them on 48 points and Collingwood, Sydney and Port Adelaide just a win behind.

The Saints could be in for a long night.

Let’s get into the fantasy picks.

Gun: David Armitage ($10.4m)

David Armitage has emerged as one of the more crucial Saints behind Jack Steven during their recent revival, and has returned to some of the form he was in before injuries derailed his career. Armitage has collected 25+ possessions in his past 3 games, and should be the most reliable St. Kilda player heading into a game against an experienced Tigers unit. As I was researching this game, I found Toby Nankervis to be Richmond’s best scorer this year at a measly average of 86 and outside of the top 100. That would suggest avoiding Tigers players in this one and going forward unless something drastically changes (cough cough Dustin Martin).

Dud: Any Richmond players

As I mentioned earlier, Richmond’s top scorer is Toby Nankervis at 86 per game, having him as the 102nd highest average across PlayON thus far in the season. Richmond, despite their sustained success and excellence are not a strong fantasy team, mostly because they play such a strong team game and, particularly this year, there is rarely a consistent standout. I can’t find anyone that genuinely leaps out, and backing Dustin Martin has not proved a smart pick this year. He’s looked better of late, as has Jack Riewoldt, and rookie Jack Higgins has also had some big moments, but otherwise I can’t justify picking anyone from a team without a top 100 scorer.

Point of Difference: Shane Savage ($12.7m)

Shane Savage, like David Armitage, is one of the few Saints with any prolonged experience in AFL footy and has been a calming influence at the back in recent weeks. His 79 average isn’t great, but it’s also not terrible, and in the last two weeks he’s topped 85 both times including 93 last week. With the waves and waves of expected Richmond attacks, Savage should have plenty of chances to get his hands on the ball, and even if he’s drawn on Jack Riewoldt, I’d at least back him to get to the mid 80s again. Not the best POD ever, but worth a look.

Check back soon for picks and analysis for the rest of this weekend’s AFL action. In the meantime, be sure to get your lineups in. Good luck!