AFL Rd 20 Saturday Preview

Jacob Hopper and Callan Ward of the Giants celebrates kicking a goalebrate winning the AFL 1st Qualifying Final match between the Sydney Swans and the Greater Western Sydney Giants

In’s and Out’s

First rule of fantasy coaching; stay up to date with team news.  Always (always!) check the teams prior to finalising your line-up. AFL Team Lists are finalised one hour before the game which means teams from the first two games of Saturday’s slate will be finalised prior to lockout.

The Wiz’s Tip of the Day: “Taking a slightly lesser option that you KNOW is playing may seem somewhat defeatist but trust me it is much less pain than the cost of a new TV after you’ve thrown the remote through the old one upon hearing two of your guys you needed to fire in order to win the cash were both late scratchings in the final game of the slate!”


Early showers in Canberra are unlikely to have too much impact on the Giants v Dees game, nor the Bombers v Blues match at the MCG but always check prior to finalising lineups as any rain will change a potentially fast and free-flowing possession game into a tackle-happy contested game with low disposal counts.  

Fine and sunny in Brisbane which will be conducive to the fast ball movement expected in that game, while the Dockers v Suns game in Perth is expected to be dry come first bounce.

Any rain in Melbourne Saturday evening will mean the roof at Etihad is closed for the Roos v Pies game.



Forget what the lippy little midfielders tell you, it all starts with the big blokes in the middle and fantasy team selection is no different. Much thought must be devoted to these big plodders if one wants to cash.

Shane Mumford (Giants – $9.4M) returns a week early (ankle) which will give some coaches pause; as will the fact he is giving away almost 10cm to Max Gawn (Demons – $12.2m) who should dominate hitouts in what is expected to be a highly contested game in Canberra. Gawn has a case for selection but with both ruckmen susceptible to injury I’m looking elsewhere.

For a guaranteed premium return then Stefan Martin (Lions – $11.7m) looks your set and forget selection this Saturday. The big Lion cleared 1500pts (18 touches, 49 hitouts) when these two sides met in R5 and of the ruckmen in today’s slate Martin looks the only one capable of going over the 1500pt mark.

His opponent Jordan Roughead (Bulldogs – $8.2m) is still solid value though and will appeal to coaches wanting both value and some semblance of security. What he lacks in hit-outs he makes up for with his intercept marking and defensive possessions. A last-start 1351 against the Bombers makes the case for not over-thinking and just taking the safe value pick.

Two bargain basement options in the clash at Subiaco really make it interesting though, with Dan Currie (Suns – $6.4M) and Jonathon Griffin (Dockers – $7.7M) both named for the final game of the day. Currie has been on fire for the Suns in the NEAFL this season and is in many ways playing for his future in this game so if you are going cheap in your ruck he’s your man.


I don’t like to take too many risks with my defenders especially when there is so much value and security on offer at the top of the list.

Amazingly a move from half back into the midfield has actually slowed Sam Docherty’s (Blues – $16.5M) scoring to the tune of almost 300pts. I’m fading the star blue here today. His price, the prospect of a shower at the MCG and the value of those below make him a risk not worth taking this week.   

If you are happy with the forecast in Melbourne but haven’t got the cash for Docherty, Michael Hurley (Bombers – $9.5M) is the man. Coming off a monster 1575pt game against the Bulldogs and an excellent kick-to-handball ratio (to say nothing of his intercept marking), Hurley’s disposal will be way up here given Kelly and McGrath have been rested. If it’s dry he is my first defender picked.

On the same price bracket and in white hot form is intercept defender Jeremy Howe (Magpies – $10.1M). Averaging 1425pts in his last two games, Howe is most effective when his midfield is applying intense pressure at the contest and/or when the opposition side have poor foot skills – he is likely to get both here against a young Kangas side and has the added advantage of playing under the roof with no weather issues. Consider strongly.

Michael Hibberd (Demons – $9.3M) has a 3-game average of over 1400pts thanks largely to his 111 Minutes Played (330pts) and 24 Kicks (720pts) averages. That’s 1050 before he marks, handballs or tackles and he has done it three weeks on the trot. The Dees want it in his hands coming out of defence and he will have plenty of fanciers amongst coaches here against an understrength Giants side.

Two left-field selections to finish in Steven May (Suns – $8.0M) and Martin Gleeson (Bombers – $7.5M). Before his injury May was in some kind of fantasy form, being deployed as an intercept defender who also got back to get on the cheap switch kick chains. He heas a high Minutes Played rate being the captain and with Pearce Hanley earmarked for midfield minutes May will be used as a distributor out of defence as well.

Gleeson gets a mention here as a real smoky selection. With no Kelly or McGrath in the Bombers defence to distribute the ball, Gleeson is the next in line in terms of kicking accuracy. An 1100-1200pt game is not beyond him if conditions stay dry.   


I’m steering clear of Merrett and Zorko (see below) but am really liking some club captains to stand up for their teams. But first…all aboard the Gazza Express!

Gary Ablett Jnr (Suns – $15.9M) loves playing at Subiaco. He will get his 30+ and kick 2-3 goals without getting out of 3rd gear against this young Dockers side. Lock in a 1600+ game.

The footy world (and undoubtedly Blues coach Brendan Bolton) would have watched as Tom Liberatore (Bulldogs – $8.1M) kept Zach Merrett (Bombers – $16.1M) to his second lowest score (1116pts) of the season. Expect Sam Kerridge (Blues – $9.4M) to spend plenty of time with Merrett.

Can see Liba getting the job on Dayne Zorko (Lions – $16.4M) this week at the Gabba which makes the back-to-back 1700pt games from Lions captain Dayne Beams (Lions – $12.8M) even more tempting. Nearing auto-selection for mine, will have a big one.

Nathan Fyfe (Dockers – $11.3M) is coming off a season-high 1538pt game against the Giants where he collected 31 disposals and kicked 2. Expect a repeat here against a side that just doesn’t tag. Has a huge ceiling that we just haven’t seen this season so far. Excellent value.  

Really solid first up 1346pt effort from GWS weapon Steven Coniglio (Giants – $10.9M). Backing the kid in to really go to another level second up and clock that 1500pt mark but at his price he really only needs to repeat last week’s score to remain excellent value and a great point of difference selection.

A lazy 1679pt game from Daniel Wells (Magpies – $8.7M) last start was over 500pts higher than his next closest score for his new club. Many coaches will be tempted to throw him for this game up against his old side but I’m wanting another look before I waste a midfield spot on an injury-prone 34year old averaging just over 1000pts a game this season.

For coaches chasing a value midfielder or flex selection Alex Witherdon (Lions – $7.7M) is worth a big look. The Lions love the ball in this kid’s hands distributing off half back in what should be a really free-flowing game. 1341pt game last week can be repeated here at an absolute steal!

Jacob Hopper (Giants – $7.4M) is a bargain-based contested footy beast that just can’t get a game in this GWS midfield. Finally gets a chance so expect him to play like it. Should see decent midfield minutes. One for the fantasy black books.


If there is no rain in Melbourne (a big, recurring factor for coaches in the Saturday slate) then big Joe Daniher (Bombers – $10.2M) should be locked in. Coming off a 1622pt effort against the Bulldogs and has a 4-game average of 1350pts, Daniher is capable of a monster 20+/5 goal here. Stay away if any hint of rain though.

Like the price tag on Peter Wright (Suns – $7.8M) who fumbled and bumbled his way to 1038pts against the Tigers last week. Will relish the bigger ground not to mention the 10cm he has on Hamling. If he brings his clean hands he can give 1200+ a nudge here at a price.

For coaches who have spent big elsewhere and are chasing another bargain who can still clear four figures, the Giants have gifted you Brett Deledio (Giants – $7.7M). Debuting for his new club after persistent injury issues, Lids has had two games back in the reserves playing across half back and in the midfield. Oozes class and can accumulate with the best of them, injury is the only concern but worth the risk at that price. Can return a 1200+ on debut for his new club.

Additional value can also be found in Tom Lynch (Suns – $9.0M), Ryan Lester (Lions – $7.7M) and Darcy Moore (Magpies – $6.3M) who are all capable of notching 1200+ this weekend.


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