IT’S TIME!! *insert Bruce Buffer voice*. The AFL Fantasy finals are here! Draft and classic leagues around the globe are commencing their race for a flag and for the rest of us mere mortals an increase in overall ranking/pride is still up for grabs. If you are in for a chance to win a flag double down and go all in. If you aren’t as lucky to be playing finals, then take some risks with your final few trades, it might pay off big time. Make the most of the last games in the 2018 fantasy season, have some fun and most of all good luck!
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Last Month Averages
WHILE the AFL site provides you with three round averages and five round averages, I’ve decided to break things down by month. With the help of the DT Talk boys, I looked at some of the best and most popular players in coaches’ sides and broke down their recent form.
IN defense Lachie Whitfield (124.7) stands above his peers as the best player in the last four weeks. In fact, amazingly out of the 32 players I talk about in this section Whitfield is the only who scored a ton in four straight rounds. Two players finished one point shy scoring 99, but damn. Elliot Yeo (116) is the next closest down back and Angus Brayshaw (106) is the third one averaging over 100. That trio along with Rory Laird (98.2) and Jake Lloyd (94.7) are the mainstream options that should be in your side. However, Kade Simpson (85), the sometimes sixth member of the ‘must-have’ club has only managed three games in the last month for his mediocre average. If you are a non-owner Alex Witherden (107) is another popular choice for your last defensive place on the field and for me, he is really the only other player in the mix. Sorry, Shannon Hurn (95.5).
TO no-one’s surprise, Tom Mitchell (150) has been the highest scoring player over the majority of July. If he was to replicate his 600 points in the next month then he would fall just seven points short of Tom Rockliff’s all-time record. Patrick Cripps (124) and Clayton Oliver (121.7) are the only other players who have cleared a 120+ average, well, them and the ever-reliable Jack Redden (120.2). If you wanted to get crazy and roll the dice, Redden’s could be your man. It would take some serious balls and I have a hunch his scores are due for a reality check.
ZACH Merrett (118.2) was pretty close to joining that group with Dayne Beams (115.7), Matt Crouch (113.7) and Andrew Gaff (110.7) who all shape up as top-8 midfielders. Their recent form puts them slightly ahead of Jack Macrae (107 in three games), Josh Kelly (104.5) and Gary Ablett (101) with Dustin Martin (93.75) a popular player who should be moved out ASAP. In the rucks, there is a clear pecking order, but No. 1 might not be the player you think. Todd Goldstein (115) topped out Brodie Grundy (110.2) and Goldy shapes up as that unique trade target should you want to get brave. Max Gawn (105.5) was a clear third with Stef Martin (91.5) showing some alarming numbers. Stef doesn’t have a score in triple figures in the last month, which doesn’t bode well for 21.78% of the comp.
AS most of us know the forwards are a bit all over the shop at the moment. Three huge weeks in four tries by Devon Smith (122) makes him the best choice from a numbers standpoint with Josh Dunkley (107) clocking in at second. Dunkley is an awesome trade target and I’m all in on him being BIG to close out the year. Everyone’s favourite new DPP Patrick Dangerfield was the only other player to average 100, with Danger totalling 400 points exactly in his past four outings.
FOLLOWING that there is a pile up with popular names like Tom Rockliff (99.7), Chad Wingard (97.2), Sam Menegola (96.2), Toby McLean (87.5) and Isaac Heeney (86 in three games) all dominating the list. Port’s recent stretch of good games has helped inflate the scores of Power players and that should continue this weekend against Adelaide.
WHILE Port Adelaide players have enjoyed a fruitful month, August doesn’t look as appealing. Thanks to Warnie’s updated Scale of Hardness, we get a great insight into how the next four games should unfold. Should…
THIS weekend’s game against Adelaide is solid according to the scale, but the Power face tough West Coast and Essendon outfits over the last few games. In fact, those two sides combined with Sydney, Hawthorn and Port Adelaide themselves are some of the tougher sides to match up against. No team has to face any of those teams three times in the last month, but Melbourne and Collingwood have to face two of the toughest trio (Power, Eagles, Swans). This could affect the scores of players like Jack Crisp, Max Gawn, Scott Pendlebury, Clayton Oliver, Brodie Grundy, Steele Sidebottom and Taylor Adams.
FROM a more positive standpoint, North Melbourne doesn’t have to face a team inside the top half for points allowed, giving you a green light on trading a Kangaroo in. It’s a shame they don’t have a ton of options apart from Todd Goldstein and president Paul Ahern. Carlton has the next most fruitful schedule with three games against the bottom five defensive fantasy sides. The Suns and Western Bulldogs have the next best fixtures, meaning the likes of Jack Macrae, Patrick Cripps, Marc Murphy, Josh Dunkley and hopefully Ed Curnow/Kade Simpson are in for a great fantasy finals run.
Head to Head Matchups
Kade Simpson vs. The Field
THE only real question mark down back for top coaches at the moment is who should be their D6. As I talked about already, Kade Simpson, Alex Witherden and Shannon Hurn are the ones fighting for that position and right now Simpson holds down the fort. I have my scepticism about Simpson’s health over the final stretch of games and Witherden is probably above Hurn in the pecking order. I’d monitor Round 20 and see how things go for the top-2 in this argument. If you had to act now I’d side with the veteran in Simmo.
Jack Macrae vs. Patrick Cripps
ONE of the most popular questions of the week is which of this duo to trade in; Patrick Cripps or Jack Macrae. All signs point towards Cripps being in the elite must have group (Grundy, Mitchell, Whitfield are the others), but Macrae might be ready to join the list too. Call it a gut feeling, call it a hunch, but I’m just siding with Macrae. Both guys should be in your team ASAP though.
Devon Smith vs. Patrick Dangerfield
THE mantle for the top-scoring forward is well and truly up for grabs and these two players should be right in the mix. With a tougher slate of games on the home straight I’m tempted to side with the Cats ball winner here. Yes, Dangerfield has had a bad year by his standards, but remember, he is putting up these numbers because he is spending so much time up forward. I still have faith he will ball out against Freo and Gold Coast in the final fortnight.
Paul Ahern vs. Premium Upgrade
A ton of fantasy coaches are racking their brains over the Paul Ahern situation. Personally, I’m all in on Ahern and here’s way. Way back in Round 10 I decided it was time for another rookie Tim Kelly to leave my side after his third straight score under 70. I upgraded him into Tom Rockliff and it cost me about $70K. Clearly a great move right? Since then Kelly has averaged 92.1 and Rocky has averaged 92.2, even though Rocky has scored about 100 more total points thanks to Kelly’s bye. I’d also just like to quickly point out that the top coach in the country still owns Kelly too. All signs point to Ahern producing throughout the last month of the season, so if I was you, I’d ride it out and spend your cash elsewhere.
OVER the last week I asked a bunch of coaches in the AFL Fantasy community to hit me up with their questions for the finals. If you have a question over the final month of the season be sure to hit me up on your preferred form of social media
TO be honest, I wouldn’t be trading out any of the three, even if their run home isn’t all that appealing. If I did have to choose though I’d be ditching Wingard, mainly due to his risk of losing midfield time. Rocky could go back to that dumb run with role and his scores might suffer as a result. As it stands right now Chad’s the one.
GREAT question. I’m a big Brodie Grundy fan despite being a non-owner. There are a few players like Grundy that could be unique options should you want to avoid Tom Mitchell. Personally, I think you should ride out Titch’s score, however, if you want to go unique and hope for a big pay off here are the best options for each of the last few rounds. In no particular order…
Round 20: Brodie Grundy, Lachie Whitfield, Andrew Gaff
Round 21: Josh Kelly, Devon Smith, Patrick Cripps
Round 22: Dayne Beams, Patrick Dangerfield, Andrew Gaff
Round 23: Matt Crouch, Brodie Grundy, Patrick Dangerfield
NOW that we know O’Riordan is out and Battle is still playing this seems like an obvious choice. For a minute let’s pretend that we don’t know he’s out and look at both potential upgrades. Both Whitfield and Grundy are two dudes that all good coaches need to have and at the moment I think Grundy is just slightly more important. This, of course, is a bit dependant on who else you have down back. If you are getting Whitfield as your last premium defender and Stef Martin or maybe even Sauce Jacobs is your other ruckman I think Whitfield is the play.
IF you can’t get one of the top-6 in defense then I think it’s wise to wait and save some dollars. Potentially waiting another week or two to get the upgrade is worth the wait for any of the top-6, aside from Kade Simpson. Besides, Macrae and Lienert are solid trade options for the next few weeks.
FOR this one you need to think about one week point maximisation. Coaches may be in that position for a few of their moves over the next month so let’s break this one down. I think Curnow will manage to score 90ish against the Giants midfield and Grundy will probably be good for around 125. Macrae and Gaff will both likely go over 110 while Stef Martin could struggle against Goldy for let’s say 90. It’s close, but I think going Martin to Grundy is the one this week.
MICHAEL Hurley isn’t a very popular man in fantasy circles right now and for good reason. He was seemingly a safe play for James Sicily owners, but he has been a big letdown. Like I’ve said, even though Hurley sucks if you are aiming for Kade Simpson I’d be wary. For that reason Stef to Grundy, once again.
THESE two are going to be talked about a lot in the coming weeks and I think there is a clear winner. Sure, Hoff’s season to date might look better as he has more runs on the board (nearly 500 more total points), but Dunkley is going to be wicked. I’ll be targetting him soon and he may even go down as the best forward over the finals.
Last Minute Advice
IT’S been an up and down year for the Large Fry’s and Coke with a few crucial hiccups (choosing Danger over Macrae in Round 5, trying to get fancy and bring Liam Ryan back in off his bye, trading Simpson and Shuey in the last few weeks only for them to be late outs) have derailed my progress. That being said I’m still set up to finish the year on a positive note. Here’s how my team looks pre-trades heading into the final four weeks of the season.
BARING anything crazy my upgrade will be Walters to Macrae. I have my heart set on nabbing Grundy as soon as possible and either Neale, Sidebottom or Gibbs is on probably going to make way for Cripps in the near future. Failing that, landing Dunkley is high on my priorities list.
IF you have a few upgrades left then it’s getting to the time of year where you can start throwing bench positions. It’s a worthwhile gamble to risk having no emergency if it means getting that ultra-premium or ditching that final weak link in your 22. Personally, I think my team will stay pretty similar unless struck by injury. Kade Simpson is the only one I’m worried about with the worst performer out of Neale, Sidebottom and Gibbs likely to be moved on next week.
Good luck in the fantasy finals!