CONGRATULATIONS if you’ve made it this far into the fantasy season and still have something meaningful to play for! The fantasy finals have arrived, signally just one month until season 2019 is done and dusted and we can start planning for next year. Over the final four weekends of the season, there will undoubtedly be more headaches and curveballs thrown our way with AFL teams starting to pack up shop as well. However, it can’t hurt to plan your assault on the fantasy finals and the only way to do so is with the SBF primer!
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The Form Players
PRIORITY No.1 over the next month for fantasy coaches is to maximise points on the field. For that reason, owning the big names is a must, despite the quest to think outside the box and find a lesser owned player and a potential leg up on the rest of the fantasy community. If you find yourself without Josh Dunkley ($858K, MID/FWD, 108.4 AVG, 32.0% OWN) and/or Lachie Whitfield ($751K, DEF/MID, 114.7 AVG, 30.1% OWN) investing in them is a good idea, even though their numbers in the last fortnight have been surpassed by others.
IF you are purely chasing the hot, in form players then it’s hard to ignore Dayne Zorko ($756K, MID, 104.7 AVG, 4.5% OWN) who has benefitted greatly from Brisbane hitting their stride lately. The polarizing Lion has averaged 117 points since the bye rounds, but it’s worth noting he still has tough matchups against that fantasy factory known as the Western Bulldogs plus Geelong and Richmond over the next four. It’s not crazy to consider a move for young Crow Reilly O’Brien ($743K, RUC, 98.9 AVG, 13.6% OWN) who is quickly becoming a season altering investment for a number of coaches. Sam Jacobs will keep the pressure on him to close the year, but ROB has shown enough to suggest he’s the real deal, which could lead to some more 130/140 outings to close 2019.
Image from heraldsun.com.au
THERE may not be a player in better fantasy form right now than Toby Greene ($66K4, MID, 91.4 AVG, 6.3% OWN) who is thriving with more midfield time. Certainly, trading for Greene comes with risk, but even when Josh Kelly eventually returns I think the hot-headed Giant can keep up his triple-figure production. You couldn’t do it going off the way Gold Coast has played this season but two consecutive great scores from Touk Miller ($596K, MID, 90.9 AVG, 1.3% OWN) has him raising eyebrows of the fantasy community. If he’s healthy and firing 8-10 tackles are a given and I for one will have a close eye on him against the Pies.
POD (Player of Difference) Watch
I hope you’re sitting down because I’m about to pump up Dion Prestia ($717K, MID, 104.7 AVG, 5.6% OWN) who came very close to entering my team ahead of Round 19. With the Tigers hitting their straps at the right time of year, Prestia is thriving in the engine room, scoring 110 or more in four of his last five outings. For around the same price you could land Eagles utility Elliot Yeo ($702K, MID, 101.6 AVG, 7.4% OWN) who looms as a great unique to close the year. West Coast has a tasty run of fantasy fixtures on the horizon, with the league leader in tackles offering plenty of upside if coaches want to roll the dice and acquire him.
MOST coaches are rocking with a completed midfield and are instead chasing a point of difference in DEF or FWD. A perfect candidate in both lines is Caleb Daniel ($651K, FWD/DEF, 93.9 AVG, 3.3% OWN) who has been fine since returning from injury, but in a week or two will be perfectly ripe for the picking. Down back you may also want to consider Christian Salem ($613K, DEF, 94.7 AVG, 6.1% OWN) who has been one of the lone bright sparks for Melbourne in a disappointing year.
THE ultimate FWD with a low ownership percentage who continually flies under the radar is Adelaide’s Tom Lynch ($668K, FWD, 93.6 AVG, 1.3% OWN). Injuries have hampered his season holding him to just 12 games, however, I have faith he can put up some numbers over the Crows’ last four matches. Let’s not forget about Josh Kelly ($850K, MID, 119 AVG, 3.7% OWN) who I dubbed as the best fantasy player in the game this preseason. Robbing a bank and saving money for his return is a wise move, especially with a fixture against the Suns in the potential fantasy Grand Final.
BEFORE I give my left of field captain picks I still think the smartest route is to read Calvin’s weekly piece digging through all the numbers as he knows the in and outs of this topic much better than I. 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: Dustin Martin, Seb Ross, Elliot Yeo
Round 21: Mitch Duncan, Dayne Zorko, Toby Greene/Josh Kelly*
Round 22: Tom Rockliff, Jaeger O’Meara, Zac Merrett
Round 23: Jake Lloyd, Luke Shuey, Reilly O’Brien
*If Josh Kelly returns he won’t likely be a unique option and it could impact Toby Greene’s output.
Head to Head Matchups
Max Gawn vs. Reilly O’Brien vs. Rowan Marshall
MOST fantasy coaches reading this will have Brodie Grundy safely slotted into their first ruck spot, however, the second slot deems some debate. Max Gawn is the prime candidate to fill the spot, but the Braydon Pruess effect and some ankle issues has opened the door for Reilly O’Brien and/or Rowan Marshall to steal his thunder. Marshall’s DPP gives him an even heftier boost while ROB has one hand on the fantasy rookie of the year award after rising $500K+ since he entered Adelaide’s side in Round 3. It’s certainly a close call, but my vote goes with big Maximus, who in my eyes is still the clear No. 2 ruck in the fantasy world.
VERDICT: MAX GAWN
Seb Ross vs. Patrick Cripps
IF you’re like me and there are still one or two holes in your fantasy outfit, finding value will be a must in the final four rounds of the fantasy season. Enter Patrick Cripps and Seb Ross, who are only 12 months removed from both averaging over 107, in the process cementing themselves as fantasy stars. For one reason or another, the popular duo haven’t fired in 2019 and find themselves priced close to the low $600K mark. That doesn’t mean they won’t refind their mojo and finish the year in a flurry and while Ross’ round high 146 last week is tempting, Cripps wasn’t that far behind him with a 140+ of his own. I think I’m going to side with the bullocking Blue to score more during the fantasy finals, but it’ll be close.
VERDICT: PATRICK CRIPPS
— SportsbyFry (@sportsbyfry) August 1, 2019
Edward Curnow vs. Caleb Daniel
A lot of frustrated Jack Ziebell owners will be looking to move away from the rampaging Roo this week, paving the way for a Caleb Daniel or Ed Curnow addition. Curnow’s hot form has him emerging as a serious candidate to finish the year as a top-6 FWD, while Daniel is working his way back into contention post-injury. Neither investment is for the faint-hearted, with both owning challenging remaining fixtures, but the miniature Bulldog gets the nod for me.
VERDICT: CALEB DANIEL
Mitch Duncan vs. Tom Rockliff
DUNCAN and Rocky own near-identical numbers after 19 weeks of fantasy and there’s a chance they can go bang over the duration of the finals, potentially winning coaches a league matchup off their own back. Geelong’s star MID could be in for a topsy-turvy end to the season with Scott Selwood returning to their side, throwing some doubt over his role. However, Tom Rockliff is owned by nearly three times as many coaches, making Duncan a very tempting POD. Rocky is in a lot of teams for a reason, but you can only get so far on reputation alone with the Pig posting some lacklustre numbers lately. I’m picking Duncan by a whisker.
VERDICT: MITCH DUNCAN
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.
Q. Hold Neale?
@Campbel79469099 via Twitter
WITH a few tough opponents still on Brisbane’s slate, I can see why moving Neale is tempting. Depending on the makeup of the rest of your midfield/team there may be more pressing issues to address, but these low 100’s and worse from Neale can’t really be tolerated during the finals. I think he survives the next fortnight and sneaks the Gold Coast game in, but if he doesn’t fire in at least one of the next two, be aggressive and trade him.
Q. Is Ablett an option as a really cheap FWD option? The name looks good at F6
@_billyelsum via Twitter
I can understand the allure of slotting Gary into your lineup, but I think at this time of year it’s way too risky. The ‘Little Master’ only averages 85 on the year and with Geelong aiming to claim a flag this year, there’s a chance he only plays three out of the four games during the run home. Chasing a more reliable/durable player would be my advice.
Q. Would fielding Grant Birchall be okay if it meant you could afford J.Kelly?
@c.iles via Instagram
SAVING up to secure Kelly/Dunkley/Whitfield or another big fish over the next few weeks will almost depend on what you want out of the final month. If you find yourself in a cushy league position with a double chance then making money this week and hoping your team still gets you over the line could be a masterstroke. Birchall, much like the aforementioned Ablett, is no guarantee to play out the year, so I wouldn’t consider him a long term option. However, it’s not a bad play at all.
Q. Is the Saints Fantasy game the real deal?
@Mad_As_Mel via Twitter
IN a few words ‘Yeah, I think so’. Ever since Brett Ratten has taken the head coaching reigns at Docklands, St Kilda has sparked to life and there’s no reason to indicate they’ll slow down. Three of their remaining four opponents won’t be playing finals, with Adelaide trying their best to join the club, which only makes me believe this fantasy factory version of St Kilda can maintain their hot form. Seb Ross, Rowan Marshall, Jack Billings and Hunter Clark are looking more and more appealing by the minute.
Q. Ziebell and Dylan Clarke to either: Greene and Rocky or Dusty and Yeo?@NickParatore7 via Twitter
RIPPER question and it’ll feel good to move those two players on (lucky bastard). My vote sides with Dusty and Yeo, with my decision partially fuelled by their run home. Greene could be impacted by Kelly’s return and who knows what will happen with Rocky if Port’s season goes down the toilet. Martin and Yeo could emerge as two of the highest scorers to close the year, making it an easy pick in my opinion.
Q. Should I trade Sheppard to Whitfield or hold Shep and move T.Kelly/Worpel to Dusty/Billings/Marshall?
@triplejjj96 via Twitter
AFTER just pumping up the Saints I think the potential points gain from Sheppard to Whitfield is greater than either of those forward upgrades. While you have the chance, landing Whitfield is a great move and even though he hasn’t clicked lately, I still have faith he can find his footing and end the year with one of the best averages.
Last Minute Advice
HEADING into the finals this year there are 17,622 coaches ranked higher than me. Yeah, 2019 hasn’t gone according to plan. With that being said I feel like my season hasn’t fluctuated too much with a slow start my real downfall (Round 1 rank of 22,623). Opting for the likes of Matt Crouch, Isaac Heeney and Alex Witherden over Adam Treloar, Tim Kelly and Lachie Whitfield meant I’ve been playing catch up for 19 weeks, but here’s hoping I can at least end on a high note. Here’s how my Round 1 team (left) looked compared to my team from last weekend (right).
WHILE cash generation and finding the right rookies is always a good idea, you can almost afford to start punting bench positions to maximise money in the bank and points on the field. If you can do so and still have a playing emergency in all/most lines, then that’s where I would steer my trades over the next few weeks. It’s worth looking into the matchup you are facing on a weekly basis, with a trade for a unique player, or someone your opponent doesn’t own the potential difference between an early exit and bragging rights until 2020.
MOST importantly, especially if you’re in a similar boat to me, have some fun with your team over the final month of the season. Trade for uniques, roll the dice, think outside the box and who knows, you may just walk away with a shiny new car/hat/league trophy.
Good luck in the fantasy finals!