This article is part of our DraftKings AFL series.
If we can manage to avoid any scheduling changes and no club manages to sign Lionel Messi, then everything is on track for a four-game Saturday slate headlined by the Showdown in Adelaide. With Port star Robbie Gray also in line to return, things could get interesting even without one key Crow to decide this weekend's marquee fixture. Elsewhere, North Melbourne needs to manage their injury issues for a few more weeks and could provide some interesting alternate picks, and Harry McKay will be must-see TV if he keeps up his goalscoring pace.
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.
Gold Coast Suns (15th) vs Carlton Blues (12th)
North Melbourne Kangaroos (18th) vs Richmond Tigers (11th)
Sydney Swans (5th) vs St Kilda Saints (13th)
Port Adelaide Power (4th) vs Adelaide Crows (16th)
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.
Harry McKay, Carlton ($4,500): The leader in this season's Coleman medal race is back after taking a week off due to a foot injury and he gets a softer matchup against a Gold Coast club short two of its better defenders in Jack Bowes and Oleg Markov. With nine goals scored over his last two games and a 94-fantasy point-performance in his last match against St Kilda, McKay gets a nice matchup to return to, even though both teams enter this contest on relatively equal footing with losses in their last two rounds. With McKay around this time, he could be the one to make the difference while his closest competition in Adelaide's Taylor Walker isn't even in his club's lineup this week.
Ben King, Gold Coast ($3,200): While not nearly as integral to his team's success as Harry McKay, King still scores goals at a steady rate with five to his name over his last two rounds. As an exceptionally cheap counterpart to other selections this week, there aren't many forward comparable to what King can do, except for possible Lachlan Murphy, who will help pick up the slack while Taylor Walker is out. Among the high-priced forwards, there isn't much more of a guarantee for value as their is for a higher scoring floor, so be careful if going that route. Additionally, many of the top options like Jed Anderson can also slot into the midfield of a lineup as a cheaper midfielder and free up space elsewhere.
Karl Amon, Port Adelaide ($7,700): The Port midfield may be the key to his week's puzzle whether they're priced high or low, and Amon is the first picked here because his price still isn't prohibitive after scoring over 120 points in two of his last three matches. When facing off with Adelaide in the Showdown, he'll meet a club that's lost four of its past five matches to stronger opponents, so there's not much that says Amon and his Power teammates won't have a favorable performance in this game. Now that Jack Steele is being priced to match his impressive production, good upper-end value could come from Adelaide's midfielders, as both Rory Laird and Ben Keays are capable of putting up over 100 fantasy points on their day.
Tarryn Thomas, North Melbourne ($6,800): In filling the gap left by Ben Cunnington, Thomas has proven himself a key piece to the 'Roos pie after he scored four goals and collected 23 disposals in Round 20. Trying to figure out who to pick as a sub for Cunnington's production could have proven troublesome given the costs of Jed Anderson and Jy Simpkin, but Thomas is cheaper and outscored both of them over his past two games played. Though Thomas is returning from a concussion in this game, he's been named as a follower in the initial lineup and should play a versatile role which sets him up for a better performance if he's still playing well. One alternative who could be trending in the right direction is Luke Dunstan, who only costs $100 more and logged 29 disposals in his last game after a poor performance in Round 19 against West Coast.
Robbie Gray, Port Adelaide ($5,400): After missing much of the past month-and-a-half with a knee injury, Showdown-specialist Gray makes a timely return to face a favored opponent. It will be interesting to see how Gray plays after spending so long on the sidelines, though his performances this season suggest he should still put up a decent fantasy number, and especially given this price and opponent, it's worth giving Gray a chance to impress. Finding similar potential from this salary point may not be the most realistic task, but there are options like Ryan Byrnes and Shai Bolton, who cost substantially less than Gray and have put up decent numbers over the course of the 2021 season.
Jack Newnes, Carlton ($4,400): In the midst of some of his best form since the beginning of the season, Newnes has plenty of potential on offer after scoring over 90 points in two of his last four matches. In considering how his best games have alternated over the last four rounds and his 58-point effort in Round 20 against St Kilda, a meeting with Gold Coast could be the perfect time for Newnes to maintain his quirky streak and put up a score well above his current price. Another returning player worth considering for cost is Daniel McKenzie, who's coming back from a concussion and has averaged 14.9 disposals per game this season.
Jayden Short, Richmond ($6,600): This week's defensive lineup is all about the Tigers and Short, who comes short of the highest-priced defenders and has scored at least 88 points in his last four games and at least 94 from Rounds 17-19. Though he has yet to meet North Melbourne this season, he'll face the 'Roos at the right time as they've been showing better tenacity against each of their opponents and returned some of their best players to the field. Even if his opponents don't make much of a threat on Short's end of the field, his 24.1 disposals per game in 2021 suggest he'll have no issues getting involved in any type of match this weekend. Aside from that, trying to figure out who will replace the production of Jack Bowes (omitted) at Gold Coast could be key to finding the value target this week, though David Swallow is out of the picture as he's still listed as a midfielder.
Nick Vlastuin, Richmond ($4,400): Vlastuin is one of a few Tigers' stars who has been hurt far too much this season, but this makes him a respectable pickup without breaking the bank. Though he hasn't played a game since July 1, he still averages 16.4 disposals and 6.1 marks per game in 2021, so there's certainly solid potential for high scores if he can find a rhythm against the 'Roos this weekend. Given that both he and Jayden Short know how to get involved in possession as well, their value shouldn't be limited by how well or poorly their opponents play, which is always helpful in fantasy. If he's able to stand up to a tough opponent Adelaide's Jake Kelly could be worth the pickup as he scored 104 and 94 points in Rounds 17 and 18, respectively.
Reilly O'Brien, Adelaide ($6,800): Of all the value picks this week, O'Brien feels like a no-brainer after scoring over 100 fantasy points in each of his last two games. Now that he's finally looking like one of the best ruckmen in the league taking him before he costs as much as a top-tier midfielder could be the key to survival down the stretch. Even when facing a tough Port Adelaide club in the Showdown, the Power have elected to deploy two rucks in Scott Lycett and Peter Ladhams just to slow down O'Brien. That's a plan that could be successful in securing them the win, but it may not be as likely to stop O'Brien from still putting up a big performance this weekend. In speaking of other cheaper ruckmen, Scott Lycett would be the alternate as his averages of 15.1 disposals and 26.3 hitouts per game make for respectable production.