Optus Stadium, 7.15pm AEST

$200,000 AUD on Draftstars ($20 entry, 250 max)
$10,000 USD on Draftkings ($15 entry, 23 max)
WEATHER: 21 degrees and mostly sunny.
BOOKIES: Melbourne $1.64 favourites, 154.5 over/under.


There’s been very little mystery to Melbourne’s mode for the past couple of months. The few changes in the table above reflect how complete their dismemberment of the Cats was rather than signifying any role changes, with the Demons enjoying the luxury of being able to rest their big-name stars late. Max Gawn (145 AF) played perhaps the greatest 3rd quarter in AFL Finals history and thoroughly earned his early knock-off time, while Oliver (-9% CBA presence), Petracca (-11% TOG) and May (early sub) joined him as the first group to hit the showers. Salem (111 AF) was a big beneficiary of the other stars resting in combination with the margin being well out of reach, racking up 39 AF in the final term after the sting well and truly went out of the game; likewise for Viney (119 AF, 35 AF in the last quarter) as the only remaining inside midfielder to end the match. Nothing interesting to report role-wise for the Demons – especially if you’ve been paying attention lately with the niche roles of fringe midfielders in Harmes (hybrid mid, defensive stoppages mindset) and Sparrow (low-TOG, mid/forward rotation) – and that lack of intrigue should continue with Melbourne poised to go into the Grand Final unchanged.

What a difference playing an actual ruckman in the ruck makes! The Bulldogs were back to their stoppage-dominating best after re-animating the corpse of Stefan Martin (35 AF, but included 5 frees against) in the ruck, monopolising the clearances for the entire first quarter such that by the time Port equalised, the game was already lost. The veteran ruckman’s inclusion allowed Tim English’s presence up forward to be a structural positive in helping to contain the influential Aliir, rather than the net negative from previous weeks where the Bulldogs have struggled mightily in the ruck. The only other midfield tweak was Dunkley (101 AF) with more midfield time at +29% CBA share, absorbing the precious minutes freed up by a sore and managed Bontempelli, as well as the rapid growth of Bailey Smith (99 AF from 4 goals) in his pure outside role. Treloar (105 AF) didn’t get any extra CBA’s, but his wing/forward split was slightly more favourable and, regardless of what anyone at the Bulldogs says, the effort was clearly much improved from his universally-panned Semi Final performance. Libba (61 AF) was once again targeted ahead of his more celebrated teammates, contained (at least fantasy-wise) by the persistent Drew – could Harmes or Viney be looking at a similar defensive role on Grand Final evening? Roarke Smith (high half forward), Schache (key forward) and Hannan (defensive forward) all retained their roles from the Brisbane victory, although the latter was also able to upswing offensively with 3 first-half goals along the way. Consistent roles elsewhere – which is never to be taken for granted when Bevo is involved.


Melbourne: Unchanged
Notable outs: Jordon.

  • If you were looking for a DFS edge in this massive $200k Grand Final contest, the Melbourne Teamsheets isn’t the place to find it. The Demons have been incredibly consistent structurally of late, with only a possible tagging role for Harmes/Viney on the vital Libba at stoppages looming as a pivot from their blueprint.
  • For what it’s worth, Harmes tagged Libba in both of their match-ups this year. While he kept the inside bull to just 78 AF from 8 contested possessions in a Round 11 Melbourne win, the inside bull was still able to rack up 19 contested possessions amongst 27 touches for his 92 AF in a 20-point victory for the Doggies in their most recent clash. However, the wet weather likely played into Libba’s hands on that evening.
  • It’s also worth mentioning that the tagging roles resulted in easily Harmes’ highest CBA share for the season (88%) and his best figure post-bye (77%), casuing dips across the board for the other Demon inside MIDs. To add a layer of mystery, Viney didn’t play the first time around, while Sparrow was absent for the Round 19 meeting.
  • While I’ve floated Viney as a possible tagging match-up that would match Melbourne’s current CBA rotations, Harmes has the experience on his side and I expect him to get the nod. Will cap the CBA numbers of Petracca, Viney and Sparrow primarily, with the latter pair the main concerns from a fantasy perspective (as Petracca can still do plenty of damage up forward).

Bulldogs: Keath, Weightman IN – Vandermeer, Gardner OUT
Notable outs: Bruce, Young, Vandermeer.

  • Keath for Gardner, key defender L4L.
  • Weightman for Vandermeer, small forward L4L.
  • The ruck was the one unsolved variable for the Bulldogs and Bevo up until recently, but with Stef Martin back and on the heavy side of the 60/40 split with English, the equation has been balanced. Expecting a very similar structure to the Preliminary Final.
  • Part of that was Dunkley’s biggest inside split (52% CBA share) in months. There’s even scope to improve on that if Libba gets beaten by Harmes early and has to slide to forward flank to try and shake it.
  • Bailey Smith’s impressive ability to hit the scoreboard has seen him not only phased out of the CBA’s, but slowly shifted forward from a wing too. Individually, this is bad news for Baz – his scoring will suffer if he can’t match the 3 or 4 goals he’s been booting lately. Collectively though,  this is great news as it allows Treloar/Dunkley more access to midfield time, while Hunter gets to enjoy his pure wing role.
  • Roarke Smith retains his high half forward role. Cheaper than he should be due to med-sub involvement in the past.


***Trends do not include Finals***

Melbourne has conceded the most points to KEY DEFs in L5.
Melbourne has conceded the 3rd-fewest points to GEN DEFs in L5.
Melbourne has conceded the 3rd-fewest points to KEY FWDs this year.
Melbourne has conceded the 3rd-fewest points to GEN FWDs in L5.
Melbourne has conceded the most points to MIDs in L5.
Melbourne has conceded the 3rd-most points to ELITE MIDs in L5.
Melbourne has conceded the fewest points to RUCs this year.

Bulldogs have conceded the 3rd-most points to KEY FWDs in L5.
Bulldogs have conceded the fewest points to MIDs this year (but mid-pack in L5).
Bulldogs have conceded the fewest points to ELITE MIDs this year (but mid-pack in L5).
Bulldogs have conceded the most points to RUCs this year.



BEST DOGS PICK: Marcus Bontempelli – M – $13,630

A combination of a) not scoring a ton in his last 5 matches and b) last week’s dip in ownership following the late knee injury against the Lions has been reflected in Bont’s modest price-tag this week, with $13.6k simply too low for someone of his quality. Add in the fact that his last three scores against the Demons reads 126, 120 and 123, and we have an irresistible bargain on our hands. 

I can’t see Bontempelli failing to perform on the big stage, with a knee injury and the 11% TOG drop the only thing preventing him from continuing his excellent Finals record in the Prelim – prior to last week’s demolition of Port, the Bont had produced scores of 103, 93, 107, 99, 103, 97 and 96 in untagged Finals over his entire career. Beast.

BEST DEES PICK: Clayton Oliver – M – $15,810

If the Demons are going to gain the ascendancy in the midfield, it’s going to happen on the inside at the feet of Max Gawn. Oliver is easily the pick of Melbourne’s bulls, somehow coming in at a sliver under $1k cheaper than Petracca despite averaging an extra 16 fantasy points over their last three outings. The Brownlow Bronze pumped out totals of 115 and 126 this year against the Doggies and should be a cornerstone of your Melbourne-flavoured line-ups. 

BEST DOGS VALUE: Josh Dunkley – F/M – $11,950 

The forward line is grim, full of goal-dependent key forwards and result-dependent smalls, but Dunkley stands tall as one of the few options insulated from the wide-open game script. With scores of 101 and 95 in the past fortnight as his midfield time rises in opposition to Bailey Smith’s dropping, his likely midfield minutes keeps his basement solid and his ceiling limitless in what should be a contested footy-heavy Grand Final this weekend.

BEST DEES VALUE: Tom Sparrow – M – $7,690 

While Harmes will encroach on his already-limited CBA’s with his tagging role on Libba, it’s still hard to look past Sparrow as a salary-saving Demon. He’s averaged a handy 68 AF in his last 4 starts, games that have never been favourable to him in terms of midfield rotations or time on ground. Sparrow always does it the hard way, and the Grand Final will be no exception – but 50 points is all he needs to feature in a winning line-up and he hits that mark much more often than, say, the other obviously-cheap Dee in Jake Bowey ($7,760 DEF).

BEST RUCK: Max Gawn – R – $16,340

The team with the worst ruck DvP coming up against the team with the best, lead by the All-Australian ruckman who boasts scores of 139, 135 and 145 on the trot – there was never any question as to whose name was going to be written in the heading above. 

The only limit on your Gawn exposures should be his hefty salary, with Stef Martin’s low price the only pivot I’ll be seriously entertaining from the Dogs – English cops a brutal match-up with either Max in the ruck, or May/Lever when in attack. 

BEST DOGS STAT: Jack Macrae – M – $16,580

With Macrae scoring 123 AF last week after topping the fantasy scoring for the Bulldogs in each of their last 4 outings against the Power, I have high hopes for the ball magnet after a similar record against the Demons – he’s been the highest scoring Dog against them in the last three clashes, scoring out of his mind with 130, 147 and 138 in those matches. 

Macrae is expensive, but with Melbourne conceding the most fantasy points to MIDs post-bye this year and still making it to the Grand Final, there’s nothing standing between him and another monster total this weekend – regardless of the result. No one on this slate has a higher ceiling than the busy Bulldog, and that’s a characteristic you pay up for in GPP’s.

BEST DEES STAT: Bayley Fritsch – F – $10,250

Speaking of results, that’s hugely important to the inconsistent Fritsch. He’s been the cherry on top as a forward for the Demons this year, capitalising in wins but struggling in losses like you’d expect, averaging an extra 15 points in victories. 

Throw in a classic reliance on hitting the scoreboard – Fritsch averages 76 AF when he kicks multiple goals compared to just 41 when he doesn’t – and it’s clear that you need to factor in the game script when considering the Pidgeotto lookalike.

BEST DOGS RETHINK: Bailey Smith – M – $14,260

It would be easy to cover Tom Liberatore ($13,850 M) with the Harmes shadow looming, but I spent enough time in the Teamsheets covering that – let’s look at the player of the Finals Series so far in Bailey Smith.

The biggest clue you should avoid Bazlenka lies amongst another mind-boggling @sirswampthing tweet – Smith is the only player in the last 37 years to post back-to-back career-high goal totals in consecutive Finals. From a statistics point of view, those bags of 3 and 4 that came out of nowhere in his last fortnight of footy simply can’t be maintained, and when you take those away, his scores of 126 and 99 on those games look very different in an increasingly-forward role. Fade.

BEST DEES RETHINK: Jack Viney – M – $13,510 

Viney is a player that relies heavily on inside midfield time. In his 6 games with 75% CBA presence this year he averages a spicy 105 AF – but in the 8 games below that mark, he’s ticked along at just 83 AF per game. This is relevant because with Harmes likely to slide into the inside core and cap Viney’s attendances – and there’s a clear precedent when he managed just a 62% CBA share against the Bulldogs in Round 19 – the former skipper’s prospects cop a big hit. 

It’s a big call to make given that Viney has pumped out scores of 111 and 119 over the Finals, but at essentially the same price as Bont, I know who I’d rather.


Thanks to Morts at DFS Australia for his all awesome tools, plus websites such as FanFooty, DT Talk/The Traders, Footywire, AFL Tables, Draft Central, AFL Ratings, Daily Fantasy Rankings and DT Live for their various stats and references.

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