ESSENDON vs GWS

Metricon, 7.50pm AEST

MAIN SLATES:
$75,000 AUD on Draftstars ($15 entry, 150 max)
$6,000 USD on Draftkings ($12 entry, 17 max)
WEATHER: 17 degrees and rain.
BOOKIES: GWS $1.39 favourites, 103.5 over/under.

CBA’s & ROLES

Shiel returned from his suspension and understandably wrenched back his inside MID role with a 90% CBA presence. Merrett was back out to a wing as expected with his CBA Rate dropping from 0.95 to 0.30, while Parish (-22%) and McGrath (-14%) had their numbers clipped too (but I’d be more worried about the former). Sam Draper encroached on Bellchambers’ ruck time with 38% CBA presence and looked really competitive – he should wrestle away a bigger share of the ruck pie as time goes on. McDonald-Tipungwuti had an absolute shocker of a first half, so his CBA’s were back-ended and more out of desperation than desire. It wasn’t a great day for the Bombers overall, but Stewart (key forward), Cutler (wing), Cahill (forward pocket) and Ham (HFF) were all very quiet. 

The early injury to Greene enabled boosts for some fringe Giants this week, with the normally-scarce Hopper and Caldwell both increasing their TOG significantly. The midfield mix overall was really balanced, outside of Coniglio returning to a more realistic 70/30 M/F split. Whitfield’s defensive wing role is out of control, winning 80% of his touches in the back half after 93% the week before against the Tigers. Williams didn’t miss a beat as a permanent defender in his first game back, scoring 90 AF from 26 touches – Perryman was up to a wing this week as a result and warmed up with 76 AF. De Boer played a defensive forward role before straining his hamstring in the final minutes. Consistent roles elsewhere.

TEAMSHEETS

Essendon: McKenna, Langford, Guelfi, McKernan IN – Ham, Gleeson, Bellchambers, Cahill OUT

  • McKenna replaces Gleeson, L4L.
  • McKernan effectively replaces Bellchambers, with Draper to get a crack at being the big banana in the ruck.
  • Guelfi replaces Cahill as a small forward, L4L.
  • Langford replaces Ham on a HFF, L4L.
  • No structure change suggests a similar midfield mix. Cutler on the wing should hold, while Langford/Merrett/Snelling will all get minutes on the outside. Parish and Smith to rotate through the guts and a forward flank.

Notable outs: Stringer, Hooker, Fantasia, Heppell, Daniher.

GWS: Ward, Mumford, O’Halloran IN – Jacobs, de Boer, Greene OUT

  • Mumford spells Jacobs.
  • Ward replaces de Boer effectively, having played half of each of his 4 games in 2020 across the half forward flank. He’s had a CBA share in all those games though, so Caldwell, Kelly and Coniglio can expect to have some inside time shaved off.
  • It’s hard to see O’Halloran walking in and demanding inside midfield time with the names ahead of him, so it’s a forward line role in Greene’s absence for his debut. Luckily, he’ll probably see plenty of it down there against the Bombers anyway.
  • No defensive reshuffle means Perryman is up the ground again. He either plonks himself on a wing and takes whatever minutes Whitfield/Kelly leave behind, or he goes back to his early-season HFF role to release the pressure on the midfield group (by letting Kelly or Caldwell spend more time out there to share to CBA’s around). I’m leaning towards the latter, especially with Greene out – Perryman has shown he can kick a sausage roll or two.

Notable outs: Greene, de Boer, Jacobs.

TRENDS

Essendon has conceded the 2nd-most fantasy points overall over the last 5 rounds.
Essendon has conceded the most 80’s at 5.3 per game over the last 5 rounds.
Essendon has conceded the 3rd-most points to MID’s over the last 5 rounds.
Essendon has conceded the most points to RUC’s this year.

GWS has conceded the 2nd-least fantasy points overall over the last 5 rounds.
GWS has conceded the least 80’s at 0.8 per game over the last 5 rounds.
GWS has conceded the least points to MID’s over the last 5 rounds.

HISTORY

Merrett – 102, 50, 98 (no tag but coming off a pre-season injury)
Heppell – 98, 107, 103 (not playing obviously, but applicable to MIDs)
Shiel – 93, 75
Zaharakis86, 84, 143 (midfield roles)
Smith – DNP, 93, 113

Coniglio – 112, 161, 123
Kelly120, DNP, 93 (tagged by Dylan Clarke)
Taranto – 83, 137
Whitfield – DNP, 109, 101
Hopper – 77, 108, 109
Cameron – 81, 69, 70

PLAYS

BEST PICK: Josh Kelly – M – $15,200 DS

I could’ve covered any of GWS’s Ferrari midfielders here, but I’ve gone with Kelly based on the weather and the Giants’ midfield mix. Coniglio might have to play a bit more forward with Ward’s inlcusion, while Whitfield scales heavily on marks that he might not get in the wet. The beauty of Kelly is that he can do it all – he plays a hybrid inside/outside role (much like, say, a Macrae), averaging both the 2nd-most touches (22) and the 2nd-most tackles (4.5) of all Giants this year.

Outside of pure stats, Kelly has looked super dangerous the past couple of weeks (after some early-season calf issues) with scores of 119 and 103. It just feels like he’s ready to make a statement on the vacant “best player in the competition” mantle, as he did a couple of years ago.

BEST VALUE: Callan Ward – M – $8,990 DS 

I originally had fellow grunt midfield Jacob Hopper ($12,700 MID) in this slot but I couldn’t go past Ward at his generous price-tag once his inclusion was confirmed. Both excel in wet weather footy, and I’m expecting Ward to build his score with contested possessions and tackles in this slippery affair. 

The former Captain has an excellent floor here, scoring 55, 79, 61 and 54 so far this year – you’ll take any of those scores and thank Ward politely for his efforts at sub-$9k.

BEST RUCK: Sam Draper – R – $6,890 DS 

Lock him in and throw away the key.

Draper has committed ruck regicide, ending Bellchambers’ reign and laying out the red carpet to the #1 ruck role. The big lad had 21 hitouts and 55 AF in his debut last week, and that was only with a 38% share of the CBA’s – imagine what he can do with a full game in there against the team that has conceded the 3rd-most hitouts this year?

Draper looks like he’s got a bit of mongrel about him, so he won’t be worried out by anything rough or nasty from a past-it Mumford who relies on physicality rather than finesse or skill.

BEST STAT: Devon Smith – M/F – $11,960 DS 

As much as I hate the concept of “revenge” games and don’t really think they hold substance as a general rule, Devon Smith is a different breed to most men. He seems to fuel himself on pure spite at times, and is one of those types that definitely thrives on the nasty and cheeky elements of the game. He’s definitely enjoyed his match-ups with his former team in GWS so far, scoring 113 and 93 from two tries. 

The likely result of the match isn’t in his favour but the weather is – Smith is a tackling beast on his day (and applied the most of anyone in the league in 2018 at 8.5 per game), averaging 76 AF from his 5 games with 4+ tackles this season.

BEST RETHINK: Nick Haynes – D – $15,020 DS 

Pretty simple fade here. Haynes leads the competition in marks per game with 8, and almost half of those (3.8) are intercept marks. Obviously, these are pretty rare in rainy games, and the likelihood of +6’s on the switch drops sharply too.

If Haynes was his usual $12-$12.5k you could have a nibble, but $15k is full fade territory here. I’d much rather spend up on midfielders on this slate with the weather firmly in mind.

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