UTAS Stadium, 3.20pm AEST

$60,000 AUD on Draftstars ($15 entry, 100 max)
$500 USD on Draftkings ($15 entry, no multi entry)
WEATHER: 11 degrees and partly cloudy.
BOOKIES: Essendon $1.56 favourites, 176.5 over/under.


I mentioned in last week’s Bible that I couldn’t see how Newcombe (64% CBA share) could sneak midfield time with Hawthorn’s current mix, and Clarko agreed – so he completely removed Wingard from the midfield group with 0% CBA presence, way below his previous low of 41% over 8 games this season. You can remove him almost completely from your player pool on Draftstars if he’s going to play as a pure forward for a cellar-dwelling Hawthorn, too. Newcombe, on the other hand, is just getting started. 14 tackles and 87 AF on debut was massive even if the touches weren’t quite there, and Duke only has room to grow with Worpel’s (68% CBA share) suspension erasing him from Round 14 midfield calculations. O’Meara’s return (combined with the debut for Newcombe) kept Shiels’ CBA’s to cameo status, but he still managed to rack up a fantasy ton out there on his wing. Ceglar replaced Reeves (ankle) at the final hurdle, but cemented his place with the equal-most coaches votes and 111 AF as the main ruckman; McEvoy posted his 97 AF playing mainly as a key forward. Contrary to historical evidence, the combo is working. Howe (wing), O’Brien (key forward), Day (half back), Burgoyne (back pocket) and Morrison (half forwarf before being subbed out) were the other roles of note in a constantly evolving Hawthorn side.

Injuries to McGrath (knee) and Zaharakis (hamstring) shaped Essendon’s CBA footprint before the bye, with modest boosts for Stringer (marking forward), Cox (wing and back-up ruckman) and Perkins (half forward) the relatively straight-forward solutions. With another first-choice midfielder on the sidelines, the top 3 of Merrett, Parish and Langford couldn’t be more locked atop the CBA tree. The early medical substitution brought an extra defender in Ambrose into play, so Essendon adjusted by sending Hind forward in a St Kilda-flavoured throwback – to reach 74 AF in that last-minute role change was impressive. We also have another kick-ins development: Heppell took the reins against the Tigers, downsizing Ridley to just 11% – easily his lowest of the season, outside of that concussion game where it all started to turn pear-shaped for him in fantasy. Is a Haynes-like resurgence out of the bye on the cards for him, too? Waterman (permanent forward), and Guelfi (high half forward) were the other roles of note. 


Hawthorn: Cousins, Bramble IN – Worpel, Morrison OUT
Notable outs: Sicily, Gunston, Worpel, Morrison, Reeves.

  • Bramble in for Morrison/Morris, who combined for a half forward last week. Probably plays more as a forward pocket.
  • Cousins in for Worpel, although likely to play more of a MID/FWD role, opening up a few more CBA’s for the existing bulls and Shiels to fight over – or Wingard could dip his toes back into the midfield mix.
  • The important thing is that Newcombe is locked and loaded for a full-time inside role after notching 14 tackles on debut. Cops a big price-rise after last week’s 87, but remains very much in play on a single slater.
  • Ceglar took a huge 70% of the hitouts last week – with McEvoy still in the side – and the arguably BOG performance last week ensures he’ll get that usage again. Whether lightning strikes twice is a different matter.
  • Howe looks locked for wing time again.

Essendon: Zerk-Thatcher, D Smith, Cahill, Wright, Draper IN – Francis, Waterman, Phillips, McGrath, Zaharakis OUT
Notable outs: Shiel, Caldwell, McGrath, Zaharakis, Phillips, Hurley.

  • Zerk-Thatcher for Francis, key defender L4L.
  • Draper for Phillips, ruck L4L.
  • Then things get a bit tricky. Wright returns for Waterman up forward, which releases Stringer to play smaller – and potentially even in the “De Goey” role as a CBA midfielder/forward.
  • Devon Smith to replace Zaharakis, who was in the wing rotation. However, I can easily see Ham trusted to play bigger minutes in the midfield than Dev, who is returning from a hamstring and used almost exclusively as a Forward 50 player this year.
  • That leaves Cahill for McGrath, which doesn’t fit smoothly at all. Cahill has been used as a small defender for Essendon this year, and for him to play in defence, the Bombers would have to keep Hind up forward in a Lambert-eqsue half forward role, or promote Redman up to a wing. I think the latter is more likely of that pair, but Cahill playing as a small forward – as he has previously – is still a definite possibility.
  • McGrath’s CBA’s are still up for grabs, so outside of Stringer taking a chunk in his hybrid role, I think we’re looking as a couple of appearances for Perkins. He’s cheap enough to take a GPP flier at if so.


Hawthorn has conceded the most points to GEN FWDs this year.
Hawthorn has conceded the 2nd-most points to MIDs in L5.
Hawthorn has conceded the 2nd-most points to ELITE MIDs in L5.

Essendon has conceded the most points to KEY DEFs in L5.
Essendon has conceded the 4th-most points to RUCs in L5.



BEST PICK: Kyle Langford – F/M – $12,490 DS

Langford is probably as close as you can get to “lock” status on this slate; at least for someone priced over $12k that you wouldn’t recognise if they walked through your living room with a footy in their hands. Injuries have thrust Langford into 69% of the CBA’s over the past month – he averaged just 9% prior to that – and his fantasy output has followed suit, rising from 79 to 103 either side of that role change. 

The Bombers have now added McGrath and even Zaharakis to that busy Bomber casualty ward, so there are literally no midfielders left to take his precious CBA’s away from him. Smash play, even before you take that juicy FWD status into account. 

BEST VALUE: Nik Cox – M – $8,420 DS 

All eyes will be on Newcombe at exactly the same salary, so this is a great place to zig while the field zags. Duke hit “only” 87 AF last week with a mind-boggling 14 tackles, so I think it would be within reason to classify his debut as an upswing of sorts. 

Cox, on the other hand:

  • has 12 AFL games under his belt,
  • is coming off his first career ton, in 91% TOG, against the reigning Premiers,
  • is assured of a pure wing role this weekend with Wright set to take over back-up ruck duties and the Bombers losing both the aforementioned Zaharakis (full-time) and McGrath (part-time) wingmen in one fell swoop,
  • Comes up against the leaky Hawks, who’ve conceded the 2nd-most points to MID’s this year.

I know who I want more exposure to on Sunday.

BEST RUCK: Sam Draper – R – $8,960 DS

The ruck pricing is a bit of a disaster on this slate, with no clear option emerging. Ceglar ($10,400 R/F) was awesome last week but can always return to Ceglar-ing at any moment, McEvoy ($11,510 R) has been scoring well as a forward but inherits the large standard deviation in-built into the role, and while Wright ($9,840 R/F) has shown a ceiling as a key forward this year, it’s his first game back from injury. Messy.

That’s why you might as well spend your money on the cheapest ruckman available in Draper – who also happens to be a solo ruckman for his team, erasing some of the concerns around relying on him in an injury comeback game of his own. Draper was ticking along over the pre-season as one of Essendon’s brightest talents so his upside isn’t in question, and he even scored 78 AF in his only full-game this year, which just so happened to be against the Hawks in Round 1. I’ll take that at $9k!

BEST STAT: Mason Redman – D – $9,820 DS 

This one is a bit speculative, but I’m looking at setting up my exposures to capture some Redman/Ridley correlation, in the event that I’ve read the structure changes correctly. All year long they’ve been dealing with their overlapping skillsets; Ridley had the upper hand early with the kick-in duties and averaged 108 to Redman’s 64 pre-concussion, but that gap has closed almost completely to 75 and 73 since the Ridler returned 6 weeks ago. The sharing of the kick-in role has been a massive part of that. 

But if Redman plays up on a wing (as he has done at times in years past), he’s not only thriving in feasting on a leaky Hawthorn midfield, but it also frees up Jordan Ridley ($12,030) to go back to intercepting and kicking-out at will. And hey – he might even kick it to Redman half the time for even more correlation goodness!

BEST RETHINK: Chad Wingard – M – $12,320 DS

Wingard lost his entire midfield membership last week, and even though Worpel takes the week off through suspension, Cousins likely takes the bulk of his inside time instead. Wingard needing CBA’s to score has been a rock-solid, peer-reviewed DFS fact over a long period of time, so I’m not pumped at the prospect of picking him at a smidge over $12k – even if he had the FWD status that he’s curiously lost of late.


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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