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SCG, 1.45pm ADST

$15,000 on Draftstars ($15 entry, 25 max)
WEATHER: 24 degrees and sunny.
BOOKIES: Sydney $1.32 favourites, 174.5 over/under.


The midfield time for Mills was real, and weren’t the Swans rewarded for their investment! It was 121 AF points and 3 Brownlow votes for the wunderkind, with his CBA presence only trailing Parker for the midfield group. The CBA hierarchy was as expected with Kennedy, Rowbottom and Florent rounding out the core in descending order, with Warner (half forward) and Blakey (wing) earning cameos once again. The Swans went in skinny in defence and that hole was filled by Hewett who scored 83 AF in a half-back role, which then pushed back Cunningham into a defensive-minded back pocket. One to track. Heeney was a permanent forward, as his 3.2 for only 80 AF reflects. Gulden treated the front half as his own personal midfield, buzzing around to collect 10 marks and kicked 3 sausage rolls for his 108-point debut. Lloyd returned from a pre-season niggle and was quiet by his own lofty standards, but importantly wrenched back the kick-in duties with 6 kick-ins (and he played on from each one). He’ll be better for the run. Hayden McLean played up forward but Sam Reid was preferred as the chop-out ruckman. Tom Hickey thrived as the solo ruck, attending 81% of ruck contests and finishing with 92 AF in a performance that could net him a Brownlow vote or two. 

Matt Crouch’s absence shifted the tectonic plates of Adelaide’s midfield, with Keays (+49%) and Sloane (+20%) the big beneficiaries of the existing Crows. Sam Berry earned a boost through his debut rather than “extra” midfield time, but he ended up being an important part of that CBA core with 45% presence. His tackling was a feature, particularly early with 5 in the first quarter, and I can see him hanging around with Nicks huge on defensive pressure. He’s leapfrogged Schoenberg in the pecking order, who had to make do with cameos. Early injuries to Brown and Kelly forced Seedsman back into defence, which explains his elevated kick-in numbers (which was encroaching on Brodie Smith’s territory). McPherson slid over to play tall, which hampered his fantasy output. Sholl split his time between half-back and a wing and was busy with 23 touches and 9 marks. Rowe snagged a couple on debut and, like most small forwards, will have better numbers in fantasy when his team is victorious – as the Crows unexpectedly were here. 


Sydney: McInerney, Franklin IN – McLean, Rowbottom OUT
Notable outs: Sinclair, Naismith. 

  • Franklin for McLean, key forward L4L.
  • McInerney replaces Rowbottom, via a Hewett switch from half-back into the midfield. Hewett has played both wing and inside roles for Sydney in the past, and probably sits on a wing to allow Florent’s to increase his inside/outside split. Easily could flip flop between that pair though.
  • Small disclaimer – McInerney could easily slot onto a wing if Hewett’s half-back role is a long-term plan for Longmire, rather than a Round 1 patch-up job.
  • Blakey full midfield role in Round 1 and looks locked onto a wing in this one.
  • Careful with Cunningham  – looks like he’ll have to play lockdown again.

Adelaide: Mackay, Murray IN – Brown, Kelly OUT
Notable outs: Crouch, Hately, Talia, Kelly, Brown, Hinge. 

  • Two defenders for two defenders, but unfortunately McPherson might have to continue to play tall with Mackay not a great fit for the 3rd-tall types. It’s a shame, because I loved his pre-season in more of an attacking role.
  • Can’t see much changing in the midfield rotations after the rousing win last week. Sholl wing and Berry guts are the keys takeaways there, and keep in mind that Schoenberg is at the bottom of the inside totem pole.


Sydney conceded the 6th-most points to RUC’s last year.

Adelaide conceded the 2nd-most points to Key DEF’s last year.
Adelaide conceded the 3rd-most points to Gen DEF’s last year.
Adelaide conceded the 3rd-most points to Key FWD’s last year.
Adelaide conceded the 2nd-most points to Gen FWD’s last year.
Adelaide conceded the most points to MID’s last year.
Adelaide conceded the 4th-most points to RUC’s last year.


Parker – 141, 100
Kennedy – 123, 120
Heeney – 126, 58, 115
Lloyd – 69, 127, 89

Sloane – 98, 110, DNP
Laird88, 83, 89 (half-back roles)
O’Brien – 79



Adelaide Oval, 4.35pm ADST

$20,000 on Draftstars ($15 entry, 35 max)
WEATHER: 19 degrees and partly cloudy, showers earlier in the day.
BOOKIES: Port Adelaide $1.15 favourites, 178.5 over/under.


Port structured up as we predicted initially, but a couple of in-game injuries warped their KPI’s. Bonner was locked into a wing role and was looking good with 52 AF just after half-time, but his night ended early with a hamstring strain. Karl Amon (who was destined for more inside time this year) had to slide over the cover the outside minutes, and his scoring dried up as a result. Travis Boak was a full-time midfielder until he picked up a corkie leading in 3Q time and spent the last quarter playing up forward – Robbie Gray received a CBA boost on the flip side there. I thought Butters might be in line for a little more than his 20% CBA share given those injuries and the absence of Rozee, but he held his high half forward role throughout. Aliir (interceptor), Bergman (half-back), Drew (full-time inside MID), Houston (half-back) and Rockliff (medical sub) all continued where they left off in the AAMI. Motlop’s 112 AF was an upswing in a high-HF role, as was Lycett’s 88 AF most likely, given that he only took 64% of the ruck contests. Fantasia looked slick up forward but will rely on snags to be relevant in DFS with just 81 AF from 4.4 on the scoreboard.

Not a lot to write home about with Essendon’s KPI’s, with most within pre-season expectations. Maybe McGrath (+22% from a wing) and Shiel (+31% from a HFF) played more in the guts than we thought they might, and Parish (-21%) spent more time forward than we’d have liked, but that’s well within normal fluctuations. Crucially, Merrett and Caldwell held their inside time, and the points flowed as a result. Draper was excellent in his full-time ruck role, finishing with 78 AF from his 90% of centre bounce attendances. Heppell (83 AF) and Hind (100 AF) received big ticks on their fresh half-back roles, with the former Saint in particular impressing with his ability to both intercept and rebound. Ridley capitalised on his kick-in duties with another 7 cheap kicks added to his total to bump it up to a solid 90 AF. Devon Smith spent most of his time on a half forward flank (which is a concern for his basement moving forward), bumped out of the wing rotation by Langford and the debutant Cox. Cahill (back pocket), Hooker (key forward), Laverde (key defender), and McDonald-Tipungwuti (deep forward) were the other roles of note.


Port: Hartlett IN – Bonner OUT
Notable outs: Rozee, Powell-Pepper, Rockliff, Bonner. 

  • The big question is who slides from the backline into the midfield mix with Hartlett returning? Bergman is a decent chance of moving up, being recruited as a wingman and only recently swapping to defense.
  • The other option is sliding Amon back to his wing and adding Houston to the inside group. Thankfully, half back is just as fantasy friendly as the midfield this year so it might not make a huge difference to their scoring potential.
  • Port have no holes they need to patch up after last week so expect similar roles (outside of that forced structure change).

Essendon: No changes.
Notable outs: Hurley, Stewart, Stringer, Zaharakis. 

  • Bombers run it back. It means we get another week to see how the midfield rotations settle, with Devon Smith (high half forward) and Parish (M/F rotation) the slight concerns out of Round 1.


Port conceded the 4th-least points to Key DEF’s last year.
Port conceded the 2nd-least points to Gen DEF’s last year.
Port conceded the 2nd-least points to Gen FWD’s last year.
Port conceded the 5th-least points to MID’s last year.
Port conceded the 3rd-least points to RUC’s last year.

Essendon conceded the 4th-most points to Gen DEF’s last year.
Essendon conceded the 4th-most points to Key FWD’s last year.
Essendon conceded the most points to Gen FWD’s last year.
Essendon conceded the 3rd-most points to Elite MID’s last year.
Essendon conceded the 3rd-most points to RUC’s last year.


Rockliff – 153, 92 (head injury early)
Wines – 108, DNP
Houston – 106, 123 (midfield role)
Boak – 104, 91, 86 (tagged by Dylan Clarke)
Byrne-Jones – 104, 104
Rozee – 98, 101 (might not play but shows role)
Amon – 90, 95

Merrett – 121, 116, 113
D Smith – 125, DNP, 142
Shiel – 120, 87
Parish – 81, INJ, 90
Ridley – 85



Marvel, 7.25pm ADST

$20,000 on Draftstars ($15 entry, 35 max)
WEATHER: Under the roof.
BOOKIES: St Kilda $1.69 favourites, 173.5 over/under.


Brad Crouch’s suspension opened the door for Bytel in a hybrid midfield role, but he’s on borrowed time with the former Crow (as well as Jones and Hannebery) due back in the coming weeks. Hunter Clark (91 AF) attending the 2nd-most CBA’s behind Steele was a pleasant surprise, although he definitely sees a similar regression back to a half-back role when everyone is fit. Speaking of Steele, he copped the Coniglio tag and can be excused for his modest 76. Gresham’s TOG is a concern once again, although he managed to overcome that disadvantage with 95 AF in the wet conditions. Those conditions didn’t suit Hill, so I’m not too concerned about his score of 61 AF off a wing. Sinclair had his half-back splitter role but wasn’t as influential as he was in the pre-season, while Highmore was impressive on debut in defense and 62 AF is very encouraging given he scales on marks (and he only managed 2 in the slop). Ross was used primarily as a wingman in the absence of Jones/Hannebery and needed 2 sausage rolls to reach his 81 AF – I much prefer the inside midfield for him, or at least the half-back sweeper role. Paul Hunter and Shaun McKernan shared the ruck duties and it wasn’t pretty for either in fantasy.

Business as usual for Oliver, who returned from a pre-season niggle with 107 AF on the back of a huge 91% CBA share. His presence filtered down through the pecking order, with vandenBerg not picked and all of Harmes, Sparrow and Jones copping hits to their inside clock. Jordon, surprisingly, hung on and repaid the faith with 80 AF from his 10 CBA’s, with the forward pocket specialist Pickett another curious inclusion with 17% presence. Angus Brayshaw (73 AF) played pure wing time in his return from off-season foot surgery and therefore isn’t in my DFS plans in the short term. Gawn and Jackson ran a much realistic ruck split (although Jackson’s shoulder knock early on probably played some part in that) with 87-13 at the CBA’s, but Gawn only taking 70% of the overall ruck contests is still a concern for his ceiling in the new ruck meta. Tom McDonald kicked off his redemption tour with a masterful 110 AF on the back of his regained endurance base, and this performance looked like it could be highly replicable in the future. May and Lever dominated the skies with 11 intercept marks between them, although how much of that can be put down to Fremantle’s depleted key forward stocks, we don’t know. All other roles as expected, including Jayden Hunt’s half-back role that was riddled with errors and highly frustrating to watch.


St Kilda: King, Jones IN – Bytel, McKenzie OUT
Notable outs: Hannebery, Crouch, Ryder, Marshall, Frawley, Geary. 

  • Jones for Bytel, hybrid midfield L4L.
  • King in for McKenzie (who was a late in for Wood before the wet weather hit) means St Kilda get back to their preferred structure. That late switch forced Hunter Clark into a full-time midfield role with the extra defender in the mix, so we’ll likely see the Ross/Sinclair/Clark three-way rotation in action here.
  • Higgins might be able to sneak up the ground a little more this week with the restructure, too.
  • Didn’t love the Hunter/McKernan timeshare last week and hate it against Gawn. Pass.

Melbourne: Viney IN – Harmes OUT
Notable outs: Brown, Weideman, Harmes, Melksham. 

  • Viney for Harmes, L4L. Might play a heavier inside split than the incumbent, so be aware that Sparrow, Pickett or even Jordon might see a few less CBA’s this week.
  • Looking forward to seeing how May/Lever play the intercepting game against a side with an actual forward line. I think May is the preferred guy between the two.
  • Hunt a walking clanger. Avoid if you can, even though he has a belter in him at some point. Too hard to watch.


St Kilda conceded the 4th-least points to Gen DEF’s last year.
St Kilda conceded the 3rd-least points to MID’s last year.

Melbourne conceded the 2nd-most points to MID’s last year.
Melbourne conceded the least points to RUC’s last year.


Steele 113, 114, 88 (tagged by Viney)
Ross66, 146, 100 (tagged Petracca)
B Hill – 106, 100
Gresham – DNP, 101, 75
Coffield – 81, 84

May – 111, DNP
Oliver – 106, 109, 114
Gawn – 104, 128, 97
Petracca98, 77, 85 (tagged by Ross)
Salem – 91, 82, 117



Metricon, 7.40pm ADST

$15,000 on Draftstars ($15 entry, 25 max)
WEATHER: 23 degrees and clear, high humidity.
BOOKIES: Gold Coast $1.28 favourites, 163.5 over/under.


Rowell’s injury was brutal for everyone involved, but it did release the midfield strain caused by Gold Coast picking 9 midfielders. Still, Brodie could only sneak 38% in his HFF rotation which hurt his ceiling, and Miller didn’t take advantage of his 30% bump with just 68 AF. I was surprised to see Swallow playing a sweeper role rather than masquerading as a half forward, but the role flip obviously paid off with a juicy 107 AF. Given that the Eagles allowed so much easy ball in defence (Bowes 125, Markov 108, Collins 93, Ballard 90, even Lukosius 105 as a defensive wingman), I’m not sure whether that’s a long-term boost for the skipper. Witts was tireless in the ruck with 83 AF from a 92% CBA share and has scope for improvement when he’s not up against Naitanui for half of it. Lemmens (half-back), Powell (back pocket) and MacPherson (high HF) were the other roles of note.

Jaidyn Stephenson’s wing role was the headlining act here, able to sneak up into the midfield with the absences of first-choice MID’s in Cunnington, Anderson and Dumont. Career-highs in disposals (33) and fantasy score (128) gives us hope that he can remain at least partly in that rotation once the big dogs return. Simpkin and LDU were full-time bulls, while Dom Tyson got his shot with a hybrid midfield role but once again looked a step off the pace (and wasn’t entrusted with a lot of ground time). He was eventually outscored by impressive debutant Tom Powell who managed to sneak in 8 CBA’s in a wing rotation, with Tarryn Thomas another to sneak CBA’s with the names missing. Polec rounded out the wing rotation but was largely unimpactful. Menadue was a late inclusion for McDonald and finally got his chance to play off half-back, but was overshadowed by Ziebell in his fresh interceptor role. The skipper looked much more comfortable than his hot AAMI mess, hitting 95 AF despite only taking the 4 marks – great signs for his scoring this year, and the 9 self kick-ins really helped in that department. Bailey Scott was busy in a high half forward role and upswung with 2 goals. Lachie Young (third tall defender), Josh Walker (key forward who went back when Corr was subbed out) and Bonar (back pocket) were the other roles of note.


Gold Coast: Ainsworth IN – Rowell OUT
Notable outs: Rowell. 

  • Ainsworth looked really good in a high half forward role last year but has a lot of midfielders ahead of him and MacPherson to contend with. Wait for the price to drop.
  • The link up with Bowes, Markov and Lukosius was potent last week. Wonder if the Roos let them switch at will like the Eagles did?
  • I’m not sold on Swallow’s heat map from last week so I’ll have another gander at whether he’s genuinely sweeping or just linked up with those I mentioned earlier on the outside. I’m leaning towards the latter.

North: Anderson, Lazzaro IN – Taylor, Menadue OUT
Notable outs: Cunnington, Dumont, Menadue, Taylor. 

  • Menadue is a curious omission, because it means that North will go in a defender short. I’ve plucked out Polec to slide back to defence, but if you have a better hunch, go with that. Wouldn’t blow my mind to see Tarryn Thomas or Mahony or something crazy like that.
  • I considered Josh Walker but he has to remain up forward like Larkey the only marking target (and the only reason he went back last week was to cover for the subbed-out Corr).
  • All this is great news for Stephenson, who is primed for another full wing gig here.


Gold Coast conceded the most points to Key FWD’s last year.
Gold Coast conceded the 3rd-most points to Gen FWD’s last year.
Gold Coast conceded the 4th-most points to MID’s last year.
Gold Coast conceded the 2nd-least points to RUC’s last year.

North conceded the 4th-most points to Gen FWD’s last year.
North conceded the 5th-most points to MID’s last year.


Greenwood – 111
Miller – 103, 28, 104 (random forward pocket role)
Anderson – 100
Witts – 94, 89, 124
Brodie – DNP, 142
Weller – 75, 95, 87
Ainsworth – 134, DNP, DNP

McDonald88 (not playing, but shows role)
Goldstein – 79, 80, 132
Polec – DNP, 112


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