SCG, 7.20pm AEST

$75,000 AUD on Draftstars ($15 entry, 125 max)
$3,000 USD on Draftkings ($15 entry, 7 max)
WEATHER: 22 degrees and clear, scattered thunderstorms earlier in the day.
BOOKIES: Sydney $1.19 favourites, 177.5 over/under.


How well are the Swans going? One look at their colourless KPI table above gives a good indication of how settled the Young Bloods are in 2021. Parker and Kennedy played a few less minutes than they might have in a closer game and Blakey lost his CBA cameos, but that’s about it. That means that Warner held his 53% CBA share with a 91-point average over the past fortnight, but that’ll dip once Rowbottom returns. The Swans play a very friendly style for high half forwards, with Wicks (124 AF, 13 marks, 3 goals) the big winner while Warner (100), Gulden (98) and the deeper Papley (86) got busy up forward. Hickey had another strong game but needed a couple of goals to get to his 85 AF – as he did in Round 1, which is slightly concerning for his scoring in the games where he doesn’t impact up forward. McInerney joined Blakey (full) and Florent (half) in the wing rotation, which left Hewett in a lockdown defender role that isn’t great for his DFS output. Designated kickers in Lloyd (119 AF) and Dawson (105 AF) capitalised on the defender-leaky Tigers, with the 5 and 4 kick-ins respectively certainly helping their causes. 

What a result for the wounded Bombers, losing some key weapons from their fleet but getting the job done against a disappointing St Kilda outfit. Wright (76 AF, 19 hitouts) replaced Draper in the ruck and showed that being 200cm tall is really helpful when experience is lacking. 2MP scored well and his body held up, which I can see continuing after similar results for the Suns in 2019 as a makeshift ruckman. Shiel and Caldwell were the holes in Essendon’s midfield, which was surprisingly filled by Stringer in a De Goey-esque role; starting at the centre bounces all game before drifting forward once the ball clears. Just be aware that he needed 4 goals to even make it to 78 AF in a rousing win, so the CBA time is nowhere near as potent for him as it is for others. Parish (+23%) and Smith (+16%) were the big beneficiaries as expected, with McGrath often the midfielder who had to start on the wing to allow Stringer to mess around at the CBA’s, but he essentially played as a rover all game. Langford and Cox were the permanent wingmen, with Smith/McGrath the part-timers. Cutler was the medical sub and replaced the injured Redman across half-back. Once again we saw the high half forward role paying dividends, with Snelling (112 AF) and Ham (88 AF) getting busy across the flanks, with Waterman looking up to the level on debut with 68 AF from 2 snags. Guelfi played in defence with Heppell, Gleeson, Cahill, etc. all missing. Ridley (124 AF) continues to dominate on the back of his unquestioned dominance of the kick-in duties, this time adding another huge 11 freebies to his fantasy-friendly intercepting role. 


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

  • Not a lot of guesswork here, given it’s the exact same side that took on the Crows in Round 2.
  • Hewett in defence, who covered Dusty when he pushed forward after the centre bounces last week, looks like a good match-up for Stringer in the same manoeuvre.
  • Warner to see significant midfield time again without Rowbottom.
  • McInerney gets another shot on a wing.

Essendon: Heppell IN – Redman OUT
Notable outs: Hurley, Shiel, Caldwell, Draper, Redman.

  • You don’t fix what ain’t broke, not that the Bombers really could with their injury list anyway. Expect very similar roles to last week, with Heppell replacing the injured Redman/replacement Cutler in defence.
  • Wright to solo ruck, with (interestingly) Cox/Langford taking the odd chop-outs.
  • Merrett/Parish the main inside guys, with McGrath/Smith playing hybrid roles and Langford mainly on a wing seems to be the midfield hierarchy. As I said above, Stringer’s CBA’s aren’t pure and are almost fool’s gold with how quickly he moves back forward.
  • Snelling/Ham the higher half forwards, McDonald-Tipungwuti/Waterman the deeper forwards.



*Take care with these trends due to small sample size*

Sydney has conceded the least points to KEY FWD’s this year.
Sydney has conceded the 3rd-least points to GEN DEF’s this year.
Sydney has conceded the least points to MID’s this year.

Essendon has conceded the 2nd-most points to KEY FWD’s this year.
Essendon has conceded the 4th-most points to GEN FWD’s this year.
Essendon has conceded the 4th-most points to ELITE MID’s this year.
Essendon has conceded the 4th-most points to RUC’s this year.


Lloyd – 139, 113
Parker – 118, 92, 99
Kennedy – 95, 100, 104
Florent – 113
Rampe – 108, 90

Merrett – 135, 57, 136
McGrath  – 109, 71, 87 (half-back roles)
Parish70, 80 (half forward rotation)


BEST PICK: Darcy Parish – M/F – $12,030 DS

Parish is like the footballing equivalent of a sea monkey – except instead of “just adding water” to get instant pets, you just add CBA’s to get an instant midfielder. In the Essendon Studfinder article this pre-season I went as far to make a graph to show his reliance on inside time, and what do you know? Parish starves on 42% CBA presence over the first fortnight of the year and averages just 66 AF, but crank those CBA’s up to even a modest 71% share and the young gun is churning out 117’s like he’s just mashed the star boost on Mario Kart. $12k is simply too cheap for Parish with Essendon’s injury woes, and given it’s exactly what we’ve been waiting for since the season started:

BEST VALUE: Chad Warner – F/M – $8,290 DS

No Rowbottom + low price = lots of love for Warner. The second-year stud has increased his CBA rate from 22% in Round 1 for a score of 57 AF with Rowbottom playing, supercharging it to 53% in the last fortnight for scores of 81 and 100 without his fellow midfield bull. Warner’s basically a free hit here at that price, offering a heap of structure flexibility with his dual position status and coming up against a side whose midfield is full of second-stringers (no pun intended). 

BEST RUCK: Tom Hickey – R – $10,470 DS 

I’ll kick this off by saying that Peter Wright ($7,220 R/F) is well and truly pickable as an underpriced makeshift ruckman here, so the infamous Double Ruck structure is officially in play. On top of that, both are cheap enough to fit into a winning GPP side on their own, so it’s not going to be a particularly stressful line for DFS punters this Thursday night. 

But if I’m going to heave my aggots over one side of the fence, it’s hard to look past Hickey in your cash line-up. The journeyman has enjoyed a change of fortunes in his veteran years, once perennially the victim but now the bully in the ruck, scoring 85 against a leaky Lions side in Round 1 and most recently a 85 against a solo Nank. So while he’s capitalised on the soft match-ups, the one thing he hasn’t come his way over his whole career is a soft kill – which the inexperienced 2 Metre Peter certainly is. 

BEST STAT: Jordan Ridley – D – $12,990 DS 

100%, 88%, 91% and 93%. Those are Ridley’s average kick-in share for the Bombers this year, resulting in a massive 34 self-kick-ins over the 4 games (including the AAMI) in 2021. That’s 26 points of his 108-point average that’s he’s “winning” solely by trotting outside of the goalsquare every time the opposition kicks the ball over his head for a point… Which is going to happen a lot for the Bombers this year. The Riddler is way too cheap for what he’s doing at the moment, and it’s almost risk-free with how safe the freebies make his basement feel.

BEST RETHINK: Errol Gulden – F/M – $12,990 DS 

I love this kid. Love everything about him; the way he plays, his bromance with Campbell and the way he can make a footy talk with the sweet spot on the tip of his boot at full pace. But DFS is about playing with your head and not your heart, and the stonks are way, way up on Sydney’s premier cygnet at a sliver under $13k. He’s created a fantasy bubble, and at some point, that bubble is going to pop with a quiet game. I mean, Gulden’s the same price as Ridley, for Christ’s sake, and I know who I’d be happier taking in the majority of universes at that price (and that’s not mention that you can get Smith, Parish, Langford, Dawson, Florent at a cheaper price-tag). 

Don’t fade him completely obviously – we’ve seen his gaudy ceiling already, and Essendon are hardly an oppressive opponent – but make sure you’re under the field on Errol.


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, @Baked_Beams on Twitter and DT Live for their various stats and references.

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