This article is part of our DraftKings AFL series.
A whopping five-game slate makes room for Anzac Day on Sunday, and this means that over half of the league is at our disposal in Saturday's slate. Games among teams at both ends of the ladder mean that there are chances for hard fought wins and lopsided results, though both Sydney and Geelong will be missing some of their best players this weekend. What may be the most exciting team to watch could be Brisbane, especially if Lachie Neale is able to turn his effort against Essendon into a recurring theme as the spring turns into the summer.
If this is your first time checking out Aussie Rules Football, welcome to a sport that combines the physicality of rugby, the stamina of soccer players and the impressive verticality seen in the American code of football. To make sure you know exactly what each stat looks like, check out this helpful video.
On the pitch, there are 18 players fielded by each team with four interchange options that can rotate up to 75 times per match. In DK competitions, lineups are permitted just nine players: two forwards, four midfielders, two defenders and one ruck. To earn points, players can add to the score (+6 for a goal, +1 for a behind), keep the footy under control (+3 for a kick, +3 for a mark, +2 for a handball) or stop the other team from advancing (+4 for a tackle, +1 for a free kick, +1 for a hitout). On the other side, conceding a free kick is a deduction of three points.
It's worth noting that AFL fantasy is heavily weighted to those who can touch the footy the most times, which is why there are extra midfielders available as they are usually capable of scoring the most points without ever needing to enter the 50-meter line. And with that, here are some potential picks to give you an idea of who to watch out for on Saturday.
West Coast Eagles (6th) vs Geelong Cats (8th)
Sydney Swans (3rd) vs Gold Coast Suns (15th)
Brisbane Lions (10th) vs Carlton Blues (11th)
Richmond Tigers (5th) vs Melbourne Demons (2nd)
North Melbourne Kangaroos (18th) vs Freemantle Dockers (9th)
This Week's Picks:
Always remember to check your lineups! The initial team sheet will come out well in advance of the match, but teams only finalize their selection an hour before first bounce.
Kysaiah Pickett, Melbourne ($4,800): Pickett has been steadily gaining in confidence as the season moves along and his production is starting to mirror that of the exceptionally talented 'Dees midfield. That's backed up by two goals, 18 disposals and six tackles recorded in Round 5 against Hawthorn, of which the last two stats were season-highs. Two of the biggest concerns with picking Pickett or any of the forwards from this team are Saturday's opponent in Richmond, which have yet to concede huge numbers to opposing forwards this season, and Pickett's position on the flank. On the first point, Richmond has yet to seriously dominate other flag contenders in their early matches, and on the second, Pickett has collected at least 17 disposals in three of the last four rounds. As a result, this titanic clash could see Pickett get shut down or it could see him put up another 90-point fantasy effort. A similar circumstance applies to Bayley Fritsch, who missed Round 5 but did score four goals in Round 4 against Geelong and is also positioned on the wings.
Tarryn Thomas, North Melbourne ($4,500): Thomas represents a larger gamble than Pickett, as he's only scored six goals this season and has never put up more than 80 fantasy points in a single match. But there isn't much flexibility in this spot, as the low-cost forwards range from someone like Zac Bailey, who's dead center on the field but second-fiddle to Dayne Zorko, or Luke Dahlhaus, who has scored just two majors this season. With this in mind, there's no time like the present for Thomas or any of the 'Roos, who could really test if Freemantle's two-match winning streak is legit. What hasn't been mentioned so far are other forwards capable of having big performances Saturday, and for that Dayne Zorko would provide consistent value at a high price while Harry McKay only costs $5,200 but hasn't come close to his seven-goal performance from Round 3.
Andrew Gaff, West Coast ($7,700): At his best, there won't be many players that score more fantasy points than Gaff. At his worst, he's can't even break 20 disposals in the longer matches this season. We're hoping that he stays hot, as some of his best performances have come against talented but struggling teams, just like Geelong. The biggest bonus for Gaff's chances is likely the lack of depth in the Cats' midfield, as they're short Patrick Dangerfield for multiple weeks. Players with less risk than Gaff but lower potential include pretty much everyone at Melbourne over $7,000 in cost, but the odds could be even better between the Suns and the Swans. From that game, Luke Parker, Lachie Weller and Jack Lukosius have all put up solid performances against opponents up and down the ladder, and all cost less than $7,000.
Lachie Neale, Brisbane ($6,900): It was only a matter of time before Neale found his fitness and dominated a match, and that's exactly what happened in Round 5 against Essendon. While he had already topped 96 points in the previous two games, something had felt off with Neale as he dealt with back pain to begin the season. With his confidence riding high, it wouldn't be surprising to see him put up another huger performance against a Carlton club that's just as inconsistent as Brisbane this season. It's also interesting to still see Neale at below $7,000 for his salary, as at his best he'll rank among the top midfielders in fantasy across the Premiership. With this in mind, there are plenty of decent options still in Neale's price tier, with Liam Duggan, Dom Sheed and Tim Kelly all capable of topping 100 fantasy points in their contest against Geelong.
Andrew Brayshaw, Freemantle ($6,600): Brayshaw has interestingly topped 100 points against two flag contenders in Adelaide and Melbourne while barely reaching 65 against Hawthorn and Carlton. That may make him a riskier bet, but playing the odds against a North Melbourne club that has given up 90 or more points in all but one round is a decently safe bet. What's also nice about Brayshaw is that he's not even the most expensive midfielder available from his team as that title belongs to Nat Fyfe at $6,700. When considering that only Brayshaw and David Mundy have broken the 100-point threshold from this trio, the situation looks a little more optimistic. Two more midfielders worth considering could save a few more dollars, and that takes us to Jack Viney and Jaidyn Stephenson. Viney is probably the safer bet of the two with solid performances in Rounds 3 and 4, and Stephenson did top 30 disposals in Round 1 against Port Adelaide.
James Rowbottom, Sydney ($5,200): Rowbottom has only played one time this seaosn, but he's overcome his knee injury and was named as a follower for Saturday's clash with Gold Coast. Looking back at that performance, Rowbottom was able to put up 22 disposals and make eight tackles against Brisbane. If he can do anything close to that against an even more shorthanded Suns club, then there's no telling how big of fantasy score he could put up at a low price point. Looking around the league, Richmond captain Trent Cotchin is still only at $5,600 and could be motivated for a tough game against Melbourne while Luke Davies-Uniacke is just as capable of leading his team in points as struggling to reach 70 in his game against Freemantle.
Charlie Ballard, Gold Coast ($4,600): Ballard is one of the few guys in this lineup returning from an injury, and takes up a spot at center-half against a Swans club having an exceptional start to the season. Despite the absence of Ben Ronke and Lance Franklin for this game, Ballard will still have to worry about Tom Papley and Errol Gulden, among others. With this opponent in mind, and the spot of Jack Bowes as one of the most valuable defenders for fantasy in the Premiership, there could be more than enough value to go around if the Swans are able to press high up the field. If you've budgeted for defenders capable of matching a midfielder in value, Jack Ziebell of North Melbourne is the highest-price option, but has also scored the most fantasy points of any defender so far. Another guy with a high price and good potential is Alex Witherden, who's coming off an impressive debut against Collingwood and gets an easier matchup against Geelong.
Jacob Weitering , Carlton ($4,100): Weitering is exactly what you want from a defender as he lines up at center-half for a game against high-flying Brisbane. Before looking to the opponent, consider that Weitering has logged no fewer than 17 disposals and 68 fantasy points in a single appearance. These are solid points of reference when looking to fill out a lineup full of midfielders capable of putting up huge performances. Moving back to the Lions, they're coming off a comprehensive 57 point win over Essendon and seem to have finally gotten Lachie Neale into prime form. Along with the rest of the depth of the Brisbane attack, Weitering could find himself with plenty of possession if the Blues get stuck in the defensive end of the field. Another option with similar consistency to Weitering could be Lewis Melican, who's starting in just his second game of the season, or Aiden Bonar, who's even cheaper than both names mentioned so far and put up 71 fantasy points in Round 5 against Geelong.
Oscar McInerney, Team ($5,600): The variation in value among the rucks this week isn't the most helpful, as Max Gawn is a dominant player who faces his first tough matchup of the season, and Todd Goldstein has been more consistent than outstanding in a hard start to the year for the 'Roos. This leaves us with McInerney, who returns to the lineup after missing Round 5 with an ankle injury for a game against Carlton, which rank one spot below Brisbane in the ladder. In considering why McInerney is still worth holding on to, consider that his ruck matchup in Marc Pittonet has only won the positional battle when facing teams lower on the ladder. That being said, McInerney has also put in strong performances this season against Sydney and Nic Naitanui of West Coast, so he could certainly have a nice day against the Blues.