This article is part of our DraftKings AFL series.
The Sir Doug Nicholls Round of matches has fallen on Round 11 this year and so has the first week of mid-season byes, which limit the main Saturday slate to four games for the first time in a few weeks. While the colorful guernseys of each team celebrate the AFL's attempt to honor the nation's indigenous heritage, it could be the play of the Cats or the Giants that best illustrates the action in Round 11. As the clash of the titans between Melbourne and the Western Bulldogs will be played on Friday, the next-best team to watch is Geelong, though the most important game could be between Essendon and West Coast in the race for the last places in the top 8 by the time the finals arrive.
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.
Geelong Cats (3rd) vs Collingwood Magpies (16th)
Greater Western Sydney Giants (8th) vs Brisbane Lions (4th)
North Melbourne Kangaroos (18th) vs Saint Kilda Saints (14th)
Essendon Bombers (11th) vs West Coast Eagles (7th)
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.
Jake Waterman, West Coast ($4,000): Waterman offers a textbook case in following the signs for his inclusion in this lineup with 89 and 95 points scored in his last two home games while reaching just 58 in his last two road starts. With Essendon conceding at least 19 disposals to two different forwards in last week's demolition of North Melbourne, Waterman should have even more luck in getting the footy with a better team around him than anyone on the 'Roos. Lots of injuries to this week's most expensive forwards mean that our options our limited, but there's also only four games to pick from so looking cheap could open up space for more reliable weapons elsewhere. If you do have money to spend at the top, the versatile Dayne Zorko has scored exactly 100 fantasy points in two straight home matches while someone like Isaac Smith of Geelong is set up to benefit from Mitchell Duncan's absence against Collingwood.
Jake Stringer, Essendon ($4,000): Another 4,000-dollar forward, another Jake, what's not to like? Stringer is returning to the lineup at half-forward after missing two weeks with a hamstring injury suffered in Round 8. When last healthy, Stringer scored between 77 and 87 fantasy points in all but one of his first five starts. That's a solid record for someone who won't break the bank and has plenty to contribute on a high-scoring team. A potentially major player to watch out for in Round 11 is Taylor Garner of North Melbourne. At just $5,300, he's reasonably priced for someone who's scored six majors and made 12 marks in his only two appearances of the season. his inclusion would require more flexibility elsewhere, though working towards his inclusion could give the necessary points to achieve a solid overall score.
Cameron Guthrie, Geelong ($8,800): Last week, a concussion for Mitchell Duncan caused problems to those who picked up the Cats superstar. Guthrie also took a blow to the shoulder, but finished out the win over Gold Coast and picked up 105 points to boot. Now that Duncan is out, Guthrie's price has gone up and it makes sense why when considering Duncan's 30 disposals from his last two full matches and the need to replace that production. Additionally, Guthrie heads into Round 11 with the fifth-most fantasy points scored of any player in the league - a record achieved by scoring more than 100 points in all but two rounds. When considering Collingwood's narrow loss to Port Adelaide in Round 10, they only conceded a large number of disposals to the Power's top players in Ollie Wines and Travis Boak. Guthrie should be the best positioned of any Geelong player to capitalize on that stat, as trying to find value picks could become problematic if Collingwood can play well at home. Other high-priced options who should produce well are Darcy Parish (100 points + in last five rounds) or Jack Steele, who gets a favorable matchup against North Melbourne after the heavy loss to Western.
Elliot Yeo, West Coast ($6,200): Yeo is making his debut in Round 11 after finally overcoming a groin injury. With 19.2 disposals and 5.6 tackles per game in the shortened matches of the 2020 season, club champion Yeo starts the 2020 season as a follower in the midfield and could get plenty of possession while other key Eagles are out. The biggest worry one could have is how poorly West Coast played in the Round 10 loss to GWS, but Yeo adds an extra pair of hands to the mix where Liam Duggan, Luke Shuey and Alex Witherden would contribute if all three were fit. An alternate to Yeo could be Isaac Smith, a high-risk option from Geelong who has scored at least 96 points in five of the last six rounds but only put up 61 fantasy points in the win over Gold Coast.
Brandan Parfitt, Geelong ($5,300): Parfitt keeps the Cats party going after putting up 97 points on 21 disposals and 10 tackles in Round 10. His value hasn't been as consistently high as guys like Daniel Lloyd or Kyle Langford, but these two are both named as interchanges heading into Round 11 and that's not a good sign for the fantasy value of all but a few star players. As a result, consider Parfitt to fill this spot if he can take advantage of an inconsistent Collingwood club. This season, Parfitt has topped 100 fantasy points on two occasions, though not since Round 5 has he made that happen.
Quinton Narkle, Geelong ($4,400): Narkle is coming off arguably his best game in a Cats uniform after logging 34 disposals and eight marks in Round 10 against Gold Coast. Off the back of that effort, he's been awarded a place in the starting lineup at follower, at least on the initial team sheet. Still, the right players at follower are easily capable of putting up massive fantasy numbers each week in ways not always seen if stuck in the middle of the field, and this makes Narkle an attractive acquisition despite the unlikelihood of getting great value out of any midfielder in the $4,000 range. One option who could disprove this theory is Deven Robertson of Brisbane, who does nothing but start as an interchange and still puts up 70 fantasy points on a good day.
Mark Blicavs, Geelong ($6,600): Taking Blicavs after his exceptional efforts in Round 10 may be too obvious a pick, but when you start as a defender and offer more value than a primary ruck in Rhys Stanley, things don't seem to look so bad. Heading into what is normally a tough positional matchup with Brodie Grundy, Rhys Stanley has been brought back into the team, so he can divert Grundy's attention and allow Blicavs more freedom to work against a struggling Magpies club. What can also make Blicavs a better option is the recent one-point loss by Collingwood to Port Adelaide, which means the Magpies are starting to improve their game and could put more pressure on the Geelong defense to maintain possession before attacking again. This week could be a no-brainer week to pick up Jack Ziebell, the best fantasy defender in the AFL, for his game against Saint Kilda, though Daniel Rich could also have plenty to offer against GWS without forcing major changes to a lineup.
Trent Bianco, Collingwood ($2,500): This week's bargain buy is Bianco, who like Elliot Yeo is set for his 2021 debut, but unlike Yeo is also making his AFL debut in Round 11. This doesn't always translate to instant fantasy success, but the recent story of Cody Weightman proves that talent can make a difference. Luckily, Bianco isn't short on that after averaging 26 disposals, 7.5 tackles and a goal per game at the VFL level. Something to watch out for which also happened with Weightman is Bianco's positioning. Listed as a defender on DK, Bianco is actually designated as a midfielder by Collingwood and positioned as a full forward on the team sheet. This brings up some interesting decisions to make, but it should lead to Bianco being calm when he does get the footy and able to make smart plays, whether in possession or in trying to score more goals. Not many other DK defenders are in as good a position as Bianco for success, so alternatives would likely necessitate picking up two players in the $4,000 range like Jed Bews and Nick Haynes.
Brodie Grundy, Collingwood ($8,000): Brodie is back in Round 11 what could be the fantasy matchup of the week against Geelong. After putting up a whopping 142 points against Port Adelaide in Round 10, Grundy returns to the MCG, where he averages nearly 10 more fantasy points per game in than on road trips. Previously, it was mentioned that Grundy is effectively going 1-on-2 in the ruck battle as Geelong are starting both Rhys Stanley and Mark Blicavs. If this causes any worry, that probably won't make any difference to Grundy as he seldom loses his positional matchup even if other areas of the game don't go his way. Another reason to take Grundy is that both him and Blicavs should have no problems taking their fair share from this game, as Grundy will likely spend more time imposing himself on Rhys Stanley and Blicavs can feed on the scraps or do his damage elsewhere as a regular defender. Other rucks to consider at a lower cost are Todd Goldstein against a shorthanded Saint Kilda or Nic Naitanui, who led the Eagles in fantasy points during their loss in Round 10 to GWS.